Home Organizing

Get Control of Your Personal Information – Know What to Shred

Personal information

Personal information security is a hot topic these days. Between news of identity theft, mass data breaches and social media personal data security, the subject is front and center in our minds. We all want out personal information to be safe, whether it is our financial information, medical records, or social media data. Each year, we handle hundreds of documents that entail sensitive information, physical paper, our personal and financial paperwork.

It can be confusing to figure out what documents we need to keep, how long, and what documents we can dispose of, and how. Some individuals are so anxious about identity theft that they do not dispose of any paperwork at all! That results in massive paper piles, making it nearly impossible to find important documents when you need them. These piles can become an overwhelming burden. Paperwork clutter is a common problem, and very tedious and time consuming to tackle.

So, how can we protect our personal information (without getting buried in paper), at least the kind of personal information which commonly arrives in the mail? What to keep? How long? Why? We have some answers for you.

What Personal Information to Keep and How Long

  1. Tax Returns: Keep copies of all your tax returns. Keep the back-up information and
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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – Without Losing All Your Storage and Creating Clutter

Earth Day

A popular mantra of Earth Day is the catch phrase Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. To reduce the human footprint upon our planet we are called upon to Reduce (use and buy less), Reuse (what we already have) and Recycle (the little that we use over and over). On trash day in my neighborhood, most recycle bins are filled to the brim. That part of the three R’s is the easiest and we do a pretty good job (based on my observation at least) with recycling. It’s the other two R’s – Reduce and Reuse – that folks find to be trickier.

Reduce

To foster the first of the three R’s – Reduce, imagine each new item you bring into the home as an addition to a collection. Whether it is a brand-new product, or one you hope to re-purpose, before you bring it into your home ask yourself these questions:

• Do I have space for this item?
• Am I willing to donate or discard another item in my collection to make space for this one?
• Does this new item authentically fill a purpose in my collection?
• Does this item have a utilitarian use?

Reuse

Many of us have good intentions to reuse various household items. Sometimes, these items take up all our storage space

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Three Ways to Use Laundry Room Storage Effectively

laundry room cabinet

Laundry rooms are more than just a place to wash and dry your clothes. Any extra storage can be used to store cleaning supplies, back stock of household products and infrequently used household items. Create designated storage areas, zones, for each group, such as in these three examples.

Zone 1: Laundry Care Products

Store laundry detergent, fabric softener, and stain removers in one location. Keep all laundry detergents and supplies together and within reach of the washer and dryer. Label the shelf so that everyone in the family can return items to their correct place. If the shelf is hard to reach store a small number of detergent pods in a container on top of the washing machine. Make sure the pods are well out of sight of little children, but that teenagers doing their own laundry

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Three Reasons Why Being Disorganized is Not Your Fault

organized kitchen

It’s not your fault you are disorganized if:

You are spending all day tending to more crucial tasks. Your job is demanding. Caring for your family is a full-time job. Then there are groceries to buy, homework to supervise, sports games to attend, you try to do it all. Something must give, and if that something is staying organized – it’s not your fault. In the past homes were smaller, people owned fewer things, and as a result keeping homes organized wasn’t an issue. One study stated that today the average American family has over 300,000 items – that is a lot of stuff to keep track of and keep organized. Today people work longer hours, spend more time commuting or shuttling children to activities – it’s no wonder so many are disorganized. If you’ve run out of time in the day to maintain an organized home, then it’s time to call for back up.

It’s not your fault if:

Organization isn’t one of your talents. We are all born with different strengths and skill sets. I am a terrible singer, I can’t draw or paint, but I can walk into a room and tell you the most efficient way to organize the space.

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Lagom – Why Goldilocks Had the Secret to Happiness

lagom

Move over minimalism, Hygge, Swedish death cleaning, you are not sparking joy for us any longer! The latest trend in organizing is called Lagom and it’s awesome. It’s not new, it is a word which translates from Swedish to “just the right amount.” No dramatic militant upheaval to your lifestyle is needed. You don’t have to trade your comfy 3,000 square foot home for a tiny house with a dry toilet. You don’t need to dispose of everything that doesn’t “spark joy.” Awesome, right?

So, what is the meaning of lagom?

Remember the story of Goldilocks? From memory, I think it went roughly like this. A happy, little, free spirited girl goes traipsing through the woods and just as she gets tired from her forest stroll, she comes across a cottage, which might be a high end AirBnB or an evil witch’s hut, she doesn’t care.

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5 Ways to Make a Rainy February Productive

Plan and be productive

February – the month of the Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day, football jerseys and candy hearts. Around here, it’s also the month when we start wishing for the puddles to dry and spring to arrive. While it is still cold and gray outside, you CAN be productive and get lots done inside. Grab your favorite coffee drink, and let’s get cracking!

Put Away Holiday Decor

If you haven’t done so yet, pack up the rest of the holiday décor and put it away until next year. Return your inflatable Santa to it’s box in the garage, and recycle the sad, dry Christmas wreath. If the gloomy February weather is sapping your energy, you might need an energetic, cheerful organizer to boost your productivity and get the last of that holiday décor put away. We are a phone call away.

Reduce your Partner’s Burden this Valentine’s Day

For Valentine’s Day, think about doing something simple yet thoughtful.

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10 Reasons We Keep So Much Paper

Paperwork on a cluttered desk

It seems that everyone struggles with paper clutter. At the beginning of each year, we encourage clients to go through filing cabinets, recycling or shredding unneeded documents. For some folks though, the paper clutter is deeper than a few old insurance explanation of benefits or old quarterly financial statements.

The following are ten reasons we hang on to so much paper!

  1. Information is powerful. We keep a lot of paper as reference material, so we can find it later when we need it.
  2. For many people, printed copy is easier to read than online. Some folks print reams of documents with the intention to read through every page.
  3. Catalogues are promises of a better future self or home. We often hang on to them for inspiration or potential future purchases.
  4. Magazines can be full of knowledge we’d like to retain. We keep them to read them again, or to hang on to the “knowledge” we’ve gained.
  5. Beautiful photography in magazines may inspire our travel. We may get ideas for home remodeling projects from magazines. Although much of this information is also available online, we may keep the magazine as a physical reminder.
  6. Sometimes, the paper is your work product. You may have copies of projects
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Organize to Protect Your Identity

Paperwork on a cluttered desk

Data breach. Customer information stolen. Identity theft. Those words regularly appear in the news, making you, the consumer, angry. You wonder why companies can’t seem to figure it out–either stop collecting personal information or protect it!

Despite companies’ security efforts, the risk of identity theft isn’t going away. Criminals world-wide seem to be one step ahead. In 2016, over $16 billion was stolen from consumers, around $1,300 per victim.

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10 Quick Ways to Make Your Kitchen Holiday Ready

Holiday Kitchen

During the holidays we use our kitchen more than any other time of the year. We will bake cookies. We will host family and friends for dinner. Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s Eve give us plenty of opportunities to use all our dishes, kitchen gadgets, cookbooks, appliances, and panty items. This makes it a perfect time to make decisions about what kitchen items are still relevant, needed and useful.

  1. Check your pantry supplies. Use website stilltasty.com to determine whether your spices or other pantry staples need to be replaced. Make a list of staples you need to replace.
  2. Will you use fine china for special dinners this holiday season? Many don’t.
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Are You Drowning in Paper Piles?

paper piles

Where does all that paper come from?

Paper used to be a rare and precious commodity, but today most families are drowning in it. Mail, such as utility bills, financial statements, medical explanation of benefits, store catalogs, magazines, and election pamphlets are delivered daily. Children’s school work and art projects also create volumes of paper. Work related documents, those can pile up quick. What if you have a small business? Tons of paper. What if you manage multiple properties? More paper.

Much of the paper which enters our homes represents an action item of one kind or another. The action item might be: pay this bill, review this statement, call this company, read this document, save this document for the future, take advantage of this retail offer. You empty the mailbox on your way home from work, and voila everything in the mailbox is more to-dos for you. Great. Just great. As if you didn’t have enough to do already.

Mounds and Mounds of Paper

Even if you don’t receive many magazines or catalogs and you pay your bills on-line, you are still dealing with mounds

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