Our Favorite Organizing Ideas from Pinterest

We love getting new organizing inspiration from Pinterest. There are so many excellent pins from organizing experts around the world and it’s an easy way to source new storage and organizing solutions for unusual spaces. Here are some of our latest favorite ideas:

Behind the Door Cleaning Product Storage: Get your cleaning products out of valuable cabinet space and onto the back of the laundry door for easy access and organization.

Side of Fridge Pantry Storage: Utilize the rarely used space next to the fridge to create a pull-out pantry. This is perfect for cans, spices, and other thin items.


Organized Pots & Pans Storage: Who wouldn’t want this model of organization for their pots and pans. With a place for every item it’s easy to put things back where they belong.


Ceiling Mounted Garage Storage: Maximize your storage space, by mounting storage bins on the ceiling of your garage. These bins are perfect for holiday decorations and other infrequently used items.

Silverware Trays for Bathroom Drawer Storage Organization: This is a fantastic idea for keeping toothbrushes, toothpaste and floss organized in a family bathroom.

Personal Health Record: What Are They & How Do I Make One?

For anyone that has a chronically ill family member or someone that has experienced an accident that has brought upon many medical issues, you know that the amount of paperwork can quickly become overwhelming. Even the average individual will want to keep track of their records and personal information for insurance purposes  reimbursements, health tracking, and for taxes. With much of the Personal Health Record industry moving digital it can be difficult to know what you need, how you should store the information, and for how long. Here are some basic guidelines and tips to follow.

WHAT TO ADD TO YOUR PERSONAL HEALTH RECORD FILE:

  • Personal information (phone, address, birthdate)
  • Insurance cards, discount prescription cards
  • Immunization records
  • Dental records
  • Important test results, especially abnormal ones
  • A list of medical conditions and coordinating health regimens or medications
  • A list of medications and foods you are allergic to
  • Prescription history
  • A list of doctors, specialists, and health providers that you have seen in the past (including contact info)
  • Insurance bills and statements

WHERE TO STORE:

  • Online services such as WebMD’s Personal Health Record system can assist you in storing your information digitally, so that you have greater ease in providing healthcare professionals with access to past history, can access the info throughout your lifetime, and to maximize your health benefits. For more information about storing your personal health information online, visit the Medicare.gov page.
  •  If you feel more comfortable keeping the information in hard copy, create a folder designated for your Personal Health Records and another for Medical Insurance. Keep all of the items, except for the last, from the list above in the first folder. The Medical Insurance folder should keep the bills and statements from your insurance company. You can also add in correspondence from claim negotiations or other related documents. When seeing a new doctor, bring the first file with you, so that they can copy the information.

HOW LONG TO STORE:

  • Experts advise that medical records should be kept for 5 years after the end of the treatment. For insurance bills and statements you can toss records after a year, or immediately if you have access to the digital statement online. Remember to always shred your personal health records for security reasons.

We wish you good health and organization!

TWOW

 

Childproofing Checklist

Babyproofing your home before your child starts crawling and especially once they are on the move is important for the safety of the child. Here is a comprehensive checklist of what needs to happen in each room of the house:

KITCHEN:

  • Add appliance latches to oven, fridge, dishwasher and all other lower appliances
  • Add child-proof door latches to all cupboards and drawers below counter level
  • Install a stove guard and knob handle covers
  • Move knives into locked drawer instead of the counter top
  • Remove table cloths from tables if there are heavy items on top that could be pulled off and hurt the child
  • Install a safety cover on the garbage disposal

AROUND THE HOME:

  • Add electrical plug covers throughout the home
  • Hide all cords or user cord storage boxes. Ensure that if a cord was pulled, nothing heavy could fall on the child
  • Add baby gates at the top and bottom of stairs and to dangerous rooms (garage)
  • Add locks to all doors and windows
  • Install corner and edge bumpers, if desired
  • Secure all large furniture to the walls
  • Secure all guns and other dangerous weapons in a locked safe
  • Remove all toxic plants from the home
  • Install window guards
  • Secure up high or remove window coverings with hanging cords.

BATHROOM:

  • Add a child-proof latch to the medicine cabinet (even if it is located higher up)
  • Check the water temperature to make sure it is not above 120 degrees Fahrenheit or have a plumber install an anti-scald device
  • Add non-slip mats or stickers to the bathtub floor
  • Never leave flat-irons or curling irons on when unattended and ensure the cord is not dangling below the counter

LIVING ROOM:

  • Block the fireplace with a cover or gate

CHILD’S ROOM:

  • Purchase a crib approved by baby safety associations and do not use bumpers
  • Install a fire latter outside the child’s window once they are old enough to use it safely
  • Remove any sharp toys or anything that could wrap around a child’s neck

OUTSIDE:

  • Add a fence or safety cover to the pool

Common Questions (and Answers) for a Professional Organizer

When organizing people’s homes we often answer the same questions again and again. While our answers occasionally change based on the situation, we’ve also come up with general strategies and concepts that seem to ring true for most.

1) Should I keep all of the sizes I fluctuate between? This is a common problem. We find that many individuals with overflowing closets are often holding on to wardrobes in several sizes because of frequent weight changes. What we always tell people is that it’s easier to fluctuate between sizes when you have the next size up available to you. If your jeans were getting a bit tight and you had no larger size available, you might be more conscious of eating healthy and working out to make the current jeans fit again.

2) What do I do with the stuff I’m storing for family/friends? The first question to ask is how long have you been storing the items. Next ask yourself if there was a time limit placed on providing the storage and when the last time the owner mentioned the items. If you’ve had clothing from a relative for several years, chances are they don’t need it anymore and would be fine giving it away. If they truly want the items give them a deadline by which to move them and stand by it. Just remember, this is your home, not a storage unit.

3) How do I maintain the organization? This is the most difficult part of organizing for most people. They love the idea of getting organized, but struggle to maintain it after we’ve left. To assist in keeping your home tidy and organized, commit to a daily routine of putting things back where they belong. Each night, before you go to bed walk around the home and conduct a mini-reset. This will help keep things from getting out of control. Labels are also a great idea to ensure things go back to their rightful homes.

4) What papers do I keep and what can be tossed? In general, if you can find a copy of the document somewhere online, shred, recycle or trash the hard copy. For documents that are currently being used, maintain a inbox/outbox system that is reviewed each week for expired/unnecessary items. To determine what documents need to be stored long-term or for tax purposes, review Suze Orman’s Financial Clutter, What to Keep List.

5)  Am I a Hoarder? It is common for individuals using a professional organizer to feel like perhaps they are a Hoarder. The reality is that the amount of collecting or acquisition that it takes to become a Hoarder is significant and most people do not fit the clinical definition. That being said, there are many people with hoarding tendencies. If any of the following statements are true, you may benefit more from a mental health professional, than an organizer.

  • You acquire belongings to fulfill an emotional need
  • You hold onto excessive amounts of items with little or no value (i.e. newspapers, old magazines, trash, etc.)
  • Your belongings have taken over the space you require to live comfortably in your home
  • You are extremely reluctant to part with any belongings, no matter their frequency of use, value, or usefulness
  • The collecting of items has otherwise impaired your life or health

What are some of the questions you’ve always wanted to ask a professional organizer?

TWOW

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.

 

5 Ways to Organize on a Budget

Transforming your space from cluttered to organized doesn’t have to cost a lot. Sure there are many incredible, yet expensive products out there to help you achieve that Pinterest-worthy organization, but there are also lots of tricks to get the same look for cheap. Here are some of our favorite ideas.

1) Recycle & Reuse: Instead of purchasing new containers, make use of the products you already have around your home. Some items that can be easily repurposed into new storage solutions include:

  • Shoe Boxes
  • Cups & Mugs
  • Old Tupperware
  • Altoid Tins (for small items like nails and pins)
  • Shower Curtain Hooks (for belt and necklace storage)
  • Baskets
  • Ice Cube Trays or Muffin Tins (for earrings and other jewelry)
  • Used Food Jars
  • Ziplock Bags

2) Freebies: Before buying any new organizing products, post what you are in need of on Facebook or Twitter and see if someone in your network is willing to gift it to you. Freecycle.org is also an excellent resource for finding free home goods.

3) Sell Unused Stuff: When cleaning out homes we often come across many valuable belongings that are simply no longer being used. Make money off of these items by selling them at a garage sale, via Craigslist, Tradesy.com, or even a consignment store. The money made can then be used to purchase the necessary organizing items.

4) Sales, Deals & Discounts: When you decide to spend money on organizing products, take advantage of sales and discounts. Typically August is a good time of year to find deals on storage solutions as many stores are promoting off-to-college sales. In terms of discounts, you can usually get at least 10% at Bed Bath & Beyond and Michael’s for signing up for their email programs. The Ikea as-is section and The Dollar Store can also be a great places to find a deal.

5) Purge First: A common mistake that people make when organizing is to buy a ton of storage products that they think they will need before assessing the post-purge room contents. In order to avoid over-spending, complete your room purge first, then buy only the minimum number of products needed to make the space feel organized.

What are your favorite budget organizing tips?

TWOW 

Simple Ways to Feel More Organized

Organizing professionals understand that there are some small things you can work on that make a big difference in the level of organization you feel in your home. These changes don’t take a lot of effort and can be fairly inexpensive, but you’re certain to notice the positive effect in your home. Here are some of our favorite ideas.

1) New Hangers: Changing out your mismatched, old hangers to a complete set can instantly make your closet appear more organized. The process of replacing the old ones can also be a good time to complete a clothing purge and re-organization.

2) Junk Drawer Organization: This is one area of the home that is frequently out of control. Tidying it up with some drawer organizers can feel like a huge relief for most people, but the task can be fairly quick.

3) Implement a Mail Routine: Instead of opening the mail and letting it pile up on the counter for months, institute a daily routine where you open the mail over your shredder and near you filing system. Once mail has been sorted, shred the unnecessary items and file the rest in appropriate mail system folders.

4) Labels: It can be difficult for large families to all contribute to a new system of organization. Labels can help them stick to the system and remember where things belong. Use a label maker to identify where things live in the kitchen, medicine cabinet, office, play room, and anywhere else where items are frequently used and moved.

5) Create Return, Donate, & Repair Bins: Some of the most common clutter that accumulates in homes are items that are actually meant to leave, but never quite make it out. Creating a three bin system in your garage or car can help you move these items along more quickly. When an item needs returning, donating, or repair, simply place it in the correct bin and handle on a regular basis.

 

6) Contain Unsightly Cords: Use a cord organizer to discreetly contain and hide cords in your office or living room.

7) Clear off Elevated Flat Surfaces: By taking a few minutes to clear the surfaces in your home of clutter, you’ll feel a greater sense of organization throughout. All elevated flat surfaces count, so don’t forget places like dresser tops, nightstands, and kitchen counters.

8) Bathroom Cabinets: These spaces are often cluttered, but also underutilized. Measure the space and purchase bins or baskets that offer greater use of the full height and width. Organize using a like-with-like strategy.

What are your favorite quick organizing ideas?

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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