Things I’ve Learned The Last Few Weeks

A couple of things I’ve learned in the last couple of weeks after the passing of my grandmother.

  1. About a year before she died, mom took all of grandmother’s bills & bank statements and put them in a binder.  The binder is about 5″ thick and had page protectors that she put all of the bills for 2010 in alphabetical order.  Each credit card account had its own sleeve.  Grandmother had many, many, many credit cards and paid them all on time, etc., but this was an immense help of organization when trying to figure out what she still owed.  So, I plan to set up my own filing system for important papers and will then tell 4 people where it is – my mother, my husband, and 2 friends.  That way any of the 4 of them can find the information in case something happens to either one of us.
  2. Have a competent lawyer!  We didn’t find a will in grandmother’s belongings.  We know about what it said, but didn’t find a copy of it.  Later mom realized that grandmother had given it to her, but mom’s house had a tree fall on it last summer, so she is still living in a surreal situation that can’t possibly be covered in this post.  🙂  We looked through mom’s binders (see #1) and through some important papers that she has where she’s living now, but no will.  We then called the lawyer who said she has a copy, but it’s unsigned.  WHAT???  She said that she, “wasn’t near a copy machine when the original was signed.”  Ummm that’s completely unacceptable!  Every lawyer I’ve ever dealt with prints at least 2 copies and has the client sign each copy.  The client takes one and the lawyer keeps one.  That way if something happens, there’s still a signed original in the lawyer’s possession.  Being as how my husband & I have no will, we need to A) get a will ASAP & B) tell my mom & 2 others the name of the lawyer that assisted us in creating the will, which a copy of will be in the binder (see #1)
  3. Make sure any property and stock we own has the right of survivorship to each other in case something happens to keep from having to go to probate court.
  4. Have a sealed safe of some kind (fireproof, waterproof, etc.) in case of flooding, or fire.
  5. Collect any information about IRA accounts, stocks, property ownership, titles to vehicles, insurance, etc.
  6. Have the phone number for home insurance in my cell phone in case something drastic happens (fire, flood, tree falling on the house, etc.).
  7. Tell my family & friends on a regular basis how much I love and appreciate them.  Although they know it, they don’t get to hear it near enough.

Finally, I learned that I need to clean house!  I need to get rid of all the stuff that I don’t really care about because if something does happen, I don’t want others to have to figure out what to do with it.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ll never get down to 100 items as many minimalists suggest, but I see large donations to The Salvation Army in my future.  😀


My Desk

I have never been known to be a neat person.  My entire life has been surrounded by chaos where I have stuff stashed & piled absolutely everywhere.  I know what to do, but I’m just lazy.  There I said it!  I’m lazy!  I know what to do.  I know how to do it.  I just don’t feel like it.

I have had “clear desk” on my todo list for a month now.  When it is the last thing on my page (I’ll write about my time management system another time), I work on it for 5 minutes and move on to something else.

The next few months have big changes in store.  The first change is that our office is moving locations.  We aren’t sure where, but we know we’re moving.  The second change is that we’re hoping to personally move to the Phoenix, AZ area.  What does this have to do with my desk?  If we were just moving locations, I could just pile it in a box & move the mess with me.  Since I may be leaving around the same time that we move, that means I have to actually go through everything. OMG!!!

Where does one even begin such a daunting task (believe me, if you saw my desk you’d say it was daunting!)?  The same way that one would eat an elephant…one piece at a time.

If you read all the get organized blogs out there, they all have ideas on how to organize & clean.  I think the most effective I’ve seen is to take absolutely everything off your desk & start fresh.

So I now have 3 sections on my desk…

This section is reports that need to be filed and files that my boss has taken portions of temporarily.

This one is items that need to be filed in filing cabinets in another part of our office.

And this one is items I need to go through.  Unfortunately this doesn’t include items in the drawers and cabinets that I should also go through.  One area at a time, right?

Once everything is sectioned, it doesn’t seem near as daunting (believe me, if you saw it before, you’d think otherwise!).

All I need to do now, is go through this 3rd section one item at a time and either file it, do the action required, or shred it.  If I tackle this during “waiting time” every day (time waiting for my computer to boot up, large documents to print, on hold times, etc.), I will be all finished by moving time!  Now if I could just get motivated to do the same at home…


Whether it’s time, finances, or possessions, many, many books have been written on the subject of organizing.  I’ve read quite a few books and blogs on the subject and here are a few things I’ve learned.

You’ll never get organized if you don’t start somewhere

You can read organizing books and blogs all day long, but if you don’t actually start, it will never happen.  Think you have no starting point?  Think of the biggest problem area.  Is it your bedroom, your living room, kitchen?  Walk into that room and look around.  What is the biggest obstacle of starting to organize this room?  Is it the overwhelming enormity of it all?

Finding a starting point

A starting point can be as simple as turning left as soon as you walk into the room and working your way around.  It could be to clear off your dresser, or clean your sink.  What would make the biggest difference to you in getting started?  Would it be to have your bed made?  A certain area cleared off?

For my bedroom, it’s the bed.  If my bed is made, I can move on to other things.  In my kitchen, it’s a shiny clean stove.  In my living room, it’s the coffee table.

A place for everything and everything in its place

Maybe the problem is that you have no idea where to put everything.  You should know where your clothes and items like hammers go, but what about the miscellaneous items like batting gloves, or wrapping paper?  Remember like goes with like.  Do you have batting gloves in the living room, golf balls in the garage and bats in the hall closet?  Take a few minutes to determine one place to store all sports equipment and put everything there from now on.

Getting others on board

I was cleaning up a few items a while back and realized that I had candles all over the house stashed away.  I would buy some and put them in the linen closet and C would buy some and put them on the bookcase, living room mantle and kitchen.  I spent 15 minutes gathering all my candles around the house & storing them in one place.  It does me no good to have a specific place to put candles if only I know where they go, so I told C and he now puts new candles there as well. It may sound too simple to mention, but if you  are the only one in the house who knows where things go, you will be the only one to put things away.