Tips for a Stress-Free Move
|| BY Penny Catterall ON April 27, 2016
As we all know, moving can be an extremely stressful experience (especially when combined with the stress of buying or selling a home). The prospect of packing up your entire life and putting it in a completely new location is overwhelming for most people. To help reduce move-related stress and to simplify the moving process, here are some important tips:
- Purge as much as you can from your current home before you pack up the rest – you don’t want to go to the trouble of packing and moving a lot of stuff that you’ll only end up throwing away once you settle into your new home. (This should go without saying, but it’s surprising how many people forget to do it.) Now is the time to get rid of those old dishes that you never really liked, the books that you won’t be reading again, or the toys that your kids have outgrown. There are a lot of disadvantaged families who would benefit from your donations, and you’ll save money by not having to pack and move those items.
- Start packing well ahead of your move date, if possible. Pack the least-used items (like holiday decorations) first, and the things you need to use everyday last.
- Go paper-less if you haven’t already. Getting your bills and statements online will not only help you avoid the hassle of having your mail forwarded, but also will leave you with less paper to pack and move.
- Go through your files and get rid of bills having to do with your current house, such as utilities or landscaping. Feel free to scan one or two for reference, but there is really very little need to have access to all your old electric bills once you’re in your new home.
- While packing, take an inventory of the items in all the boxes – more detail is better than not enough when it comes to moving. You may think you know what “dining room contents” means when you pack it, but unless you write down “crystal, china, linens, & silverware” you are unlikely to remember these details when it’s time to start unpacking.
- Also, be sure to label your boxes with where they are going as well as what’s inside. That will help the movers get your things in the right place more easily. Pack things that are going to the same room together.
- Use the right sized boxes. Heavy items, like books, should be packed in smaller boxes to make them easier to move. Large boxes are great for lightweight items, like towels & linens. Pack the heaviest items on the bottom and the lightest on top.
- Make sure to think about unpacking when you pack. For instance, if you have kids who share a room now but won’t in the new house, make sure to box their items separately.
- Empty your trash before the movers come. Movers often pick up trashcans and move them as-is.
- Pack a ‘first night’ box for each bedroom and for the kitchen. Bedroom boxes should contain bed linens, pillows, blankets and pajamas. Include necessary toiletries if you are making a local move. “First night” kitchen boxes can contain paper plates, napkins and plastic utensils & cups, the coffee maker and any non-perishable breakfast foods that help your family get off to a good start in the morning. Throw in toilet paper and paper towels, too!
- If your move involves kids, think about what they will be doing while the house is being packed up, and while it’s being unpacked at the other end. Having craft supplies, books they enjoy or other activities arranged can reduce stress for everyone.
- Consider how a move might affect an older adult. Moving day will be chaotic and noisy. Enlist the help of a friend or relative to take them to lunch, a movie, or a museum while things are being loaded and unloaded.
I hope these tips will help you plan and execute a smooth and stress-free move. If you are in the DC area, feel free to contact Order Your Life for help!
22 ways to go paper-less for Earth Day
|| BY Penny Catterall ON April 20, 2016
Whether you work at an office or at home, it’s important to think about the impact you have on the earth and our environment – especially when it comes to paper consumption. Consider:
- According to the EPA, Americans throw away 71.6 million tons of paper each year, accounting for 40% of the total waste produced annually in the United States.
- The paper industry is the 4th largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions among U.S. manufacturing industries.
- Worldwide consumption of paper has risen by 400% in the past 40 years. This has contributed significantly to widespread deforestation, with 35% of harvested trees being used for paper manufacture.
Want to help? In honor of Earth Day (April 22), here are 22 ways to start going paper-less:
- Unsubscribe from catalogs and junk mail by using an app like PaperKarma or visiting Catalog Choice on the web.
- How long has it been since you actually looked up a phone number in the Yellow Pages? Stop getting your phone book in the mail by signing up on https://www.yellowpagesoptout.com/.
- Opt out of all those pre-screened credit card and insurance offers that are flooding your mailbox by going to optoutprescreen.com.
- Use a cloud based app like Evernote to capture all the bits of random information that you want to remember instead of having it written on sticky notes or memo pads.
- Get financial and bank statements sent to you online rather than on paper. This not only helps the environment by reducing paper waste, but also reduces the amount of mail you have to open and process – and it’s more secure than having financial information sitting in a physical mailbox.
- Instead of printing a document such as a bill or financial statement, save it as a PDF in an electronic folder or in the cloud on Dropbox or Box.
- Or even better, use a secure website like FileThis to automatically retrieve bills and statements and have them organized and stored in Evernote or Dropbox, or in the secure FileThis Cloud.
- Use a coupon app instead of clipping or printing paper coupons. Most major retailers (including CVS, Staples, and many others) make coupons available on their apps these days.
- Pay your bills electronically through your bank, which not only avoids paper waste but also saves money on checks, envelopes and stamps.
- Don’t print out information that you only need temporarily, such as emails. If you want to be able to refer to an email quickly, flag it and look it up on your smartphone, or create email folders by topic and archive them for future reference.
- Use Google Maps, Apple Maps or Waze on your smartphone to get directions instead of printing them out at home.
- Use a grocery list app like Grocery IQ to keep track of shopping needs. This can be shared with family members to make sure everyone is on the same paperless page.
- Take quick notes using IOS Notes or other similar app.
- Use a digital task list like Wunderlist or Remember The Milk to keep your To Do’s synced and up to date.
- Use an app for movie tickets instead of printing them at home.
- Don’t print out boarding passes and risk losing them – use an app like Apple Wallet to receive and store your boarding passes electronically. Here’s how to get the most out of Wallet.
- Use Venmo to pay your friends instead of paper checks. Your college-aged kids will know what this is!
- For the paper that does make it into your home, scan it with a simple and versatile scanner like the Fujitsu ScanSnap.
- Use an electronic calendar like Google Calendar or Apple’s iCal instead of a paper one to keep track of your schedule and appointments.
- Forget using address books with innumerable crossed-out old addresses – Google contacts and Apple contacts are great alternatives that are always handy.
- Read your magazines on an app like Flipboard – the layout is beautiful and you can save articles for future reference using Pocket.
- When you do use paper, reduce your impact on the environment by buying recycled paper.
Even if you try out one or two of these suggestions, you’ll be doing a lot to help Mother Earth – and we all want our planet to be healthy for a long time to come!
7 ways an organizer can help you virtually
|| BY Penny Catterall ON April 13, 2016
Virtual technology organizing allows a professional organizer to help you declutter your computer files or accomplish other similar tasks from afar. While some of my clients prefer to work in person with me to foster the motivation and energy that creates change, for others, this simply doesn’t work due to time, financial constraints or geographic location. When I engage in virtual tech organizing with my clients, all we need is an Internet connection, a computer and a phone. I can access my clients’ virtual workspace and share computer screens using programs like TeamViewer or Join.me. This makes it as easy if I were sitting next to them at their desk.
One of the great advantages of virtual tech organizing is that you can do it almost anytime, anywhere. Work full time and only have an hour or so in the evening to spend? Over Skype or Facetime, we can spend that hour figuring out the best way to organize your online photo collection or choosing the best invoicing or accounting software for your small business. The possibilities are as limitless as what you can do on a computer or cell phone.
Here are just 7 ways I can help you virtually:
- Declutter your computer from unwanted or unneeded files and folders
- Teach you file naming conventions to quickly find your files and folders
- Help you structure your files and folders in an organized fashion
- Help you get rid of unwanted email quickly and efficiently
- Help you install and learn how to use a secure password manager like LastPass.com
- Teach you how to use a program like Evernote to save all your notes and ideas
- Set up Dropbox or Box on your computer to enable you to save your files in the cloud
Virtual tech organizing is one of my favorite things to do. If this sounds like something you might need help with, email me or give me a call at 301-351-3944 to see how we can work together!