Removing clutter ~ It is not about the physical stuff

July 16th, 2013

When folks set out to declutter, they often worry about no longer keeping their things. Professionals in the organizing and psychology fields realize it is often not about the stuff but rather the feelings you get when you see the stuff. The emotional attachment we have with the memories or feelings associated with the stuff. I have found that people are more successful, productive, happier and more financially stable when they free up their physical space and can do more with less.

My number one tip for starting an organizing project is

  1. Start with organizing the area that bothers you most.  Think about the area that keeps you up at night.  The area that is the last thing you think about before falling asleep and the first thing that you think about upon waking.  Start there.  By creating a system, a home for those things for easy access, ease in putting away and retrieving, by seeing success organizing that area, you open yourself up for a clearer mind.  You feel a weight lifted off your back.  You open up mindspace for greater enjoyment of life and create the inertia to continue decluttering other areas.

I saw this quote on Pinterest and think it is perfect.  This  is why I offer services to help people unclutter their spaces.  I’d be lying if I didn’t get joy of seeing a clients desk free of clutter for the first time or actually being able to see the color of the floor covering.   The reason I wake up and get dressed in the morning is not to see clutter-free desks, countertops, or floors but for the satisfaction I receive by knowing my assistance in eliminating or reducing other’s clutter has helped others open their mind and spirit.   I receive joy from knowing my services have helped clients find time for them in their day, find time to spend doing the things that make them happy, find time to smile and take a deep breath without worry that things are getting lost, misplaced or falling apart.  I love what I do.  I love the feeling I have when leaving a client appointment.  There are few other things that I could do that would leave me and my clients with a high level satisfaction in their life.

Look around the room.  What types of things are cluttering your surroundings?  Set the timer for 15 minutes and grab any unnecessary things that are taking up space in your surroundings and your mind.  Let me know how it goes.


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Tech Tip Tuesday – Web-based storage

June 25th, 2013

So I like to tinker with technology.  Mostly technology that can help me and others increase productivity or simplify lives.  One of my favorite tech tools and lifesavers for the past few years is Dropbox.

Dropbox[1]Why did I fall in love with Dropbox?  It is easy.  Easy to install and mindless once installed.  I can access and share files stored in Dropbox from my home (PC) computer, my Android phone, my iPad or any web-connected device any place, any where.   I can also add files to my Dropbox from any web-connected device any place, any where.  I have the app on my Android phone set to automatically sync all photos taken on my phone to my Dropbox.  It keeps copies of my files on it’s cloud based servers.  I use it as my file back-up in place of Mozy or Carbonite back-up systems.  You may be asking if your files are secure on Dropbox.  A username and log-in is required to access your files in Dropbox.   They use bank-level encryption security.  That is not to say there will never be a  security breach as there have been with Dropbox but there also have been security breaches in major banks and the White House.

What is Dropbox?  It can be defined as a  file hosting service operated by Dropbox, Inc., a San Francisco based technology company.   Dropbox offers cloud storage and file synchronization across platforms . Users downloads software from the Dropbox website which creates a specified folder on their computer.  The folder (labeled Dropbox) can replace the Documents folder so when you save a file, you save it to the Dropbox folder.  It is a physical folder which lives on your computer’s hard drive.  Dropbox then synchronizes so that it appears in the same folder (with the same contents) regardless of which computer/web-enabled device is used to view it.   You can think of it as a virtual thumb-drive.

How much does it all cost?  Dropbox offers all users 2GB of storage free.  If you refer friends or colleagues, they give the referrer and referee 250MB bonus.  All links to Dropbox in this post will give new Dropbox users the bonus 250MB.  Users receive 250MB for each new referee they refer up to 16GB.  Yes, 2.25GB of storage may not seem like much but it is great to get you started and to test out the program.  If you think about it, you are only storing files on your Dropbox not software or programs.  (I do not back-up my music through Dropbox.  My music is backed-up through iTunes. ) You can purchase additional space.  100GB of storage is $99 yearly.  My Dropbox has 63GB.  I am only using 42GB.  I have never paid.  Huh, how?  In addition to offering bonus space for new referrals, Dropbox offers users specials from time to time.  Currently, Samsung mobile users can receive 48GB of free space for activating the Dropbox app on their mobile device.  The Samsung / Dropbox promo is valid until 11/20/2014.  There are numerous other ways to increase your Dropbox by getting free storage.

So you can add files to your Dropbox from your computer, your tablet and your phone but you can also add files to your Dropbox using email through  Send To Dropbox.  You give permission for Send To Dropbox to connect to your Dropbox account.  Once connected, they provide you with a personalized email address.  Whenever you find something you want to save to your Dropbox, you email it to your Send To Dropbox email.  You can also give other people your Send To Dropbox email address when they need to send you a file.  Once it is received by your Dropbox account, you can access the file by your computer or any web-enabled device.  Pretty cool?

If you are new to Dropbox, check it out.  Once you have had some experience or if you are a veteran Dropbox user, please let us know what you think.  What has your experience been?  Have you found any other cool ways to add to or access your Dropbox?

Portions of this post are excerpts from Wikipedia and the Dropbox website.

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Top 3 Trends in Past 3 Years

September 24th, 2010

Top 3 Trends in Past 3 Years (Part 1 of 3)

I believe there have been three major trends in the past three years that has changed the way we do things.  I will be sharing my insights over the next three weeks.  I’d love to hear your input and experiences.

1.    Reliance on Tech

We now live in a world where we constantly rely on technology to get us through each day.  If you are not a mobile phone user (do they still exist), you still rely on technology when you go to a restaurant, the post office, the bank.

We have all likely been to a restaurant that uses technology – a form of a pager to notify you when your table is ready.  Some restaurants take orders on a handheld device that automatically transmits the order to the bar or kitchen.  You can even place a take-out or delivery order from home without picking up the phone.

You can make calls without picking up the receiver or handset.  You can write checks, pay bills or transfer money via a mobile phone or notebook computer Skype logowithout getting in the car or spending money on a stamp.  While the security of doing any of these still has some vulnerabilities for the most part they are secure.  Some folks still fear banking online, even if you avoid it, the banks stores your information online.  Security online is one part of the equation, backing up the data is the second.

When I work with clients, sometimes they ask to go paperless and store everything on their computer.  I ask about their back-up plan.  Nine times out of 10 they have none or they can’t remember the last time they backed up, if ever.  When I ask why not, they either don’t know how or it’s too difficult or too hard to remember.  There are many options for traditional back-up.  Many folks purchase an external hard drive.  I have one.  While they are a great option, there are some downfalls.

External hard drive 1.    Your computer must be connected to the external hard drive for your back-up to be completed.
2.    You must create a schedule to back-up.
3.    They can get lost or stop working making it difficult or impossible to retrieve the data. (this happened to me, the drive stopped working and I did not know until I went to look for something on the back-up drive).

I still use an external hard drive to back up but I also use one of the the web-based options as well.  The two big ones are Carbonite and Mozy.  Both offer a free month.  Following you free month, their fees vary based on the size of the files being backed-up.  An additional option is Dropbox.  Dropbox is an online back-up and collaboration tool.  DropboxI prefer Dropbox over Carbonite or Mozy.  I like that you can access it from any online device (mobile phone, pda, iPad, iTouch, notebook or desktop computer).  There is an app for the iPhone/iPad/iTouch and Android phones.  From any of the devices you can access anything in your Dropbox as long as you have internet access.  The Dropbox folder does reside on your computer.  As you create or edit documents, spreadsheets, presentations, audio, video or pictures Dropbox saves a copy on to your computer and updates your Dropbox account.  It also allows you to share files and collaborate with other users.  You can configure your computer to save all files to your Dropbox folder.  The free account includes up to 2GB file storage.  You can grow your storage for free by referring friends, family and colleagues to Dropbox.  They reward both the referrer and referee with an additional 250MB of storage.  You can continue to refer until you reach 32 accepted referrals or 8GB of addtional storage space.   You may not think that is very much space but you’d be surprised.  Take a look at the drive where you store your documents.  I am a heavy user.  My Documents folder currently uses 4.38GB of space.  It includes documents, spreadsheets, presentations and pictures.

Why do I love Dropbox?  Because it is mindless.  I don’t have to do anything.  I work on a document or download pics from my camera as long as I am connected to the web … voila after a few seconds, it is saved on my notebook and it is updated on Dropbox.  I don’t have to schedule anything.  If thinks for me.  I love that it is intuitive and costs me nothing (at this time).  If my storage needs grow faster than my free Dropbox grows, the cost of purchasing Dropbox storage space is very reasonable (All three online back-up systems mentioned do offer a discount if you pre-pay for a year vs. month to month fees).  I love that my documents folder looks identical regardless if I am looking at it on my computer, notebook, smart phone or a computer of a friend or at a hotel when I am traveling.  I don’t know how it could get any easier.  I only recommend it because I use it and find it is the best product available that meets my needs.  Feel free to check out Dropbox and get a free 250 KB of storage space.  I’d love to hear your feedback.  How do you protect and back-up your information?

Are you reliant on technology?  Share with us how technology shapes your life and has changed the way you operate on a day to day basis.

Stay tuned for #2 and #3!

Kim Oser

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Get Prepared for Winter – Car emergency kit essentials

December 14th, 2009

Do you have a “winter car-emergency kit“? Many of these items are good to have in your car year round but now is the time to check your supplies.  This is a must before you hit the roads for the holidays.

Your kit could include

kitty litter or sand – stop spinning your wheels, sprinkle some kitty litter/sand for tire traction on snow and ice

a shovel or at minimum an ice scraper- there are some great fold-up shovels and gloves with scrapers built-in

Warm clothes – they call it a glove box for a reason.  No room in there? Grab a sturdy plastic container and toss in a spare set of gloves, a hat, sturdy boots, and a warm jacket.

Blankets to keep warm inside the vehicle (I keep one in my car year round, comes in handy for a picnic or to watch the kid’s baseball game).

Flashlights and extra batteries – if your battery dies at night, you have no interior or head lights

First aid kit – toss in a few of your necessary medications in case you are stuck on the road

Food – I  keep a few packs of nuts and some Luna bars, vacuum packed ready to eat tuna salad, snack sized apple sauce.  If you get stuck, you don’t know how long you may have to wait for help.

Water- bring enough for each person in your car and any pets

  • AM/FM radio – rechargeable or battery-operated to listen to traffic reports and emergency messages
  • Charged cell phone – charge your cell phone before hitting the road.  Don’t rely on your car charger to charge while you are driving.  If your battery dies, unless you have a charged USB charger, you have no way to charge your cell phone.

Here’s wishing you safe and happy travels!

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Get Prepared for the 2009 Holiday Season – Tip 3

December 6th, 2009

On December 8, 2005 I was fortunate enough to be featured in the Home Section of The Washington Post. The article highlighted my tips for an organized celebration. Four years later as I re-read my tips, I am happy to say that my tips are still relevant. So here are my tips on being prepared for the holidays.

Stock up on the basics the sooner the better, before lines get longer and parking lots fill up.

  • Batteries – Consider what batteries are necessary all of your needs.  Think of which size is needed for everything from the games the children are receiving and the digital camera to the flashlights, mp3 player, remote controls and hearing aids.  Consider using rechargeable batteries whenever possible.  Reminder to charge them before the holidays.  (BTW-  do not store batteries in the fridge.  According to Energizer, To maximize performance and shelf life, store batteries at normal room temperatures with moderate humidity levels.)
  • Food storage – Pick up inexpensive food storage containers (like Rubbermaid TakeAlongs, Ziploc or Gladware) for freezing and sharing leftovers.  By having inexpensive containers on hand you won’t have to worry about someone taking home your good Rubbermaid or Tupperware.  Also – grab zip top bags in multiple sizes while at the store.  They come in very handy when sending home leftovers and take up little space.
    • Decor storage– Get wreath, ornament and artificial tree storage now!  They tend to sell out quickly.  This year especially, stores can’t afford to get stuck with seasonal items so they are keeping a lower than normal inventory.  (Don’t want to spend money on these uni-taskers or trying to preserve the environment?  Stop by the local liquor store and pick-up liquor or wine bottle boxes.  The dividers help protect your ornaments and the stores are happy to share the boxes.  Another option – Did you receive a gift of fruit?  Hang on to the shipping box, they usually come with padding which helps protect your decor.)

    • Last Minute Gifts– Have you ever been in a situation when some unexpected fives you a present?  Be ready to reciprocate with a unisex and consumable gift.  Think scented candles, a bottle of wine, fancy maple syrup, gourmet olive oil or vinegar, or a gift card to Starbucks.  I buy generic wrap in one solid color (white or silver) and have ribbons in many colors.   I customize the gift wrap for specific holidays, gender or individual by using a different color ribbons.  I buy clear cellophane wrap for odd shaped gifts.  Attach a blank tag and keep a pen nearby for quick inscribing.

    I hope this preparation helps you have a more enjoyable holiday season!

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