buy nothing day

The day after Thanksgiving in the U.S. is Buy Nothing Day, promoted by adbusters.

With sales starting on Thanksgiving, not to mention the Black Friday frenzy, we lose perspective on the holiday.

Instead of imagining the great bargain you’ll bag – which, by the way, is unlikely – consider spending some quiet time alone or with people you care about. Think about what you could accomplish if you used that time and money toward a goal you really value.

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product review – gift wrap organizer

Although I despise the invasion of Christmas music and decorations this early, I do appreciate people who plan ahead.

If you buy gifts in advance, you need to be organized about your purchases. You have to remember what you bought for whom and where you put them. You also have to be disciplined enough not to buy something else that you like more. Then you have to wrap everything.

You can stand giftwrap rolls in a basket or trash can or you can keep them in an underbed box. If you’re like me, you only have one or two rolls of wrap because you learned how much easier it is to use gift bags.

Especially handy when you’re short on space, a hanging organizer will keep all your materials in one place and you won’t have to hunt for supplies when it’s time to wrap presents. The gift wrap organizer from The Container Store corrals rolls and bags. It also holds ribbon, bows, tape and scissors.
It can hang or slide under the bed, but what I like most about it is that it folds in half for carrying and sits like a sandwich board so you can grab what you need.

Do you like to wrap gifts or do you prefer the convenience of gift bags? Where do you keep your wrapping supplies?

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national sleep comfort month

November is National Sleep Comfort Month.

While it probably was dreamed up as a promotion to get you to buy a new mattress, there are good reasons to look at how you sleep.

If you aren’t getting enough quality sleep, you won’t function well at work or at home. I’m not encouraging anyone to buy anything; however, if your mattress and pillow aren’t supportive, you may not be getting adequate rest.

There are some steps you can take to get better sleep that don’t cost anything:

  • Have a regular bedtime and waking time
  • Reduce the temperature of your bedroom
  • Restrict your use of electronics before bedtime
  • Create a bedtime ritual that allows you to wind down from your day

If you struggle with sleep because you’re thinking about things you need to do, make a list before you go to sleep. Keep it beside your bed and, if you wake up, write down your thoughts instead of dwelling on them.

Get a good night’s sleep so you can make thoughtful decisions during your day.

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book review – the checklist manifesto

I love checklists. To-do lists, packing lists, shopping lists, menu lists, procedure lists – I’ve made them and used them and recommend them highly.

When I worked in Human Resources, for example, I created a list to confirm that new employees had all their paperwork completed before they attended Orientation. If you haven’t worked in HR, you don’t realize the federal, state and company-related documents that accumulate before someone even is put on the payroll. If a particular piece of paper is missing, the whole production grinds to a halt and you risk government sanctions or the person not getting paid.

The Checklist Manifesto, by Atul Gawande, came highly recommended from several sources. Dr. Gawande presents three uses for checklists:  in surgery, aviation and construction.

You won’t learn how to create a checklist or whether using checklists will make a difference in your life. What you will discover is Dr. Gawande’s enthusiasm for the humble list and the impact of using a checklist in his work.

The book is short and easy to read, albeit a bit redundant. I’ll save you the time – here’s the takeaway: Use checklists. Make them short. Make them specific. Get input from others. Test to ensure you’ve included everything. Determine a point person to ensure the checklist is followed. Use it.

Do you have a recurring task that could benefit from having a checklist applied to it?

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health maintenance

We all know that it’s important to take good care of ourselves, which includes routine medical tests and follow-up visits. You can lose track of inoculation dates and test results if you don’t have a place to store that information.

I have been using dropbox as my cloud backup, which I can access (usually) at the doctor’s office on my cell phone. I input physicians’ names, test dates and results, medication dosages and dates of injuries and procedures. When available, I also add digital x-rays. Utilizing the phone, which I (almost) always have with me is much easier than carrying around a big notebook full of papers.

This has come in handy the past few weeks, as I deal with a major dental procedure and deferred attention to an old injury.

How do you keep track of medical information for yourself and your family?

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more about hoarding

I received so much feedback about my book review of Stuff that I wanted to share more resources about hoarding.

Jaime Darkwood writes about what it’s like to live with someone who has hoarding tendencies and how to keep the behaviors from taking over the house.

Here is a great list of clutter clearing do’s and don’ts for working with someone who has hoarding disorder.

Selling a home that has been overwhelmed by hoarding is difficult, but not impossible.

A group helps someone with hoarding disorder to change his life.

Finally, although the movie Clutter is not a documentary, it deals with the family dynamics surrounding a woman who collects things she feels are necessary to her survival but which others view as pathology.

Do you have questions about hoarding? Let me know.

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product review – filofax

As a longtime Franklin Covey user, I was hesitant to make the change to another brand of planner. I wanted something smaller than the Pocket size, but needed something that had space to write where I needed to be on any given day.

Are you surprised that I use a paper planner? I use an electronic calendar when I’m sitting at my desk, but I also keep a paper calendar with me to keep track of appointments, mileage and to jot notes I want to remember. While I value the alarm function and the ability to make reoccurring appointments on my electronic calendar, I really prefer to write on paper with a pencil.

Several of my clients have been happy with their filofaxes, so I gave it a shot this year. Sure, there are things I miss about my Franklin planner, but I’ve learned to adapt. I like the diminutive Pocket size, which is perfect for my needs. I stick with just a few inserts – calendar, phone/address and notes plus a plastic pouch to hold the few business cards I keep. It’s just what I need and nothing more.

Do you still use a paper calendar or have you gone all electronic?

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