Ashe Organizing Solutions

Tame Your Digital Jungle!

January 4th, 2017

Tame Your Digital Jungle

Sometimes, our digital life seems more complicated than our real, in-person life. Multiple email accounts and social media profiles; a seemingly endless list of passwords; photos and files to organize, store and back up. If you feel overwhelmed with the digital world, try reining in the chaos with these simple tricks:

1. Unsubscribe to email blasts you don’t want. In just 15 minutes, you can simplify your inbox and shave time off going through emails in the future.

2. Organize your passwords once and for all! We love LastPass,  https://www.lastpass.com, but there are several good password apps that make it easy to manage passwords.

3. Commit to backing up your computer on a regular basis. The only way to prepare for the unexpected is to have a good strategy in place. You can easily set up an external hard-drive (I love my Apple LaCie device) for the onsite back-up or use an off-site “cloud” service. We love Carbonite https://www.carbonite.com. Most IT professionals recommend you do both. Your local computer/electronics store can assist you with solutions, recommendations, and installation services.

4. If you find yourself with a massive inbox backlog, take 15 minutes a day to clean it out. A quick way to get through an overwhelming inbox is to search on a specific email ID (E.g. “Mom’s email ID”) and quickly review, file or delete. You’d be surprised at how quickly you can get through a large volume when you focus on just one sender. Voila!

 

Home Maintenance Checklist

 

A household maintenance checklist can save you time and money! Don’t leave it to chance to remember the items in your home that need regular maintenance to keep them in top shape. Note when to tackle these items on your calendar, as needed. Here are some fan favorites:

1. Test smoke and carbon dioxide detectors, twice a year. Lifesaving!
2. Avoid a nasty problem by scheduling a professional to clean out your septic system. (Be sure to file away the exact spot where the tank lid can be found!)
3. Have your gutters cleaned to avoid costly mishaps.
4. Sealed driveways last longer—when was yours last sealed?
5. Weatherize sprinkler systems, pools and hot tubs.
6. Vacuum the clothes dryer exhaust duct at least once a year.
7. Vacuum the refrigerator coils underneath the appliance yearly.
8. Make a list of all appliances and household systems that require filters. Mark on your calendar the next time they are due for a change, per manufacturer, and check that you have new filters on hand.
9. Make a date with your favorite home heating & cooling specialists so they can keep your systems humming.
10. Repair and inspect exterior walkways, stairs and handrails to avoid slips, trips and falls.

If the above chores are all too much or you’re overwhelmed with scheduling the work, consider creating a punch list and handing it off to your favorite handyman. Walk through your home and make a list of repairs and maintenance items needing your attention. Are there loose floor tiles? Out of reach light bulbs that need replacing? Bathroom caulking need repair? Carpets that need to be replaced or cleaned? Leaky faucets? Sheetrock repairs? A handyman can be your best friend when it comes to maintaining your house. Big or small projects can be tackled with ease.

Preparing Your Home to Sell

March 17th, 2016

#FORSALE to #SOLD

With a little planning and some good old-fashion elbow grease you may just sell your home faster and be doing an Irish jig sooner than you think:

1. Schedule time. Take the time to spruce up your home before putting it on the market.

2. Welcoming Entrances – Outside in and Inside out!  This is your first impression! Think about the front door, this is where a decision could be made.  Potential buyers will be looking at the entrance longer than you think. Buyers will be looking at every detail as they stand there while the realtor is working on opening the door.

3. Make required repairs.  Fix broken appliances, leaks and mold, etc. Take a look at your house like a home inspector would.

4. Un-deck the walls. Remove family photos, memorabilia, diplomas and religious items. You want potential buyers to see their family in the house not yours.

5. Tackle the floors.  Show-off hardwood floors; toss stained carpets and reassess the need for throw rugs.

6. Clean-sweep closets. De-clutter and organize every closet.  Potential buyers will open each and every door.

7. Minimize the presence of family pets.  Round up pet supplies and toys; eliminate odors when necessary, consider using discrete air fresheners.

8. Clean and Shine – EVERYTHING! Potential buyers look everywhere! Nothing makes a better impression than a room that shines.

9. Set-Up rooms for intended function(s). Don’t leave buyers guessing.

10. Give some TLC to your attic, basement and garage. Show off the storage potential!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

February 13th, 2016

L-O-V-E

“L” is for Letting Go: That’s right, as Disney and Queen Elsa taught us in Frozen ♫ Let it Go ♫ Let it Go… (sorry could not help myself). Seriously, stuff can weigh you down and hold you back from the life you deserve. Sometimes just clearing the clutter and letting go of stuff can be life changing. Too often I see clients hold onto things because it was a gift, it was supposed to be a fun DIY project or a grown child might want it “some day”. Well, my friends, Let It Go and see how you feel. It may be an amazing experience!

“O” is for Organizing What Remains: Once you let go of things you no longer need, use or want, organize what’s left! Being organized means knowing what you have, but also knowing where it is when you need it! Tackle those paper piles, clear out those closets, rein in the toys and recycle the overflow. Show your stuff some L-O-V-E .  It may be easier said than done, but trust me, it is worth it.

“V” is for Victory Dance: Yes, once you’ve accomplished your goal of letting go and organizing what’s left, take some time to celebrate the big and small victories – dance!

E” is for Edit Often: Yep, this is not a one and done exercise. So often the mistakes I see are not that people do not let go or organize, it is that they do not take the time to maintain the spaces they’ve organized. So be sure to book time on your calendar to regularly edit your stuff, so you can keep dancing and loving life!

What could you L-O-V-E today?  I would love to hear about your victories!

 

Nothing like a good book and a hot beverage!

Three of my all time favorite personal development books:  

1. The Power of Habit Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg: My one big take-away from this book is the notion that the biggest thing you can do to change a habit, is to believe you can change. WOW! You’ve got this. Believe you can change!

2. Mindset The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D.: This is just one of those books I wish I had read years ago. Many have said it should be required reading for parents and teachers. I found it fascinating – and hopeful given #1 above.

3. Organizing From the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern: As a Certified Professional Organizer, I have read a lot of organizing books. This one in particular, continues to be an all-time favorite for how to keep it simple and get it done. From Action Plans to Insider’s Tips to Julie’s No-Brainers, this book stands the test of time.

What book is on your nightstand? Perhaps you’ll add one of the above…

Happy Thanksgiving &
Happy National Family Caregiver Month

This Thanksgiving, show your gratitude to the caregivers in your family. Here are some suggestions to help you get started:

STORE: Round up all the important documents (will, power of attorney, health care proxy, living will, DNR order, etc.) for your loved one and safely secure them in one place. Do not store these vital documents in a safety deposit box, as emergencies normally do not occur during banking hours.

HELP: Ask the caregiver to make a list of things he/she needs help with. Could you cross off a few items on that lengthy To Do list? Laundry? Shopping? Cleaning? Just lifting one of these chores off the caregiver’s back could make a huge difference.

ORGANIZE: With the caregiver’s input, take charge of organizing a loved one’s medications by making use of pillboxes. Use a 3-ring binder to keep track of medications taken and to compile and track prescription refills.

RELIEVE: Give the caregiver a day off! Follow through on a promise to take charge for a day, or perhaps a weekend. Your caregiver needs to recharge his or her batteries, too!  If you cannot do a day, arrange for an unexpected afternoon off – a trip to the movies, a long, hot bath, or a much needed nap. Caregiver’s choice!

FIX: Offer to handle a household repair job – tackle it yourself, or hire the right person to do the job. The point being that the caregiver no longer has to worry about a much-needed repair.

COOK: Make a big batch of homemade soup, then freeze and deliver it! Who doesn’t like a warm bowl of soup on a cold winter night? Your caregiver can easily defrost the soup, add some crusty bread and a simple salad and have a wonderful meal in no time.

Caregivers are unsung heroes. What can you do for a caregiver in your family?

Don’t just think about it; make it happen! I would love to hear how you helped a caregiver in your life.

Ghost busting doesn’t have to be so scary!

 

You don’t need high-tech ghost buster gear to attack the ghosts lurking in your attic, basement or storage unit. Sometimes you just need some grit and determination, and some time marked on your calendar. The most common ghosts I’ve encountered when de-cluttering homes are the following – not too scary, but certainly noteworthy:

 

The “furniture I’ll use again someday” ghosts: It can be difficult to part with pieces that were once used by loved ones. Don’t let those antiques just gather dust. Take stock. If you really love a piece, haul it out and use it. Otherwise, snap some photographs and talk shop with a local antique dealer. The same goes for those baby cribs, car seats and high chairs that may no longer be safe to use. Yes, our children may have survived in them, but it’s unlikely they will allow you to put your grandchild in them. Haul out the old baby gear and properly recycle it.

The “electronic gadget” ghosts: Do you have the first family computer stock piled in the attic? Are you saving a walk-man, VCR player or CD player just in case we go back to the stone ages? Chances are your old electronics will never see the light of day, so why not dispose of them now? If the items are truly working, consider donating them. However, if the technology is no longer relevant, please dispose e-waste responsibly.

The “photograph” ghosts: Do you have boxes and boxes of photographs and albums, perhaps even reel-to-reel movies of people, places and things that you don’t even recognize, stashed away in your attic? Take charge – haul these items down and have a party. Invite other family members to join in the fun of reviewing old photographs, movies and albums. Afterward, make decisions on what to keep, what to pass along and what to discard. You may even look to consolidate a few favorites onto a DVD or two for future generations to enjoy.

The “memorabilia” ghosts: Got sport trophies, yearbooks, college textbooks, newspapers, and National Geographic magazines? Who wants them and why are we saving them? While these items may have had meaning in the past, if we haven’t looked at them in years, and they’re gathering dust and cobwebs in the attic, perhaps it’s time to part with them. Or, bring them out from the darkness and display them in the living quarters for all to enjoy. You decide!

The “formal attire” ghosts: Yeah, you’ll never wear that bridesmaid dress again, nor the other formal gowns hanging out in the attic. Why not consider donating your formal attire to a local charity that can assist young people in dressing for their prom, or other formal occasion? There’s nothing like helping a young person feel her best on a special night.

The “sealed boxes” ghosts: What “treasures” are lurking in these boxes that have never been opened since your last move? You may be pleasantly surprised, or sadly disappointed, but let’s open those boxes! Often we get a good laugh or two and cannot believe we’ve saved the items for so long.

Don’t wait for “some day” to tackle the ghosts in your attic or other storage space. All too often some day never arrives. Why not consciously mark time on your calendar to edit out the ghosts lurking in your home? What ghosts will you scare away this Halloween?

People who found themselves in the path of the wildfires that recently ravaged California reported they not only had no time to pack, but could barely slip on their shoes in time to evacuate. Time is of the essence in an emergency and emotions run high. While no one plans to be in crisis, there are plans you can put in place to bring you peace of mind.

 

Pack a “grab and go bag” and tuck it away near an exit. This can be a simple duffle bag with some clothing items, sturdy shoes, a flashlight, some cash, and an extra set of keys, identification and emergency contact numbers.

Have a family communication plan – nothing fancy. How will you check in with family members near and far? How will people know you’re OK?

Stock-up on common household items: non-perishable food, flashlights, batteries, bottled water and medications. If you had to stay put, could you take care of yourself and family members for 2-3 days?

Schedule routine maintenance on furnace, water heaters, air conditioners, and smoke and carbon dioxide detectors.

Prepare a roadside safety bag for your car(s): blanket(s), flares, matches, jumper cables, first-aid kit, non-perishable snacks, and water. Check your tires and put your ice scrapers in the car now.

Additional tips from the pros: http://www.ready.gov/september

Happy National Senior Citizen Day, August 21st!

Top Five Reasons I Love My Senior Clients:

1. They have the best stories! I have learned a great deal about history, travel and love. My seniors brighten our working sessions with their wonderful stories.

2. They treasure the simple things in life: a Mother’s Day card, a love note, a family photo or a favorite book.

3. They are super savers. Before credit and debit cards, ATMs and PayPal, you saved first and spent second. Ask yourself: Do you have money for a rainy day?

4. They enjoy the company of others.

5. They are punctual!  Hardcopy calendars and wrist watches are favorite tools used by a lot of my clients, while some opt to go high-tech with smart calendars and smart phones. Either way, my clients are keen on keeping their scheduled appointments.

Moments That Made Me Smile:

 

  • One of my favorite ladies told me how she stopped playing tennis at the age of 80. I replied, “I want to be just like you when I grow up.”

 

  • You just never know when you might need a yardstick—or two or three. When moving a kind gentleman, he decided it was best to bring with him all three yardsticks he had accumulated in his lifetime. His explained to me that you never know, one might break – and then you would have a back-up, as well as a back-up for your back-up.

 

  • Recently a client said my neck skin was still good, so I should still be able to wear necklaces! In contrast, she said she now only wears scarves at the neckline!

 

  • When a loved one passes away, it can be difficult to clean out closets and dressers. I recently helped a gentleman clear out his wife’s clothing. He warmed my heart by saying, “It’s a good thing there are people like you to help people like me.”

 

Not only am I asked how I got started in this business, but the question of what I like most about my job comes up just as frequently. I treasure the relationships formed with my clients—and my seniors hold a special place in my heart. Madeleine L’Engle wrote, “The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been.”  For this truth I am genuinely grateful.

Think about this: mail comes into your home six out of seven days, every week, week after week, year after year – with few exceptions. Without a system to receive and process your mail, it’s no surprise that mail piles can accumulate seemingly overnight. And once piles are, well, piles – they take on a life of their own, and seem to grow exponentially.

Declare your independence from the never-ending stream of mail cluttering your mailbox and countertops with these 7 easy steps:

 

1. Stop unwanted mail from coming in the first place by registering on the National Do Not Mail List: www.directmail.com/mail_preference/

2. Examine your magazine subscriptions. If you have piles and piles of unread magazines, consider canceling a few subscriptions to lighten the load. Think about it: how long does it typically take you to read a magazine? Do the math… and take action.

3. Recycle or shred unwanted mail immediately. Taking action, even on a few pieces of mail, is reason to celebrate.

4. Assign a home for your mail – a single place where you put all remaining mail until you’re ready to process it.

5. Categorize mail into action folders, such as:  To Pay, To Call, To File and To Read.

6. Make a date with yourself to actually process your mail! Whether it’s twice a month or every week, set aside time to actually take action on all your mail folders.

7. Before you file anything, recognize that 80% of what we file we never retrieve. Ask yourself, “If I needed the information in the future, could I get it from some other source?”

 

The inscription found on the General Post Office in NYC (8th Avenue and 33rd Street) reads: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” While this is not the official motto of the USPS, a big thank you to all of our United States postal workers!

 

SOURCE:

https://about.usps.com/who-we-are/postal-facts/one-day-by-the-numbers.htm