Be Organized For Life’s Transitions

There are so many of life’s transitions that we will go through at one point in our lives or another. Some good, some not so good. But, I think that what we can all agree upon is that change is going to happen and when it does, it’s going to be challenging. Even though change is one of the constant things that we can count in in this life, most of us are a bit resistant, especially in the beginning, to roll with it. 

I have found that one way to deal with the stress and anxiety of change is to prepare and be ready, as much as possible, whenever possible. Being organized is key when dealing with change!  

 I’m going to address the most common of life’s transitions that most people will encounter in their lives where being organizing will be extremely beneficial.

There’s a lot of information so I’m splitting them into 2 newsletters. This one is all about moving. I will provide more information in the October newsletter.

MOVING:  Ugh…where to begin? Whether you want to move or have to move, it’s stressful. There’s so much to do and it’s all so overwhelming. Hopefully this information will help reduce some of the stress and overwhelm associated with moving.

1.      Have a time-line: Getting this information/dates on the calendar will help ensure that you’re on track:

a. When to give 30 days notice

b. Get estimates from moving companies

·     We recommend getting 2 estimates

c. Notify everyone of your new address:

·     Postal Service

·     Financial institutions

·     Family & friends

·     Medical Professionals

·     Lawyer(s)

·     Insurance Agent(s)

·     Utility Companies

·     Credit Card Companies

·     DMV (You’ll need to change your driver’s license)

·     Home Maintenance Services (Pool, Gardener)

2.     Start downsizing: It’s never too early to start downsizing.

a. Even if you’re moving into larger space, its best to go through your home to get rid of those items you no longer want or need. Why pay to have them packed and moved and spend time putting those things away if you have no use for them?

3.     Start a “To Do” list for your upcoming move.

a. Whether buying or leasing you will need to spend time looking for a new home. To avoid wasting time looking at places you would not be interested in, put together a list to save yourself time, including:

·     The areas you are considering

·     The price-point you are comfortable with

·     Things that you have to have in your new home (ie, fireplace, pool)

·     Things you definitely don’t want (to be on a main street)

·     Whether being in a good school district is important

·     If being close to public transportation is beneficial

 4.      If you will be the one packing, make sure you have the right supplies on hand:

·     The right amount and right size boxes

·     Packing paper

·     Bubble wrap

·     Tape

·     Sharpies

·     Fragile stickers

·     Painters tape

 5.      Things to do at your new home before you move in:

·     Find out if there are any restrictions on moving day:

·     Check to make sure the date/time is cleared for move in

·     Make sure there are no parking restrictions

·     Clean before you move in:

·     You don’t want to unpack if the shelves, floors, bathrooms aren’t clean

·     Make sure the utilities are turned on:

·     TV/Internet/Cable

·     Gas/Electric

·     Water/Power

·     Measure to make sure your furnishings will fit:

·     You don’t want to pay to have a large piece of furniture moved only to find out it won’t fit in your new space.

If you or someone you know is moving, give us a call. We would LOVE to be of service!

Important Things To Do Before You Put Your House On The Market

Before you put your house on the market, there are things that you should do before your first open house. Implement these easy, do-it-yourself suggestions to get the most money for your home in the shortest amount of time:

Before you put your house on the market, there are things that you should do before your first open house. Implement these easy, do-it-yourself suggestions to get the most money for your home in the shortest amount of time:

1.    Go through your entire house and reduce the visible clutter in each room:

 Potential buyers want to imagine themselves living in your home. As such, it is important to keep things clean, organized, accessible and impersonal.

·       Get organized

·       Declutter all surfaces

·       Remove personal pictures

·       Remove excess furnishings and décor

 Remember…less is more!

 

2.    Declutter your closets and cabinets:

 During an open house, potential homebuyers will be looking in your closets, kitchen drawers and cabinets to see if there is enough storage for their needs. 

·       You can showcase what your house has to offer in terms of storage by decluttering your closets, cabinets, and drawers, to show off the potential those spaces have to offer.

 

3.    Think about small, but important, details:

 Show the potential every room in your house has to offer:

·       Add some plants or flowers

·       Make a room look larger by adding a mirror

·       Make sure to have the right lighting

·     Make sure that you turn on all of the lights, open the blinds and shades before your open house.

 

4.    Gather your documents:

·       Put all warranties, manuals, service records, and repairs done to your house in one place as they will be needed by different parties at different times while selling your house.

·     If you’ve made recent upgrades like a new deck, new roof or installed a new kitchen, make sure your agent knows and have the paperwork to back it up.

·      During the home inspection process, inspectors will go through your house to check everything carefully. 

·     Be proactive and gather all your service records so you’ll know ahead of time if something needs to be taken care of before listing your home.

. Title companies require very specific documentation in order for you to sell your home including the following:

  •  Mortgage loan information which will show any outstanding mortgage balance or pay-off balance if applicable
  •  Final purchase and sale agreement
  •  Deed
  •  Title report
  •   Property tax information including most recent tax statement
  •   Homeowners insurance
  •   Lease agreement if you’re currently renting the property
  •   Any reports or documentation that relates to the property:
  •   Warranty paperwork, permits, service documentation, instruction manuals, dates of home improvement projects, and age of the roof, furnace, hot water heater, HVAC, and all the other major appliances.

It’s Still Not Too Late! Are You Prepared For An Earthquake?

Natural disasters like earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and/or fires, can have disastrous and far reaching effects on our lives. Especially if we are not prepared!

Watching the news and seeing images of people who lost everything, their houses, cars, clothing, family heirlooms and photographs, in the aftermath of a natural disaster, has always made me think about how they were going to put their lives back together. While we can’t prevent or stop these events from happening, we can be prepared so that we can mitigate the damages.  

 Since we (at least most of the people getting this newsletter) live in California, earthquake territory, I put together a list of five important tips for how to be or how to get prepared for an earthquake. Hopefully this will provide information and motivate you to do something, anything, towards getting you and your loved ones ready, just in case…

1.  Be Informed:

 

2.  Be Proactive: 

  • Make sure to have an earthquake kit. 
  • Keep one in your car just in case you’re not home when an earthquake hits. 
  • Make sure the supplies are kept up to date.  
  • Medical supplies do expire and old food/water isn’t going to make things any easier when you need them for survival.
  • Prepare an Emergency Kit that includes water, flashlights, batteries, and non-perishable food. For a full list of recommended supplies Click Here.

 

3.  Take action:

  • Put together a communications plan with other family members or friends NOW so you’ll have it when you need it. (notice I said when!) 
  • Figure out where to meet if you are not together.
  • Agree on who to reach out to in another area to let others know you’re okay.

 

4.  Be Smart:

  • Make sure that you have all of your important documents together in one easily accessible place so that you can grab it and go in an emergency:
  • This will help you be prepared so that you can recover your losses quickly: (ie, insurance policies, photos of valuables, emergency contact list). 

 

5.  Stay Safe:

  • Make sure you know where the gas shut off valve is
  • Make sure you know how to turn of the main water supply
  • Don’t light candles (you’d be surprised and how many people don’t know that!)

If you want some detailed information about which documents to put together and how, sign up for my newsletters (if you haven’t already) and get a FREE Emergency File Checklist. (Go to www.organizingconceptsanddesigns.com)

How To Organize Your Closet In A Few Easy Steps

Click on this link to watch a video that will demonstrate how to organize your closet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oojwOEk73wc

For those of you who’d rather read about it than watch the video, here’s some tips on how to organize your closet.

1. The first step is make sure that you have the right supplies on hand before you begin. You will need: 

·     Sturdy bags or boxes for donations;

·     A full-length mirror so that you can try things on in the process to help you decide between what to donate and what keep;

·     A basket for loose change, papers, rubber bands, hair clips, and other things that you might find in the process.  You don’t want to have to stop to put away these small items so just put them aside for now and integrate them into their proper homes later.

2. You might also want to consider investing in:

·     Over-the door organizers (check out Stock-It-Pockets below);

·     Stackable shoe bins;

·     Matching bins for accessories

·     Drawer dividers; and 

·     Under-the-bed bins. (You can store some of the rarely worn or used items that were in your closet under your bed and free up some valuable space).

3.  The next step is to empty the closet completely. Yes, completely.  Everything out!’ It is best to have a clear, clean space to plan and visualize how you’re going to re-organize your closet.    

 4.  Next, you need to decide what to keep and what to toss or donate. To help you decide, ask yourself these three questions: Do you love it?; Do you wear it? Does it fit? 

·     If the answer is YES to all 3 questions, then you can place those items into the pile of things to keep.  

·     If it doesn’t fit, put it directly into the donation pile along with other items that you no longer like or want. 

·     If you have haven’t worn something for more than 6 months, it is probably time to toss it, sell it or donate it.

5.  The next step is to sort through everything and group like items together. For example, put all jackets together, all socks together, dresses with dresses, etc.

6.  Now you’re ready to put everything back. 

·     The important thing to remember is that you should put things back in a way that makes sense to you, utilizes all of your available space and is easy to maintain.   For example, you might want to reserve the front and middle of your closet for clothes you wear most often, making sure your work clothes are easily accessible. Lesser-worn items like formal dresses may be put towards the back of your closet, out-of-season clothes towards the back or on the upper shelves.

7. Make sure to get all donations out of the house, into your car and off to your local donation drop-off to avoid the temptation to change your mind. Go with your initial intuition.

8.  Finally, I highly recommend completely re-organizing your closet either once a year or, you can break it into smaller pieces by organizing seasonally.

·     If you choose to reorganize once a year, choose a date that you’ll remember and make a habit of sticking to it the same time each year. 

·     If you choose to do it by season, the first day of each season should make things easy to remember!

If you want or need assistance or another perspective about ways to organize your closet, give us a call. We’d LOVE to help!

To Be Or Not To Be (Organized)? That Is The Question.

After working as a Professional Organizer for the past 9 years, it seems that everyone has a different idea as to what being “organized” is, what it means and what it looks like. I think that being organized is in the eyes of the beholder.  Everyone’s circumstances are different and, therefore, what works for one person may or may not work for another.

While there are hundreds of different definitions for the word “organized”, here are the two that resonate the most with me:

“Having one’s affairs in order so as to deal with them efficiently”

and

“Having taken something that is messy, chaotic, or unordered and rearranged it logically, into a structured or coherent layout, or into specific and/or defined groups”

A search on thesaurus revealed some adjectives to describe what “organized” means.  Here are a few: orderly, prepared, systematized, logical, planned, well-thought-out, structured.

No matter what your definition is (or isn’t), if you want life to be organized, here are 5 helpful tips:

Write it down. Whatever it is. It can be something that needs to be scheduled, something that you need to do, something you need to get. If you’re not old school, instead of writing it down, get the information on whatever device you use, ie., phone, computer, app.

·     If you run out of something that you need regularly (ie., milk or ketchup), put it on a list so that you don’t forget it.

·     If you have an appointment with someone, put it on the calendar.

·     Make sure to check your list and calendar either at night before you go to bed or first thing in the morning so you know what you have to do and when.

Make sure that everything has a place and then make sure to put things in their place.

·     If something doesn’t have a place it will always be considered clutter.

·     Find a place that makes sense for that particular object.

·     If there’s no room, it’s time to purge.

Have a plan.

·     Put a day/time on your calendar to go and get what you need or do what needs to get done

·     Batch things together.

·     When you need to run errands, get as much done in one area as possible. Then, on another day, go to another area (ie, the mall) and get other things done. Pay attention to drive time/traffic, etc. to make the most of your time.

·     If possible, schedule the same things on the same day each week so it becomes part of your routine.

·     For example, go food shopping on the same day each week

Ask for help. It takes a village.

·     Try and get everyone who lives with you on board so everything doesn’t fall on your shoulders.

·     Even young children can and should help. If you show them how at an early age, they can help. It might not get done perfectly but it will get done.

·     Again, make it a routine

·     Each night before bed, your children should be picking up after themselves

Maintenance is sooooo important.

·     Keeping up with whatever systems you have in place is very important.

·     It’s easier to maintain a space than to do it over all of the time.

·     If you know where the dishes go, put them there. Don’t just find any place that has room. That’s how systems fall apart.

Tax Preparation and Filing Systems. Good Times!

Seems like every article I’ve received for the last few months has been about tax preparation.  So as not to inundate everyone on my email list with yet another article about tax preparation, I chose to write about other things the past few months. However, now that “tax time” is over (for most of us), I thought it would be a good time to put this information out there. 

First of all, I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who wouldn’t rather be doing anything else besides getting their taxes ready or “doing” their taxes.  I know, and I’m sure you know, a lot of people that have to scramble or spend many hours to pull their paperwork together to file their taxes year after year. So many people just can’t seem to get it together timely and have to file extensions even though we all know that every year on April 15th we have to file our taxes. 

Of course, there are extenuating circumstances and some do have to wait and file in October, but, for the rest, in my opinion, filing an extension just prolongs the agony of having to get this paperwork done.  

Think about this…What if it only took an hour every year to pull your tax documents together? Don’t you think that most people wouldn’t dread it as much? Of course nobody wants to give the government their hard-earned money BUT, I’m thinking it wouldn’t be such a dreadful task if it only took an hour to pull it together.  Truth be told, it should not take more than an hour to pull your tax documents together.   

Here are some suggestions as to how to make tax preparation and other paper challenges less daunting:

A.  If you don’t have a filing system, start one that is easy to use and maintain:

  • Think about what kind of system would work for you:
    • Alphabetical, Numerical, etc.

B.  Get all of your supplies together:

  • Files: make sure you have the right size files for your cabinet or container.
    • Decide if you will use interior files, hanging files, color coded files.
  • Labels: Use a label-maker or labels that you can print from your computer
    • Make sure to name the files correctly so that you can find what you’re looking for.

C.  If you already have a filing system but the papers are busting out of the filing cabinets, purge to make room for the current files:

  • Talk to your CPA to ask how long you need to keep your documents before tossing or shredding anything.

Putting a filing system into place isn’t that difficult. Moreover, once it’s done it’s done!  All you have to do is use it and maintain it.  If done right, it’s just that simple.  Then, whatever you need is there when you need it. No more wasted time looking for papers.   

If you don’t have the where-with-all to do this, CALL me.  I can and want to help. I started Organizing Concepts and Designs 9 years ago after spending 30 years in the Legal Industry as a Paralegal and Legal Assistant. I am familiar with the IRS Retention Guidelines and am well aware of what documents to keep, what documents can be tossed, which ones should be shredded and what needs to be archived (and for how long).  We can implement a filing system tailored to your needs.

Bottom line is…keeping your paperwork organized will save you a substantial amount of time and money.