Guest Post: 7 Benefits of Green Cleaning

Learn why you should switch to eco-friendly cleaning products.

As lives become busier, over-scheduled and more stressful, it’s easy to gravitate towards the latest products that promise to make annoying chores even easier. Need a bathroom cleaner? On your next trip to the store, you grab one of the many bright and colorful bottles promising to be a quick fix. But did you ever think about what’s in that container?

Whether you’re a housekeeper who cleans with these products all day or someone who cleans your own home regularly, you should take the time to consider it.

Most are made up of harsh cocktails of chemicals, which can be bad for your health — and your kids’ health. As people rethink what they’re bringing into their homes, they’re looking for greener solutions.

Two experts Leslie Reichert, author of “Joy of Green Cleaning,” and Sara Snow, author of “Sara Snow’s Fresh Living,” share the reasons why people should make the switch to green cleaning products.

What to try green cleaning for yourself? Read up on Green Cleaning: 12 Natural Solutions that Really Work »

1. Healthier Home
If you go green, “No longer will there be chemicals absorbed into the skin or breathed in by the person cleaning,” Reichert says. Health benefits extend to family members who are no longer breathing in cleaners lingering in the air and sitting on surfaces.

Studies have shown that using a household cleaning spray, even as little as once a week, raises the risk of developing asthma. Snow says that using green cleaning products can reduce the chances of developing asthma, which “today is the most common chronic illness and the leading cause of school absences due to chronic illness across the country.”

2. Purer Environment
When you use many cleaning products, “harmful chemicals are being released into the environment,” says Reichert. Not great for you and the people around you to breathe in.

Changing to greener methods, “helps reduce pollution to our waterways and the air and it minimizes your impact on ozone depletion and global climate change with fewer smog-producing chemicals,” advises Snow. Many green products also use recyclable packaging which minimizes waste.

3. Safer Products
Conventional cleaning products pose risks such as chemical burns to the cleaner’s skin and eyes. Green cleaners aren’t corrosive and meet strict standards regarding inhalation toxicity, combustibility and skin absorption.

4. Better Air Quality
As with most people, Snow can’t stand the “stench of strong chemical odors.” Many green cleaning products — including store bought and ones you can make at home — include pleasant natural essential oils. Reichert even refers to cleaning with these products as her “aromatherapy.”

5. Less Expensive
“For home cleaning, vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, etc. can do the trick for pennies on the dollar, compared to buying conventional cleaning products,” Snow says. Why go out and buy products when you can use things you already have in your pantry?

Investing in green products also makes sense for companies. “The cost of environmentally friendly cleaning products has become much more competitive, while cleaning in an environmentally sound way reduces the risk of sick days for employees and the risk of fires and chemical spills,” mentions Snow.

6. Fewer Antibacterials
Do you really need to look for products that say “antibacterial”? “We’re now told by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that washing with antibacterial soaps isn’t any better than regular soaps, and the American Medical Association (AMA) says that the frequent use of antibacterial ingredients can promote bacterial resistance to antibiotics,” Snow says. “Triclosan, a common antibacterial agent found in many soaps, [may] mess with your hormonal system and thyroid. Most green or environmentally friendly cleaning products don’t contain antibacterial agents.”

7. More Knowledge of Ingredients
Government regulations don’t require ingredients to be listed on any cleaning products. This is another reason Reichert is a strong advocate for making your own products at home, so “you know exactly what the ingredients are in your cleaning recipes.”

As concerns for health become more prevalent and people become more aware of the harsh effects cleaning chemicals are having, they’re going back to basics and looking for greener ways to clean. To hear our experts tell it, the benefits speak for themselves. 

This post was generously written by Carol Ruth Weber, a Contributor for Care.com (www.Care.com), the largest online care destination in the world.

 

Guest Post: 17 Cleaning Secrets from Housekeepers

From pet odors to dusty TVs, every home has cleaning challenges. Whether you’re a homeowner or a professional cleaner, you need to know how to solve these problems. Need help cleaning your home? Hire a housekeeper who is already an expert on the subject.

We talked to housekeeping companies around the country to get the dirt on removing dirt. If you want to make your home or your clients’ homes sparkle, take a page out of the pros’ books with these 17 helpful tips.

1. Use Multi-Tasking Products
“Manufacturers love to sell home consumers lots of little specialty tools and cleaning chemicals that only do one thing or clean one special type of surface because it is an easy excuse to get you to buy more stuff,” says Melissa Homer, chief cleaning officer at MaidPro. “Since we all fall for it, most people have a cabinet full of partially-used chemicals we almost never use!”

Stick to products Homer suggests you really need: a disinfecting all-purpose cleaner that can also clean glass, a disinfecting bathroom cleaner and a floor cleaner that is safe on wood and tile.

2. Have the Right Tools
The same is true for cleaning tools. “If you bog yourself down with too many specialty tools, you’ll feel overwhelmed,” comments Homer. You can keep your house spotless with some quality microfiber cleaning cloths, a few sponges, a handle and detail scrub brush, a plastic scraper, a vacuum that can clean hard floors and carpets, a microfiber “feather” duster and a microfiber mop.

2. Grab a Toothbrush
“It’s hard to find a tool that will beat this all-purpose cleaning gadget,” says Amy Olson, spokesperson forThe Maids. Add it to your kit. A toothbrush or grout brush can help you get the toughest grime out of the tightest corners — and make cleaning vents simple. The strength is in the bristles though, cautions Olson. “Let them do the work for you.”

3. Make a Cleaning Caddy
Once you have your supplies assembled, how do you organize them? “One of the biggest differences between the way professionals clean and the way regular people clean is we pros make sure all of our best products are right at our fingertips,” says Homer.

Don’t waste time looking for different tools and products from around the house. Buy an inexpensive shower caddy and fill it with your essentials, so it’s easy to just grab and go and tackle any room.

David Lieberman, owner and operator of Blue Spruce Cleaning Company in Minneapolis, Minn., even keeps basic equipment and sprays in a tool belt while he cleans.

4. Declutter First 

Most homes have too much clutter. Removing that excess stuff is key to getting the house clean. “You need to find a place to keep your books and magazines before you can begin to dust and polish,” says Curtis Timsah, marketing director of Squeaky Clean House in Edmond, Okla. If you need help, many cleaning companies also provide a decluttering service to customers.

5. Follow a System
Don’t just walk into a room and start cleaning. For Lieberman, having a system is key to effective cleaning. “I start at one point in a room, and then I clean in a circle around the room,” he says.

This method will keep you focused on one task, so you don’t get distracted and tackle another project before the first is complete. And scour each room top to bottom, so you’re catching dust as it falls.

6. Vacuum Efficiently 
Speed up your vacuuming tasks with one quick change. “Plug in your vacuum in the central room in the house,” suggests Matt Ricketts, president of Better Life Maids in St. Louis, Mo. “This will save you time because you can continue vacuuming in every room before doubling back to remove the cord and plug it into another socket,” If your cord is too short, add an extension.

8. Dust Electronics
Can you write “clean me” on your flat-screen TV or computer monitor? If so, it’s time to dust those electronics with this tip from Samara Lane, operations manager of April Lane’s Home Cleaning in Seattle: “Turn off the TV or monitor, then use a dry microfiber cloth and gently wipe the screen. If necessary, dampen the cloth with distilled water or with an equal ratio of distilled water to white vinegar.” Never spray liquid directly on an LED, LCD or plasma screen — it could damage it.

9. Get a Fresh Scent
Many cleaning products have harsh chemical odors that leave a home smelling like a laboratory. Debra Longfellow, owner of Gaia Home Services LLC in Tacoma, Wash, makes her own cleaning solutions with Borax, washing soda, vinegar and baking soda, uses a few drops of essential oils like lavender, grapefruit, yang-ylang and lemon.

10. Scrub Your Showerhead
Is there yucky residue on your showerhead? According to Lane, removing the grime is easy. “To get built-up residue off a showerhead, tie a baggie of vinegar around it and leave it to dissolve overnight. In the morning, rinse the showerhead.” It’ll be squeaky clean.

11. Remove Grease
Getting a buildup of grease on things that are touched often, like door handles and light switch plates is normal. Tabita Cruz, director of operations at Maid Affordable in San Antonio, Texas, uses Magic Erasers to get these spots clean. “They cut down on grease left by everyone’s hands,” she says.

12. Clean Fridge Coils
To get your refrigerator completely clean, get ready for some heavy-duty vacuuming. “Remove the refrigerator’s kick plate and vacuum the fur and hair around the coils,” says Cruz. Not only will your refrigerator be cleaner, but also it will run more efficiently — saving you money on your energy bill.

13. Wash the Windows
There’s more than one way to clean a window, and it all comes down to the size of the glass. For smaller windows and mirrors, Lieberman suggests using balled-up newspaper because it’s gentle and won’t scratch the surface. For larger mirrors and windows, he suggests using a squeegee with a handle attachment; not only will you cut down on time, but also a squeegee can help you reach the high edges of the window.

14. Eliminate Pet Odors
Does Fido occasionally leave a mess on the floor? To remove pet odors, consider this tip from Longfellow: “Use a spray bottle filled with white vinegar,” she says. “Next, cover the vinegar-soaked area with baking soda and allow to dry. Sweep and vacuum up the excess soda. There will be a strong pet odor with this method, as the mixture actually pulls the odor out.”

15. Vacuum Grout Tiles
If you have tile floors, don’t start scrubbing just yet. According to Sheila Jonson, manager of Unique Cleaning Solutions in Rockford, Ill., you should vacuum or sweep your tile floor to remove all loose dirt and debris before washing it with a cleaning solution.

16. Reach with a Yardstick
Have trouble dusting high-up or hard-to-reach areas? Grab a yardstick. “Fit a sock onto the end of the yardstick and secure it with a rubber band,” suggests Olson. “It’s a nifty tool to reach behind headboards and under furniture.”

17. Get Low
When you think you’re done cleaning a room, Ricketts suggests getting down to eye level and examining your home from a new angle. “By getting close to your surfaces, you can see if you still have any crumbs or dust that needs to be cleaned up,” he says.

This post was generously written by Megan Horst-Hatch, a Contributor for Care.com (www.Care.com), the largest online care destination in the world.

 

Guest Post: Get the Most Out of Spring Cleaning

Spring cleaning season is here again. Hurray! (Or groan.) Whether you love doing away with winter cobwebs or you cringe at the sight of a feather duster, now is a great time to freshen up your home.

While many people know they should be giving their houses a deep clean during this time of year, most don’t know where to start. Here are some great tips from cleaning experts on how to prioritize and manage the big spring clean.

1. Take it Slow
Mary Baker, who has been cleaning houses for more than 20 years in the Tulsa, Okla., area, suggests spreading the job out. “A lot of people make the mistake of trying to get everything done in one long session, only to end up exhausted and quitting before the job is finished,” she says.

Instead, spread the job over a week or a couple of weekends. Look at your schedule and figure out when you can devote time to this project. Breaking things up into small chunks of time will make it much more manageable. Hire a babysitter to get the kids out of the house for an afternoon, so you’ll be more productive.

2. Make a Room-by-Room List
Jen Murphy started cleaning houses in college and now runs a cleaning business near Portland, Ore. She believes that the most important step is to make a list. “Go around the entire house and make a list of jobs for each room. Once the list is made, mark each item with a 1, 2 or 3, with 1 being the most urgent.” Murphy suggests. “That way you know what to conquer first when you enter the room.”

Tasks you do regularly, like straightening up and doing the laundry, shouldn’t be your focus. Think about the more intense jobs that you usually avoid or only do once a year (or before your mother-in-law comes to visit) — those are the things that should be given a 1 on your list.

3. Prioritize Your Tasks
When it comes to spring cleaning, everyone’s prioritizes are different. Some people focus on cleaning every inch of their house, while others try to organize and purge.

“After the basics, people’s needs differ,” Baker says. “Many people want to give the bathrooms a good scrubbing, cleaning the fixtures and putting up a new shower curtain, while others may prefer to tackle the laundry room or start organizing shelves.”

Here are some common deep cleaning tasks that you may want to put at the top of your checklist.

  • Pull out all appliances and clean behind and under them
  • Clean the fridge, including dusting the coils, defrosting the freezer and scrubbing all shelves and compartments
  • Clean inside the stove
  • Vacuum and flip mattresses
  • Clean pillows and comforters
  • Wash all windows and clean window sills and hardware
  • Clean drapes and blinds
  • Wipe and dust walls and ceilings
  • Organize closets
  • Vacuum behind and under furniture and flip all cushions
  • Deep clean your child’s playroom
  • Empty, clean and reorganize shelves and bookcases
  • Change the batteries on your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Clean outdoor furniture
  • Wash off patio, deck, driveway and any outside areas

4. Inventory Cleaning Supplies
Now that you know what needs to get done, make sure you have the right tools. Go through your to-do list and your cleaning products and see if you have everything you’ll need. Do you need a new vacuum, duster or toilet bowl brush? How is your supply of sponges? Make a trip to store to replenish expired or almost empty products.

“Having all your supplies gathered beforehand will save on both time and frustration” Murphy says.

5. Go Green
Ever thought about switching to green cleaning products? Since you’re re-stocking your cleaning supply cabinet anyway, now is a perfect time to turn over an environmentally friendly leaf. As you go through your to-do list, think about how you can clean without using chemicals. Here are some options to get you started: Green Cleaning: 12 Natural Solutions that Really Work »

6. Give Away What You Don’t Use
In additional to actual cleaning, spring cleaning is the perfect time to sort through toys, DVDs, clothing, household items and sporting goods. If you haven’t used it in the past year, do you really need to keep it? Donate items to local groups or organizations. (Check out this list of national charities that accept donations.)

“As you clean a room, take the time to remove and box up products you no longer use,” says Baker. Then put the boxes directly into your car as soon as they’re filled. “Getting the items into the box is the first step, but getting them into the car is necessary for getting them out of the house,” she suggests. This extra step also creates less to have to clean next year!

7. Be Realistic
“I always tell people to make the list, but don’t expect to finish everything; it’s just too much pressure,” Murphy says. Focus on getting the 1s on your list checked off. Then move on to 2s and 3s when you have time. Post the list on the fridge so it’s harder to ignore.

8. Bring in Some Professional Help
Is your list more than you think you can handle? Do you have a busy schedule or finicky baby that makes finding time to clean difficult? Instead of putting off your spring cleaning, hire some help. It’s okay to admit you can’t do it alone.

Find a housekeeper through a site like Care.com. Mention you’re looking for someone to help out for a few hours (or days, depending on your list) with spring cleaning chores.

Yes, spring cleaning sounds scary and overwhelming, but if you go in with a step-by-step plan, your home will soon be squeaky clean in no time, and you’ll be outside enjoying the spring weather. Take that feather duster!

And in the comments section below, share your tricks for getting through the spring cleaning chaos.

This post was generously written by Kristy Stevens-Young,  a Contributor for Care.com (www.Care.com), the largest online care destination in the world.

 

Custom Closet Design & Organization: 8 Step How To

Recently, we completed a closet organizing project for a client, which included an Elfa-designed custom closet installation. The end result provided an excellent organizational structure, a significant increase in visual appeal, and overall better utilization of the space. We highly recommend that clients consider a custom design when conducting a closet overhaul. The option ensures that you’ll have specially designated space for all of your belongings and tends to encourage long-term organization. If you are considering a custom closet sometime in the future, we have put together the basic steps of how to go about the process. 

HOW TO DESIGN, INSTALL, & UTILIZE A CUSTOM CLOSET

1) Review the contents of your closet and dresser. Determine how much will stay, add in to the new closet space, and how much you’d like to purge.

2) Take measurements of all walls, angles, and dimensions in your closet. Get an accurate count of shoes, handbags, scarves, ties and belts.

3) Work with a closet design expert at The Container Store, California ClosetsHome Depot, or other company and decide on a design that works for your individual needs.

4) Prior to installation, conduct a major closet purge and donate all items that you no longer wear, like, or do not fit. Don’t forget to purge your dresser drawers at this time too.

5) The day of installation, ready the closet by removing all clothing and other belongings.

6) During the install, prepare your clothing and other belongings for reintegration – rehang clothes if switching hanger styles and wash anything that hasn’t been touched in a while.

7) Following the install, add clothing back into the closet, keeping in mind that this is your best chance to implement a new organizational strategy such as by color, style, frequency of use, or post-wash folding vs. hanging preference.

8) Enjoy your new closet and work hard to maintain the organization!

If you have any questions or would like to have us consult on your closet, please feel free to get in touch.

TWOW

 

Guest Post: Turn Your Home Office Space Into A Shining Beacon Of Creativity

The whole notion of the typical “office space” is one that’s changed much over the years, and with the advances in technology allowing people to work from pretty much anywhere on the planet, the corporate office is slowly giving way in parts to the home office. Whether it’s someone trying to balance home and work life, someone running a business from their own home or simply someone putting in those extra hours outside of work, the home office is becoming a much more common feature of homes across the globe – but how many of them are actually “done” right?

Whilst the idea of working at home with your slippers on in front of the TV is an idea that sounds amazing to many typical 9 to 5 office workers, a lot of people who try it will end up commenting on how difficult it is to actually get anything done with so many distractions at home, be it the TV, phone calls, knocks at the door, or trying to keep the dog from jumping on your paperwork whilst the kids are drawing on the walls. If you’re going to work from home, it has to be done properly!

Ideally, a fit for purpose home office should be a space that’s somewhat secluded from the rest of the distractions at home. Whether minimizing noise and interruptions is possible or not, organization should always be the key. Without a properly organized space your working day will fall apart in less time than what you spend in traffic when you go out to work. Now, obviously not everyone has the space in their home to have a completely dedicated area for a home office, but trying to work in a cramped room, squeezed between the christmas decorations, suitcases and any other old junk is clearly not going to be helpful. A home office should try to imitate an actual group work office as much as possible in that appropriate furnishings are a must have. Don’t try to keep your files all together in a pile on the desk or the floor, store them away in a filing cabinet, or ensure that you have a desk with adequate storage space in drawers so that you know exactly where everything is. If you don’t want to spend money on furniture for a “non-family” room, drag your old sock drawer in from the bedroom, it works the same and gives you an excuse for shiny new bedroom furniture. Either way, you don’t want to have to spend half the day hunting around the house just to find out that your sales invoices have somehow ended up on the back garden!

Comfort is a must too, many people might just think dragging a dining room chair into the office will do just fine, but without a proper comfortable office chair before long you will be fidgeting, moving around, and getting up because of back pain, all drawing you away from the task at hand. Once you’ve had one bad experience, the thought of going back to that uncomfortable position you’ll find yourself procrastinating and putting off going back to work at every opportunity – ultimately lowering morale and productivity.

This also spreads into the overall decor of the room, if your office space is disorganized, uncomfortable and dull the odds of you actually wanting to get any work done are going to be greatly reduced, and you’re going to be miserable about having to be in there. A healthy, stimulating environment is what you need, and you shouldn’t hold back. Attractive paints or wallpapers on the walls are more likely to make you enjoy being in the room, and may well get your creative juices flowing. Also try to make the most of the light in the room, a warm glow to the room will make things much more cheerful. If you’re stuck in a windowless room, ensure you’ve got a good light source, preferably with daylight bulbs. It can also help to add some plant life into the room, so that when you’re all shut away, you don’t feel like the last living thing trapped on earth.

Many people have the dream of working from home, that can often turn into a nightmare, but with proper organization, a bit of creativity and a good interior design job, your home office space can be transformed into the shining beacon of creativity you long for – and yes, slippers are still allowed.
This post was generously written by Danny Watkinson at JWA Design.  

Time Management: 7 Tricks from the Pros

Time management professionals and gurus each have their own set of strategies and techniques that they recommend. We’ve found that some work better for us at WOW and we’re sharing them with you today.

1. Prioritize: A common problem people face is knowing what’s important and what’s not. When creating your to-do list utilize the time management matrix to the right to determine which items are urgent and important and which can be de-prioritized to the bottom of the list.

2. Do Quick Things Immediately: If you have several tasks on your to-do list that each take 5 minutes, get them all done immediately. You’ll feel a great sense of accomplishment getting them off of your plate and then you can move on to the larger items.

3. Dedicated Time: If you have a project that needs a significant amount of time and attention, dedicate a specific hour (or 3) to focus on it’s completion. Turn off distractions and commit to it’s completion during this time frame.

4. Time Inventory: If you find chunks of your day frequently going missing, take a few days to note and inventory where your time is being spent, down to the minute. Following the inventory process, evaluate what areas could be used more efficiently and make the necessary changes.

5. Calendar with Buffers: If you are often late, consider building in travel time to your calendar. For example, if an appointment is from 3-4pm and it takes 20 minutes to get there, schedule the appointment on your calendar from 2:40pm-4:20pm. This way you won’t over-extend yourself before or after the obligation.

5. Block-Off Email Time: Email is one of the biggest time-consumers of our day. Instead of checking emails as they come in, schedule specific times during the day to review and respond to emails. And remember, being the person who responds immediately to emails doesn’t always mean you are the most productive.

6. Eliminate the Unnecessary: Sometimes companies and individuals schedule meetings out of routine and not necessarily out of need. Review the meetings, calls, and regular appointments in your life and decide what is adding value. If the meeting is mandatory yet adds little value to your day, consider discussing how to improve or eliminate it with your management.

7. Focus, Focus, Focus: Many people have multiple roles (entrepreneur, employee, mother, wife, etc.) that each have different responsibilities. While multi-tasking can sometimes be effective, most of the time it hurts the overall output quality in one or more areas. Instead of juggling multiple roles, commit to focusing on just one role at a time, as much as possible.

What is your favorite time management trick?

TWOW

How to Organize Your Fridge

Do your berries get moldy a few days after purchase? Does your lettuce wilt shortly after you open the bag? For many Americans the battle against food self life is constant. However, did you know that you can extend the life of certain fruits, veggies, and other items simply by storing them in the correct fridge location? We’ve compiled the best fridge organization strategies right here.

General Strategies:

  • An overly packed fridge leads to poor circulation and an increase in temperature. Do not store too much at one time if you like your foods to stay fresh.
  • The ideal temperature for your fridge is 40°F.
  • Use bins, containers and labels to organize the space.
  • Larger items (juice cartons, etc.) go towards the back and smaller items are towards the front.
  • Review fridge contents daily and remove rotten food as soon as possible. This will help keep the other items fresher longer.

What Goes Where: 

  • Crisper: Store fruits here, but keep in mind the preferred separation of certain items. A full list is below in the ‘Specific Foods’ section.
  • Bottom Drawer: This is the warmest place in the fridge, so it is best suited for veggies.
  • Skinny Top Drawer: Store deli meats and cheeses here.
  • Door: Do not store foods that are sensitive to temperature changes (ex. eggs) in the door. Items like condiments and glass jars are best suited for this location.
  • Top Shelf: Dairy, including milk and eggs is best stored here.
  • Bottom Shelf: Raw meat, poultry and fish should be stored here.
  • Freezer: Items that you’ll have long term should be sealed tightly and stored with like-items here.

Food Specifics:

  • Ethylene-Releasing Foods:  Certain foods release a gas that causes other fruits to spoil more quickly. Store these separately and or in a sealed container. Examples include: Melons (except watermelon),  Apples, Figs,  Avocados,  Nectarines,  Pears,  Plums,  Peaches,  Tomatoes,  and Unripe Bananas.
  • Ethylene-Effected Foods: These fruits are especially effected by the gas, so store them as far apart as possible: Ripe Bananas, Cucumbers, Carrots, Brussels Sprouts, Lettuce (& other leafy greens),  Squash,  Parsley,  Peas, Watermelon, Peppers, Cabbage, Sweet Potatoes, and Cauliflower.
  • Berries: Keep in their original containers and do not wrap tightly.
  • Cheese: Wrap tightly or use sealed bags.
  • Eggs: They are still good for 3-5 weeks after the ‘sell-by’ date. Keep them in their original container for the longest shelf life.
  • Lettuce: Seal in a glass jar for a longer shelf life.
  • For a full list of specific fruit and veggie storage tips check out this post by My Thirty Spot.

Helpful Products:

Good luck!

TWOW

Living with Less: How to Regulate the Amount of ‘Stuff’ in Your Home

One of the main ways we become overwhelmed with disorganization is by accumulating more ‘stuff’ than our spaces can accomodate. Over time, even the most conscious consumer can find themselves in excess if they do not take steps to regulate the inflow and outflow of things. In order to assist our readers in managing their personal collections we’ve put together a few rules for regulating the amount of ‘stuff’ in our lives.

1)  Know What You Have: If you are planning a shopping trip to the grocery store or the mall, before you leave, take an inventory of what you have and what you need. This will help you to avoid buying duplicates.

2) No Spend Commitments: Often times, homes will have packed pantries and freezers and still continue to bring in more food each week. Committing to one week of eating only the items in your home will help you eat down the current stock and save you money. This process is great for using food items that may be expiring in the coming months.

3) Borrow & Share: If you just need the use of something once or twice, consider borrowing the item from a friend or family member instead of purchasing it. This trick works great for specialty cookware (i.e. pasta maker), tools, special occasion clothing, and sports equipment.

4) Don’t Be Afraid to Return: One common issue we see in homes with disorganization problems is that they have a lot of never-used items that are in someway wrong. Instead of keeping those items indefinitely, make an effort to return them asap. To help you do this, immediately place the return item in your car with the receipt once you decide it is not needed.

5) One in, One Out: The one in, one out strategy is fantastic for maintaining the right amount of things for your space. The way it works is before you bring something new into your home, you must first let go of something else. By employing this method you’ll be encouraged to eliminate the things you don’t need and also monitor the incoming items.

6) Scheduled Purging: It’s easy to get distracted and push organizing projects to the bottom of our to-do lists, but if you commit to a regular purge you’ll begin to develop a more clutter-free existence. We recommend setting aside a Saturday once per quarter to complete a full-home round up of all un-used, broken, and unnecessary items.

Good Luck!

TWOW

9 Things to Review & Do in 2013

A New Year means that certain items in your life may require attention. We’ve put together a list of the most common tasks to complete or review as soon as possible.

1) Prescriptions: Review prescriptions and toss any that have expired. Make note of the ones that are in need of refill and contact your doctor to process the order before it becomes urgent.

2) Documents: Take a look at your passport, driver’s license and any other documents that expire to determine if they require a renewal in 2013.

3) Annual Appointments: Schedule annual appointments for doctors, dentists, optometrists, and accountants.

4) Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detectors: Change the batteries on the detectors and mark on the calendar when the next change will occur.

5) Pantry & Fridge Contents: Review the food in your pantry and fridge for expired goods. Purge anything that’s expired and make note of the items that have upcoming expirations so that you can use them soon.

6) Filters: Change the filters in your HVAC unit and mark on your calendar the next swap out date.

7) Credit Report: Get a free annual copy of your credit report and review the past year’s changes.

8) Policies: Review any policies that may require updates or renewal in the new year, such as insurance and product warranties.

9) Taxes: Take a look at your income tax withholding from last year and determine if your personal situation has changed in a way that affects your number (i.e. marriage, divorce, children, etc.)

Good luck!

TWOW

5 Steps to Help You Actually Start & Complete that Project

We all have projects and tasks that we’ve been meaning to get to for a while. Those items at the bottom of our to-do lists that for one reason or another we’ve procrastinated getting done. Perhaps it’s an organizing project or maybe it’s finally getting to that filing from last year. No matter the task, we’ve outlined some basic steps to help get you started.

1) Review the Project: Although you may have a general idea of what needs to be done, it helps to get a fresh look at the scope of the project. Determine how long it will take, what you need to complete it, and how you will work.

2) Make a Plan: Once you have a basic idea of what needs to be done, it helps to have a specific agenda or outline of how you will work. For example, if the project is to organize your filing cabinets, decide ahead of time, how many years of documents you will keep, what types of docs will be trashed vs. kept vs. shredded, and if you will need input from others during the process.

3)  Schedule the Time: Putting an allotment of time on the calendar is one of the easiest things you can do to ensure completion of a project. If the task will require several chunks of time, schedule the entire process. Don’t forget to leave yourself enough time before and after to keep distractions from creeping in.

4) Gather What You Need: Before you start the project, gather the necessary tools, supplies, and information. This will keep you from using the excuse of not having what you need to put the project on hold mid-process.

5) Focus on Completion: Once you finally get into the actual work, commit to seeing it through to the end, or the pre-determined stopping point. It’s easy to get distracted or frustrated with things, but if you mentally commit to a goal you’ll find it easier to see it through. We also find that a timer set in brief, but effective time intervals can help.

We hope this 5 step process helps to inspire you to get some of those bigger projects started this year. As always, if you need a little extra help, The Well-Organized Woman is happy to assist.

TWOW

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