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The Home and Office Organizing Blog
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Organizing Keys

You know all those keys that you have been shifting around from drawer to drawer year after year that have no identification? If you absolutely have no idea what they belong to it might be time to let them go.
Go through you house and match up all these miscellaneous keys to every single lock and door knob you can find. Also make a master list of all the locks so you know how many doors require a key. If you still have keys that don't match at least you can rule out your home. Next make a list of other places they might belong to. Did a friend or relative give you a key to hold onto? Are there any other buildings you have access to? Continue to test out all of your keys by process of elimination. Any keys they don't belong to anything should go. If you still are not sure about some of the keys, put them in a container and store outside of your immediate work area.
In the future get rid of keys as soon as you know they are no longer needed. If you have a lock changed take the key off your key rings immediately so they don't get lost in the shuffle again. If you are moving make sure you leave all of your keys behind you will not need them anymore.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Recycle Banking

I just heard of the best recycling program ever! Its called Recycle Bank. Its a program that combines recycling with reward points that can be used at major stores like Target, CVS and Bed Bath and Beyond. The way it works is you recycle items by placing them in your household bin that gets picked up curbside. The bins are weighed, tracked and then converted into reward points. I don't think it could be an easier!
Not only do you get points to use, it can actually help you get organized. Items that you use every day like cereal or other foods that come in a card board box can immediately go into a re sealable container and the cardboard gets recycled.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Can Soap Keep You Organized?

I am always looking for practical ways to get organized and save time. Yesterday I did a couple loads of laundry and realized how happy I was that I had a 2 in 1 bottle of laundry detergent and fabric softener. It might not seam like a big deal but wheeling a cart full of clothes, and detergents to the laundry room is a task in itself. Not having an extra bottle or box of fabric softener to carry to the laundry room is priceless. It is also one extra step I can take out of the chore. And a 2 in 1 product saves space and easier to keep organized.
What is your favorite time saving product?

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Monday, April 13, 2009
Improved Cell Phone Photos

Capturing precious moments is priceless! I swore that I would never use my blackberry camera to take pictures because it was not the best quality and the prints never really turned out. But sometimes you don't have a camera available and your cell phone camera is the only option. Every once in a while I would get a great shot but still wonder how much better it would have been with a "real" camera.
Just recently I took some shots and was so upset at the quality.
I started to do some investigating and thought "I wonder if the lens is dirty"? I got out the trusty q-tip and wiped out the lens.
After the cleaning the picture quality was so much better!
I am happy to say I will continue to use my cell phone to take pictures but keeping the lens clean is a must! If you keep your phone in your bag or your purse you might want to pack a few extra q-tips to keep the lens clean. Another option is to keep you phone in a case.
Now if the blackberry could only do action shots!

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009
Back up, Back up, Back up

I just completed a frustrating 2 week project of recovering files from a crashed computer. I have a backup plan and an external backup drive. But like most people I do not use it often enough. About once a month I attach it to each computer in the house and do a backup. The problem with this plan is that I risk losing a months worth of work and this was painfully reinforced when my laptop crashed a few days after transferring home videos from my Zi6.

I went through the typical attempts to reboot hoping the little laptop would come alive just one more time. I called friends, searched help web sites and Google'd the errors hoping others who experienced the same thing could help. Whatever time I could spare each evening was spent to fix the computer, even just temporarily so I could recover those videos of my son eating for the first time, crawling, smiling and whatever else we thought was cute or funny at the moment.

My searches and conversations presented me with two options. The first option was to pay a pro. Prices started at $250 and went up to $1,500. At first I was hoping the problem wasn't too tuff and so I picked option 2 which led me through a long process that presented new challenges at every corner. It seemed that for every step accomplished another hurdle appeared. First I needed to remove the hard drive. This was not easy on this particular laptop, and needed a special tool. I bought the tool and followed detailed instructions on how to take the laptop apart and remove the hard drive without damaging it further.

This required a complete dismantling of the laptop and patience.

Once I removed the laptop I learned that I needed an adapter that would allow me to connect the drive to another computer. Fortunately I knew someone who had such an adapter as well as some advice and moral support.

Once I connected the drive to my laptop I ran a disk utility that announced my disk was unrepairable.

Some additional searching on the internet revealed others who had experienced the same messages and had been successful using other software tools to repair their disks. So I bought the one that seemed to produce the most success stories and gave it a try. That software was able to repair most of the issues temporarily so that I could at least transfer all but one of the video files to my other computer. Finally, mission accomplished.

I now look back at the cost of the pros and wonder if I picked the best option. The disk utilities cost $100, and I believe the adapter kit was another $60. That combined with the hours of frustration now make the $250 and up price tag seem more like a steal.

But the big lesson learned is to BACK UP! Every minute I saved by not doing regular backups was lost in trying to recover those files. No matter how busy you are, spend some time regularly to back up your important files.
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Organizing Winter Clothes

Winter is almost over. Even though it still gets cold here in Chicago its time to start packing up those heavier clothes and start looking into spring. Soon you will be wearing shorts and flip flops!
It can be difficult to determine what you should put away until next year and what to keep out. If the temperature drops you want to be prepared.
Here are a few items that you can put away that will jump start your closet organizing.
Heavy wools
Heavy coats
Bulky sweaters
Winter sports gear-hats, gloves scarves or ski pants
Winter boots
Organizing your heavy winter clothes now will make the change of seasons a little easier next year. Also, by opening up space in your closet you can start adding a few of your warmer weather clothes like rain jackets, lightweight materials and cottons.

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Tuesday, April 07, 2009
Organized Vases = Cheap Flowers

Yesterdays post I talked about organizing flower vases. Donating them or giving them back to the florist where they can be reused. But did you know it can also save you money? I had a dinner party and wanted to order flowers instead of trying to make the arrangement myself with the store bought flowers. I also wanted to use one of my existing vases so I did not start collecting vases again. I brought my vase to the florist, told them what I wanted and how much I wanted to spend and viola! A beautiful arrangement for half the cost because I brought my own vase. It pays to be organized!

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Organizing Flower Shop Vases

If you were lucky enough to receive fresh flowers for a special occasion and they came from a florist, most likely they came in a vase. Another special occasion would have brought you even more beautiful flowers...and another vase. Eventually you have a cabinet or two packed with vases which can be challenge to keep organized.
If you are unsure of what to do with all of these vases pull them all together and take stock of what you have. If you only put fresh flowers out on occasion keep one vase in each size or shape and donate the rest. Better yet take to a local florist so they can be reused.

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Monday, April 06, 2009
Declutter your technology by consolidating

Over the weekend my internet connection went down. To start troubleshooting I opened up the cabinet that hides my cable modem, the wireless router and a rats nest of cables. Through the process I learned that the cable modem had gone bad and needed to be replaced. The upside was that I learned my cable company offered a modem/wireless router combination device for a dollar more a month than I was paying for the modem itself. This meant one less box and one less power cord. And the price seemed more than fair. The wireless routers I purchased in the past ran around 80 bucks, and for some reason or another I end up replacing them or upgrading every couple of years. So the extra buck per month was all right with me even with the 35 dollar installation fee.

I'm happy now to only have 1 box that both connects me to the internet and provides wireless access to my computers, gaming console and smart phones. And I'm really happy to get rid of a few more messy wires and cables.

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Wednesday, April 01, 2009
Organizing Tableware And Collectibles

When organizing your china cabinet, its common to have several different patterns of china, odd number of stemware or even a few broken figurines. The problem with all of these extra pieces is you cant have a dinner party for 8 if you only have 7 plates. One way to work with the odd number of dishes is to add another pattern that will compliment your current set. Or go to Replacements,Ltd a China, Crystal, Silver and Collectibles supplier to replace those hard to find patterns! If you are ready to let go of your current set of dishes to make room for a new set you can even sell your pieces to Replacement, Ltd!

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