Thursday, July 31, 2008
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
1) Sort through school supplies:
Gather up all of the loose markers, crayons, pens, pencils, rulers, notebooks, etc. and do a good sort and purge. You might find that on your annual trip to Staples, you can skip the paper clips and save some money.
2) Take a pass through your kids' wardrobes:
Decide what doesn't fit anymore or what's no longer in style or wanted. Realize that your son already has ten black t-shirts (even after you toss the faded ones) and probably should choose some different colors this year. Bag up clothing for donations, and drop it in a box on your way to Kohl's for back-to-school shopping.
3) Pare down the toys and games:
Chances are, there are toys and games that haven't been used for quite some time. This is a great opportunity to cut down and make room for the new things you will acquire this year. Thrift shops, schools, churches, and charities will usually take toys in good, clean condition with all of their parts intact.
4) Pare down the books:
Ditto on the books. It can be challenging to get rid of childhood favorites, so it's OK to keep a few treasured favorites. But making room for new books to come in really encourages kids to keep reading. For a shameless plug for The BB, bring them to The Book Rack or another used book store for store credit, and pick up some others. If the kids pick up reading again in August, they'll get a jump start on getting out of the summer slump in time for school.
5) Purge last year's paperwork:
If you have a pile of school papers, projects, artwork, essays - now is the time to pick your favorites and store them away. Then get recycle the rest. Set up an area for homework and for processing this year's paperwork.
Most importantly, take the time to enjoy these last few weeks of summer!
Saturday, July 26, 2008
The book typically sells for $25, but until 7/31/08, you can get one for $15 at http://www.myfyuc.com/taxsavings.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
If it were up to me, the box would have gone out to recycling this week. But The BB (probably wisely) wants to hold on to it for a bit longer. So what's the right answer?
In general, a good rule of thumb is to hold on to packaging and boxes until you're certain you won't need to return the product to the store for any reason. But I see a lot of software boxes and other packaging as I help clients clean out their spaces, so I know that the temptation is strong to keep things longer. Reducing the amount of packaging that you are holding on to can save valuable space in your closets and basements. Pull out manuals, warrantee information, and important paperwork and recycle the box. This is especially effective for software programs. All that cardboard just to hold a simple CD! Make sure you cut off any bar codes required for rebates.
Larger boxes for appliances, computers, electronics can go out to recycling once you pass the 30 or 90-day return period. It may seem like holding on to a quality large box that "might come in handy someday" is wise, but be honest with yourself. Unless you're planning to make a homemade Halloween costume (a great idea, BTW) or have unlimited storage space, these are just too big to be practical. They get pretty heavy when you use them for packing
For now, I have stashed our box in the office (where else!) where I can shut the door for the party on Sunday.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Sunday, July 20, 2008
It's really an interesting idea; but the paranoid side of me worries about identity theft. It seems like there is just too much room for private information to escape during the process of mailing documents in, scanning them, and then shredding or return. That said, Pixily indicates on their website that the only time documents are seen by human eyes is during the scanning process; all employees go through an extensive background check; and no recording devices (including pencils) are allowed in their operations center.
It might be worth testing out for some non-sensitive material (receipts or utility bills).
There are other easy ways to go paperless, too:
- Get bank statements emailed in PDF form on a monthly basis
- Ask for electronic credit card, utility, phone bills
- Pay your bills with online banking
- Cut down on the amount of junk mail you get by registering with The Direct Marketing Association
- Opt out of unwanted catalogs at Catalog Choice
Friday, July 18, 2008
For the rest of us, who clip endless recipes out of magazines with the best intentions of trying every one, I have a more easily-implemented (and perhaps a bit more practical) solution: The Recipe Binder. You can get it together in no time, and you'll really feel like you accomplished something.
1) Pick up any standard three-ring binder, some clear plastic sheet protectors, and binder insert pages with 4 pockets to hold 3x5 cards. (Usually photo pages will do the trick.) You will also need a set of tab dividers.
2) Collect all of your loose recipes, clippings, magazine pages, printouts, and recipe cards. Divide them into categories of your choosing - breakfast, appetizers, poultry, grilling, etc. (If you're anything like me, dessert will be a disproportionally large category.)
Do a purge of the recipes that you are never going to use. (Let's be honest, do you really think you're up to the task of making Chateau Briande? Better stick with pot roast.)
3) Set up the tabbed dividers with labels for each category.
4) Punch holes in any full-size page recipes, or slip them into sheet protectors to save them from spills and stains.
5) Slip recipe cards into the pocketed pages.
6) Put everything together, and ta-da, you have a handy, organized recipe binder in no time.
Now if I could just try to make the Snapper with Spicy Pineapple Glaze instead of just ordering a pizza...where is that jar of cayenne pepper, anyway?
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
So, to illustrate my point, I thought I would share the reality of my home office. I share the space with my husband (we'll call him The Book Baron, or BB for short.) We in fact share a great T-shaped desk that was concepted by BB and put together with help from my very handy father. BB is a highly intelligent, creative individual. And I'm sure you can guess, I'm quite the opposite. Measured, anal, and a bit uptight. That leads to very different ideal workspaces.
BB's side of the office on a "good" day - complete with an extra/unused pair of computer speakers, his slippers, mail on the floor, and his jar of Flintstone's vitamins.
My side of the office...Real Simples all happily tucked in. Hey...who left that glass there?
The truth is, we've done our best to co-exist in our space and remain sensitive to each others' organizational preferences. I try to offer up gentle suggestions and bins from Staples, and BB tries to keep his piles contained to his side of the office. I figure as long as I don't become overbearing and chase him with the shredder and label maker, and he doesn't put any critical bills under a stack of expired coupons from Bob's Stores, then we're going to make it. Though I can turn around a client's messy office in a heartbeat, it's always tougher when you are working with your own spouse.
But when it gets too overwhelming, I retreat to the sanctuary of my delightful magnetic spice rack, metal containers all labeled and in a row on the fridge:
Sometimes a little perfection goes a long way.
A trend that I am finding in working with my clients is that they are looking for what I will call a "clutter buddy." It's a daunting task to get started on an organizing project, and no one should have to go it alone. Often, as I stand side-by-side with a client as we sort through their stuff, they wonder "why can't I just do this on my own?" But the fact is, it's a lonely task. Part of the process of allowing yourself to get rid of something is to share the story of it before you let it go. I have listened carefully and with compassion as the history of a particular photo, home made costume, or child's craft project is revealed. It seems as though once the story is heard one more time, it's easier to let go.
In other cases, my clients are looking for companionship as they tackle the piles of clutter. Someone to help schlep a box or hold open a trash bag. It can make the time go by faster and keep the energy level going.
We all have that closet that needs a purging or that area in the garage that's getting a little bit out of control. (Yes, me included. Nobody's perfect!) Whether or not you choose to work with an organizer, try to find a clutter buddy to help you stay on track and meet your goals.