Follow me as I take the leap!

Many people were excited about the roll out of the IPhone 5. I was too, but not for the same reasons. I was waiting for a free IPhone 4 because I have yet to take the leap to a smartphone. My husband and teenage daughter are still working the IPhone3 so they are contemplating an upgrade.  The commercials would have you believe it’s easy – free IPhone 4 and $30 a month for data plans.   Well, lucky for me I have a husband who very thoroughly investigates every nook & crannie of new technology before he purchases.  We use Consumer Reports like an Encyclopedia at our house.  So for the next few weeks I will be blogging aobut my transition from an old-fashioned phone, and a paper calendar to my smart phone. As a tactile person, I’m hesitant to say the least. But as an organizer I know there must be a better way to keep track of a business, three kids and an active social life.  So first things first. I am getting the phone this weekend.

Here are the different topics we needed to consider before making my purchase/leap to the world of constant information:

1. Our cell service – When my husband & daughter purchased their cell phones years ago, the only carrier was AT&T. We had Verizon, so we switched.  Now Verizon offers the IPhone so do we switch back? That would mean 4 new phones for our family and $10 more per month than going with AT&T.  We took into account that sometimes with AT&T there are places in my own home where I can not get cell service. But Verizon has their dropped calls too, so we decided to stick with AT&T.

2. Our calling plan – We have such an old plan, they don’t offer it anymore but have allowed us to grandfather it. We get 700 min, unlimited data for $30/month per user and unlimited data for the family at $20/family. We considered the Share Plan where you purchase an amount of data for a certain amount of devices. Then pay $40 per device.

3. Finally the phone – Do I go all out and get the new IPhone5 for $199? It does have a faster keyboard, new earphones, and the fastest operating system. Or do I take the 4S for $99, it’s has Siri (not that I really care about talking to a robot) and a double sided camera which might come in handy. Or do I ease into this whole thing with the free IPhone 4 (no S) I’m told it has 8 gig, the old 4G operating system. Mind you, my kids had to explain to me that the G does not stand for gig when I said, “I thought it was 4G not 8?” Could they make this more confusing? I mean why is the IPone4 not Iphone 5 and everyone would be getting excited about the 6! So as I’m discussing this, a commercial comes on and says, “The Next Thing is Already Here” it’s the Galaxy. Oh no.


If you have questions or suggestions about this whole process, I welcome them. Leave a comment!

Fall is a Great Time to Organize Your Garage!

I think there are some common problems with garages that people share no matter where they live.

  1. They’re not just for keeping cars – we use garages to store bikes, lawn equipment, sports equipment, extra raw materials (like pieces of wood…)wood for fireplaces, tools – all kinds of stuff.
  2. For a lot of people this is our entrance way into our house – so we might keep shoes, recycles, trash, And this might be our motivation for trying to keep it organized! Because we walk through it all the time. And it bugs us if it’s a mess.
  3. It’s usually one big room when we move in and that’s hard to organize because there’s no pre-determined place to put things.  We have to do it from scratch.

So if you’ve decided it’s time to tackle the garage, here’s my CPR process that I discuss in my book ABSOLUTELY ORGANIZED. And this can be used for any room in your house by the way:

  1. You’ve got to plan the time to do it and solicit some help either from your family or a friend. It’s not a one person job and it’s going to take anywhere from 3 – 6 hours the first time you do it. To make it fun, put on some music, give the kids a reward afterwards or promise your friend a meal (pizza & beer works well for my friends)

(That’s one of my absolutes or rules: If you don’t plan it – it’s not going to happen)

  1. CATEGORIZE: Take everything out of the garage and put it in piles in your driveway or on your lawn.  Categories can be: sports equipment, lawn & garden, tools, bikes… And if one of those categories is really big: break it down further.
  2. PURGE: as you pull things out start to purge whatever is broken or disgusting, or anything you don’t use anymore.  (for items you want to give away, I suggest you look online for places to donate, or give to a friend or just put at the end of your driveway and let people take it) For chemicals or gasoline call your township and find out about hazardous waste collections)
  3. RE-arrange:  Now that you have piles of everything you’re keeping start to think about what you use most often and make it accessible.  For the kids toys and sports equipment we use colorful plastic tubs on the floor.  For our lawn chemicals we put them in plastic bins up on a shelf.  Keep things in their categories and create zones.  Even if you don’t have the right containers or shelves right now, put things back where you want them by the end of your organizing session.
  4. Now you can go shopping for what you need:  industrial shelves, wall cabinets, racks, etc. There’s a range of products for garages and you can spend thousands of dollars on a garage makeover, but you want to make sure it’s organized first, so you can measure the space for exactly what you need.  Rubbermaid has an inexpensive Track system if you want to do it yourself or you can go high end to places like GarageTek.  I’ve even seem people put up old kitchen cabinets in their garage for storage.
  5. To keep it that way, you have to straighten it on a weekly basis – teach your kids where things go.  And then clean out on a seasonal basis.  Our family has a pool so we do a Saturday clean out once in the late Spring to get the pool/beach stuff out and accessible and then once in the fall to put the pool stuff away and get the winter supplies out (shovels, rock salt, sleds). Because we do this twice a year we can do it now in LESS THAN 2 HOURS.   The kids complain…we put on music…let them play a little; give them little jobs and then we take them to McDonald’s afterwards. Everybody’s happy and it’s a great way to spend a little family time on a nice day.


Spring is in the Air

Well it’s almost the start of spring here in the Northeast US.  In my area we never really got a good snow storm. Lots of cold rain and grey days. Like the kids, I was hoping for at least one day off where we could shun our responsibilities and just go to the big hill and sled! Then we’d come home to hot chocolate & a fire. It was not to be. So I say, bring on the spring! And with that comes Spring Cleaning and airing out the house.  Wondering where to start? Here are a few ideas for projects that fall under the topic of “Seasonal Clean Outs.”

1. Put the shovels & salt away –  Re-arrange your garage or shed on a nice warm Saturday. Make sure the winter stuff is tucked away and the spring gardening materials are close at hand. Before you know it, you’ll be planting flowers, fertilizing and cutting the lawn. You might also want to uncover lawn furniture and get out the planters for outside. Use Easter as a deadline for having some spring items around the house.

2. Check the coat closet – Make sure everyone in the family has windbreakers and rain gear. Clean the winter coats, hats & gloves and tuck them away if you need to. Get a nice bin for each family member to put their hats & gloves in. Label it and place on the shelf in the closet. Break out the baseball caps, and if they need  a cleaning – the top rack of the dishwasher works well! Let them air dry.

3. Dump your digital pictures – Whether you have videos or still pics, this is a great time to clear the deck. Put all your pictures from the winter & holidays in a file called “2012 Winter” then order prints if you like.  With digital video cameras you can often load right to a DVD through your computer. Again, mark the DVD “2012 Winter” so you can re-live the fun any time you want. Once all images have been transferred, delete them from your camera and have a blank slate for the new season.

4. Make your “honey do” list – Ok, that’s a little sexist, but maybe it’s a “Sweet Spring Projects” list instead. Take a walk around your house and see what needs to be done for up-keep this season. Post it where you will be reminded to act on it. I like to put mine on the kitchen bulletin board.

5. Post a family chore schedule-  If special cleaning projects need to happen, get the kids to help at least with their own bedroom. Work with one child per day to clear out their clothes, clean the windows and then dust & vacuum. You may even want to change the sheets to crisp cotton. For the common areas like the living room, kitchen or play room, divide and conquer. Maybe Dad or mom takes care of dusting off wall pictures, high shelves and curtain rods. Let the kids take the jobs down low like wiping baseboards, vacuuming under sofas and clearing out toy bins.

At the end of a busy Spring Cleaning day – make sure you celebrate as a family.

What projects do you like to tackle in the spring?