Get Prepared for the 2009 Holiday Season – Tip 2

November 30th, 2009

Still want to give gifts this holiday season but the recession got you down.  Check out Clutterfree Gift Ideas for 2009 from Your Life. Organized author Monica Ricci.  Monica’s list of clutterfree gifts highlights some that are real inexpensive (some are even free).  We don’t need anymore stuff to clutter up our homes, do we?  Why would we give the gift of clutter to others?

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Get prepared for Holiday Season 2009 – Tip 1

November 5th, 2009

Can you believe we have already flipped the calendar to November?  Where did time go?

I am sure many of you will agree,  it seemed a little pre-mature when the stores and malls had all their Christmas decorations up at least two weeks ago.  So you are thinking, I have a month before I can pull my decorations out of the closet/attic/garage, right?.

Well – now is the perfect time to pull out your decorations  and go through them.  Yes, now.  Prior to the seasonal rush is the time to make decisions on which items you no longer like, no longer have meaning or is the lousy gift you received in the office Sneaky Santa exchange last year.   Now is the time to donate or resell these decorations or gifts.

Often we don’t take the time to go through these items and store them year after year. Or we realize that we have just been holding on to something we don’t like, just in case the giver stops over.  You’ve been storing it for six years and the giver hasn’t been over for five.  Before you take it out to display or store it for another year.  Think about who will appreciate it more.  Holiday decorations or ‘seasonal’ gifts  have little value to donation sites and is of no value at a consignment store once the holidays have passed.

So this weekend-

  1. Schedule some time to pull out your boxes of decorations
  2. Separate the items.  Start thinking now about how you want to decorate this year.
  3. Make sure the decorations you want to display are easily accessible, the ones you want to store are packed well and the others are packed to donate or sell.  You might be surprised to find you have forgotten about some of your favorites or may find that family heirloom that was misplaced years ago.
  4. Take to decorations that you no longer want or are just taking up space to a shelter/charity or consignment shop.

A little prep time now will make the holiday decorating a whole lot more enjoyable.

Please let us know what’s the most interesting thing you have found while going through your holiday decorations?  We’d love to hear (we’re just curious).

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Need a contractor? Where to start?

September 11th, 2009

How many of you have relied on AAA (formerly known as the American Automobile Association)?  AAA has become synonymous with the name of the company who bails you out if your car conks out or you get a flat.

Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel Toll Booth
Image by jimmywayne via Flickr

As a child I remember my mom’s old Pontiac overheating while we waited at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge toll plaza.  Somehow (pre cellphone days), we managed to contact AAA. I was terrified, the 3 BIG A’s were going to come.

Nooooooo!  Not the 3 BIG A’s.  While this was a service who was going to help, as a child I pictured 3 BIG A’s.  We were going to get attacked by the alphabet!!!  Needless to say, AAA sent a service individual to come help us and we were sent on our way. As an adult AAA customer, I learned that AAA does not always have it’s own service trucks. Honestly, I don’t know if they have any of their own trucks anymore. Their service and reputation is handled by contractors who they screen to represent them. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had one stop shopping for all things that cause hiccups in our lives? Boy, wouldn’t that simplify your life?

I recently learned friends had launched a AAA-like home repair service called HOCOA – Home Owners Club of America. Like AAA offers pre-screened automobile repair contractors to their members, HOCOA offers pre-screened home repair/maintenance contractors to their members. You make one phone call to HOCOA. They document your problem and set you up with the contractor who can repair your problem. Members pay a minimal fee to have access to their pre-screened contractors saving members time and aggravation.  While there are other home repair companies who sell memberships, there are some definite differences.

I have invited my friends Michelle and Andy Katon, owners of HOCOA Metro DC to guest post about how a home repair network can simplify your life.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could simplify your life when it comes to home repair.  We discovered a home repair network that can do that, HOCOA. We were so impressed, that we choose to purchase a franchise in the Washington, DC Metro area so we could share this benefit with Washingtonians. Here is how it started….

We noticed an odor in the kitchen.  We did not realize that our dishwasher had broke mid-cycle.  The following day, Sunday we discovered the odor was from the dishwasher.  Once we noticed it was a broken dishwasher causing the odor, we did not know who to call.  We did what most people would do: opened the Yellow Pages, and started making calls, more calls and even more calls.  After 11 calls and a lot of frustration, we knew there must be a better way. We did finally get our dishwasher fixed but decided that it was time to find a universal solution to the household headache of home repair.  After a lot of research, we found a home repair network called HOCOA.  HOCOA had a proven track record of making the process of finding a contractor/service provider easier.  Further investigation showed that all HOCOA contractors are licensed, bonded/insured and pre-screened.  Best of all, they do all of the  leg work for you.

Upon moving to the DC area, we discovered there was no HOCOA location in the area.  In an area like DC where people are always on the go, we knew that there was a need for HOCOA.  Most Washingtonians don’t have the time to make all the calls and screen contractors before hiring them.  Yes, you may have your favorite plumber or electrician but who do you call when the roof leaks, the attic fan dies, or you discover mold in the basement.

So we brought the HOCOA Home Repair Network to DC!  Below are success stories from your DC neighbors.

WorkerCleaningGuttedDownstairs
Image via Wikipedia

A family in Rockville was in the middle of a renovation project. They ran into problems with their contractor, who could not finish the job. What should they do? A friend suggested they call HOCOA. Within an hour, we figured out what type of contractors they needed.  By the next morning, they were back in business and work reconvened using HOCOA contractors. HOCOA was not only able to save them the time and energy of re-interviewing contractors after previously being burned, but the project became stress free because of HOCOA.

Another family had a light that was going in and out. They called an electrician on their own. He came, fixed the light and did what appeared to be a good job. A week later, the light was giving them the same problem. They called the electrician again, and again, and again. They never received a return call. So much time was spent trying to resolve this issue. The problem was that their electrician had already done the job and had been paid. They were no longer on his “priority” list.

Through HOCOA, the contractors are held “accountable” because of the way jobs are dispatched. Since the contractors want referrals, they respond almost immediately when called by a HOCOA representative. If the family had called HOCOA for this project, ONE call would have taken care of this problem with NO frustration.

Joining HOCOA is the way to save time and energy and be able to simplify your life when it comes to home repair.  The value of piece of mind is so much greater than the small yearly HOCOA membership fee.   In addition to the home repair contractors participating with HOCOA, your membership also gives you access to additional resources at wholesale prices.

If you know of anyone moving to the DC area, a HOCOA membership is an incredible gift.  Know a good reliable contractor you feel would benefit from being part of the HOCOA Metro DC network, please pass our information along.  Feel free to give us a call or send us an email with any questions.  We look forward to helping you simplify your life.

Michelle and Andy Katon
Owners, HOCOA Metro DC

240-683-HOME(4663)
info@hocoametrodc.com


Michelle and Andy are extending all Need Another You readers a 15% discount on any HOCOA Metro DC membership.  Use code ORGANIZE when purchasing your membership.   Need to simplify your life?   Be prepared, contact Michelle and Andy today.


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Organize your exercise

August 27th, 2009

So we all know that exercise and proper diet can contribute to better physical fitness.  Right?  If you were not already aware, exercise can also contribute to better mental health.  Exercise and stress management have a close link.  According to researchers at the Mayo Clinic, exercise relieves stress by decreasing cortisol (stress hormones) and increasing endorphins (runner’s high). Note: chocolate also helps the body produce endorphins but does not have the same effect on cortisol. Unfortunately chocolate does not produce the full desired effect. Sorry. Many regular exercisers claim they feel mentally fatigued when the miss workouts.  Regular exercise has been shown to increase self-confidence  and energy while  lowering the symptoms of anxiety and depression.

I believe we all will agree that we are not as energetic nor can we think as clearly when we are suffering a bout of anxiety or depression.  Here in lies the vicious cycle.  We make excuses “I don’t have the energy to workout”, “I don’t have the people walkingtime to workout” or “I don’t have the money to join a gym.”  So how do you break the cycle, when will you finally understand what someone means by runner’s high?  Below are some suggestions how to make time to exercise and how to get started.  I will preface, like anything else it takes 2 weeks to create (or break) a habit so don’t expect miracles overnight.

  1. Schedule time in your calendar.  No actually write or type it in your calendar.  What, you don’t have a calendar?  Organizing 101 – get a calendar (paper or electronic) and use it.  Take it with you everywhere and write down all of your commitments.We all have the same 24 hours in our day.  What is different is how we choose to use those 24 hours.  No one says you have to exercise for 1 hour or more.  Try getting up 30 minutes earlier or after dinner grab the family and go for a walk.  It’s something, something more than you did the day before.
  2. Find an exercise buddy.  If you have no friends or family members available to join you, check out sites like http://exercisefriends.com, http://fitlink.com or http://readytosweat.com.  These sites have you complete a profile then match you with a compatible exercise buddy.  Be completely honest when filling out the profile, highlight your strengths and weaknesses.  Not your style?  Try putting the leash on the dog and head out. Remember if they are not conditioned for long walks, they need to work up to it too. See if your local place of worship has a physical or virtual bulletin board where you can post that your are looking for an exercise partner.  Also, check to see if your local shopping mall has an organized mall walking group.  Many times this is organized by the mall or a local hospital.  Often they will have a particular day a month that they offer blood pressure checks and provide health education.  The benefits of an exercise buddy/mall walking group include accountability, companionship and security.  The mall also protects you from the elements. If you know someone is counting on you or will be waiting for you to show, you are more likely to drag yourself to meet them.  Time passes faster when you have a companion.  This goes for most anything in life.   Like anything else, there is safety in numbers.  I suggest meeting your exercise buddy at a public place the first time.  If you get an uncomfortable feeling, don’t leave.    Always carry ID, your cell phone and the name and number of an emergency contact.  You never know if you will need this.  An undesirable person is less likely to approach a group exercising than an individual.  The cell phone is also useful if you get caught in an unexpected storm.
  3. Check out sites by http://mapmyfitness.com like http://mapmywalk.com, http://mapmyrun.com, http://mapmyride.com.  They provide tools for you to measure walking/running or biking routes.  They also sharing tools so you can see routes other users have created.  The site tells you the distance and have a rating system for users to rate a route.  You can add stops to the route.   You can email the route to friends to see if anyone is interested in meeting you along the route or post to your friends via Facebook.  I email the route to myself so I can pick it up on my phone.   I also leave the route up on my computer screen.  If for any reason, I do not make it home, there is a map of my intended location.  Another benefit built-in to these site is the My Training Log.  It allows you to track your distance, # of calorie burned, your weight change, average # of hours of sleep and your average morale.  These sites allow you to mix up your route by location, elevation and distance adding variety to your workout and preventing boredom.

So now you have some basic tools to help you start an organized workout plan.  Hopefully you will be able to draw from one or two of these tips and create time for exercise in your day.  If you stick with it, you will notice that your are able to think more clearly, sleep better and have more energy to focus on the important things in your life.

P.S.  Did I mention, all of the basic services of sites I listed are free?  No excuses.  Get to it!  Good luck!

Kim Oser, Certified Professional Organizer ®

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Give Back to School

July 27th, 2009

Can you believe it is almost back to school time?

While you are creating your list of back to school items, look through your home first. Do you already own any of the supplies on the back to school list? Did you find items that you bought in the past but realized that you don’t need?

Office Products
Image via Wikipedia

There are many charities that collect school supplies for those less fortunate. I donate often to The National Center for Children and Families (NCCF). NCCF runs shelters and programs in Washington, DC and Maryland. They help homeless families, at risk youth and provide assistance for battered women and children. The children who live in these shelters go to the local public schools. Many of their school friends do not know that they live in a shelter. I am certain these types of programs and accommodations are in your community as well.

You can help these children have the supplies they need by donating those unused notebooks, glue, colored pencils, etc that you overbought in the past. Additionally, Office Depot. Staples, Walmart and other big box discounters are currently offering amazing savings on back to school items. Many items are being offered for $.25 or $1.00. Then there are the buy one, get one free offers. If your child only needs one, put the free one in a bag for the children in the shelter.

Here is the back to school wish list from NCCF. I am sure charities in your area are looking for many of the same items. You can help make a difference in a child’s life by cleaning out your own home and picking up some new supplies at little or no cost. Start looking how you can help a family out today.

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