Easiest disaster plan you can make: Fire Proof Safe

Sentry - Fire Proof Safe.jpgWhen it comes to documentation the best suggestion that I have is a fire resistant safe.  These are available at your local office supply store and are really worth the investment.  I’m not suggesting that you keep all bank statements, investment statements, etc. in the fire proof safe but it would be a great idea to keep your account numbers as well as photo copies of the front & back of your credit cards in here in case you lose your wallet.  At the very least your fireproof safe should contain the following items:

  • A folder for each member of your household that holds passports, birth certificates, medical information & anything else that is of importance that you might need.  I would include one for pets as well.
  • Titles to all vehicles that you own
  • House/Mortgage paperwork
  • Photos that have been backed up onto CD’s or thumb drives – have recent photos of your house (inside & out) in case you need to show or remember what might be lost for insurance purposes
  • Appraisals from any artwork or jewelry
  • Anything else of importance to you – genealogy information, photos that are irreplaceable, precious letters from loved ones, etc.

The purpose of the fire proof safe is to hold documentation that can help make you “whole again” should disaster happen in your life.  Think of the things that you would need to get a new driver’s license, credit cards, etc. and use that as a gauge.  Depending on the size of your safe you can put more personal items in there as well.

These are heavy so bear in mind that worst case is that you open it up, grab these items and go but either way, you’re out the door in a hurry and are able to get you and your family to safety which is the most important thing.

Do you have a disaster plan?

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Adapt to your space, rather than changing the habit

When living with your family (especially those with small children) I have found that it is best to adapt to the space rather than “training” your family to use an area in a way that they are not presently doing so.  A classic example is the front hall of your home.

Our family gets together in northern Michigan for a week or two in August every summer.  The Grandkids all kick off their flip-flops the minute they walk in the door. Now, we could implement a strategy to have them take their shoes to their rooms but that isn’t likely to work. Our solution was to put a big, attractive basket by the door so they can kick their “flippies” into it. Everything is contained.

This could also work for gloves & mittens in the winter or umbrellas in the spring. You could have a small piece of furniture with drawers for mittens and then for spring, purchase an umbrella stand or container so that the umbrellas have a place to be stored near the door.

Small adaptations such as these will make a big difference in how you use an area of your home. It should also hopefully cut down on some of the inevitable arguments that go along with stuff being left in an area where it doesn’t belong.

Do you have an area of your house that could use an adaptation makeover or am I the only one?!

More Isn’t Always Better…

We all get overwhelmed with our own “stuff” so don’t think you are the only one that is over their head. Today’s society is based on how much we can acquire and truth be told, after recently downsizing my family to a smaller home I was amazed at how much “stuff” we had (and I’m the one preaching that less is more…).

After significant soul searching I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s definitely okay to have stuff but just not too much of it. I like to change décor seasonally within my home and found that I’ve got a TON of varying items for all four seasons. Is this necessary? Probably not but I’ve weeded out the items that I haven’t displayed in a year or two and have kept the ones that we like most.

Getting overwhelmed is easy this day and age with stores like Marshall’s and HomeGoods encouraging us to buy more, more, more. The problem lies with where we are going to store it once it’s season has passed… so the next time you’re faced with a purchasing decision remember to ask yourself where will this live when it’s not on display and see if that encourages you to leave it behind rather than take it home.

When are you scheduled for another shopping trip to Marshall’s, HomeGoods or Target?

Rewrite your lists frequently

I love re-writing my task list, it always gives me such a sense of accomplishment to cross off some of the items and then look forward to crossing some of the “new” things off someday too. It also helps to prioritize (or re-prioritize) some of the items on your list too. I’ve mentioned that if you re-write a certain task more than 5 times on a new list that you can probably just delete it altogether since it hadn’t gotten done thus far, how important can it be?

A fresh start always feels good too. Writing out a fresh list on a clean sheet of paper always feels like I’m starting over in some ways. I also encourage you to use cute paper and maybe a clipboard or fun notepad that you like to record your tasks. It makes the mundane a little more fun (and as I always say, just because it’s practical doesn’t mean it can’t be cute)!

Don’t forget Vertical Space


My clients hear me refer to “valuable real estate” when mapping out the best way to organize their space. We need to maximize the space that they have and work with what we’ve got, it doesn’t stop at counter space or work surfaces, walls help too!

 Putting files “upright” instead of flat will give you about 8.5 x 11 more inches of space, yup, that’s right!  Another bonus is that you will have it more visible in case you need to find it in a hurry. You can see it easily sitting up instead of just in a pile.

One of my favorite wall pockets are either the copper or wooden ones from Ballard Designs. I’ve had mine for about 8 years and they look just as awesome as the day they showed up on my doorstep. In all honesty, this is a must have for me now, not sure what I’d do without them. Everyone has a pocket, one for each of the kiddos, one for receipts, one for pending projects and one for travel. I can put paperwork in there and know that when I need it, I’ll be able to find it in no time.

So, when you’re running out of work surface, look up!  See if you can utilize the space on the wall around you or just stack things on their sides and see how much more space you can open up as a result. Let me know how it goes, I’d love to hear if this worked for you!

When was the last time you looked up?!

Don’t get discouraged…

I love the Chinese Proverb that says, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” This can be applied to so many things but in particular I like to apply it to getting organized. If it took a while to get messy, I’m afraid to say it’s going to take a while to get yourself back on your feet and organized someday.

One of the best things you can do for yourself is to take small steps and be sure to reward yourself frequently. Even if it’s just sitting for a cup of tea and watching your favorite TV show in the afternoon after an organizing session, whatever works and whatever makes you happy, I’m all for it!

Take your time, it’s well worth the effort in the long run but don’t be a “weekend warrior” organizer. Instead, just pick up the socks and dirty laundry off the floor of your closet and make a conscious effort to make sure you don’t just throw it on the floor at the end of the day. Sometimes it’s just that simple or as the proverb says, just that first small step will show you how to move forward towards a more organized life (and ultimately a more efficient lifestyle)…

Be honest… are YOU a weekend warrior?


Beware of Energy Vampires!

For a very big part of my 30’s, the more I talked about the things that bothered me the grumpier that I became.  I have always noticed that when one person starts to complain it doesn’t take long for someone else to follow suit and before you know it a complete “bitch-fest” is going on.  Face it, we all have our own problems, people that make us crazy, family stuff to get over, etc.  The problem is that we don’t need to make it everyone else’s problem while we’re at it.  I’m not suggesting that you bottle this up, you need to be able to talk to a good friend or sometimes even a therapist but complaining and moaning to anyone that will listen will only serve to make you feel worse the longer it goes on.

This can also go another way… is there someone in your life that constantly complains? They can be just as draining (if not more so). Your time is very valuable so choose how you spend it wisely. I’m not saying we can avoid those “energy vampires” completely but we can certainly minimize our time spent with them!

Do you know someone that sucks your energy dry?!