reader question – organizing for major illness

xBinder by Stuart Miles

photo by stuart miles

Many people experience a major illness during their lifetime or care for someone who is ill. Between doctor visits, insurance filing and research about a condition, paperwork piles up. A reader asked how to manage all the papers, and how to find something without searching through the whole stack.

May is National Older Americans Month, and one of the themes of this year’s campaign is advocating for yourself. If you are a senior or you care for one, you know that it’s easy to lose track of the details when you see several medical providers, take multiple medications and/or go through many medical treatments.

There are apps that can help you organize digitally, or you can use a low-tech, low-cost solution. The good old three-ring binder provides portability and easy access for documents you need now. If you are chronicling a long illness, you may need more than one binder for previous years or earlier treatments.

The first step to staying on top of the paper is establishing a routine, including opening the mail regularly. Keep all lab tests, diagnostic documents and notes from doctor visits in the binder. You can fill your binder with page protectors or folders, or punch holes in papers when you get home and file them in the binder. I recommend having a section where you track physical or behavioral changes, treatment plan modifications, possible treatment options, and the providers who make recommendations. That’s also the place where you note any questions you want to ask the doctor at a future visit.

File insurance Estimate of Benefits (EOB) forms in a separate binder or file folder. They tell you how much your insurance company paid for each visit and how much, if anything, you owe. Chances are you won’t look at them again, but if there’s a question about payment, you’ll be able to look it up quickly. If your insurance company makes them available digitally, you can file them in a folder on your computer, instead.

There’s so much to remember when you’re caring for someone who is ill. Having all your data in one place, so you can refer to them during a medical appointment, will help prevent overmedication, duplicate treatments and unnecessary tests. If you’re worried that your medical providers will think you’re trying to second-guess them, reframe your thinking: You are supporting a team effort; most of them will appreciate your diligence and the ability to access important information quickly.

Have you used a system for tracking paperwork during an illness? Leave a comment, below, and let us know what worked for you.

This post contains affiliate links, which may result in my receiving a small fee when you make a purchase through the link. This disclosure is being made in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Marcie Lovett, Organized by Marcie
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digital distractions

xDistraction by KROMKRATHOG

photo by kromkrathog

In the old days (before notifications from calls, texts, tweets, et al.), work wasn’t interrupted by cell phones, laptops or computers, and focus didn’t compete with multitasking.

Research with rats shows they are more likely to create lasting memories when they take time away from a new experience. Apparently, the brain needs downtime to process new information. When you’re constantly interrupted by stimuli, you aren’t able to absorb important details.

Digital distraction is increasingly problematic for young people, who consider themselves “digital natives” and can’t imagine living without the constant stimulation of their electronic devices. Studies have shown that if you are accustomed to accessing multiple screens, you crave that stimulation when you’re without it. Unfortunately, that leads to a lack of focus and perseverance.

Try these techniques to improve your concentration:

  • Limit the amount of media you use simultaneously
  • Turn off audible notifications
  • Spend 30 minutes a day in quiet thought, reflection or planning, without any electronics
  • Spend 10 minutes a day outside

Do you find yourself getting distracted more easily than you used to? Have you found ways to increase your focus? Leave a comment, below.

Marcie Lovett, Organized by Marcie
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hurricane preparedness

xhurricane by Vlado2

photo by vlado

Pacific hurricane season starts May 15 and Atlantic hurricane season starts June 1. If you haven’t experienced a severe weather emergency, you may not realize how important it is to plan for the worst.

The Department of Homeland Security has a website that offers information on what to do before, during and after a hurricane.

Some planning tips include:

  • Create an evacuation plan https://www.ready.gov/make-a-plan, including where you will go and who you need to notify.
  • Put together a disaster supply kit you can take with you if you need to evacuate.
  • Have supplies for several days in case you lose power and water and aren’t able to leave your home or workplace.

Since I always get confused, here is the difference between a Watch and Warning: Hurricane watch means conditions are possible within the next 48 hrs. Hurricane warning means conditions are expected within 36 hrs.

Do you have an emergency kit? Leave a comment, below, if you’ve been through a severe weather emergency and have additional planning tips.

Marcie Lovett, Organized by Marcie
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productivity roundup

xOffice2Here are some ideas about productivity that I’ve mentioned on twitter recently:

Spring cleaning for business: boost productivity http://shopventory.com/blog/2017/3/14/spring-cleaning-for-business-how-to-boost-productivity from Shopventory

The limitless power of focusing fully, then letting go http://entm.ag/5z by Michael Mamas for Entrepreneur

Changes in office lighting can improve your mood and productivity http://www.inc.com/jeff-pochepan/these-office-lighting-changes-will-improve-your-mood-and-productivity.html by Jeff Pochepan for Inc

Make the most of your workday – productivity techniques for 4 different work styles https://www.nytimes.com/guides/business/how-to-improve-your-productivity-at-work by Phyllis Korkki

Getting things done isn’t about getting things done, it’s about being appropriately engaged –http://rocketship.fm/series/productivity/1-the-productivity-obsession David Allen on Rocketship FM podcast

Have you practiced any techniques to improve your productivity this week? Leave a comment, below, and let us know what’s been working for you.

Marcie Lovett, Organized by Marcie
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quote: be you

Crystal ball by Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot

photo by nutdanai apikhomboonwaroot

People have been telling you all your life that you’re lazy or funny or clumsy or smart. You probably convinced yourself that they’re right.

Don’t let other people dictate who you are. You are not stuck with the labels other people have given you.

The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you want to be more organized, you can be. If you want to be more joyful, you can be. If you want to be more productive, you can be. If you want to be more relaxed, you can be. Pick your adjective and work toward it. Start now; it’s never too late to be the one you want to be.

Marcie Lovett, Organized by MarcieTM
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5-minute organizing for the car

xcar clutter by James

photo by james

Have you tried any of the 5-minute organizing techniques I wrote about last month?

It really works! A participant from a recent speaking engagement called to tell me how happy he was to get through his paperwork, five minutes at a time. He felt good to make progress after procrastinating for so long, because he had been looking at it as an overwhelming project.

What if you’re caught up on paperwork, but your car needs some attention? Lots of us use our car as a mobile office and clutter builds up when you don’t empty it regularly.

One of my favorite ways to avoid car clutter is by designating an errand bag or box. Choose a tote bag or bin and keep it near the door you use to leave home. When you have to take a package to the post office or return library books or unwanted purchases, put them in the errand box and take to the car. When you finish the errands, bring the box back inside. The key is to remove it from the car every day or two; otherwise, you risk using it as a dumping ground and forgetting what’s in it.

Whether or not you’re running errands, take something with you each time you get out of the car.

  • Train yourself (or your family) to throw out trash each time you fill up
  • Take a coffee mug into the house and put it in the sink
  • Gather clothes or towels and put them in the hamper
  • Bring paperwork or books into your house or office

Once you make it a habit, you’ll spend less than five minutes clearing the car each time you get home. And you just might find some treasure lurking under the clutter.

What causes your car clutter? Leave a comment, below.

Marcie Lovett, Organized by Marcie
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product review – sponge holder

xsponge holder

photo courtesy of amazon.com

Small changes can have a big impact on your routines. Even better when the changes are inexpensive and easy to implement.

I have always kept the dishwashing sponge in a soap dish beside the kitchen sink, and even though I washed it regularly, it usually looked crusty. I had a beautiful ceramic soap dish that was a gift, and when it broke, I replaced it with a plastic soap dish. Not the most attractive solution, but I already had it and I reasoned that it was a temporary fix.

During my recent remodeling (which is still going on), I bought a few things to make the kitchen more functional. They didn’t all work out well, but the Cora sink cradle was a great find. My sink is steel and originally I was looking for a metal holder. This one was less expensive and can go in the dishwasher. I got the grey and clear one and you really don’t notice it sticking to the side of the sink.

Tiny tweak, tremendous transformation. I don’t suddenly love washing dishes, but the sponge dries well and I enjoy not seeing the grungy soap dish on the counter. Spectrum makes other products to hold dish brushes and multiple sponges, but I wanted something small and inconspicuous.

How do you store your kitchen sponges? Leave a comment, below, and let us know your recommendations.

This is not a sponsored post; I was not compensated by the manufacturer for the product reviewed. This post does contain an affiliate link, which may result in my receiving a small fee when you make a purchase through the link. This disclosure is being made in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Marcie Lovett, Organized by Marcie
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