I have found that among its other benefits,
giving liberates the soul of the giver.”
~ Maya Angelou

Many of these products and services are part of official affiliate programs which pay a referral commission to me based on any purchases you make through these links. However, that is not the reason I recommend them. I only recommend products and services that I believe are of high quality, value, and will benefit you in a tangible way as you improve your home, office, and life.
The Help Kenya Project

This is a Westchester County, NY based charity that focuses on helping the children of Kenya. They collect donations of used computers, books, clothing, sports equipment, and other supplies and ship them to Kenyan schools and libraries. In return, they ask that the recipients plant trees to combat deforestation and provide children with a place to rest and play out of the sun.

It’s incredible how valuable the book or computer you might be throwing out is to a Kenyan child. By providing Kenya’s students with science, English, and computer skills, they give them a much better chance of finding good jobs later in life. It breaks the cycle of poverty by helping Kenyans to help themselves. This is a charity that truly leaves a lasting impact.



National Cristina Foundation

Linking Life to its Promise.

The National Cristina Foundation is a not-for-profit foundation dedicated to the support of training through donated technology. For more than two decades, it has encouraged companies and individuals to donate computers and other technology, which is then matched to charities, schools and public agencies in all 50 states, Canada, and in many countries around the world.


Vietnam Veterans of America
VVA accepts donations of household goods and clothing in 30 states in the continental United States. To make a donation, please refer to the state map. Identify your area and call the phone number referenced.


Tangible Karma is a donation tracking service that gives you a chance to see the difference your donated goods can make in the world.  At Tangible Karma their mission is to inspire and motivate you, to transform items that are hindering your life into valuable gifts that could make a meaningful difference in the life of another.


Overseas Coupon Program Did you know that expired coupons can be sent to troops stationed overseas and they can use them for 6 months after the expiration date?  If you find this idea redeeming, go to OCPNet.org and get the details. It’s 100% legal and each overseas base has a USA address so it is a local mailing. Save your coupons, even if they are expired to help out our troops!


DisposeMyMeds.org is an online resource to help you to find medication disposal programs at the local independent community pharmacy near you.

Your local community pharmacist has knowledge to ensure the safe and proper handling of your medications, from dispensing to disposal.


Recycle These Items That You Never Thought Of…

Vintage Doorknobs, Radiators, Windows and Mantels
Donate or sell classic architectural elements to salvage firms or restoration projects. SalvageWeb is an online ad space that links buyers and sellers all over the world; here you can buy an Art Deco church chandelier, or unload a clawfoot tub after renovating your bathroom. Baltimore-based Second Chance Inc. accepts salvage donations and trains low-income people in the art of “deconstructing” buildings.

Toothbrushes
The Radius Original Toothbrush has a handle made of cellulose, an organic fiber. (Radius also recycles the handles of its battery-operated model once the battery runs out.)

Foam Packaging
Lightweight “peanuts” made from expanded polystyrene (EPS) contain 25 to 100 percent recycled material.
The Plastic Loose Fill Council has a “Peanut Hotline” (800-828-2214) you can call to find local recycling centers, including chain-store shippers such as Pak Mail and The UPS Store. To recycle large, molded chunks of EPS used to cushion televisions, air conditioners and such, contact the Alliance of Foam Packaging Recyclers.

Sneakers/Tennis Shoes
Nike’s Reuse-a-Shoe program turns used athletic footwear (no cleats) into a material called Nike Grind, used to surface playgrounds, running tracks and outdoor courts. Or send your still-wearable athletic shoes to Shoe4Africa, which forwards them to athletes in developing countries.

Toys
Ask your local shelter for homeless families or battered women if they accept gently used toys. The Salvation Army and Vietnam Veterans of America also take used toys. Adult-appropriate items such as board games can be sent to troops overseas through www.AnySoldier.com

Wine Corks
Yemm & Hart, which produces recycled building materials, turns used corks into floor and wall tiles.

Motor Oil
Recycled motor oil can find new life as a lubricant or fuel. The American Petroleum Institute estimates the electricity created with just 2 gallons of reused motor oil would power the average home for nearly a day. Preserve used oil in a clean container with a secure, leakproof lid. You can recycle the used oil filter, too. Earth 911 has a list of motor oil recycling centers that’s searchable by ZIP code.

Prom, Bridesmaid and Formal Dresses
Charities like the Glass Slipper Project accepts donated gowns, shoes and purses to provide free prom wear to low-income teens. Another great resource is Donate My Dress, which is the first national network to bring together local dress drive organizations across the U.S. Books such as “Always a Bridesmaid: 89 Ways to Recycle That Bridesmaid Dress” offer tongue-in-cheek recycling advice to every woman who has a hideous gown buried at the back of her closet.

Eyeglasses, Frames and Cases
The Lions Club and Give the Gift of Sight Foundation collect used eyeglasses for needy people around the world. Donate your glasses at one of 17 Lions Clubs recycling centers, or at chains such as Pearle Vision Center, LensCrafters and Sunglass Hut.

Computers, Cell-Phones and Other E-Waste
The EPA maintains a list of charities that accept used electronic equipment. Staples, Office Depot and Best Buy offer in-store e-waste recycling — Best Buy also recycles used appliances. Dell, Toshiba and Sony lead the way in recycling computer products. Donate cell phones to organizations like The Wireless Foundation. Ship old videotapes and DVDs to Ecodisk or Greendisk.

Radio Shack Electronics Trade-In Program

Have electronics to trade-in? Use Radio Shack’s Trade-In Program!

You go online to http://www.radioshack.com/tradeandsave and indicate what items you wish to trade. Items must be in working condition. The site will determine the trade-in value of your items and create a pre-paid shipping label for you. You print off the shipping label, affix it to a box, pack your items and mail it to Radio Shack free of charge. When they receive it, they will mail you a Radio Shack gift card.

Electronics
Electronics improve the way we live, work and play. But, there’s one place where electronics should have no impact — the environment. Through responsible use, reuse and recycling of electronics, the consumer electronics industry and consumers can protect and preserve the environment — together. Many organizations offer free recycling of used electronics, so it’s easy to be green. Check out the following sites, which offer ways to sell or recycle your used electronics.

http://www.Gazelle.com
http://www.MyBoneyard.com

Spring marks the transition from winter into summer. It is a time that most of us equate with renewal, increasing day length, and a symbolic changing of the seasons. Spring is seen as a time of growth, when new life (both plant and animal) are born. The term is also used more generally as a metaphor for the start of better times. For many, it is also a time for cleaning and organizing – i.e., the Spring Fling!

During the winter, we tend to stockpile. It is in our nature. Chances are you’ve got some clutter left over at work, at home, in your car, on your computer, and in your head. This is an ideal time to do some eliminating. The old adage, “Out with the old, in with the new” definitely applies this season. To help you with your Spring Fling, the following are some tips for clearing the clutter.

    • Purge Your Paper Inbox – When is the last time you’ve seen the bottom of your paper inbox at work and at home? Make it a goal this spring. Develop a paper management system to try to keep it that way.
    • Eliminate Email Clutter – Schedule some time to clear your email inbox. Delete unnecessary emails, capture contact information, delegate tasks that can be done by someone else, send those “replies” finally, and set up filters and folders to avoid back-log in the future. Once you get your email inbox down to one page (where you can see all emails without having to scroll down), try to maintain it.
    • Go on a Calendar Diet – Take a look at your busy calendar and try to clear 2-3 social or work obligations that you said “yes” to that you now realize you should not have. We all do it (yes, even the professional organizer/time management expert!). Time is limited and precious, so think carefully about what you want to fill it with.
    • Switch Clothes– If you have not already done so, this is the perfect time to switch your clothes from the cold weather items to the warm weather ones. Make 4 categories:
      1. Purge (damaged clothes)
      2. Donate (clothes that do not fit, you do not like, or that are out of style, but can be worn by those in need)
      3. Keep (clothes that fit, that you love and wear often)
      4. Dry Cleaning/Tailoring (clothes that need to be professionally dry cleaned or mended).
    • Retire the Christmas Decorations – You think I am kidding on this one. I am not. You know who you are. If the Christmas decorations are still up outside or inside your home, it is high time you put them away. Go do it, now. Your neighbors will thank you.
    • Take Care of Your Taxes – Yes, the official tax-filing deadline for personal income taxes is April 15th. However, many people take an extension, which means they will be filing this summer. Stop procrastinating! Gather the documents to get those taxes done. And for those of you that already filed, purge old tax records that no longer need to be saved (check with your accountant, but generally, the average person needs to maintain 7 years of tax records in case of an audit claiming fraud). Don’t forget to shred!
    • Declutter the Car – You will be passing many car washes held by various charities this time of year. You’d like to get your car cleaned, but you don’t want anyone to see the inside! Sound familiar? Clear that car clutter. Empty out the garbage that has accumulated, bring in items that you purchased that are sitting in bags in the trunk, and return all sorts of “stuff” to its place in the home or office that found its way into your car. Ah, now go get that car wash or, better yet, treat yourself to a full car detailing.
    • Organize Outlying Areas – Clear clutter in the garage and shed so that you can find the things you need this spring and summer. Take out the patio furniture and grill, dust off the bikes, and put away the snow blower. If you can’t reach the lawnmower, chances are you will not use it as much. You may have put the Christmas decorations away, but with that jungle you call a yard, your neighbors will still not like you very much.
    • Mend the Medicine Cabinet – Clear out any winter medications that you stockpiled, such as cough medicine and cough drops that have expired. Ditto for prescription medications that have expired. Buy yourself some new sunscreen, as that also has a limited shelf life.
    • Makeup Makeover – Makeup attracts bacteria. Therefore, purge any makeup that is “old.” While there is no exact life span for makeup, if you haven’t used it in a year, it is time to go. For more exacting makeup safety guidelines, visit http://tinyurl.com/punhg9.
  • Overhaul Your Toothbrush – You should replace your toothbrush every 3 months. Period. Get a new one. It feels great!

There you have it — the Spring Fling checklist. Take your time, and work through it. I guarantee you will feel a sense of renewal, while clearing the way for a productive and pleasant summer season.

Copyright © 2009 Lisa Montanaro of LM Organizing Solutions, LLC.

Want to Use This Article in Your E-zine or Website?

You can, as long as you use this complete statement:

Copyright 2009. Lisa Montanaro is a Productivity Consultant, Success Coach, Business Strategist, Speaker and Author who helps people live successful and passionate lives, and operate productive and profitable businesses. Lisa publishes the monthly “DECIDE® to be Organized” e-zine for success-minded individuals, and “Next Level Business Success” e-zine for entrepreneurs. Subscribe today at www.LMOrganizingSolutions.com. Lisa is the author of The Ultimate Life Organizer: An Interactive Guide to a Simpler, Less Stressful & More Organized Life, published by Peter Pauper Press. Lisa also publishes the DECIDE® to be Organized blog at www.DecideToBeOrganized.com. Through her work, Lisa helps people deal with the issues that block personal and professional change and growth. To explore how Lisa can help take your business to the next level, contact Lisa at (845) 988-0183 or by e-mail at Lisa@LMOrganizingSolutions.com.

A large percentage of my clients face paper clutter challenges. Despite visions of a paperless society when the computer was invented, we are still inundated with paper at home and at work.

One of the biggest culprits is “junk mail” — those credit card solicitations, catalogs, circulars, and the like that you don’t want or need, but that still keep coming. Experts estimate that the average person receives 41 pounds of junk mail per year.

How to stop the madness? Here are some great resources for helping you whittle down the amount of junk mail that comes into your home or office in the first place.

  • OptOutPrescreen.com is the official Consumer Credit Reporting Industry website to accept and process requests from consumers to opt-in or opt-out of firm offers of credit or insurance.
  • Catalog Choice is a free service that allows you to decide what gets in your mailbox. Use it to reduce your mailbox clutter, while helping save natural resources.
  • DMAChoice.org is an online tool developed by the Direct Marketing Association to help you manage your mail. This site is part of a larger program designed to respond to consumers’ concerns over the amount of mail they receive, and it is the evolution of the DMA’s Mail Preference Service created in 1971.  For the purposes of this site, direct mail is divided into four categories: Credit Offers, Catalogs, Magazine Offers and Other Mail Offers. You can request to start or stop receiving mail from individual companies within each category—or from an entire category at once.
  • YellowPagesGoesGreen.org was started because we are continually bombarded with yellow and white pages directories at both home and office. The site is not intended to stop the use of such directories, but to eliminate the unsolicited delivery of the books. The thinking is, if you want a book, you can call and order one.
  • 41Pounds.org is a service that helps you stop 80-95% of unwanted catalogs and junk mail. Yes, it is a paid service, but the fee is reasonable and they do all of the work of contacting the mailing companies for you. 41 Pounds donates over half of its profits to environmental groups, local schools, and youth groups.
  • Mail Stopper is another paid service that does all of the work for you. Mail Stopper plants 5 trees on behalf of each member to further fight the environmental impact of all of the wasted paper produced by junk mail.

Take the time to contact any of the above resources to help you stop junk mail from entering your home or office. The result will be less paper to process, which means less clutter and more time for you!

Copyright © 2009 Lisa Montanaro of LM Organizing Solutions, LLC.

Want to Use This Article in Your E-zine or Website?

You can, as long as you use this complete statement:

Copyright 2009. Lisa Montanaro is a Productivity Consultant, Success Coach, Business Strategist, Speaker and Author who helps people live successful and passionate lives, and operate productive and profitable businesses. Lisa publishes the monthly “DECIDE® to be Organized” e-zine for success-minded individuals, and “Next Level Business Success” e-zine for entrepreneurs. Subscribe today at www.LMOrganizingSolutions.com. Lisa is the author of The Ultimate Life Organizer: An Interactive Guide to a Simpler, Less Stressful & More Organized Life, published by Peter Pauper Press. Lisa also publishes the DECIDE® to be Organized blog at www.DecideToBeOrganized.com. Through her work, Lisa helps people deal with the issues that block personal and professional change and growth. To explore how Lisa can help take your business to the next level, contact Lisa at (845) 988-0183 or by e-mail at Lisa@LMOrganizingSolutions.com.

What is Clutter?

What is clutter? The answer depends on whom you ask. For many disorganized people, nothing is clutter (a definition that often leads in the extreme to hoarding). For others, clutter is anything that piles up above and beyond their normal possessions. I like to say that clutter is like a weed in a garden. It is something that doesn’t belong. Either you did not plant it, it got carried along to a new location where it shouldn’t be, or it has outgrown its space. It can even be a plant or flower that you planted and loved at one time, but now decide no longer belongs. In other words, clutter is anything that you don’t love, want, need or use.

Regardless of whether the clutter is physical or mental, it is caused by a combination of forces that creates disorganization. Your role is to assess why the clutter is in your home, office and life and then get ready to get rid of it. The best motivation for clearing clutter is not to focus on the time and energy needed to sort out your stuff, but to ask yourself, “What am I creating space for?”

The only way you can effectively declutter is to eliminate the constant chorus of “But I might need that someday.” Ask yourself what’s the worst thing that can happen if you donate, recycle or toss the item. If you can live with the answer, get rid of it!

The key to dealing with clutter is being able to assess your needs and motivation in order to find out why you are keeping your clutter. Once you understand your motivations, you can eliminate clutter for good — and greatly improve your sense of inner well-being.

Copyright © 2011 Lisa Montanaro of LM Organizing Solutions, LLC.
Want to Use This Article in Your E-zine or Website?

You can, as long as you use this complete statement:

Copyright 2011. Lisa Montanaro, “The Solutions Expert,” is Principal of LM Organizing Solutions, LLC, a professional services firm created in 2002 that offers professional organizing, business and life coaching, and motivational speaking to individuals and organizations. Lisa publishes the monthly “DECIDE® to be Organized” e-zine for the general public, and “Next Level Business Success” e-zine for professional organizers and entrepreneurs. Subscribe today at www.LMOrganizingSolutions.com. Lisa also publishes the DECIDE® to be Organized blog at www.DecideToBeOrganized.com. Through LMOS, Lisa helps people deal with the issues that block personal and professional change and growth. To explore how LMOS can improve your home or work environment, or help take your business to the next level, contact Lisa at (845) 988-0183 or by e-mail at Lisa@LisaMontanaro.com.

By Guest Blogger, Tim Eyre

After years of struggling to find the time to get organized, I finally decided to make it part of my normal routine.  Along with regular meetings and appointments penciled in on my calendar, I now schedule organizational sessions to help keep my household in order.  The following is a description of my basic strategy, which can easily be customized for any lifestyle.

First Day of Each Month.  The first day of each month is an ideal time to conduct a survey of perishable items in your kitchen.  I know way too many people who procrastinate in disposing of expired foods.  First, tackle the refrigerator.  Go shelf by shelf, looking at expiration dates on packaged foods and dispose of anything that’s already out of date.  Also, inspect other food items and get rid of anything that’s moldy or smelly.  Even if rotting food appears to be safely stored in containers, you don’t want those things sitting next to the food that you and your family plan to eat.

Next, focus your attention on the kitchen pantry, using the same basic strategy.  Pre-packaged foods should be discarded if the expiration date has passed (or, if you don’t anticipate using an item anytime soon, purge it if the expiration date is approaching).

After disposing of food items in the refrigerator and pantry, it’s time to carefully clean those spaces.  Wipe down shelves and organize the food in a logical manner so it’s easy to locate in order to minimize waste.

Anniversary of Move-in Date.  I always recommend that people identify a particular day or week during the year to concentrate on some heavy duty cleaning and organization.  “Spring cleaning” seems to be the approach many families take, but I think using the anniversary of the day you moved in your home is a great substitute.  First, it’s a date that most people can easily remember and it will also get you on a regular schedule that you can follow for years to come.

Around the anniversary of your move-in date, closets are a good place to start.  A common rule of thumb is to remove clothing from your closet if you haven’t worn it in the last year.  Special garments may merit exceptions to that rule, but the goal is to eliminate clutter caused by clothing doesn’t get worn.  After working through your own closet, move on to the closets in the kids’ rooms.  A thorough sweep through children’s closets is particularly important, as they tend to grow out of clothing rapidly.  Items that no longer fit should be removed and stored away if they can be passed down to younger siblings or gathered together for donation to a charitable organization.  And don’t forget the coat closets.  Outerwear often gets overlooked, leading to jam-packed conditions in coat closets.

Five Year Anniversary of Move-in Date.  Every fifth year on the anniversary of your move-in date, it’s time to address areas of the house that don’t warrant as much attention as the kitchen and closets.  For example, comb through the tools and other items stored in the garage and remove things that don’t work or that don’t get used anymore.  Although “organization” isn’t a term commonly associated with attics or basements, if you can’t easily locate the items stored in those areas, you’re not doing yourself any favors.  Therefore, going through those spaces about every five years and donating items that you don’t anticipate using again will help reduce clutter and keep things organized.

Major Holidays.  Following major holidays, assessing your stock of festive décor is important.  I’ve seen families lease separate storage units just to hold Christmas decorations.  Unless you have a sprawling estate that can handle that amount of holiday cheer, chances are it’s time to conduct a major organizational overhaul of these seasonal decorations.  As with closets, a common rule of thumb is to purge ornaments or decorations that haven’t been used in one or two years.

Ten Year Wedding Anniversary.  From household appliances to fancy dinnerware, the amount of “stuff” many couples amass through wedding and shower gifts is mind-blowing.  However, some couples find that those items they thought would be treasured keepsakes actually have little utility.  And others realize that the elegant dinner party they envisioned probably will never happen, making cabinets full of silver and crystal useless.  While there’s nothing wrong with holding on to sentimental items like these, I know some couples who decided to sell such items to make some extra cash and make more room for useful household storage.

Graduation.  Once children reach a certain age, it’s time to start parting with those stuffed animals we couldn’t let go of years ago and those boxes full of juvenile artistic artwork.  There’s no rule that you have to purge all your children’s memories, but you should expect for them to take some role in storing and organizing their own things.  Upon graduation from high school or college, or whenever your children start moving away from home, you can send some of these things with them.

In his role in the self storage industry, Tim Eyre helps customers care for their cherished belongings that must be put in storage. Tim regularly visits facilities including a self storage facility in Peoria. He was also recently meeting customers and staff at the Chicago self storage center.

There’s still time to DECIDE to be Organized! The 6-week group coaching program starts tomorrow night, October 6th, and runs until November 10th.  I have a great group of participants already registered that are ready to work, share, and make changes to their homes, offices, and lives.  Come join us!

Why a Group ‘Coaching’ Program?

Coaching is designed to assist individuals in creating and implementing specific action plans. Coaches use advanced communication skills to help the client create a successful personal and professional life.

As a trained mediator, I guide clients to successful results through motivation and encouragement, without judgment. The focus is on asking skillful questions designed to help participants define and achieve their goals.

But don’t worry! I do more than ask questions. I will also have my certified professional organizer ‘expert’ hat on throughout the program, offering tried-and-true tools and tricks based on my 7 years of experience working with hundreds of clients to overcome their organizing issues.

Each week, you will get 90 minutes of information-packed instruction, along with Q&A. Participants can ask me their questions and get personalized, informative, and effective answers. During the teleclasses, you’ll get an energizing combination of practical tips and suggestions, plus techniques to deal with the emotional side of disorganization and clutter.

But don’t take my word for it! Here is a testimonial from a past workshop participant:

I cannot tell you how you have really changed my life. I know it sounds corny, but I was in such a bad place before your workshop. You got me thinking of how to use your methods for every aspect of my life and what a difference! I must say, your workshop really helped me put things into perspective and prioritize my activities. I don’t have to do it all at once. What a relief! It’s amazing how organizing your life gives such peace of mind!”  ~ Rosemary Reo, Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES, Yorktown Heights, NY

Are You Ready to DECIDE to be Organized?

There will be 6 (six) 90-minute calls in a row on Tuesday evenings from October 6 to November 10, 2009, each starting at 7:30pm EST. Registration is only $199! Enrolling is easy. Follow this link. 

You have nothing to lose — except maybe some clutter, overwhelm, and stress!

A large percentage of my clients face paper clutter challenges. Despite visions of a paperless society when the computer was invented, we are still inundated with paper at home and at work.

One of the biggest culprits is “junk mail” — those credit card solicitations, catalogs, circulars, and the like that you don’t want or need, but that still keep coming. Experts estimate that the average person receives 41 pounds of junk mail per year.

How to stop the madness? Here are some great resources for helping you whittle down the amount of junk mail that comes into your home or office in the first place.

  • OptOutPrescreen.com is the official Consumer Credit Reporting Industry website to accept and process requests from consumers to opt-in or opt-out of firm offers of credit or insurance.
  • Catalog Choice is a free service that allows you to decide what gets in your mailbox. Use it to reduce your mailbox clutter, while helping save natural resources.
  • DMAChoice.org is an online tool developed by the Direct Marketing Association to help you manage your mail. This site is part of a larger program designed to respond to consumers’ concerns over the amount of mail they receive, and it is the evolution of the DMA’s Mail Preference Service created in 1971.  For the purposes of this site, direct mail is divided into four categories: Credit Offers, Catalogs, Magazine Offers and Other Mail Offers. You can request to start or stop receiving mail from individual companies within each category—or from an entire category at once.
  • YellowPagesGoesGreen.org was started because we are continually bombarded with yellow and white pages directories at both home and office. The site is not intended to stop the use of such directories, but to eliminate the unsolicited delivery of the books. The thinking is, if you want a book, you can call and order one.
  • 41Pounds.org is a service that helps you stop 80-95% of unwanted catalogs and junk mail. Yes, it is a paid service, but the fee is reasonable and they do all of the work of contacting the mailing companies for you. 41 Pounds donates over half of its profits to  environmental groups, local schools, and youth groups.
  • Mail Stopper is another paid service that does all of the work for you. Mail Stopper plants 5 trees on behalf of each member to further fight the environmental impact of all of the wasted paper produced by junk mail.

Take the time to contact any of the above resources to help you stop junk mail from entering your home or office. The result will be less paper to process, which means less clutter and more time for you!