Save Time and $$: Stop Running Errands (Over and over and over…)

Perhaps you love running errands.  Maybe you love shopping.  I love neither.

I detest errands and shopping.  The expense, hassle and time spent.  But, of course, there are items  – food, clothing, supplies, etc. – that I need for my family, our home and my business.  Errands and shopping are a necessary evil.

I have been pondering how to spend less time, money and hassle on running errands and shopping.  I’ve talked to a lot of people also working on the same challenge, and we’ve learned a lot from each other!

Why Change Your Shopping and Errand Running Ways?  Here are a few examples of why:

  • I want to make more client time available in my schedule which means streamlining some recurring errands and tasks.
  • A friend travels for work, and is looking to streamline the household errands and shopping to spend more time together with family on weekends.
  • A client has chronic health problems that make shopping or running errands difficult, and lugging supplies into the house nearly impossible.

How to Change Your Ways:

  1. Answer the questions:  What tasks / errands do you regularly run?
    Grocery or groceries, cleaners, coffee, bakery, post office, bank, pharmacy?
  2. Pay Attention:  For a week, take note of Where Your time Goes.
    Are you running off to the same place multiple times in a week?  A couple of grocery runs, dropping off cleaning, a handful to trips to the ATM or bank?
  3. Which of those tasks / errands / places could you complete less often?  Just once weekly, or even monthly?
  4. If you HAVE to run errands, bundle what you can.  I bundle the Errands I absolutely have to run onto one morning per week. I don’t need to run them more than once a week.  These may include: the cleaners to drop off and pick up; gas up my van; drop off donations for myself or for clients; or in-person banking if necessary.

More Importantly, what Errands could you eliminate entirely?  This week, I asked my FB community: “What is one regular errand you have been able to outsource or delete?”

 

Groceries / Household Supplies:

  • Scan-n-Go app for Sam’s club has been a major game changer. My husband and kids even come with me now that I don’t have to wait in that line! (KB)
  • Mariano’s click list I order my groceries online call them from the parking lot and they load my groceries in the trunk. They even give me 2 free cookies. (ND)
  • Love Peapod! Use them almost exclusively because I do not like grocery shopping. (KK)
  • InstaCart app (favorite groceries will deliver!) (BK/CK)
  • Amazon Fresh for groceries when I don’t have time to go. (MK, KB)
  • Amazon Prime Pantry for cleaning supplies, toiletries and paper products delivered monthly (NR, DCD, MK, LB)
  • Amazon for lots of little purchases, saving time, gas, and most importantly, aggravation. (LB)
  • Melaleuca.com, my first foray into home delivered household supplies!  (Me!!)

Gifts / Cards:

  • Gift giving. Sending an electronic gift card to out-of-town family saves me 1.) having to go to the store to search for a gift, and 2.) having to wrap and make a trip to the USPS to mail said gift. (JB)
  • Send out cards for sending g thank you cards and such. You can even attach gifts. (MK)

Errands:

  • I reserve my library books online. That way, despite having to go pick it up my reads at the library, they are at least waiting for me at the circulation desk, and I don’t need to search for them in the stacks. I guess true outsourcing for this would be using an e-book for reading on a Kindle or Nook. 
  • Mail-order prescriptions in 3-month supplies. No more long lines at the pharmacy! (MJS)
  • I have Chewy.com deliver my 30 lb bag of dog food every 5 weeks and I get great reminder emails when they are ready to ship the next box. I can move the auto ship out another week if they still have food or ship immediately if they are almost out. No more trips to the pet store to break my back on dog food. (AB)
  • Mobile banking is a big timesaver.  (LB) 
  • Chase quick pay and deposit (BO)
  • Auto pay for bills. (MK)
  • Stitch Fix (Me!!!):  I just received my third monthly Stitch Fix. This is an on-line styling and shopping website that sends me an great outfit every month based on my own preferences.  I can choose to keep as many of the items they send or none at all.  For this self-proclaimed non-shopper, this is GOLD!!
  • Target.com (Me!!) I shop at Target every other week for household items like paper goods, toiletries and cleaning supplies.  Amazon Pantry doesn’t carry a few of the items we regularly buy, so recently, I set up my on-line account at Target.com, paid with my Target Red Card credit card for free shipping, and received my first shipment.  They were delivered to my door.  It was beautiful.

So, in the interest of saving time, money and hassle, what errands are you willing to outsource or delete entirely?!  Let’s Go!

49.2 Degrees at 5 am. I Believe It’s Fall!

Fall is in the air.

It was 49.2 degrees this morning.  The forecast calls for a high of 70, but let me tell you, it was very dark and chilly at 5 am.

In response, all day I have been mulling over my “It’s really Fall now” list of things to do, to clear clutter and stay organized.  Perhaps you have that list, too?  Perhaps you are looking for some suggestions?  Here are a few!!

  1. Check your entry way, and swap out your accessories for the new season.
    Clean out the accessory basket by the door, review the contents, toss the old or broken items (empty bug spray bottle, beat up shopping bags), and put away all but a few of your absolute favorite warmer weather items (just in case you really do need that base ball cap again). Now re-stock the basket with hats and gloves, umbrellas and scarves.
  2. Check your entry way, and swap out your shoes for the new season, too.  So long flip flops, hello boots and wellies.  Toss the old or unmatched flip or flop, get rid of all but the last pair or two of sneakers (“Truly, dear, no one needs 4 pairs of old sneakers for ‘yard work.'” ).  Take in any shoes in need of repair, and put away the rest.  Then make space for the colder weather shoes and boots.   Do the same with sport items.  Play it Again Sports, anyone?
  3. Look around your home, and make note of projects and repairs to be completed.  Make some plans or make some calls.  Get on the schedule with service providers now before their schedules fill ip around the holidays.  Better to maintain – furnace checks and regular carpet cleaning – than to pay for last minute or emergency repairs or replacement.
  4. Pantry and Fridge shopping.  Check your cabinets and fridge.  Check your expiration dates and use up some of the foods you have on hand, to clear clutter and make room for holiday / seasonal items.
  5. De-furnish.  We have a 2 x 5 table sitting in the basement.  We moved it over the summer when our old kitchen cabinets and counter top were installed in the laundry room.  We should have put it in the crawl space at the time, but we didn’t.  It currently serves no purpose.  It goes AWAY today.  At a client’s yesterday, we collapsed 2 folding tables and a couple of chairs and put them away – they’ve been up for YEARS.  A client with a penchant for small side tables (they’re EVERYWHERE, and hold only clutter) took 3 or 4 to a local resale shop.
    In the interest of clearing physical and visual clutter, what small (or large) items could you do without? Put them away or let them GO!
  6. Drop off stuff.  Bags of donations, like clothes or books or shoes?  Recycling?  Items to be returned to a store?  Stuff that belongs to other people?  Take those piles / bags and boxes that are next to the door or already in the car, and get them Gone, gone, gone!!

 

6 tasks are enough for this week.  Next week’s list holds tasks like finishing switching the closet to Fall, window washing and putting away the deck furniture, but those can wait until then!!

What will you do this week to Embrace Fall, clear clutter and get organized?

Garage! Take Care of Your Car, Not Your Clutter!

Alternate titles for this week’s article involved fun with spelling:  

“Garbage / Garage”, or  “Take Care of Your Car, Not Your Crap”.  I stuck with the least offensive, please see above.

This warm weather we’re having offers a great opportunity to clear out and Organize Your Garage Before Winter!  We need to take care of our cars instead of our clutter!

Our garages can sometime be a place of wonder.  Not “Wow, how Wonderful”, but,  instead,

  • “I wonder what That is?” or
  • “I wonder what happened to the (fill in the blank here)?” or
  • “Hmm,  I wonder how that got here?” or
  • “I wonder who that belongs to?” or
  • “I wonder how to get rid of that?”

It is time to answer these questions and restore some order in your garage this week!

  • First things first, purge the garbage / recycling / donations.  And pull out the cars while you work!
  • Next, break down boxes.  It’s astonishing how much space is taken up by empty boxes.  I know, it’s tough to decide  do we keep the box the vacuum / lamp / appliance came in or recycle it? However, we’ve discovered that if we do need to pack the item up or return it, we can find another box (more come all the time!) or return the item without it.  If you just can’t part with the boxes, break them down and store them flat.
  • Now, Pick A Spot To Start.  Just one spot.  And just start.
    Work methodically clockwise around the room, so you know where to focus your efforts.  Garages are big spaces, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.  Pick just one spot, and start making decisions about what to purge, what to keep and where to keep it.
  • Corral the yard implements.
    In two recent garage projects, we made lots of progress by simply gathering up the brooms / shovels / rakes / etc., that were leaning against (read BLOCKING) everything!  Vertical storage for such items, like wall hooks or a peg board, would be best, but if you don’t have that, a re-purposed garbage can will work.
  • Consider and store kid / adult toys.
    I took a batch of stuff to Play It Again Sports this summer.  I walked in with a bag of my sons’ outgrown sports items, chose to leave the items there (instead of hassling with selling them on consignment), they cut me a check.  Beautiful!   Try listing outgrown bikes and scooters on Facebook sell pages, there is a market for such things!  And, thinking vertically again – install some hooks on the walls or beams, to get those summer toys and bikes off the garage floor for winter!
  • Recycle!
    E-Waste (old computers, TVs, etc.) and other household items: Keep your eyes open for local E-Waste collections, very popular this time of year!   And try the ultimate recycling tactic – if you have an item that someone else may want (furniture, scrap metal, etc.), put it out early the day before trash day.  That sort of stuff is usually gone by the next morning!
  • Paint and other Hazardous Waste.
    I’ve gotten the “what do I do with old paint / paint cans?” question  a lot lately.  Here is the answer:  If the paint is dried, toss it in the regular trash.  If the paint is even a little wet?  Water based paint will dry out eventually if you pry off the top and leave the cans open to air (be careful of pets and small children).  If you want to speed up the process, or if your paint is oil-based, you can buy packets of paint thickener at a home Improvement store like Home Depot, or add kitty litter to dry up the paint quickly.  Once the paint is hardened, with the thickener or kitty litter, it is safe to toss on the regular trash.  In addition, many communities have Hazardous Waste collections in the Fall and Spring, so keep an eye out for local events to collect paint and other hazardous waste.

Get out there this week, and clear some clutter from one of your hardest working spaces – the garage!

To:

Receive more ideas and suggestions like these;
Book time with me in person or virtually;
Arrange a presentation for your upcoming event; or
Discover the benefits of Organizational Coaching;

Please contact me.

Call / text 708.790.1940
Online at  http://peaceofmindpo.com
www.Facebook.com/MColleenKlimczakCPO
Via Twitter, @ColleenCPO

Sharing the Idea of “20 Minutes or 20 Dollars”

I had the privilege of speaking to a wonderful group in Merillville, IN last night about downsizing.

We covered a lot in our 60 minutes together: clearing clutter, determining the value of our stuff, how long to keep certain types of papers.  One idea that I shared with the group was the idea of “20 Minutes or 20 Dollars”.  A couple of people made a point to tell me that they really liked the idea, so I thought I would share.

I wish I could say that this genius idea was my own, but I can’t!  The idea comes from The Minimalists, in their essay, Getting Rid of Just-In-Case Items: 20 Minutes, 20 Dollars.   The premise is that if you are debating whether to keep or get rid of an item, remind yourself that almost anything can be replaced within $20 minutes or for $20 dollars.  And because we can easily replace most things, we don’t have to keep a million items for JUST IN CASE!

For Example:

20 Minutes:  
At last night’s presentation, I referenced the set of siblings that I’ve organized, each with a full set of chafing dishes.  Awesome but big, awkward, and only occasionally useful chafing dishes.  Apparently, these siblings had a very nice Great Aunt Somebody who always bought newlyweds a set of chafing dishes.  Here’s the thing – surely these siblings could SHARE a set, and just move the set around from family event to family event, instead of each of them having to keep their full set.  As they were all trying to de-clutter, it seemed that a quick phone call to each other and a 20 minute errand to pick up the shared set was more reasonable than keeping all the sets.

20 Minutes:
Last summer a friend hosted a big group of teens at her home for a weekend.  Instead of buying 20 air mattresses, she asked Facebook friends if she could borrow air mattresses.  In 20 minutes, she had dozens of offers for what she needed.

20 Dollars:
You know that box of cords?  Yes, THAT box.  The one that drives you crazy?  Most of us have at least one.  The black spaghetti mess of unmatched, unlabeled and unclaimed charging cords from ancient phones or digital cameras gone by?  Look around.  If what you use regularly already has a cord attached, you could probably purge all of those unclaimed cords and spend $20 someday on a replacement in the very remote chance you actually needed one of those random cords.  Clear up a whole lot of space, and bank on the fact you don’t need what is in that THAT box!

20 Minutes and 20 Dollars:
Sombreros (or similar items, you get the idea!).  Sombreros are big.  Awkward to store.  Not a commonly used items, let’s face it.  If you EVER had a need for a sombrero – party, costume, school presentation – you could either spend the $20 to buy one at a party store or on-line, or better yet, ask 10 friends if anyone has a sombrero, and I bet someone does!

This week, look around your house and at your clutter.  Ask yourself if you are keeping things for JUST IN CASE that could easily be replaced for $20 and / or within 20 minutes!  If so, let it go!

First Step of Shopping? Check Your Inventory.

A thought occurred to me very soon after I posted last week’s blog article, “Can We Go Buy School Supplies?”.

It’s the obvious first step, although a little too obvious for me, as I forget to mention it.  That obvious but not-so-obvious first step to shopping should be make your list and then “Check What You Have On Hand”.

It’s always better, from both a financial and clutter clearing standpoint, to use up what you have on hand before you purchase anything more.  This will help you:

  • Save Money;
  • Use items before they expire;
  • Eliminate duplicates; and
  • Clear Clutter!

Here are 5 examples of how this first step has helped me, just in the last week.

When we prepared to go to Office Depot last week…

We first checked our stash of school supplies – lots of pens, mechanical pencils and folders on hand.  We had depleted much of our stash getting the younger son ready a few weeks ago, but we still started our shopping at home, in our own cabinet.

Menu Planning.

Shopping your inventory may be a little more obvious when it comes to making dinner.  Driving home from a double client day yesterday, I was pondering what to make for dinner since I have not been to the grocery yet (and I was tired and really didn’t want to go!).  I remembered my son asked for home-made chicken noodle soup the other day, and as I mentally inventoried my cabinets and freezer while I drove, I realized I had what I needed to make soup for dinner.  And it was good!

Shop Your Home for Home Decor.

I spent a fun few hours organizing and staging space with a client over the weekend.  I assembled new storage units for her office, and then we set up her office space.  What was really awesome was looking around her home and borrowing from other rooms a lamp here, some art there and a potted plant from the old house that hadn’t found a home yet.  The finished space made her so happy, and cost only our time and the price of the new storage cubes.

It’s time to paint my son’s bedroom.  

Our first step is to check and see what paint we have already, especially considering we just painted the kitchen and office. We will also look for any supplies, like paint brushes and rollers, etc., before we head to Home Depot to buy paint and supplies.

The Magic Pants Bin in my basement.

The age of our Magic Bin in the basement has passed, but I will still share the idea.  With three sons, we always had current-sized clothes for the boys plus the in-between sizes that someone would soon grow out of or into.  For years, we always checked the off-size bins of clothes for the next size of clothing before we hit the stores, and like Magic, we could usually find a lot of what we needed in the Magic Bins.  The youngest son is now the tallest, though, so hand-me-downs and the Magic Bin have been retired.  But the idea is still valid!

Before you buy more stuff, always consider this very important first step – Check What You Have On Hand!

 

No, The First Step of Organizing is Not “Go Shopping”

Very often when we get the urge to organize, we start first with the urge to go and get more stuff!  “I need better containers!  New hangers!  Different bookshelves!  Cool new coat hooks, boxes, office supplies…”  well, the list goes on and on.  Lots of people go out and buy more stuff before they start actually organizing.
I understand this compulsion, friends.  I do.    Why do we want to shop first?
  • When faced with a cluttered space, of course it is more fun to think about the shiny new things in our “finished” space than to start with the hard choices, the heavy boxes, the dirty stuff!
  • Buying new things can lead to tangible improvement, something we can touch and point to and say “Look at how much better this space is now that we have xxxxx (fill in the blank).”
  • We may not know how to tackle our project, but we certainly know how to purchase things, either in a store or on-line.
  • If we already have clutter, it’s possible that “let’s go buy something new” is our usual response to a problem.
I recently worked with a lovely client in her laundry room. As we got started, she mentioned some great product ideas for shelving units and wall hooks for cleaning supplies, and I was all set to google those ideas on my phone, too, because Yes! That sounds waaaaaayyy more fun than tackling a pile of laundry!  HOWEVER… that is not how Organizing works.
 Here’s something to remember:  almost every organizing project requires at least some purging, some “letting go” of stuff.
The right organizing solution is almost never “Let’s bring more things into the space before we part with stuff!”
Instead:
  • Commit to the hard work, with a clear vision of how awesome your space will be when it’s organized!
  • Sort what you have.  Make decisions about what you want to keep and what needs to go away.  Actually bag up and get rid of the “go away” stuff.  Then figure out how to store what you have kept.  THEN you may want to shop.  However…
  • WAIT!! Get used to your newly organized space and stuff before you purchase something else!
  • Shop in your own stuff first – it’s very likely that you have what you need already.  As we organize, we may come across unused containers that we can re-purpose for our current project.   Or there are containers elsewhere in the house we can use.
  • Do your research, so you don’t end up contributing to your clutter.  Invest in good quality items, only as many as you need.  Keep receipts so that you can return items that don’t work in your space.
  • Do NOT buy new things that take up more space than the discarded items, or you will end up back in the same cluttered space you started in.
  • Look around your own space, or talk to friends and family before you spend the money!
  • If you like to shop, save the shopping as a perk for getting the hard work of sorting and purging done.
  • Keep a list of items you want to purchase or obtain.  Take the list with you when you shop, and stick with it!

 

So, let me be the little voice in your ear, your Jiminy Cricket encouraging you to do the right thing.   Do NOT shop first!  Do the hard work, then decide if you need to bring more stuff in to corral your stuff!

To:

Receive more ideas and suggestions like these;
Book time with me in person or virtually;
Arrange a presentation for your upcoming event; or
Discover the benefits of Organizational Coaching;

Please contact me.

Call / text 708.790.1940
Online at  http://peaceofmindpo.com
www.Facebook.com/MColleenKlimczakCPO
Via Twitter, @ColleenCPO

Let’s Talk Expiration Dates.

Let’s talk expiration dates.

A friend and I chatted at a recent rainy soccer game.   She had stayed up until 2 am the night before organizing her pantry.  Most of her time was spent checking expiration dates and tossing expired food.

 

We discussed how frustrating it is when we review our cabinets and pantry, and have to purge expired food.  It feels wasteful and lazy.

 

HOWEVER, getting down on ourselves about how we got to this point is neither useful nor productive.  It’s better to learn from the experience (see the process below), and change our behaviors from here (stick with the article until the end).

 

A few months ago, I wrote about National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day (November, Click HERE).  So let’s declare this week Clean Out Your Food Cabinet Week, what do you say?

Here’s How:
  1. Grab a garbage can, a notebook and a couple of boxes or paper bags.  Take a deep breath and begin.
  2. Clear off a counter for work space, near your food cabinets.
  3.  Choose a cabinet. JUST ONE.  Starting at the top, take everything out and put it on the counter. Then wipe down the shelf.
  4. Now, check every item. Yes, EVERY ITEM.  Even the stuff you bought recently.  It could be the newest, but still out of date. I was surprised to find my recently purchased canned beets were already expired.
  5. If the item is past its’ expiration date, toss it.  I understand, that is the hard part.  Yes, I know, it’s wasteful.  And yes, I know, you spent good money on that.  HOWEVER, the potential for food poisoning is much more important than a $3 can of tuna.
  6. If the item is open, but not past the expiration date, still check it for freshness.  Foods like breakfast cereal or crackers get stale if open too long in the cabinet.
  7. If the item is not expired, but you don’t think you will use it, label one of those boxes or bags as “donate to food pantry”, or “send to preschool”, or “give to friend/family” and start a pile of items to leave your kitchen to go and grace someone else’s.
  8. Review everything, then place the keep items back in the cabinet.
  9. If you have time to tackle another cabinet – JUST ONE – go ahead.  But DO NOT take apart more than on at a time!  Otherwise….
  10. Take out the trash, and drop off the donations / items to share. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done.  Repeat.
Once you’ve cleaned out the cabinet and pantry, it’s time to consume differently.
  • Use a list.  Post it on the refrigerator, and add items as you run out of them.
  • If you have to shop, buy only what you need for this week.
  • Stock your food like a store.  Pull the oldest items to the front, and add new inventory to the back.
  • Take advantage of sale items and stock up, but make sure to add those surplus items to your menu plan so that you use them up.
  • Plan to do this a couple times a year!
To:

Receive more ideas and suggestions like these;
Book time with me in person or virtually;
Arrange a presentation for your upcoming event; or
Discover the benefits of Organizational Coaching;

Please contact me.

Call / text 708.790.1940
Online at  http://peaceofmindpo.com
www.Facebook.com/MColleenKlimczakCPO
Via Twitter, @ColleenCPO

Finally, A Blog Post About Plastic Food Containers

How have I never blogged about plastic food containers before?  These handy and prolific little
items, found in every kitchen EVER.

I taught a Kitchen Organizing class a few weeks ago, and we chatted quite a bit about these storage containers.  We love and hate them at the same time! These containers are handy.  Re-usable.  With a million and one uses.  And  they occasionally drive us crazy.

Can you identify with any of these problems?

  • You have way too many containers and lids, they are stashed in every cabinet and drawer, and they occasionally fall out in a heap. And yet…
  • When you need a container, it’s difficult to find matching containers and lids.
  • When you use your containers in the fridge, its difficult to tell the difference between leftovers in a butter tub and actual butter in a butter tub.
  • You worry because you have heard that re-purposing or reheating food in plastic containers can leach chemicals into your foods.
  • Your soup or leftovers have leaked in your lunch bag.

Here’s how to fix these problems:

  • Pull out all the plastic containers in your kitchen and pair up the bottoms and lids.  Recycle or re-purpose the solo ones.  Do this every couple of months.
  • Dedicate one cabinet or one drawer as a home for your containers, and only store them there.
  • Buy clear (or mostly clear) containers, so you can easily identify their contents.
  • Find a brand you like, and stick with it.
  • Choose a few sizes of containers, and stick with just those.  (We have  GladWares small rounds,  round 2-cup containers with screw-on lids, flat squares and a few large ones for our recent homemade ice cream habit!).
  • Buy containers that stack, both while in use and when not in use. Most brands offer snap-together lids.
  • Keep just a pile or two.   If you find that you never get to the second or third pile of containers, then you probably don’t need the second or third pile of containers.
  • Glass storage containers are an option.  Many folks have made the switch.  They
    keep fewer containers overall, but can safely use the glass containers for storage, cooking and reheating.
  • If you have too many containers right now, spread the love. Re-purpose them as drawer dividers, send home leftovers with friends, donate them to a class room for craft time, recycle them
  • Don’t fall into the “it was free, I guess I’ll keep it” trap.  Deli containers, sherbet bowls, butter tubs or cottage cheese containers (and related items) are not made to last.   Recycle them!

Free up some cabinet space and decrease some stress by paring down your container collection!

Clutter and Procrastination: Making Room for Harry Potter

Sometimes there are actual hurdles – physical barriers! – between procrastination and organization.  Let’s seek them out, identify and remove them so we can get things done!

I love the Harry Potter books.  I’ve collected the hardback novels as they were released.  My set has seen the attentions of me and all three 3 sons as they read the series, too.  These books have seen the inside of many school backpacks,   traveled the country, been read and re-read, and are loved to the moon and back.  And they are showing their age (who isn’t?).

So, when a friend mentioned he was downsizing and had the full set in pristine condition, we jumped at the offer, in case one of my sons wanted to have a set to call their own.  Another generous friend recently shared a collection of organizing books with me (which I will share on this blog some day), too.

So, herein lies the problem.  Our bookshelves were full.   And I needed to make room on the shelves for these new additions / editions.

I’ve wanted to tackle the basement book shelves for a month, but just haven’t gotten around to it. But now, a pile of Harry Potter books lived in my office for a few days, then moved downstairs NEAR the bookshelves but still not ON the bookshelves.  Same went for the organizing books – oh, the irony.

I procrastinated about putting them away because there were actual barriers to putting them away.  Sound familiar?  Have you ever said or heard:

  • I can’t put away last year’s taxes because the file drawer is too full, or
  • I can’t put away last year’s taxes because of that pile of old printers stacked in front of the file cabinet.
  • I can’t schedule that appointment because I misplaced my calendar (a week ago), or I haven’t bought one for this year yet.
  • I can’t get rid of that old empty file cabinet before I find the keys (yes you can).
  • I can’t put the groceries away because the cabinets are disorganized, or are too full (I kid you not).
  • I can’t take those checks to the bank until I find a deposit slip (of course you can, the bank has piles of blank deposit slips!).
  • I can’t put stuff away on the book shelves because there are bags on the floor in front of the the bookshelves.
  • I want to organize that closet, but the light bulb burned out.

We’ve all had moments like this, I’m sure.   The good news for me and Harry Potter is that an hour on Saturday morning spent clearing off the bookshelves resulted in plenty of space for the new books, clean and dust-free shelves, the discovery of a few gems, and 3 bags of books in excellent condition donated to my local library yesterday morning.

So, this week, I want you to walk around your space with an eye on your Task List and also on the physical barriers that may be making you procrastinate instead of completing your tasks. Piles here and there, minor home repairs, maybe something as simple as taking out the trash, dropping off donations, or loading up those printers to drop off at your local EWaste recycling site.  Remove those physical obstructions, and get things done!

To:

Receive more ideas and suggestions like these;
Book time with me in person or virtually;
Arrange a presentation for your upcoming event; or
Discover the benefits of Organizational Coaching;

Please contact me.

Call / text 708.790.1940
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564 Words About Gift Cards (and some special skills)

I, like all of you, have skills.  In addition to organizing,

  • I can quote movies and song lyrics from a range of decades and genres;
  • I can roll my tongue, and wink with either eye (my 12 year old’s suggestions);
  • I can read upside down, and I know the number equivalent of each letter of the alphabet, so writing in code is a piece of 3-1-11-5 (cake); and
  • For today’s purposes, I know way more about gift cards than most people.  (There are more skills, of course, but that’s enough for now!)

gift_card_holder_2lWhy do I know about gift cards?  In addition to giving and receiving gift cards like most people, I help administer a gift card-based tuition reimbursement program at my son’s high school, so I spend a lot of time working with gift cards.  To help you this Holiday Season, I thought I would drop some knowledge on how to use and give these handy items!

Here are some tips to help you manage your Gift Cards:

  • Gift cards are money.  Therefore:
    • They are meant to be spent, and
    • They need to be managed (management is defined as getting the most out of our resources).
  • Know where your gift cards are, and what you have in stock.  Have a single safe place at home to keep them, in one drawer or on your desk (Not all over the house!).
  • If you just don’t know how much a gift card is worth, call the customer service number on the back, or go to the website.  If a card has been used, the company can usually track exactly when and where the balance was used. Grab a sharpie,  and jot the date and current balance on the front of the card.  Keep a small sharpie with you, to jot the new balance on a card if you only use part of the value. This one clicks on a key ring!  minimarker_black
  • If you received gift cards for a certain store or restaurant, sign-up online or via an app or social media (FB, Twitter) for special offer notifications.  Use your gift cards along with those special promotions to get a bigger bang for your buck.  For example, I have a Starbucks Gold Card, and with my on-line account I receive special offers and can add money or gift cards to the balance.
  • Carry the gift cards you plan to use with you, but certainly not all the cards you have. Carrying all of them could be cumbersome and you risk losing them! (There are apps like Slide to manage and digitize your gift cards.)
  • And yet, you don’t have to take your gift cards with you.  If you receive gift cards for on-line retailers like Amazon.com or ITunes, redeem the gift cards and add to your online account balance when you receive them, and then toss the redeemed cards away.
  • USE YOUR GIFT CARDS!  They are money, but some can lose value over time, or merchants may go out of business.
  • If you have gift cards that you don’t ever plan on using, you can sell your cards.  There’s Craig’s List or Facebook groups dedicated to buying / selling, plus other websites or apps just a quick google search away.

This week, collect those gift cards from all the spots you’ve stashed them, and turn them around for more gifts, a nice dinner out or maybe some $$ for Christmas Shopping!