reader question – should i keep old electronics?

When you buy new a toaster or speakers or cell phone, do you put the old one in the basement, just in case? Even if it’s broken?

Whether it’s a broken coffee maker that could be used for parts, or a computer that can be called back to duty in case the new one breaks, almost everyone has extra electronics around the house. I don’t know what drives the desire to hold onto things once you’ve replaced them, but I do know that a lot of people feel the same way.

I call the basement the “appliance graveyard” because many of my clients have a collection of old, obsolete and/or inoperable electronics stashed away there.

When you replace an item, it might be a good idea to keep the old one for a few weeks. If something goes wrong – as in my recent computer experience – you’ll be prepared with a substitute. Before you stow the old TV in the basement, attic or garage, decide how long you’re going to wait before letting go of it. Put a note on your calendar to donate, sell or dump the original and then do it. Otherwise, you’re going to create clutter and lose valuable storage space.

If the original item stops working completely, however, there is no reason to keep it. You can take a photo or write down the model number if you want to buy the same one again. As for keeping parts “just in case,” consider whether you ever needed an extra piece before. If you might replace a defective part one day, would you remember where you put it? Or would it be easier to go online and order it?

Like the reader who asked the question, my clients aren’t able to use their spaces because they’re storing stuff they don’t use. The hardest part for most people is the decision making – it’s easier to stick something in a drawer than it is to think about how to dispose of it.

If you want to sell an older model, look up the value and decide whether you want to trade it online or sell it. Don’t wait until your technology or appliances are worthless. If you need to schedule a bulk-trash pickup or ask someone to help you move something heavy, make that your next step.

If you’re not using something, don’t let it take up space in your home. If you’re agonizing about what to do with it, don’t let it take up space in your head.

Do you have old electronics hanging around your house?

Marcie Lovett, Organized by Marcie
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the organizer comes clean on spring cleaning

Dustpan by artur84

photo by artur84

I love a clean house and seeing sparkling surfaces bring me joy.

I don’t particularly like to clean, however, so I’ve created a schedule that works for me. A few times a year I tackle areas that aren’t in my regular rotation, the ones that go beyond everyday cleaning.

One of my annual tasks is emptying the pantry, and washing the shelves and walls. I’d like to replace the shelves, but they’re an unusual size. Instead, I took a small step to make them slightly less unappealing. Each shelf has a wood strip on the front, tacked on by some previous owner. This year I decided the wood strips had been annoying me enough to pull them off. The shelves will look better once they’re sanded and repainted, which I plan to do when it’s warm enough to work outside.

Some cleaning tasks get done when I notice them. The dishwasher hasn’t been doing a great job recently, so I checked the inside to see if there was an obvious problem. While I was poking around, I noticed some dirt on the inside, which I wiped off. I didn’t find anything unusual, but I did see what looked like a filter. I know dishwasher filters should be cleaned regularly, but I thought this model didn’t have one.

I took a break from cleaning to consult the owner’s manual. There was no mention of a filter, but it did recommend that you run the hot water tap before turning on the dishwasher. I’d always thought that was a myth, so I’ve never done it. Now that I know, I wondered what else I wasn’t doing correctly.

All the product manuals in my house are kept in one place, so they’re easy to find. I file operating instructions after reading them the first time, and don’t usually look at them again until I get rid of the item. Since you can forget details, it seems like a good idea to review product manuals once a year. I’m going to add that to the spring-cleaning list.

How do you keep track of cleaning tasks? Do you know where your appliance manuals and warranties are?

Marcie Lovett, Organized by Marcie
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clutter roundup holiday edition

Calendar by Dafne Cholet

photo by dafne cholet

There are a lot of organizing “holidays” that have been created by different groups, for different reasons. This month’s Organize Your Home Office Day, Clutter Awareness Week, National Procrastination Week, National Consumer Protection Week and Financial Literacy Month offer opportunities to remind you about reducing clutter.

Here are some articles related to this month’s events:

I recently wrote about Organize Your Home Office Day, and you can continue to remove clutter from your home office so you have a comfortable, efficient place to work.

Living with other people means living with their preferred level of clutter, which can be a challenge in families. There is help for couples with conflicting clutter styles, as well.

I mentioned Consumer Protection Week previously, and recommend that you start to protect your finances and become more financially literate by getting a free copy of your credit report annually. You can avoid paper clutter by saving a copy to your computer instead of printing it out, then put a reminder on your calendar to check your reports from the other financial reporting agencies.

Some people view National Procrastination Week as a time to break free from procrastination, while others celebrate by substituting enjoyable activities for high-pressure responsibilities. Feeling overwhelmed?  Either way, you can benefit from doing less, but doing it better.

What are you doing to reduce your clutter this month?

Marcie Lovett, Organized by Marcie
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organize your home office day

Office by Aleksi Tappura

photo by aleksi tappura

Saturday, March 11 is Organize Your Home Office Day. Whether or not you work at home, you probably have an area where you pay bills and keep records related to your health, finances, home, car, pets or hobbies.

You don’t need a dedicated office, but you do need to quickly locate receipts, manuals or notices. You can avoid searching for papers by having a system for handling them.

You can start your office organizing project by gathering like items. Put all the loose papers in one box. Put all the pens, pencils and markers together. Put all the notebooks and notepads together.

Once you’ve sorted, you may be surprised by the amount of stuff you have. You can donate the excess or put it in a bin so you can replenish supplies when you run low. Give every surface a quick wipe and put back supplies that you actually use. Relocate things that don’t belong in your office area and throw away trash.

These steps will provide a refresh for your work area. If you need to spend more time sorting paperwork or letting go of clutter, schedule an hour each week to focus on one section. After a few weeks, you’ll have an organized workspace that you’ll be able to use productively.

Do you have a home office or do you use a part of another room for your paperwork?

Marcie Lovett, Organized by Marcie
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consumer protection week

2017-ncpwThe first week in March is National Consumer Protection Week.  Federal and local offices of consumer protection help you understand your rights as a consumer and avoid scams.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provides online resources that can help you with debt, credit and loans, charity authentication, advertising, identity theft, and buying a car or home. They also offer 215 free publications that you can order from their website.

The FTC maintains the federal Do Not Call list so you can stop getting telemarketing calls. They provide a way for you to stop getting credit card solicitations, too.

With so much information available online, it can be overwhelming to find what you need to make informed decisions about your money. The FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection can help you and your family avoid fraud and stay safer online.

Marcie Lovett, Organized by Marcie
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quote: invest in yourself

calendar-by-eric-rothermel

photo by Eric Rothermel

February is coming to an end and most people who made New Year resolutions have already dropped them.

If you want to make some change in your life, plan it, schedule it, and work at it regularly. You don’t need a particular day to get started.

Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. – Golda Meir

Small changes in behavior today can create long-lasting habits. Are you happy to live with yourself? If not, what can you do to improve so you can look back on your life with satisfaction?

Marcie Lovett, Organized by Marcie
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random acts of kindness

xhearts-and-hand-by-luigi-diamanti

photo by luigi diamanti

Because I’ve been consumed with my technology issues, I let Random Acts of Kindness Week slip by me last week.

Given the negativity that surrounds us in person and online, I think it’s important to recognize that small gestures can make a big difference, whether or not there’s an “official” day.

You don’t have to spend money to extend a kindness. You can make feel someone feel good with a thoughtful word or gesture, which also improves your mood. On a list of 50 things you can do to brighten someone’s day, you might find one you can do regularly. Or consider trying a new act of kindness each week. You can find more ideas and interact with other people, if you want to share your accomplishments.

While you’re at it, when was the last time you were kind to yourself? #50 on the list is to tell yourself something positive when you start hearing negative self-talk. When you feel better about yourself, you’re able to accomplish more.

Did you do anything for Random Acts of Kindness Week? Is there one thing you can do to be kinder to yourself?

Marcie Lovett, Organized by Marcie
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