Tag Archives: middle-age

Organize Your Passwords-Revisited

password-post-it

With all the cyber security breaches these days prudent password management is vital. Here is a refresh of a previous post about passwords.

Does keeping track of your online passwords make you want to pull your hair out? Having an organized system for password management reduces that frustration.

Just as people have to choose between digital and paper calendars these days, there are both digital and paper ways to manage your password information. Different methods have different advantages.

Digital

Managing your passwords digitally offers many conveniences but introduces security risks. While not nearly a comprehensive list – and not a specific endorsement — here are some options:

  • Maintain a list or spreadsheet on your computer…not named “passwords.” File could be stored in the cloud (Evernote, DropBox, Google Drive) to access across devices. You can password protect this document for an added layer of security.
  • Use Facebook, twitter or Google to log in
  • Use password management software such as 1Password, LastPass or KeePass. These typically work by storing all your individual logins under one main “master” password.
  • If you use a Mac, you’re most likely familiar with Keychain, which comes with OSX. Basically, it’s a password manager that uses your OSX admin password as the master password.

Paper

Some people don’t want their passwords stored anywhere in their computer. Storing them on paper prevents electronic hacking but it also limits your access to them when you are not home near the list. You also need to think about how to keep the list secure at home.

There are many options for managing passwords in paper form:

  • A small address book is an easy way to list passwords alphabetically by site name. Small address books are also easily hidden.
  • Some people keep a paper file in their file cabinet labeled “password”… you could make it a bit more secure by naming that file something random but unique to you like “junkdrawer” or “Rumpelstiltskin.”
  • An alphabetized index card box or business card box makes a handy place to drop in the post-its and scraps of paper you write passwords on.
  • To keep lists more secure, rather than writing down the actual password your list can be prompts that only you know. For example, if your password is some non sequitur like bootPolandgelato5, your prompt may be “footwear – country – food – number”. Or “147Guccigreen3970” could be prompted with “childhood address – favorite designer –color – past phone number.”

Password Strength

Regardless of what organizing tool you use to keep track of passwords, if you aren’t relying on software to generate secure passwords for you here are some tips for creating strong passwords:

  • Ideally use a mix letters, characters, numbers, and capitals
  • String together words to make a phrase. For example “I love ice cream” could become 1L0v31c3Cr3@m if you replace all the vowels with numbers or characters and capitalize the first letter of each word.
  • String together unrelated words as in the example of Boot, Poland, Gelato, and 5 becoming “bootPolandgelato5”

There isn’t one right solution or answer; ultimately it’s a personal style and risk management choice we all have to make. Whatever system you choose, pick one and stick to it.

What one smart step can you take to make your digital life more convenient AND secure?

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Filed under Decluttering, Office, Paper, Strategies, Technology

Living With A Cluttered Valentine

courtesy of Donna Smallin Cooper of Organized Greetings

Cartoon courtesy of Donna Smallin Kuper of Organized Greetings

Do you and your sweetheart have wildly different ideas about what clutter is? Do you find yourself fed-up and frustrated by their organizing “style”? Do you feel like they’re trying to take over the world one surface at a time or leave things out just to piss you off?

Stress between couples over clutter is very common. Here are a few Valentine’s Day tips to manage the stress with your loved one.

What doesn’t work:

  • Purging behind their back
  • Nagging
  • Storing empty boxes on surfaces to prevent their things from landing there
  • Surprising them with a gift certificate from Crime Scene Cleaners
  • Deciding that if they can be cluttered, you do them one better and be messy yourself

What does work:

  • Realize that it’s not about right vs. wrong… it’s about compromising BOTH your styles because you’ve chosen to share space together.
  • Agree to de-clutter together. Set a shared goal that you both agree will improve the quality of the home. Make a game plan and work together to implement it.
  • Give each person a dedicated space (a room or a portion of a room) that they can control completely.
  • Take responsibility for managing your own clutter before trying to “fix” your partner.
  • Get objective outside help: use an organizing book, online resources, a couples therapist or a professional organizer.

What easy-to-tackle project could you and your Valentine take on that would create a little more space at home?

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Filed under Bedroom, Decluttering, General Organizing, Holidays, home organizing, middle-age, Perspective, Strategies

5 Tips for Designing an IKEA Armoire

Here's one kind of "closet" that can be made using the PAX system from IKEA.

Here’s one kind of “closet” that can be made using the PAX system from IKEA. The final product had sliding glass doors. In 2016, this unit cost about $1,700

An armoire is a free-standing closet. If you have minimal closet space or just need more closed storage, an armoire can be a lifesaver. IKEA’s PAX product line is one of the most customizable; it allows you to design the exact kind of storage that you need. Here are 5 useful tips for designing an IKEA PAX armoire:

TIP: Before starting to plan, take an accurate inventory of your clothes. How much hanging space do you need? Are most of your clothes short-hanging (less than 40”) or do you have long robes, gowns or slacks hanging with clips? What kind of folded clothes do you have? Socks, underwear, jammies? Are you going to store shoes in the system or not? At this point you don’t need to know HOW you’re storing everything but you need to know exactly WHAT you’re trying to store.

TIP: Be mindful of prime real estate. When designing your system, know that the prime area of storage is the zone from forehead to hip height. Plan to stow most-used items in this zone.

TIP: You can design the closet yourself using the online planning tool. This tool enables you to drag and drop all the components and features. Is it user friendly? Hmm…you have to be fairly computer-savvy to use it. You can also get help from an IKEA staff person in the store. Some of the staff actually have knowledge of how to build your system.

TIP: These are modular units, but the very first decision you make is what kind of doors you want to use; sliding doors or doors that open out. This is because the basic frame is different for these different door styles. Also, you need to choose the best height for your PAX system. It comes in 2 different heights. Generally, you want to maximize your vertical storage (the taller option) if your room can accommodate it.

TIP: You can save money by going full DIY including pulling all the pieces from the warehouse and assembling yourself (2 people required) or you can get IKEA to help as much as you want. With your design, the IKEA staff can gather the components, deliver it to your house and install it.

* Note: If you are going to purchase their installation, it is important to know that you are responsible for removing the baseboards in the area you want the armoire installed so the IKEA installers can attach it to the wall.

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Filed under Bedroom, children, Closets, Decluttering, General Organizing, Living Room, organizing, Products, Storage

Fear Factor: Ghosts from the Past

There you are with the best of intentions, starting to organize your space and suddenly a ghost pops out and scares you away from your project.

This ghost could be evidence of a forgotten task, a memory of a loved one who has passed, papers from a nasty legal battle, or even some article of clothing that has unpleasant memories attached to it. With the passage of time and consistent avoidant actions, our homes can start to feel like haunted houses.

Scary Organizing Challenges

Our clients are usually glad to have us there when these frights occur.

Here are some common ghouls to watch out for and ways to banish them:

  • Clothes in a size you wish you were. The hope of someday fitting back into those “skinny jeans” can be a very strong attachment. If you absolutely can’t bear to let the dream clothes go, at least make sure they aren’t taking up high value space in your closet or dresser. Put them in a tub, labeled, into a low-use space like basement/attic/garage.
    • Now, if you’ve encountered the tub again while clearing out one those spaces it’s time for a real heart-to-heart talk with yourself. If weight loss is a goal, keeping the clothes isn’t what is motivating you to take action. If you take action and meet your weight goal it will be a nice treat to update your wardrobe with some new items rather than pull out those jeans from a decade ago which likely won’t still be in style anyway.
  • Gifts you weren’t thrilled about.  What do you do with items you’ve been given, but just don’t have a use for or actually don’t match your taste? We’ve written a blog post about this topic, but the main thing to remember is that the giver cares about YOU and their best selves wouldn’t want you to hold onto something that didn’t make you happy. Let it go, pass it on, give it to a charity who can find a good home for it…but don’t let it collect dust in the darker reaches of your prime storage closet or spare room or attic.
  • Things you’ve inherited from family or friends who have passed. These items can sometimes feel heavy and burdensome. Like the unwanted gifts, they are attached to a person or past and can’t just be tossed in a cavalier manner. This is where taking time to process them will provide benefits.
    • Determine their value, their importance to you, what they represent and how best to preserve that memory, if that is what you choose.
    • If they have historical value, can they be donated to the local history society or museum?
    • If they have monetary value, can they be sold with the proceeds going to a coveted family cause?
    • Are they holding memories of a precious family experience? Is there a way to recreate the memory of the family experience without having to store a 2-ton piano that is too expensive to make useable or wouldn’t get played?
    • Sometimes inherited items are best dealt with in layers – focus on dispersing the items you and others have the least attachments to; this will at least make more room for the things you choose to keep.

So, if you have encountered some ghosts, take heart and get help if you need to. There is a way to process these frights, reclaim your past and take care of unfinished business.

 

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Filed under Closets, Decluttering, Garage, General Organizing, home organizing, Memorabilia, organizing, Perspective, Strategies

Decide to Decide to Declutter

 

Active thought ... and discipline will serve you well.

Active thought … and discipline will serve you well.

Recently Katherine has been listening to the audio book of Decisive* which is a resource written for business leaders. She found lots of interesting parallels to the decision making process our clients go through to reduce clutter.

We often see indecision at the root of clients’ clutter – “I don’t know what to do with this…” “What if I need this again?” “Well…I don’t know…” “Should I keep this or not?”

Here are some ways the core principles in Decisive apply to home organizing:

Widen Your Options

We can get tunnel vision about options and have a hard time visualizing a change. Let’s take the decisions around making an effective home office:

  • What’s the best location for the workspace? Is it the dining table, kitchen, guest room, living room, or a closet? What is the best desk orientation and size?

Reality Test Your Assumptions

Dip your toe in the water of change by trying out an option rather than just relying on your gut instinct.

  • Terrified of the prospect of letting something go in case you’ll need it? Store it in a box out of your active space and date the outside. If you don’t go into the box within a set amount of time (week, month, year?) you’ll know you really can live without it.

Attain Distance Before Deciding

Introduce some objectivity into your decision-making.

  • What would I tell my best friend to do? What would someone else do in this situation?

Prepare To Be Wrong

We can’t predict outcomes, really. We tend to be overconfident about what we think the right thing to do is.

  • As part of the decision making process, weigh the consequences of making a wrong decision.

Where do you see your indecision creating clutter in your home? Try applying one of the principles above and let us know how it goes!

*Thanks to Organization Development Consultant, Danny Ceballos for introducing us to this great resource!

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How Many Organizers Does It Take to Change a Lightbulb?

NAPO 2015

 

Spring is the time of the year for renewal and growth…and bringing more light into our lives.  Which, for us, means it’s time for the annual National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) conference! This year we head to Los Angeles to join organizers from across the country – and even across the world – to get educated and to network.

We hope to gain lots of new knowledge and resources to share with you and help our clients. Some of the topics we’ll be learning:

  • Using technologies, such as Evernote, to work more efficiently
  • Techniques for better helping people who are chronically disorganized
  • Building organizing teams to expedite projects
  • How to better help clients who are compulsive buyers
  • Helping efficiently preserve and manage our clients’ ballooning digital photo collections
  • Making household moves easier

At the large expo hall filled with vendors of organizing products and services we’ll be on the lookout for must-have solutions to share with you. Vendors include Smead®, Target®, Fujitsu, Julie Morgenstern, Freedom Filer® and Brother®.

Conference Exhibitors

 

How many organizers does it take to change a lightbulb? We expect over a thousand enthusiastic professionals to join us in LA for this enlightening experience.

Don’t miss out! Follow our live daily tweets from @JunkDrawerNotes for fun tips and products.

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Filed under Decluttering, General Organizing, Perspective, Strategies

6 Ways to Clear Out Your House or Storage Unit

What are your options if you want to empty your house?

What are your options if you want to empty your house?

We often work with clients faced with needing to empty out an entire house or storage unit. The reason may be due to downsizing, inheriting an estate, or over-accumulation. It can be daunting to know how to get the space emptied most efficiently and cost-effectively. Some of our clients are so exasperated they can only think of drastic options like leaving their doors open for burglars or lighting a match.

Here are 6 options you can use in combination:

Estate sale

Estate professionals will come to your house for free and assess whether or not an estate sale is appropriate for your stuff. Typically they are looking to see if there is enough value that they’ll make a profit on the project.

You don’t necessarily need to have antiques or unusual items. Many estate sales are made up of everyday items.

If appropriate, they would advertise and organize the entire sale either from your property or elsewhere. You would need to extract anything you want to keep prior to the sale. You receive a percentage of the sale. Some companies require that they have to receive a minimum dollar amount and you only receive a percentage of profits above that minimum.

Buy-out

If your stuff isn’t going to bring in enough value to make a full estate sale viable, estate professionals may instead offer to do a buy-out. Basically they offer you a flat amount for everything in the house. They handle removal of everything including furniture and donations/garbage/recycling. Typically hauling/dump fees are charged separately or taken out of the offer.

Auction house

You can sell items through an auction house. Most auction houses offer free weekly appraisal events where you can bring in items or pictures. They also have specialists who can come to you and assess your items. We know of one local auction house that sell everyday items (provided there’s enough to meet a minimum value) but most focus on selling particularly valuable items.

Charity pick up

There are dozens of agencies with trucks willing to come to your house to take away re-useable furniture, household items, and clothing. Typically they are pretty selective because the items need to be in a condition to re-sell.

Junk hauler

The last resort for clearing out a space is a hauler. They charge by the job, not the hour. Many haulers are environmentally sensitive and will separate a load into recyclables, donations and true garbage. Unless they are certified to do so, they are not legally allowed to take away household hazardous waste such as old paint, etc.

Furniture Consignment

This won’t handle the issue of clearing a whole house but often the furniture is the most difficult to deal with. Consignment stores offer a way to sell furniture and get a percentage of the sale price. They will be selective, as certain styles of furniture just won’t sell. Most require you to bring the furniture to them or pay to have it moved there.

We are very well connected in the SF Bay Area; if you need recommendations for vendors of any of these services, just ask!

 

 

 

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Filed under Decluttering, Empty Nest, General Organizing, Reduce/Recyle/Reuse, Strategies