Multiple Choices, Zero Decisions!

I was recently at the restaurant The Cheesecake Factory for dinner. I have not been there for a while and picked up the menu to make a choice on what to order for dinner. As I was reading the menu, “I thought that salad looks good, but so does that sandwich, or maybe I should have pasta?” After 10 minutes or so, I became overwhelmed by the number of choices available for dinner and not to mention dessert!

The Cheesecake Factory is a great restaurant with good food; however, their menu is so large and filled with many choices, it is easy to become overwhelmed and having trouble making a decision.

Many seniors who are hoarding or may be downsizing or aging in place can feel this way with all the choices they will make of what belongings to let go of in their home or to keep. When you have so many choices, it is easier not to choose and not make a decision.

There are the costs too having many choices:

•    Having too many choices can lead to indecision. I cannot choose, so I am not going to do anything. As in the case of senior’s home, clutter can grow and get out of hand.

•    Wanting perfection. I want to make the “right choice.” They might think if it isn’t perfect, then I won’t do anything. As result, clutter will grow because they don’t know where to start and they may feel that they will make a poor choice and it will not be perfect, then it may result in a bad choice.

•    According to researcher David Tolin, PhD, a psychologist at the Institute of Living in Hartford, Connecticut, “The task seems to overload the network.” That brain network goes into hyper drive, starts freaking out.

•    When it comes to their own possessions, Tolin says, the decision-making process for people who hoard becomes very difficult, even painful, so they avoid it. And so, stuff keeps piling up. “It’s very common, and it can be very sad,” he says.

Helping a senior who is hoarding with making decisions:

•    Limiting choices. Instead of overwhelming your loved one with several choices at once, limit the amount of choices offered.

•    Group small amounts of like things together. For example, if your loved one has 100 coffee mugs put the mugs with the same color together first. They may 10 red coffee mugs. Of those coffee mugs put the same color of reds together limiting the amount of cups to 3 or 4 mugs for them to make decisions about. They only have to make a few decisions at a time.

•    Work in small amounts of time so they don’t become overwhelmed.

•    Take brain breaks often. Everyone needs to rest their brain after a while decision making. It can be exhausting.

If your senior loved one is hoarding and you want to help them, start by limiting the amount of decisions they need to make at one time. Hoarding is a very difficult situation for seniors and their families to face, but starting to help them in small steps may help.

-Vickie

5 Moving Companies to Use

It’s been a little cooler this week! It was a nice change after the heat last week, but I’m looking forward to warm weather coming back today!

Summer is a popular time for moving. So if you or a loved one is moving this season, have you thought about how you’re going to handle the process? Did you decide if you wanted to use a moving company?

Some people handle the moving process on their own, which is great! I have used many moving companies when working with clients and always appreciate having professionals handle the moving process. I wanted to share 5 great movie companies I have used that can help get you started with your moving process.

College Hunks Hauling Junk

College Hunks Hauling Junk provides service with moves, junk hauling, donation pickups, and loading/unloading help. Hunks actually stands for Honest, Uniformed, Nice, Service. If you’re in the local area, College Hunks Hauling Junk services a wide region of the Pittsburgh area including Wexford, Cranberry, Butler County, Penn Hills, Sewickley, and more.

Two Men and a Truck

Two Men and Truck are “movers who care.” I have used them many times with clients and have never been disappointed. Two Men and a Truck specialize in local moving, long distance moving, packing services, storage, and more. They also have a location right in the Pittsburgh area.

MiniMoves

MiniMoves specializes in national moves on a smaller scale. Whether it is a move across the country for someone in the military or simply moving a couch across town, MiniMoves is there for you and your small move.

All Ways Moving

All Ways Moving specializes in residential and corporate moves both locally and nationally. All Ways Moving is located right in Washington, PA. As one of the oldest and most trusted movers in the tri-state area, All Ways Moving also specializes in packing and storage services.

Bellhops Moving

Whether it is a local move or long distance move, Bellhops provides friendly and low stress service. Bellhops has a location right in Pittsburgh. If you have your own moving truck and equipment, Bellhops will also provide labor only services and help you with the heavy lifting.

-Vickie

Managing Family Dynamics in the Midst of Downsizing

When older adults move from their long-time home to embrace a simpler lifestyle, they may also be leaving the house in which they raised their children. These children, now adults, also have emotional ties to their childhood home. Though they do not live there anymore, they enjoy visiting and going through old papers in the attic and boxes of toys in the basement. They may want a voice in the destiny of these family treasures.

It’s a difficult situation because grown children have their own lives, careers, and families. They are part of the group known as the sandwich generation – torn among raising their children, working, and taking care of their parents. When they can help, they may attack it in their own fashion, perhaps planning a week-long assault or a group project. This strategy can leave the older parent caught in the wake of the commotion. It can get even more complicated when siblings are involved and grapple with strategizing and sharing the workload.

Consider these tips for managing family dynamics:

•    Have all the adult children sit down and negotiate and plan a strategy. If a professional has been hired, he or she may be able to attend this meeting to help outline the work to be done and mediate squabbles.

•    All of the siblings should outline how they view this process, without comments or criticism from the others. One may see it as the end of Dad’s independent lifestyle, while another may be delighted that she won’t have to drive Mom to the hairdresser anymore. Each sibling may have different commitments and a different approach to the job of helping the parents downsize and move. If the eldest sister is able to donate a greater share of the professional fees, perhaps the younger brother can agree to devote more time to the downsizing process.

•    List the tasks and assign a role to each person. For example, Jack can find a good retirement community or apartment, Nancy can find a moving company and contact the utilities, and Sue can direct the downsizing while her teenage son John delivers the donations.  If adult children cannot agree to downsize according to their parent’s schedule or wishes, it may be easier to let them build some distance from the situation by hiring a professional.

For the adult child, take some time now, even if no one is considering moving, to clean your boxes out of your parent’s attic, basement, or garage. That includes your old report cards, dolls, baseball card collections, books, or wedding dress. Take responsibility for your own stuff and get in the habit of cleaning out your own home regularly. Organization is a skill you can use for a lifetime.  Give your parents permission to toss out or give away any gift that you have given them. Dad may be reluctant to throw out the ashtray you made in second grade or that orange tie you bought him during the 70s. Let them know that your feelings will not be hurt if any of your gifts end up in the trash or are given to charity.

For the parents, set a deadline. Anything that children or relatives are storing in your house should be removed. You should not have to sort through Uncle Max’s record collection along with your own possessions. Let everyone know that anything not claimed within a certain time period will be considered unwanted and disposable.  Gifts belong to the person who receives them. That means you can return, pass along, or donate anything that anyone gave you. No one should feel guilty or insulted.

-Vickie

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4 Things to Keep in Mind When Creating Your Bridal Registry

Congrats! You’re probably reading this because you’re recently engaged and excited to start the wedding planning journey. One of the fun things you will probably do now is start your wedding registry. Time to pick out dishes, sheets, and bath towels! This is a very exciting time in your life and you should be excited for every step of the way.

Creating your registry can be overwhelming nowadays. There are so many stores and websites to register at, and they each have their own checklist to help you make sure you register for everything you need. However, you may realize that what is suggested you need may not be what you need or even what you want. So how do you handle this process and register for what you truly need and want without getting caught up in the realm that you need certain items? Read on for my four tips for registry success.

Remember the reason for bridal showers

You are celebrating a milestone in your life – and the people in your life want to celebrate you! Showers started out as a way to help couples get started with life outside their childhood homes. You may already have a lot of what you “need” to start a home because let’s face it – the majority of people live on their own or with their significant other before marriage in today’s world. While there is nothing wrong with that, you may already have a lot of what you “need.” You can always have a bridal shower and ask for alternative registry options if you do not really “need” anything. See below for ideas on alternative registry options.

Register for items that you consider essential to everyday life

If you haven’t started your own home yet or have been using mom and dad’s hand-me-downs, you may want to register for a new set of silverware, dishes, etc. Think about what you actually would use in real life. Just because it’s standard to register for a china set, doesn’t mean you have to. You most likely will find “registry checklists” online that will make you consider registering for items you wouldn’t even have thought about. Just keep in mind if you would actually use those items.

Register for items you would love and wouldn’t buy yourself

If you’ve always wanted a Kitchen Aid mixer, register for it! A couple of people may go in together to get you your dream Kitchen Aid mixer. Registering for items you truly want, but might not consider purchasing yourself can make great additions to your registry. You want to of course keep in mind items you will only truly use, but feel free to add just about anything to your registry. Just remember adding it to you registry does not guarantee that you will receive it. It’s a wish list.

Alternative registry options
Have everything you need? Sure, you can probably come up with a list of things you would like, but don’t feel obligated to register for gifts. You can always ask for donations to your favorite charity, suggest if someone really wants to give you a gift that they help you with a down payment on your home, or use a website like honeymoonfund.com to help out with activities you and your future spouse would like to do on your honeymoon. There is no rule that you need to create a registry full of typical bridal registry items. This is your wedding – and your bridal registry!
-Vickie

Store Closing Sales: Do You Really Need What’s on Sale?

Happy Tuesday! Hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend. The weather was beautiful – hot and sunny here in Pittsburgh, for the most part! My four grandchildren and oldest daughter also arrived on Sunday and will be staying with me and my husband for the summer. We are so excited to have a house full of little ones for the next few months – and I will be sharing our organizing challenges and solutions that we encounter along the way! (I’m not used to having so many toys everywhere!)

I wanted to talk today about store closings. There has been a lot of store closings recently – big names that we are all used to like Sears and Toys R Us. I was saddened to hear that Sears was closing at Ross Park Mall. It’s a staple store and a place that I can always find presents for birthdays and holidays, in addition to the Land End brand they carried that I loved. But as the world becomes more digital and shopping online increases, there are bound to be casualties of storefronts. Sears and Toys R Us have joined the casualties in our area.

I happened to be at Sears when it was closing for good – the last day the store would be open at Ross Park Mall. I saw many people with overflowing carts of clothing, shoes, and more. I wondered what they were going to do with all of these items. I mean, sure, there were some pretty decent sales. But I wondered if the person was planning on wearing all of the clothes in the cart. Or may they were for their family? Maybe they were planning to sell them online?

While I was thinking about this, a voice came over the loud speaker…”Sears will be closing in one hour.” More people seem to rush to fill their carts with more items. Most of them weren’t even looking at the items they were piling in their carts. Again, I’m sure these items were a good price, so why not buy everything you can! I heard a shopper say, “at 90% off, who cares if it doesn’t fit, it’s so cheap!” There was a sense of urgency and scarcity among the shoppers.

Yes, the items were very inexpensive and Sears wanted them gone. Why not fill your cart up?

The same thing happened at Toys R Us. I stopped by looking for some outside toys for my grandchildren since they would be at our house in the summer. I was looking for any good bargains on toys that they would be able to use in the summer. As I looked around, carts were overflowing with toys at discount prices. Were they the toys their kids wanted or were they just buying them because they were on clearance?

Many of the toys at the end of a store clearance are the toys or clothes no one wanted, that is why they are still there. Yes, you may find a bargain and love it; however, some people just pick these items up purely for the fact that it’s on clearance.

Ask yourself some hard questions before you purchase:

Where will I put this when I get home?

Do I already have one?

How many hours do I need to work to pay for this item?

Can I borrow this item from my neighbor or friend?

What if I wait 24 hours before I buy the item, will it still have pull for me to buy it?

Next time when you are in a store that is closing or having a major discounted sale, take a breath. Pause. Think about these questions before you decide to make a purchase.

-Vickie

Have you ever shopped a store closing sale? Did you only buy things you need or end up with some unwanted items or items that don’t fit?

4 Ways to Keep Toys Organized

It feels like summer is upon us! With the official start of summer starting this weekend, I wanted to discuss organizing toys since you may have children, grandchildren, or little ones in your home in the upcoming summer months. Children being out of school and home more doesn’t mean that your house needs to become overrun with toys.

Here are a few tips to stay organized when it comes to toys:

Have the kids help with it – make it a game

One of the easiest ways to keep organized is to implement “clean up time” at the end of the day or end of play time. Putting away toys at the end of each day will help keep everything in its place and make it an easier clean up. Or if your little one is playing with Barbies and decides to move on to coloring, have them clean up the Barbies first before bringing out the coloring supplies. Making it fun is also key when little ones are helping. You can sing a “clean up song” or count how many toys you put away. Making into a game helps your little one find it more enjoyable. And then you have a clean play room!

Use organizing bins

Organizing bins that you can find at most stores (Target is my favorite for organizing bins for a decent price). They can be great solutions for toys – especially if you have a shelf that holds organizing bins. The bins can just sit on the shelves and keep toys maintained. Even if you don’t have a shelf, they can easily go into closets or a designated area in your play room. Organizing bins are decently priced and you can pick different patterns if you want to make them fit the decor of your play room.

Keep “like” toys together

This goes hand in hand with using organizing bins – you want to keep “like” toys together. One bin could be for Barbies, one bin for legos, one bin for craft supplies, etc. That way when your little one decides that they want to play with legos today, the whole bin can come out on the ground for them. This works great for keeping all the other toys put neatly away.

Have a plan for new toys around holidays and birthdays

You can count on new toys entering the mix at birthdays at holidays. Have a plan for if you are going to keep all the existing toys. If you are, you will want to ensure you have enough room for new toys. It may be a good idea to set aside toys to donate that your little one may be getting too old for or doesn’t play with. Your little one can help to choose some toys to donate to make room for any new birthday or holiday gifts.

-Vickie

What are your tips and tricks for organizing toys?

 

Is Virtual Organizing for You? 3 Ways it Can Help You

Virtual organizing is becoming more and more popular among my clients. So what is it exactly?

Virtual organizing is a process that helps you organize your space and your time without the organizer being physically present. You can organize a room or your whole home without the professional organizer being physically present.

So how do we do this? We utilize photographs and communicate via phone, Skype, or FaceTime. We can connect with you wherever you are!

So if you are looking for organizing services, here a few reasons why Virtual Organizing might be for you.

Limited Budget

Virtual organizing may be a better option for someone with a limited budget. Without the organizer being physically present, we can review what you want to accomplish and what obstacles are stopping from you. The professional organizer can then outline steps to get to where you want to be. Some of the organizing process can then be done without the organizer physically present and after the virtual connection. Then a second virtual meeting can be set up to review what was accomplished and continuing with next steps. The amount of time the professional organizer is present will be less, which will reduce costs if budget is a concern. The same amount of service and support is provided. The organizer just will not physically be present, but a virtual support system and connection.

Limited Time

Don’t have a lot of time on your hands to meet for four hours with a professional organizer? Virtual Organizing may be the answer. We schedule Virtual Organizing sessions for one or two-hour increments. We usually do a four-hour session with organizing sessions where the professional organizer is physically present. So if you have less time to schedule a meeting with us, let’s try Virtual Organizing. We can schedule one hour sessions and make a plan, review progress, and continue to provide support in your organizing journey.

You Want Support, but Not Every Step of the Way

If you are looking for support and help in your organizing but don’t want someone to be with you every step of the way, try Virtual Organizing. You will be able to do some physical organizing on the plan laid out for you by the professional organizer. We are here as your support system and to help you get to where you want to be, but you will be able to complete assigned tasks between sessions on your own. You certainly don’t have to complete any tasks you don’t want to; however, the organizing process will move along faster if you do.

In the end, if you are looking for support and the services of a professional organizer for yourself or a loved one, try Virtual Organizing. It is a great option for anyone with limited time, a limited budget, or someone who is skeptical of the process. You can always start with Virtual Organizing and then move on to organizing sessions with the professional organizer physically present. It is completely up to you!

Organization Rules offers Virtual Organizing sessions in one or two-hour time increments. Upon scheduling, you will receive a series of questions to start the process. A combination of virtual and on-site organizing can also be done if the client lives in the Pittsburgh area.

Visit our website at www.organizationrules.com if you are looking for more information or contact me today!

-Vickie

3 Ways to Make Multi Tasking Work for You

Multi-tasking has become the norm in today’s world. People assume that if they are not multi-tasking that they are falling behind or not utilizing their time to the full advantage. But is multi-tasking really worth it?

When you have multiple tasks you want to accomplish, it seems like a no brainer to try to get them all done as quick as possible. So you decide to multi-task. While you’re on hold with the cable company, you decide to start writing out your grocery list. It seems like a good idea because you’re sitting there on hold anyway. But when someone at the cable company finally answers the phone and you have a human on the other end of the phone, what do you do? Are you prepared to discuss what you wanted to discuss? Do you have your questions ready to ask? Or is your mind preoccupied in making sure you have all of the ingredients for your soup you’re planning on making?

Here are three ways to make sure that multi-tasking does save you time in accomplishing your tasks without compromising the quality of your tasks.

Make a List

I am always a fan of making a list. Especially when I need to call companies that I can expect to be on hold for a long time. You don’t want to spend 45 minutes waiting on hold and forget to ask all of the questions you had. So make a list of all of your questions and points you plan to address. Do this task by itself without trying to complete something else at the same time.

I also am a fan of having a list of what you all plan on accomplishing as well. Having all of your tasks written out in a list can help also determine if you can try to do two things at once. For example, if you planned to do a photo dump off of your phone and also wanted to call your phone carrier, make a grocery list, and wash dishes, write these tasks all down. Then you can plan on getting your phone plugged in to your computer and removing all of your photos off of your phone. Before starting anything else, make sure your photos are getting organized how you want. This task will most likely be quick, so you can scratch it off of your list. Then get all the information you need and make a list of questions/issues to address with the phone carrier. Get on the phone and if there is a hold, start making your grocery list.

Give Full Attention When Needed

Giving your full attention when needed is the reason that multi-tasking does not work for most people. If you have the phone carrier on hold and are writing at your grocery list and the phone carrier finally answers, set aside your grocery list. Get your phone carrier information in front of you along with your list of questions/concerns to address with them. Giving your full attention to the phone carrier conversation will help ensure that you ask all of your questions and get all of your concerns addressed. Trying to make a grocery list while doing this may not give you the same result because you’re focusing on dinner ideas and if you are out of lettuce. Give your full attention when needed, and you will save time in the end.

Realize that Multi-Tasking Might Not Work

Depending on what your to do list entails, multi-tasking may help, but it may also not work. Looking at your task list and determining if every task demands your full attention for the entire time of the task will help you in the long run. Sometimes you just need to complete one task at a time. You may think that you could be saving time by multi-tasking, but giving your full attention to tasks that really need them is key. Realize that some situations may allow you to multi-task, but it is not always the best option to truly save you time and accomplish your tasks fully.

Do you multi-task in everyday life? What tips do you have?

5 Ways to Handle the Season of Showers

Springtime means that warm weather and growing plants are upon us. But, it also generally means that you will be invited to a lot of bridal showers, baby showers, sprinkles, bachelorette parties, and housewarming parties. You’re most likely excited and happy to celebrate these milestones in your friends’ and families’ lives. But it sure can add up. So how do you handle the shower season?

1. Remember the true reason for the celebration

Unfortunately, showers sometimes can be over-the-top and be more about the gifts than the reason of the celebration. Remember why you’re there. Your niece is getting married! Your friend’s daughter is having a baby! That is the reason everyone is gathering together to celebrate.

It should be a joyous occasion. It’s not about the presents. Sure, most likely, you will watch the special someone open gifts and maybe even play bridal or baby bingo. But keeping in mind why you’re there is key. It’s easy to get caught up in the chaos and go crazy buying binkies, onesies, and a crib for your friend’s daughter. But do you need to buy so much for one person? Is the gift truly appreciated?

It most likely is, but part of your gift is you being there to celebrate the true reason. Of course, you can go crazy and spend as much as you want on a gift for the special someone, especially if it’s someone close to you! But this leads me to my next point:

2. Don’t feel bad that you didn’t spend hundreds on a baby shower gift

I know my daughter is in the phase life where she has at least 5 bridal showers, baby showers, sprinkles, and/or bachelorette parties a year. And she spends $30.00 generally on a shower gift, unless it is someone she is very close with, then she’ll spend between $50-$100 depending on the relation. She has expressed to me in the past how she feels bad when she’s at a bridal shower and the bride opens the lovely Pyrex set she bought. And then the bride continues to open presents from the same group of friends and they spent at least $100 on the bride.

This can easily make you feel like you didn’t spend enough. Should you have bought her the $100.00 Keurig? Or maybe the $350 Kitchen Aid mixer because you know she loves to bake?

It is completely up to you. Everyone is in different phases of life and can afford different things. Just remember that $30.00 can buy a wonderful shower present. And just because everyone else seemed to have spent at least $100.00, you don’t need to feel bad. You spent your money on a gift for the special someone and are there to celebrate her on her special day. It is not a competition on who can spend the most money and buy the best gift. Remember that half of these gifts may not even be used after the wedding. (Which will lead me to an upcoming post on bridal and baby registries and important things to remember!)

3. Choose a gift that means something to you

Giving a gift that has meaning can show the special someone the thought you put into the gift. If you are both wine lovers, choose the stemeless wine glasses off of her registry and pair with a bottle of vino. Put a fun note in the card to show how you were truly thinking of her when making your gift selection.

This can mean more to someone than by spending more money on an extravagant gift.

4. Celebrate the special person by being there

Being there at the shower is part of your gift. You’re taking time out of your schedule to celebrate this milestone in their life. Yes, you still want to bring a gift (unless specified not to on the invitation). But part of your gift is being there to celebrate the special someone. Remember this and that you aren’t bringing a gift to show off to anyone how much you care about her by spending more money. Being there shows that you care. Bringing a gift shows you care as well, but it doesn’t need to be measured by the dollar amount.

5. Set a budget

Setting a general budget for what you give out as shower presents is a good idea. If you generally spend $50 and then only spend $25 on someone else, it may be noticed if it’s the same group of people. My daughter has set her price at an estimated $30. Her future sister-in-law is getting married soon and she wanted to spend a little more, so she is spending $50 on her. Since this is someone who is most likely guaranteed to be in the rest of her life and she truly has a good friendship with her, this makes sense. But for all of her friends who are getting engaged and having baby showers, she sticks to her $30 budget. She still attends the shower and brings a gift, but she also isn’t breaking the bank.

-Vickie

Do you agree that showers can get over-the-top extravagant? Have you ever felt bad for thinking you didn’t spend enough money? Comment below.

The Cost of “Free Stuff” to Seniors

I have worked with many seniors over the years that will relate their wonderful experience to me they had at a Senior Resource Expo. The Expo provides great resources and connections for seniors, but it also comes with a price tag. Recently one of my senior clients said to me after attending an expo, “Hey look at all this free stuff I got at the senior expo.” Yes they did, however how much of that stuff are they really going to use or benefit from? I also found a bag from the previous year’s Expo with more stickies, pens, cups, and more that had not been used or unpacked from the bag.

There is a cost to acquiring free things and most don’t think about.  It was free, so how can there be a cost to it? Seniors may pick up at expos or malls the “free” pen, cup holder, stickies and do not use or need them. They take up space in their home, but they might need it someday! If it has been there for a while they probably do not need it. How many pens do most people go through? Probably not too many pens are needed over a year period. It is worth keeping 150 pens only to search for one that works or is the right color?

Another cost of free is it takes your energy and time to pick it up, bring home, and find a place to put it. You also may have another bag to empty someday if you don’t take care of the contents soon.

There also may be a cost to the environment by keeping many things you do not use, but take. More things are produced for you to pick up at your next senior expo.

Here are some ideas you can do instead:

•    Think about the cup with a company logo on it, is this something I really need in my life? Will it enhance my life? It may be something you could use.

•    Do I have a place for this computer mouse pad to live in my home? Is it worthy of taking up precious real estate in my home? Do I already have 3 computer mouse pads? Think about where you will put it when you get home and you may have a perfect spot for it or maybe not.

•    Is it worth my time and energy to pick it up and move it around to clean at my home? Everything you own takes up your space in your home, so think about is this item worthy enough to come into my home?

•    I am taking the item or brochure just to be “nice” to the person who is giving it me. Most vendors at senior expos really want you to take the information if you are only interested in the service.

•    Consider picking up the consumable items instead, such as food that you will eat!

•    Gather up unused products and take them to a charity. Many charities can benefit from your pens, cups, chip clips, and more.

When getting something for “free”, take it if you will use. Great it was free and you can use it. However if it is something that will collect dust and not be used, make a conscious choice not to take it. Remember there always is a cost taking the “free” stuff of the world.