Great Tips for Holiday Travel

Vacations are supposed to be fun! However, it’s hard to relax when you’re thinking about all the things you have to do. There are so many things to remember and so many things to do before you leave.

Stress no more. The following Travel Checklist will help you remember some of the important things to do before you leave home:

• Make a list of all of the things you want to take & check them off as you put them in your suitcase.
• Notify the post office and arrange for them to hold your mail.
• Give someone close to you your itinerary if you have one. At the very least, give them your flight information.
• If you’re traveling abroad, make sure a trusted friend or family member has a color copy of your passport and drivers license, as well as a copy of your itinerary.
• Ask your neighbors or a good friend to keep an eye on your home.
• Leave a house key with your friend or neighbor.
• Adjust thermostats to save energy.
• Pay any bills that will come due while you are traveling.
• Lock all doors and windows.
• Close the blinds and/or curtains, especially in the back and side of the house.
• Set security alarms.
• Set up timers on lights and TVs to give the appearance that someone is home
• Inform your security monitoring company that you will be away and arrange for a security patrol.
• Check the fridge/kitchen for perishables and dispose of them. Take the garbage out!
• Since so many bags look alike, consider putting a bit of colored tape or ribbon on the handle to quickly identify your bag at the luggage carousel.
• Make sure to have all of your important travel information and documents all together in one place. (Note: *Carry important papers with you.! Do not check anything that you don’t want to lose)
• Photo identification
• Passports/Visas
• Itineraries/Schedules
• Tickets and Seat Assignments
• Frequent Flyer Cards
• Confirmation numbers
• Contact numbers for hotels or car rental agencies
• Money or Travelers Cheques

While going on vacation is exciting I think we can all agree that returning to work after a vacation is usually stressful. There’s a lot of mail, a ton of e-mails to go through and dozens of other things you need to get to that have been piling up while you were gone. It can almost seem like a punishment for ignoring your responsibilities.

Hopefully you will be relaxed and ready to tackle the many tasks that have been waiting for you upon your return. However, just in case you get overwhelmed, here are some tips to help you ease back into reality:

• Notify people you regularly interact with that you will be unavailable and away from the office. If people know you’ll be gone, they (hopefully) won’t try to contact you which will significantly reduce the amount of voice mails and email.
• Clear the inbox on your desk and your email inbox so that the new items you must attend to when you return will be obvious.
• Wrap up all of your “To Do’s” . This may be difficult depending on the type of job you have, but do the best you can.
• Make sure you don’t have any meetings or appointments the first day (or two) when you return to the office. You will definitely appreciate the time to get caught up.
• Arrive an hour early to work. Use this time to check your schedule, messages, mail and e-mail before co-workers get in and start asking about your trip and giving you more things to do.
• Take an extra day before heading back to work to regroup and catch-up on your life. Use the extra day to get things done at home so that you can focus on work when you return to the office.

Okay, now go and relax and know that when you get back from your vacation, you’ll have everything under control.

Wishing you a safe and relaxing vacation!

Emergency Planning for Pets

I was talking to one of my colleagues recently and, being an animal lover, she was very concerned about what was happening to the animals that were also victims of the recent natural disasters in Texas, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Napa Valley.

So, since I’ve never written about anything related to your furry family members, I thought this would be as good a time as any to provide some helpful information.  Some would say … “better late than never” but, living in California we never know when the next earthquake will hit so this is really not too late.    

Emergencies, disasters, evacuations, will be stressful on your pet as well as on you and your family.   It is important to keep them as safe as you can as they rely on you.  So, just like you would gather materials for your own safety, it is important to set aside an emergency kit for your pets.  Here are just a few suggestions to help you get started:

  1. Get something to put all of the things you’ll need for your pet (ie, duffle bag, plastic bin) 
  2. If your pet is on medication, make sure to have an extra on hand
  3. Make sure to have food, water and treats.  It is recommended that you have a minimum of 3 days worth.
  4. Include at least 2 collapsible bowls (for food and water) 
  5. Consider getting a microchip for your pets.  It’s the #1 way lost animals are reunited with their owners. Make sure the personal information is up to date with your current mobile number as well as a phone number of a close friend or relative.  You can call the company you registered with and update it or, if you aren’t sure, ask your vet to scan your pet and let you know what the read out says.  
  6. Something that may be very useful, but doesn’t seem obvious to put in your pets emergency kit, is a recent photo of you with your pet. This proves ownership and aids in finding your pet if it gets lost.  
  7.   Keep an eye on pets when the emergency is over.  It can take them time to get back to normal and they are good at covering up ailments or injuries that may have occurred.    
  8.   Below are some links to sites that contain a plethora of information as well: 

https://www.ready.gov/animals

http://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/pet-disaster-preparedness#Pet-Emergency-Kit

http://wtop.com/animals-pets/2017/09/build-emergency-preparedness-kit-pets/

http://www.petmd.com/dog/care/evr_multi_top10_emergency_pet_kit_items

I hope this information was helpful!

NOTE*  If you haven’t prepared an emergency kit for yourself or your family, PLEASE do so now.  Or, you can always purchase one on the shop page. It’s easy and its affordable!

Relocations-The Many Ways We Can Help


As most of you know by now, helping people relocate is one of the many services that we offer.
We help with:
1. Downsizing: Getting rid of anything that you don’t want whether by donating, selling (if it has value) or tossing.
2. De-cluttering: We take all of the excess decor and personal items off the counters, shelves and other common areas and either put them away or pack them. Of course if you no longer want something we will donate it, sell it (if it has value) or toss it.
3. Staging: Getting the house ready for sale or, as we like to say… light staging: We don’t bring in or rent furniture or accessories. Rather, we use what you have and make it look good so that your property is ready for the realtor to take photos.
4. Packing: I guess this speaks for itself. We basically pack up whatever you are taking with you or want to ship to someone else.
5. Estimates: We will schedule 3 estimates from moving companies so that you can compare rates & services.
6. Donations: We will help you figure out what to donate and will either take those items for you and obtain a donation receipt for you or, schedule a donations pick-up
7. Trash Removal: We will schedule and oversee trash removal to make sure that the property is completely clear when you move out. Every closet, cupboard, drawer etc will be completely empty.
8. Moving Day: We will be there on the day of your move to make sure everything goes smoothly.
9. Unpacking: Hands down our favorite task. We get to put your new home together in an organized, accessible and functional manner. It will look great too!

You can choose to utilize all or any one of the services mentioned above to make your move less stressful and overwhelming.

Important Information About Clearing


When someone is moving, or has moved, most of the time there are many items that are no longer wanted or needed. Things that people don’t want to bring to their new home. Things that family and friends don’t want either.

Anyone who has moved knows (or should know) that the house, whether owned or rented, has to be “cleared” before the new owners/renters take possession.

“Clearing” a property means that the house/premises have to be COMPLETELY clear. Every cabinet, cupboard, closet, drawer and room has to be empty! More importantly, there is usually a dead-line as to when the house/premises has to be empty (ie, close of escrow).

So, what do you do with the things that you no longer need or want?

The obvious answer is to donate or try to sell those items that are no longer wanted or needed. Unfortunately some of those items can’t be sold or donated either. Here’s a short list of some items that can’t (or shouldn’t) be donated:
-Mattresses
-Box-springs
-Anything that is stained/soiled
-Things that are broken or missing pieces
-Magazines
-Old Textbooks

Those items that can’t be donated are deemed trash. Obviously you can throw those things in the trash. But:
1. What if there is so much trash that it won’t all fit in the trash bins?
2. What if there are certain items that are so big (think mattress) that they can’t fit in the trash?
3. What if it’s too big or too heavy and you can’t get it to the trash?

All good questions!
The answer is… call us for help. Organizing Concepts and Designs will facilitate the entire process and make sure that the premises are completely empty and we will do timely. We work with a multitude of resources to make sure that the house will be completely clear in time for the keys to be turned over to the new owners/renters. Some of our resources are:
1. Donation companies
2. Trash removal/hauling companies
3. Shredding Companies
4. Consignment Stores
5. Auction Houses
6. Art Dealers
7. Cleaning Services

*NOTE: It is important to know that clearing and cleaning are entirely different. Clearing is making sure the house is empty. Cleaning is making sure the house is clean.

Organizing Concepts & Designs (aka OCD) – FAQ’s


1. What type of organizing do you specialize in?
Residential, Office, Relocations, Estate Sales & Clear Outs

2. Who is your primary target audience? Men & women between the ages of 40 and 80 (yes, 80!)

3. Describe your typical workday. There is no such thing. Each and every day brings something new and different. We work with different clients every day so one day it might be downsizing, another it might be working on a filing system and, another day might be packing or unpacking someone who is moving.

4. Why did you become a Professional Organizer? I wanted to utilize and combine the 25+ years of legal experience and managing law firms with my natural abilities to organize. Organizing Concepts & Designs (aka OCD) is the culmination of a lifetime of experience and a touch of OCD.

5. Describe your greatest success in this field. I think my greatest success is starting OC&D from an idea in my head to a successful 6 figure + business. I am now in my 7th year of the Professional Organizing business and there are 10 people that work with me on a regular basis. I have also created, manufactured and sell an organizing product which I currently sell on Amazon.com and of course on my website. Check out Stock-It-Pockets at stockitpockets.com

6. What do you find to be the most exciting part of your business? The most exciting part of my business is doing something different every day and making a difference in the lives of my clients.

7. What do you find to be the most frustrating part of your business? Trying to impart organizing skills and knowledge to my clients who really don’t want to learn how to organize or how to maintain the systems that we put in place for them. That said, we are always happy to maintain the systems for them.

8. Describe a successful, creative marketing technique that you use, or that you’ve used in the past. I use my monthly newsletter to keep in touch with friends, family, all current clients, all potential clients (those who have contacted me in the past but may not have hired me yet), everyone that I meet while networking and anyone that attends our estate sales.

9. Which one marketing technique have you found works the best for you? My favorite marketing technique is networking. I love getting out there and meeting people. I find that the personal connections lead to quality referrals. I also find other business that I use in my day to day operations which are invaluable (ie, trash removal services, shredding services, bookkeepers, etc.)

10. Which social media do you use for your business (if any) and how are you using it to market your business? I am on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Linkedin. I usually post once a month on each of these social media platforms by sharing my monthly newsletters. I also post if there’s some exciting news to share.

11. Every person interested in entering the professional organizing field is wondering, ‘Can I make enough money doing this? Definitely! If you work hard, continue to learn, market to the right audience for your business model and give your clients the best customer service at all times.

12. As an organizer, what professional organizing information or tools are you always on the lookout for? I typically look for organizing products that will contain things. From files to bins I’m always looking for different options as my clientele is so varied. Sometimes I need things for a closet, sometimes its for sporting goods to be stored in the garage and other times its for my creative clients that have tons of small items/crafts.

13. Looking ahead, what do you see as your greatest challenge? Hiring my team members as full time employees is definitely one of my goals and, at the moment, it is my greatest challenge. I currently have 10 people that work for me as independent contractors. I want to make sure to emphasize that we are ALL insured.

14. As a Professional Organizer, do you have a funny story to share? Not sure it’s funny, but it is a fun fact. I worked with clients, a man and woman, who were living amongst boxes for several years after they moved into their home as they didn’t know where to put anything. So, they basically just lived out of the boxes. They called me as they were feeling stuck and wanted me to “make their house a home”. I proceeded to unpack everything. They LOVED the results and were thrilled. I told them before I left when the job was finished that they could expect to feel a shift in the energy of their surroundings. Shortly thereafter, they decided to shoot a movie that they had written in their home as it was so well put together. The movie, an independent film, was ultimately bought by one of the studios.

15. What are the titles of the last three books you read (for business or entertainment)? I’m not a big reader unless I’m on vacation. But, I like to stay on top of what’s going on so I typically read Time Magazine and I read a lot of articles on the internet about business.

16. Do you have a case study that details a success you had with a particular client? This has happened many times so it’s not one case study in particular. I often work with people when they’ve decided to move from their home of many, many years into a smaller (or just another) residence. I help them downsize and de-clutter to get their home ready for sale so that their realtor can take photographs to market and ultimately sell their home. Through the downsizing/de-cluttering process I help find value in the things that they no longer want or need and facilitate the sale of those items. If there is not enough value I will facilitate getting those items donated and give the client a receipt for their taxes. We usually pack those things that they want to take with them as we go along to keep things moving along. I am there to make sure everything is under control on moving day and meet the movers at my client’s new residence to get them settled in for the night with any necessities (ie, we make sure that the beds are made, that they can have coffee/tea in the morning). We then return the next day to complete the unpacking process. One of the things that sets us apart is that we will always try, and often succeed, at offsetting the costs of our services with the sale of their unwanted belongings. Sometimes it’s through auction companies or consignment stores that we are affiliated with and sometimes its via an Estate Sale. So, basically, we facilitate the entire moving process from A to Z.

17. What is your best tip for people interested in becoming Professional Organizers? Educate yourself. Go to a NAPO meeting or conference to meet other like-minded individuals. Align yourself with another organizer who you can work with/assist or shadow to make sure that’s something that you truly want to pursue.

18. What is your contact information in case someone wants to reach you? Dina Newman, owner/founder of Organizing Concepts & Designs. Website:www.organizingconceptsanddesigns.com
Phone: #310-560-5060

19. What other information do you wish for me to include with your interview? If anyone is interested in signing up for my monthly newsletters they can sign up on my website (see link above). I write about organizing, provide tips and sometimes post ‘how to’ videos.

Even Professional Organizers Need Help Getting Organized Sometimes


I was talking to a good friend of mine last week and told her that I was going to spend time over the weekend organizing my garage.  She was surprised that my garage wasn’t already organized.   I explained that EVERYONE hits a brick wall at some point in their life or in some place in their life when it comes to organizing.   For me (and my husband), it’s the garage.

Because our home is relatively small, we use our garage for storage.  After we take the time to organize the garage which is usually about once a year, we try our best to keep it that way.   Unfortunately, as time goes on, things slowly but surely get out of hand.  So, while not the perfect scenario, especially for someone as organized as I am, sometimes things just can’t be perfectly organized.   Perfection is hard to maintain so, as I tell all of my clients, getting organized isn’t about perfection.  Getting organized is about:

1.  Being able to find things when you need them (quickly)

2.  Getting rid of things you don’t need (regularly)

3.  Making sure that things are accessible (especially the items you need frequently)

4.  Making sure that things are where they make sense. For example, plates should be in the kitchen. You’re probably thinking… duh, where else would I put plates. Well, you’d be surprised at the crazy places where I find things when organizing for other people.

5.   Having a place for everything that you want to keep.   If it (whatever “it” is) doesn’t have a place it is considered clutter.  If you don’t have room perhaps its time to get rid of something else to make room.

BTW,  true to my organizing principles, everything does have a place (even in the garage), it’s just that sometimes things don’t find their way back to that place when it comes to the garage.

One more thing… because I have to share my space with my husband, it helps to get him involved in the process.  Neither of us enjoy spending a day organizing the garage when we can be doing something else (or nothing else as the case may be).  So, if he’s involved in the process, he’s more inclined to TRY to maintain the space, at least for awhile.

So, my point is that things don’t have to be perfect to be organized.  They just have to work for you and whoever else lives with you.

If you or your loved ones need help getting things organized or better organized and don’t know where to start, give us a call. WE’D LOVE TO HELP!