We’re always looking for your comments and suggestions as we continue to help you button up your life. Ask us a question below, or read comments, tips and suggestions others have sent.
- Q: Ask Your Guru: Need Information On The Life.doc! — Cindy J on Jun 17, 2011
Anne Marie said:
We received this inquiry from Cindy:
I am interested in purchasing the Life.doc Kit. For the information listing for the product, the only information I can find is that it is 82 pages and 8 sections. I am unable to locate a list of what the sections are or what type of forms are included. I do not have a store close where I could see the product in person. Can you offer me some information?
Great question! To make sure you know what you are getting, and for anyone wondering what we put in the Life.doc, below please find a general summary of what is in each section. We have included space for most section-related information. We tried to do the thinking for you up front – all you have to do is go through the forms and fill in the information that applies to you and your family.
Know that the forms have more detail, but the outline below will give you an idea of what you are getting. Also, if you have more than 4 family members, you can download more forms on our site (http://getbuttonedup.com/tools/) – just keep the very first page of the Life.doc so you can get the requested password!
1. Emergency Plan
This emergency plan includes important information that you will need in cases of emergency such as where to meet, who your out of state contact is, emergency phone numbers, what to grab and where it’s located, where your home shut off valves are and much more.
2. Family Basics
This section provides form for 4 family members and includes where they live, school/work info, work-related info (boss’s Name, Work ID, etc.) and general information you may need.
3. In Sickness & In Health
You guessed it! This section outlines health and medical info like primary physician contact information, any medical procedures, allergies, medications, Specialists, etc. for four members of your family.
This section is for listing all your insurance contacts and includes medical, homeowners and even Pet Insurance! If you have insurance for it, there is a place to enter your information!
5. Dollars & Sense
If we want to contact our Financial Advisor or Mortgage Company, we usually can get that info pretty quickly – and this section makes is even easier. Anything to do with your finances from your bank to your credit cards, to real estate, can be listed here. BUT, no account numbers are listed, only the establishment and contact info! This way your personal information is safe from identity theft.
6. Legal Ease
Where is the will? Where is the trust? Is there a living will? This section lets you know where these items are kept – both the original and copies. If you need to know where any legal document can be found, it will be listed in this section. It is very comprehensive and includes lawyer contact, divorce, military, adoption papers and so much more!
7. Caregiver Information
This section includes everything a caretaker would need to know – including a house sitter! AND it’s not just for children, but for eldercare too. It includes Emergency Authorization Form to complete for those times you are not available to handle an emergency for your child.
8. Home Sweet Home
This section has space to list everyone involved in the care and maintenance of your home from the housekeeper, to the dog walker and everyone in between! Simply list their name, home phone and cell phone and you are set for your entire home repair and upkeep needs.
That’s a short summary of our Life.doc. It’s VERY comprehensive and comes with a CD ROM so you can type in the information, and print out on the pages provided. We suggest you start with the section that is most important to you – and complete it first, then tackle another section.
Let us know if you have any additional questions!
- Q: Ask Your Guru: The 2011 Weekly.agenda — Jennifer of St. Joseph, MI on Oct 22, 2010
Anne Marie said:
yourquestion: What happened to the buttoned up weekly agenda. I have loved having it an using it this year – but cant find one for 2011. I am distressed!
We should have the Weekly.agenda for 2011 before January 1st. Please make sure you are signed up for our newslett as that is the first place we wil announce availability!
Thanks for your interest!
- Q: Ask Your Guru: Newsletter Signup? — Colleen Smart of West Vancouver, B.C. on Oct 08, 2010
I can’t figure out how to sign up for your newsletter or blog?
Thank for your email, we think it may help others who are confused as well! Usually folks look along the sides of a site for a sign up or at the bottom. We’re a little different, we have a note at the top of our site: “5 great reasons to SIGN UP for our newsletter” – this links to the sign up page. Please go to this site to sign up for our newsletter: http://getbuttonedup.com/email-signup/.
Sorry you had a problem finding it, but we’re sure glad you want to sign up to get all the heads up on Buttoned Up!
Thanks for your question!
Anne Marie Furie
- Q: Ask Your Guru: Help with Life.doc — Stacey, Connecticut on Oct 05, 2010
I purchased Life.doc about 3 years ago and have finally started working on completing it. For the life of me, I can’t find the CD!! Is it possible to get another one? I bought it from See Jane Work.
Stacey – We are so happy that you are starting to use your Life.doc. We know you will find it easy to use and it will give you peace of mind when filled in completely. Please contact me at email@example.com and I will see that you get what you need.
- Q: Ask Your Guru: How to Set Up Digital Files — Babs, Brunswick/St. Simons Island, Georgia on Sep 16, 2010
Anne Marie said:
You sound busy…good! Ok, since you have the tech background…I , too like IPhone. I have an insatiable drive to get REALLY organized so I have adopted Evernote as my can’t live without. Have been using it for about a year or so with good results. I have recently added as Scan Snap scanner and want to set up an EFFECTIVE DIGITAL file for all of the stuff currently living in my hard copy files. I’m having trouble setting up the digital files in a way that I can just GO TO quickly and find what I need. I can’t seem to set up an orgazinational tree…if the file is labeled Home Essentials…I don’t seem to be able to ad sub categories. How do I do that. I’m tired of searching through the hard copy stuff, I just need the basics. What do you do with things like warranties, etc.
Take a look at Evernote. You might find it will work hand in hand with Button Up. Also I use an integrated note called Awsome Note which works well with Evernote. But I just can’t figure out a workable Digital File System. Ideas?
I like the Buttoned Up site, have just discovered it and think it will help me consolidate some “stuff” . Have signed up for the Newsletter. Used the ICE tip for the IPhone and forwarded it to friends. As a former ER/Critical Care Nurse, I would have found this invaluable. Just look under Contacts for ICE and get the emergency info you need. Great Tip!
Thank you for your Guru question! We Love Evernote as well – check out our Tools & Giveaway page on our site (http://getbuttonedup.com/tools/) you will see an entire section devoted to Evernote and its many uses!
I am not sure if you are asking us about Scan Snap, or setting up general digital files. So we’ll assume you mean setting up digital files.
So how do you begin? Draft a list of all possible files based on what you have on your hard drive. Look closely at them and group similar files together (on your list). Now what general categories pop out at you (work, family, house essentials, photos, bills, etc.)? Those are your main file folders, and the specific documents and files go under the general categories you choose.
Naming your files: In this case, it’s the key to the contents. Nobody is judging your file names so make it something you’ll know and understand. Try employing a system that you use across all platforms, so your Excel files and Word documents are all saved as “date created, file name.” It doesn’t matter what your system is as long as you do it consistently.
Clear out your files weekly and discard ones that you really don’t need. Then BACK UP! It doesn’t matter what tool you use to back up (thumb drive, CDs, etc.), but DO IT. If you get in the habit of weekly clearing out your files and backing up your hard drive, you are way ahead of the game – AND you will quickly realize if the system you set up still works for you. Just because you set it up one way, doesn’t mean you can’t tweak down the line.
Afraid you will forget where a file is located? You can do a search on your hard drive to find a file. If you follow the system for naming your files, they should be very easy to find.
We hope this helps you get your digital files set up! Let us know how it worked out!
- Q: Guru Question: I am of the age that frequent visits to new Doctors require that I compelte medical History… — Ted of Baltimore, MD on Mar 01, 2010
“I am of the age that frequent visits to new Doctors require that I complete medical history. I recently came accross an article in womens day mag. about a Pocket.doc that could be the answer to my concern.
Do you have info on this product—such as how do you transfer your history to the card.”
A. Believe me Ted, I do know what you are talking about. The older we get, the more history we have and the more we simply just forget to tell the doctor or write it on the medical history form. The Pocket.doc is ideal for having immediate information right at your fingertips – information such as your primary physician and contact info, allergies, medications, insurance, immunizations, important contacts and who to contact in case of an emergency. It’s simple to fill in, just fill in the blanks – nothing complicated.
However, if your physician requires a lengthy health history, we suggest you look into our Life.doc (where you can track your history and just bring that section with you to to the Doctor’s office) or for long term or chronic illness the Medical.doc would be ideal (details of the illness, insurance, correspondence, treatments, medications, tests, etc.)
Click on the following for more information: Our Products
- Q: 46 YO SAHM Needs Organizational Help — Janet of Carmel, IN on Feb 09, 2010
Q: Hi, I am a 46 yo SAHM – mostly. I teach college one night a week. I have young children – aged 4 and 7. I find the combination of their age and mine to be a factor in my not being able to organize – I am exhausted! I can appreciate the results of organization – my mom is a neat freak. However, I become frozen when faced with tasks that seem overwhelming. Do you have any suggestions for making a messy house seem less out of control and manageable? I know, baby steps and small successes but I still feel out of control.
A: We’ve all been at the ‘so overwhelmed you get frozen’ stage.
That is organizational inertia. You need to look at those baby steps and small successes as real successes toward a more organized home, don’t denigrate your progress no matter how small in your eyes! Progress is progress! Especially with two little kids!
I know this may sound basic, but the best thing you can do is establish routines. Easier said than done, I know. But here are the steps you can take to get to that point. The first week will be rough on you and everyone else, but stick with it, it will be worth it.
1. MAKE A LIST:
Stop and really think about what you would like to get done versus what NEEDs to get done. Make a list. For you to feel in control, it may be better to start with the most used rooms in the house and write them down first – family room, kitchen, bathroom – and focus on those until those routines are set, then move on to other rooms/areas.
2. Now, really look at your schedule.
Just what commitments do you have. Which ones can you give up that are not rewarding to you? Which ones would you like to keep because you get something out of them? How busy really are you with the kids, parents, spouse, job, and house? Be really honest. If your husband travels and you are responsible for all the household chores, inside and out, then put that down. If you handle an elderly parent’s medical issues, include that. It is amazing all we really have to handle! Make sure these responsibilities are listed too.
3. Now take a really, really good look at your list.
What can you remove yourself from doing? What can you pare down? What do you LIKE to do (that stays on the list – heaven knows we do so many things we don’t necessarily LIKE to do, so keep those!). What can you delegate to others? Your kids are still little and probably full of energy – but they aren’t so little that they can’t help around the house. I’m not suggesting they cut the lawn, but I am suggesting that if they are old enough to pull out the toys, they are old enough to put them back. Determine what is really important on your list and what is not. If you focus on the most imporant 20% the other 80% usually takes care of itself.
4. Now, start to build routines around the items on your list.
How? Well, here are some simple routines that may help you get started:
• Start with the toy issues: establish a firm bedtime and before bed the toys must be put away – by the kids, not you. Consequences will be that they don’t get to play with any toys left out. And follow through. I know you are beat at the end of the day, but won’t it be nice not to have to look at the toys all over the place when the kids are in bed? It will be worth it! And you will be teaching your kids to be responsible for their belongings. Make it a fun end of the day – make a race who can pick up the most toys, etc. End the day with toys picked up and smiles on the kids’ faces.
• Bathroom Routine – after bath all towels go to the laundry area; all clothes too! You can help the 7 year old clean up the counters after brushing is done. Let them know what a huge help they are to you by doing this small task! If that is just too much for them, invest in a hamper and make them put the towels and clothes in the hamper – then the mess is contained for when you are ready to deal with the laundry!
• Dinner Routine – Start a routine that dinner dishes are done right after dinner (and your kids can help by setting and clearing the table and putting the dished in the kitchen if not the dishwasher). You can finish up when they put their toys away if you like, or enlist their help wiping down tables, counters, etc. Sometimes if you also add no TV or games until the work is done, it helps get little butts in gear.
• Establish a morning routine; everyone up, eaten, teeth brushed and ready to seize the day by 7:30AM (or whatever you decide is a good time). If you find yourself being a chef in the morning, this routine will stop that and give you more free time for other things. Let everyone know you will stop serving breakfast/cereal at that time and you expect them to be up and ready to go. If you like beds made, add that in too – but let them know they won’t have to make them on the weekend!
• Family Room – we have something we call the Commercial Clean – that is whenever a commercial comes on, the family tackles cleaning one room during that time. Each commercial during a Sitcom can get tables cleared off, toys away, and the room picked up. AND you still have family time together.
• Nap Time – if your 4 year old takes naps, you can either join them or use that time for you. Take one drawer in the kitchen to reorganize; pay bills; file; go through the mail; run the dishwasher; run a load of laundry; read a book; reconnect with a friend. Remember, free time doesn’t necessarily mean clean time.
Remember that if you make the kids’ routines fun, and let the kids know it is really a HUGE help to you, and your expectations of them are high, they will not only cooperate, they will rise above your expectations. If you have them set the table and clear it, maybe you play their favorite music while they do it. If they bathe together, have a race to see who can get clean the fastest, or make the funniest beards, etc. Or perhaps you let them choose something special for you all to do at the end of the week. If this seems overwhelming, then start with just one of the routines and test it out, make it your own. Once it is up and running well, start another one.
I hope this helps get you unfrozen. I was frozen the last couple of weeks with my home office and one day I just dove in and didn’t stop until it was done. But I also don’t have a 4 year old or a 7 year old! Good luck, don’t be so hard on yourself and let us know how you are doing.
- Q: I just took the quiz and my guru is you. Such as yourself I have been able to be successful in my life, both personally and professionally with my organizational style. I do have a question for you: I am also very creative and spontaneous about many things in my life one of them is being organized…when I get a home or work project I am very organized. I think its the day to day. Any insight or tips you can provide would be much appreciated! — Mona on Jan 11, 2010
I find that I keep up with the day to day by writing it down – usually in my planner as a to do. This way it’s not ‘out of sight out of mind.’ I also have tried to set up routines – so when X TV show is on, I can listen to it while I do something that has to be done, but is rather mindless, like load the dishwasher, or empty it, or dust, or sort the laundry. I even do this when I’m on the phone at home! This way I can listen to something I like and don’t necessarily have to watch, and still get something done that HAS to be done. Give it a try and let me know how it works for you.
- Q: I am a former spiritual director with a Masters degree in theology. Over the years of working as a spiritual director and providing pastoral care and religious education, I have noticed that a serious lack of organization goes hand-in-hand with certain forms of spiritual malaise. It’s as if the state of one’s home or office offers a window to one’s soul or psyche. Because of that, and probably because I was raised in an uptight German immigrant community–I have for some time considered becoming a professional organizer. How does one go about achieving such a goal? — Sandra, Shawnee, OK on Jan 11, 2010
Anne Marie said:
The first step we would suggest is to contact the National Association of Professional Organizers. They have a program to become certified and offer classes throughout the year. They cover everything you will need to know to start a professional organizing business from business strategy to marketing to resources and networking. Got to http://www.napo.net/ to learn more about the profession and get started. Please let us know how it goes and if you found what you needed at NAPO.
- Q: Does anybody have a great way of organizing and hanging a scarf collection that doesn\’t involve folding? — on Oct 28, 2009
Anne Marie said:
Absolutely! I take my scarves – and I have plenty! – and I drape over a hangar, much like you would a pair of pants. I may have to fold once, but not all the time! Another thing I found was a hangar that had 3 inch hoops attached in a type of macrame (check out Ikea). The scarves go through the hoops, but you will still have to fold them or pull them through loosely. This may wrinkle them still, but not always.
You could invest in a quilt stand and use that to drape your scarves over – it is large enough to handle even your widest scarves! I would suggest you organize them by how you wear them – least used on the bottom, most used on the top.
I hope these are useful to you!
- Q: I just received my buttoned up weekly agenda, which starts with January 2010 date. I am anxious to start using it now and was wondering if this product was available in 2009 and if you have any October through December pages that I could use until the January 2010 start date?? — Dottye Muhs, Anchorage, AK on Oct 20, 2009
- Q: I just bought the Valuable.doc ad Life.doc kits. I am getting started by filling out the information I know. I’d like to be able to ‘draft’ print these docs. Then, collect the missing information and make a final print on the forms. I’ve saved several of the documents on my hard-drive. When I try to re-open them, to edit or fill-in missing data, I can’t see all of the fields. Do I have to go back to the CD and start over on these documents??? Please advise the best way to complete and edit the data. Thank You! Colette P.S. Why is there no “auto” information on the forms? For example, I had to list my auto insurance under “other.” — Collette, S. Widsor, CT on Oct 05, 2009
Anne Marie said:
Collette – you should be able to go back into your saved Word document and fill in any blanks with information prior to, or after, printing on the pages included in your binder. I also have my Life.doc saved to my hard drive and I went back in and can change all the information fields. Did you save as a Read-Only file or do you have it locked? I would verify that first. If you still have problems, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can send you electronic files that should help you.
And you are correct, we do not have auto insurance in the insurance section! Good catch! The legal side of cars is under the legal section (leases, etc.).
Hope this helps! – Anne Marie Furie
- Q: hi, i got the life.com notebook as a xmas gift a couple years and of course, am just getting to it now. i put the cd in my intel macbook and when i click on \”LIFEDOC\” in my finder window, i just get an error message that says “the application flashplayer quit unexpectedly”. do i need an update or something? thanks! — Yolanda from California on Sep 22, 2009
Anne Marie said:
Try and open the CD Rom files from Word – you must have Word to work the CD. If that doesn’t work, please contact me directly at email@example.com and I’ll make sure you are taken care of! – AMF
- Q: I need help getting and keeping myself organized on a daily basis. I’m a budding Entrepreneur and have my work-room, which includes my sewing machine and all my supplies, in my bedroom. I’m also a blogger with two different blogs that I have to keep track of, and I find that I’m running out of space and have clutter everywhere. I don’t even know where to start. I also need help keeping a daily planner so I can keep track of all my to-do’s, appointments, meetings, etc. — Raili, from Ontario, Canada on Sep 22, 2009
Anne Marie said:
It’s tough to juggle everything you need to get done in a day – I know, I’m the Chief Juggler! Here are my ideas for you:
1. Get out of the bedroom if you can. The last thing you see at night and the first thing you see when you wake up is your work area – and sometimes that can be stressful.
2. Sort the clutter by area – Blog 1, Blog 2, Sewing, Supplies, Personal. (Start on the floor and work your way up to the surfaces.) The key to getting and staying organized is to have different areas of your work separated. This can be accomplished with something as simple as file folders, on-desk folder holders, or pretty boxes.
3. If you can put up shelving over your work area, store each box/file on the shelf until you are ready to work on it. Only work on one area at a time if possible.
4. Since you sew and that may be an important part of your business, I suggest you get a bulletin board – you can use cork squares and use them to make a large board. Post materials, patterns, drawings, threads, etc. to the board if you feel it will help you organize a creation visually. Use one or two of the cork squares for your blogs too! Just put up things you think are important and take down when you are done or your clutter will migrate to the boards!
5. Create a master To Do list for each of your work areas (each blog and sewing). Prioritize each list. Then create one daily to do list with just one or two things from the master list of each area. Focus on getting those done first.
6. Some people prefer to focus on one project or one aspect of their work per day or part of the day. You could try and implement that too – from 8AM to 10AM just work on Blog 1, from 10:15AM to 12:15PM just work on Blog 2. You can have a loose plan to return calls in the afternoon. Only plan to tackle 4 hours of work per day on your to do list. This allows for emergencies and general interruptions. Once you finish the planned items, choose something else from your master list to tackle.
7. To handle your overall schedule, I suggest you post a calendar above your work area. Put the current month and the following month up. Those desk calendars work great because they are big enough to put several items in a day and you can see quickly what you have coming up this week, next week and next month. You can color code as needed. Use this as your master calendar. Transfer anything on the big calendar to your planner (so you can have the most up to date info when you meet with people). Check your Master Calendar when planning your daily to do list.
8. Most important, take time at the end of the day to clean up your work area and put everything away. Make sure all the Blog 1 and Blog 2 and sewing is away and your work area clear so in the morning you have a fresh start to the day.
Let me know if these tips help you juggle your busy day!
- Q: I have been trying to become organized in general with life, work, family, home but for some reason , I just feel like I could not get organized , what is the best way to become organized in general? — Lily, Los Angeles, CA on Sep 03, 2009
Anne Marie said:
Hi Lily, Thanks for coming to Buttoned Up for your organizing advice! Here at Buttoned Up we believe in three basic principles that will help you get over the organizing inertia and keep you feeling less chaotic. These concepts can be applied to all areas of organizing:
1. Ditch Perfection:
The pursuit of perfection takes a superhuman effort to achieve and a superhuman effort to maintain. You have enough work on your plate already; you don’t need another full time job of attaining impossible standards. So encourage yourself to let go of the need to achieve perfection.
2. Focus on the 20% of tasks that are critical:
The 80/20 rule states that in any pursuit, if you take care of a few important things (20%), you will solve 80% of your problem. The most efficient way forward is to focus on the 20% that is vital to success and spend less time on the rest. If you delegate the some of the not so important priorities, you will actually perform better on your most
Once you’ve ditched the need for perfection – it becomes much easier to delegate. Too often, we carry an unnecessarily heavy burden – holding on to and yes, controlling, everything. We know that letting go enough to delegate effectively can be a tough challenge – but it is one worth overcoming. If you don’t learn, you’ll never have a lighter load.
If you have any other questions feel free to let us know! Thanks again for your support of Buttoned Up!
- Q: I have multiple email accounts by design, I try to keep my personal emails separate from my work emails. What tips do you have for email management in general and managing multiple email accounts? — Teri, Chapel Hill, NC on Sep 03, 2009
I totally feel your pain on the multiple email accounts. When I was COO of 2 start up companies, it was basically a nightmare trying to keep track of them all! Here are some of the ways I kept my sanity with my email:
Putting filters to use: Virtually every e-mail program has embedded filtering technology. Putting those filters to use is one of the simplest ways to streamline your inbox with minimal effort. The beauty is that if you take a few minutes to set up ones that work for you once, your mail will automatically be “sorted” for you when it comes in. Making it one less thing you have to worry about! Use the rules and alerts tools in your e-mail program to move messages from high-priority recipients directly to sub-folders that are easy to monitor. Turn on the junk mail filter! If you have a Palm or Blackberry, separate your e-mail from phone settings so you don’t jump like a Pavlovian dog every time the thing buzzes (try making your phone buzz, but your e-mail silent).
Consolidate: In this digital age, you can receive faxes and voice mails in your e-mail inbox. Sign up for a voice over Internet protocol (VoIP), or a phone line that will e-mail you all voice messages. We also find that it is incredibly useful to have an electronic fax number. This service accepts fax for you, scans it, and e-mails it to you, That way, wherever you are, you get the fax right when it comes in and it is already in an electronic format that is easy to store on your computer. A good service to try is eFax (www.efax.com).
Delete and file: Schedule time at the end of every day (three to five minutes) to delete all of those email messages that you don’t need to save. Put the messages that you do want to save for future reference in a file folder so you can easily access them later.
Schedule time to turn it off: It’s hard to concentrate when you’re constantly bombarded with messages. Try to turn Blackberrys and instant messaging programs (IM) off and close email during scheduled times of the day (it’s generally easier if it’s the first thing in the morning, lunch, and/or end of the day). Schedule it in your calendar as work time. If you can’t fathom disconnecting everyday, try it for two or three days a week.
I wish you all the best and hope this is helpful!
- Q: I recently started a work from home job and have vowed that I would keep a neat and organized office. On top of this I am applying to graduate school for a doctrate program and I am a Director of Mentorship for a non-profit angency. I am looking for organizational ideas for a small office. In particular I am looking for ideas for day planners. Thank you in advance. — Kristin, Marietta, GA on Sep 03, 2009
Hi Kristin! Wow you’ve got a lot on your plate! But there are lots of ways to keep your office organized:
1. Distinguish Between Papers that Require Action and All Others: If you do nothing else, separating the things that require action from those that are simply for ’safekeeping’ will cut your headache in half. All you need to do this is a durable, portable folder or plastic sleeve for those items requiring action and a sturdy ‘inbox’ that will hold those items you need to file away for safekeeping.
2. Stick to the Fundamentals: Make your base classification as simple and broad as you can. Naming conventions based on purpose or function (e.g. ‘Insurance: Home,’ ‘Child 1: School,’ or ‘New Business’) will make it a snap for anyone to find the appropriate file later. Write down your entire list of file categories/names before you actually create them, so you can check for redundancies and inconsistencies before putting pen to folder. If you don’t have time to create a complete system on the first day try to add one or two new folders to your system each day until you have finished the set and keep extra supplies on hand so that it’s easy to add more later.
3. Establish a Habit: Commit to filing for six minutes each day (2 at the start of the day, 2 at lunch and 2 at the end of the day). You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how quickly those piles disappear. In addition, take the action-item folder with you wherever you go and whittle away at its contents as you have ‘down moments’ throughout the week.
As for thr Day Planner, we hand tailored our Weekly.agenda, available at www.franklinplanner.com, to handle crazy days, jam packed with all sorts of “To Dos”. We’ve gotten a ton of amazing feedback on it and to help you out, if you email me at firstname.lastname@example.org I’d be happy to send you one just for supporting Buttoned Up!
Thanks for your inquiry and best of luck!
- Q: I have 3 children under 8. My husband and I have told people our wishes, but do not have a formal will. We don’t have lots of income to give to a lawyer to create one. Is there a way we can make a Will ourselves and fit it into our busy schedule? — Leah, Missouri on Sep 03, 2009
First and foremost it is great that you and your husband are thinking about writing a Will and I understand your concern with the cost of using a Lawyer to create one. Unfortunately it is not in your family’s best interest to create one yourself for two reasons: Time & Your relative’s finances.
Creating a Will on your own is extremely time consuming. There are many laws to research and formats to follow. You can buy a “Will Kit” at an office supply store, but it won’t be tailored to all of your family’s needs or the local laws. By going through a lawyer, the Will is certain contain all of the necessary legal parts to ensure your family and belongings are taken care of exactly how you want.
In addition to your own time, creating a Will on your own will most likely cost your extended family or friends who you delegate in your Will money. Why? Because if you the Will doesn’t follow the correct format and rules, it will not stand up in court and they will have to hire lawyers annd spend time in court trying to fight for your wishes. Even more upsetting is that your Will may not even hold up in court at all.
I want you to know I am not trying to scare you and admire that you are wanting to get prepared for the unexpected. So here are some ideas for finding a reasonable lawyer:
Speak with your local county court to see if there are any non-profit agencies that can help you find a lawyer with little or no fees.
If you are close enough to a family member or friend, you can ask them to trade off help from them to pay for the legal fees in exchange for a service you can provide them. For example, if you or your husband is an amazing handyman, gardener or computer wiz , maybe he can help them put up that fence, install electrical wiring, plant their new landscaping, or fix their computer. If you can’t find a family member or friend to trade with, you can also check the “barter” section of www.craigslist.org.
Shop Around! Especially in this economy, even lawyers are struggling and any clients are valued clients. Get on Yelp.com, CitySearch.com, or just your yellow pages to compare rates of multiple lawyer pricing. You can also ask around with friends for referrals. They may have friends or family who are lawyers that can give you a discounted rate!
I hope this is helpful and I wish you all the best!
- Q: I am a mother of 2, full time teacher and recently started my Masters program online. A three credit class runs 6 weeks. Can you give me tips on how to manage lesson plans, grading papers, maintaining an organized home and my new classes? — Kathy, New York on Jun 01, 2009
Wow you certainly have a lot on your plate! Kudos on starting the masters program – there’s nothing like stretching yourself intellectually. In terms of juggling all of these things without losing your mind, applying the 3 Buttoned Up principles will really help. First, give yourself a break. Some things are going to have to be done ‘imperfectly’ – and that’s ok. You aren’t ‘failing’ as a mother, spouse, teacher, or student if you’re not as on top of something, like clutter, as you were before you took on the additional course work. Second, pick your top priorities in each area and make sure that you spend the bulk of your time each day on activities related to those priorities. As a general rule of thumb, focusing on 20% of the tasks on your to-do list will get you 80% or more of the way there. And finally, lean on those around you for help. Are your children old enough to help out around the house? Can your spouse pitch in on things, like scheduling or paying the bills, that you used to handle alone? Do you have an assistant at school who can help you with grading? Here are some specific tips that use those three principles in each of the areas you mentioned:
If left for a few days, clutter – whether mail or toys – can get out of hand. Understand that you may not be able to stay on top of it as often as you might like. Rather than throw your hands up in despair, throw some baskets around. Literally. Put one on the kitchen counter (or wherever the mail accumulates), one in a place where toys accumulate, one on your desk – anywhere you need to catch those ‘craplets’ that you just don’t have time to get to today, but will have time to get to tomorrow or the next day – and just need a place to stay somewhat organized in the interim.
Institute a new to-do list habit. When I was juggling two full-time jobs and motherhood, I devised a to-do list system that enabled me to keep both detailed lists of EVERYTHING I had to get done – but also stay focused on the priorities. Go get a five subject notebook (or four if you create one of your own) to house your to-do’s. Label section 1 “Today,” section 2 “Teaching,” section 3 “Masters Program,” and section 4 “Personal or Home.” Under each section, keep a running list of everything that you have to get done. You can categorize if that helps you – so, for example, you might have Lesson Plan and Grading sub-sections under your Teacher to-dos. Expect this list to be long and frankly, a little messy. It’s just where you jot down everything you need to do so you don’t forget… Then every morning, in the “Today” section – write one to three things that you absolutely, positively have to get done on your master list in each area. If you’re lucky enough to make your way through that list and still have time left over, pick a few more things from the master lists and bring them forward. This system really worked for me – because it let me keep track of everything, but still got me to focus on the most important things each day. Once you’ve got the hang of that – bring ‘you time’ into the equation! Take the fifth section in the book – and name it “Me.” In there, keep a list of the friends and family you want to connect with, and little things you can/want to do to recharge. Remember to bring one of those things to your “Today” section a week!
According to our research, over three-quarters of women say they are solely responsible for organizing their families. We just pile more on our plates than ever before and yet rarely seem to ask for help. Letting go of control enough to delegate can be difficult and even nerve wracking but it is worth the effort. With a little practice you can get quite good at it and free up some time to take care of yourself. Start with the laundry… Have in each person’s room three laundry hampers – one for whites, one for darks, and the other for dry cleaning. While that may seem like a lot of hampers, you have just managed to get the first task of laundry, sorting, done with no effort. Rotate laundry chores with your spouse (and your little ones if they are older than 10). One friend of Alicia’s also has a Wednesday Pre-Treat Contest where armed with bottles of Spray ‘n Wash and Shout family members tear through their clothes to see who can finish the fastest. The losers have to fold the winner’s clothes
- Q: I love the medical doc book. It helps a lot. Have you ever thought of making a template for doctors office visits and follow up visits following surgery or special procedures?? that would be extremely helpful, especially when the person has a complicated medical history with many different specialists who see them on a regular basis and make medication changes and recommendations. — Jackie on Apr 26, 2009
We love you suggestion and will look into making those changes in the next run of Medical.doc! We love getting consumer input on our products so that we can make them the best that the can be. Thank you so much for your support of Buttoned Up and if you have any other suggestions, please do not hesitate to let us know!
- Q: The background photo on your website looks like it includes a planner/calendar. Where can I find this product? Great website – great — Danielle, Shaker Heights, OH on Apr 25, 2009
The Planner you are seeing on our background is called Family.agenda(tm).
We are transferring some inventory right now, but if you call Anne Marie in our main office at 734-477-5020 or email her at email@example.com we will be happy to take your order!
Thank you so much for your support of Buttoned Up, Inc!
- Q: I recently became an independent consultant so that I can stay at home with my 3 1/2 yr old. But now I’m worried I’m going to miss out on some write offs during the year. I know you have tax.filer kit, but is that what I’m looking for? I want to stay organized. Thanks. — Roxanne on Mar 26, 2009
One of the best things to do is to sit down with your accountant and also do a bit of on line research on what items you can deduct. Then keep all of those receipts including all credit card statements over the year. While we do not make a product for this, a great thing to get is an expandable file folder that has enough pockets to easily sort all of your receipts. It is not too hard once you get started. Let us know how it goes. Alicia
- Q: I’m lazy and a procrastinator. I’m taking an important volunteer job. It will mean I’m taking on enormous computer responsibilities (newsletter, letters, reports, name tags, photos) that take computer organization along with physical organization like file cabinets, books and albums. My office is filled already. The job is a two year commitment. Basically I’m just overwhelmed and do nothing instead of prepare for this job that starts soon. Please help. — Ginny, Bloomfield Hills, MI on Mar 17, 2009
As a Pile Person and an avid United Way Volunteer, I know EXACTLY how you feel. Here are a few ways to get started on getting organized:
First of all, and this part is the annoying, tedius and painful part, take on your current office clutter and have a pitching party. Set aside 2 back-to-back hours for your physical files on one day and 1 hour for your computer files on another day. You in no means have to be perfect, but if you can get rid of any old catalogs, receipts and bills over 7 years old, any other trash, you may find you have much more space for the new volunteer work.
On your computer, is your desktop a mess or your storage low from too many files? Get a back-up external Hard drive and put all of your family photos and other rarely used files onto the external hard drive. It’s also a good idea to back-up all of the new volunteer files onto the external hard drive for safe keeping.
Next, designate ONE area in your home office to be just for your volunteer stuff complete with its own portable or stationary filing cabinet (ask the organization if they will supply one for you). If you know you’ll end up keep a lot of items on your desk, get a stacking paper sorter labeled “To Read, To Deal With, To File”. If the sorter gets starts to overflow, you know it’s time to clean it out (probably once a week).
As for photos, get them printed and placed into an Album as SOON as you take them. Buy a couple albums right now, set up an online photo account asap just for the organization, and as soon as you get home from taking any pictures, upload them and have them shipped. Then right when they arrive, place them in the album and you’re done! Trust me, 15 minutes at once is a heck of a lot easier than 3 hours of sorting uploading, etc when you need an album for a gala and you haven’t developed any pictures.
For the newsletter & reports, make your templates now, before the position starts so you can just fill in the blanks when you take over. Designate files for each area on the computer, and as I said, back-up the files onto an external hard drive in case the unthinkable happens and your computer crashes.
I know that going through your current files is probably going to be boring and frustrating, but you save yourself time and energy in the long run. In addition. Pick one time to go through all of your volunteer to do’s and looming piles weekly to keep the clutter down and your aggravation to a minimum.
Kicking procrastination in the tail is NOT an easy, overnight transformation and don’t try to be perfect. Just keep your organizing at a level where you have the least anxiety and stress about it.
I hope this helps and thanks again for your question!
- Q: How can I organize all of my internet passwords so I don’t lose them? — Kim, Denver, CO on Feb 28, 2009
I know – my passwords are like bunny rabbits – I looked up and had a hundred of them in the span of a few weeks! Start by creating 2 easy to remember “Master Words” to use for every login and password (Example: Ernie and Bert). Then, in a notebook like CrossItOff.list, list the sites you visit followed by the different variations of the login/passwords, using letters for your master words. (Example: X21 and M57). Just don’t forget your master words!!!
- Q: What is the best way to organize dinners for my family during the week? — Jim, Orlando, FL on Feb 28, 2009
Anne Marie said:
Make Sunday morning breakfast a chance for everyone to choose a meal they want for the upcoming week. That way, you can do one master shopping trip for the week on Sunday, and the only reason to go to the store during the week is to get ingredients that need to be fresh.
- Q: What can I do in 10 minutes that will make my closet noticeably neater? — Carol, Buffalo, NY on Feb 28, 2009
I sympathize with you – my closet never seems to stay neat for more than a few days. To help me stay sane in between big closet cleans, I arrange clothes by style, giving each style their own “section.” Start with shirts, going from sleeveless, to short sleeve, to long sleeve, then on to pants, then skirts, then dresses. On the floor, arrange your shoes from sneakers to casual to formal.
- Q: What’s the trick to getting my purse organized? How can I keep it that way going forward? — David, Portland, ME on Feb 28, 2009
With today’s enormous purses, keeping everything separate is key. Keep essential makeup in a small makeup bag, find a wallet with good separators for your ID/credit cards/cash, and get a small case for tissues/mints/etc. By limiting where things go, you’ll stay organized, which is always fashionable!
- Q: Do you have any tricks on how to keep track of everyone’s birthdays and anniversaries? — Jess, Fall River, MA on Feb 28, 2009
I keep track of all important birthdays and anniversaries in my Birthday Book. Each month I look through it and get cards and, if applicable, presents for everyone who has a special day in the upcoming month. If you’re more of a digital person, there are a number of internet sites that will email you reminders of people’s birthdays and anniversaries. Visit neverforget.com, birthdayalarm.com, or bigdates.com, enter as many people and dates as you want, and get emails the day of or day before a birthday/anniversary, and stay out of the doghouse!
- Q: I never have time to organize my desk. What can I do in 10 minutes at the end of each day to contain the chaos? — on Feb 28, 2009
Put away all your pens and pencils, and do a quick sweep of your desk for items to throw away (old reports, coffee cups, etc). Put files on your computer desktop into the right folders. Then, prep yourself for the next day by arranging your papers from left to right, with the most important items to the left, so you’ll be ready to work first thing.
- Q: Company’s coming unexpectedly! What can I do in 10 minutes to make my house look noticeably cleaner? — Alison, Cambridge, MA on Feb 28, 2009
First, make sure the guest bathroom has toilet paper, soap, and a clean hand towel. Then, close the doors to messy bedrooms, grab a storage bin (or trash bag), throw in wayward toys and stash it in the hall closet. Finally, gather magazines, mail and papers from different rooms and arrange them in neat stacks on a desk or table.
- Q: “Tax season is SO confusing for me.. can you give me the short and sweet 1-2-3 of preparing?” — Bonnie, Newton, MA on Feb 28, 2009
We recommend, first, that you give everything a home. Set aside 15 file folders to get everything organized, and then take those folders and label them for each of the critical tax categories:
- Bank Statements
- House Bills (mortgage, property tax)
- Charitable Donations
- Last Year’s Return
- Work Expenses
- Credit Card Statements
- Other Income
- Other Expenses
- Other Deductions
- Work Compensation
This should help you button up your taxes and be prepared to head to any of the numerous Tax Preparers in your local area!