Ask the Organizer: When Disaster Strikes

August 28, 2009

My wallet was recently stolen and trying to figure out everything that was in it and who to call has been a nightmare! I think I’m finally through it, and I hope I never have to deal with it again, but if I did, what can I do to make it easier?

Let me start by saying that I am so sorry about your wallet. That’s rough. I imagine the emotions were feeling partly violated and somewhat panicked. And then you had to scramble around for information on top of it all. Awful. Again, I’m sorry.

As your replacement cards and ID are arriving, it’s a great time for you to follow this simple tip. In fact, It’s a great idea for everyone to follow this tip ASAP (as a precaution).

Make a photopcopy of everything you keep in your wallet. This includes your license, credit cards, ATM cards, insurance cards, membership cards — everything.  Make sure you copy both the front and back of each card. *Note – I prefer a physical photocopy to a computer scan for safety purposes, it’s probably not a great idea to have all this information saved as a file on your computer.

Keep the wallet-copy in a safe place – preferably one you’ll remember. If your wallet goes missing, this document will have all the phone numbers and corresponding account numbers you’ll need. It will also serve as a great checklist – when you’ve contacted the number on each card, you can rest a little easier.

IdentityTheftLabs has a great step-by-step list of what to do in just this kind of situation.  It talks about police reports, credit agencies and much more – I encourage you to read it to be sure you’ve taken all the necessary measures. The first step is to call your credit card and ATM card issuers. With your wallet-copy, you’ll be prepared to do just that.

I hope you’ll make your wallet-copy soon and that you’ll never have a need for it!

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Organizing Tales from Abroad

August 25, 2009

Well, after an incredible trip to Paris & Amsterdam, it’s back to real life. Sad.

With a great group of friends in town for the wedding, Paris definitely had a Teen Tour feel (Teen Tour ’09 – Woo!). As you can imagine, I took on the role of camp counselor. Which, as you can imagine, I love.

In a relatively short span, we managed to see just about everything you’re supposed to see. Plus, I saw a ton of stuff that struck me as wonderfully organized.  So I took some pictures to share with you.

Talk about a great time management tool! In Paris, they let you know exactly when the next Metro will arrive!

Time Management on the Metro

Talk about a great time management tool! In Paris, they let you know exactly when the next Metro will arrive. Here, it’s 8:00pm (20:00) and our train will arrive in 2 minutes. If we happened to miss that, there will be another one along in 7 minutes.

European Supermarket Pricetags

European Supermarket Pricetags

I thought this was so cool. At this supermarket, the prices listed on the shelves were computerized (rather than physical labels) – When there’s a price fluctuation or product change, it’s a matter of updating a computer system, rather than having a person changing stickers down the aisle.

Plan de Situation

Plan de Situation

This isn’t even that organized. It’s one of the “you are here” maps at the Louvre. I just love that in French, a map is a “Plan de situation,” literally, a location plan. And, I like saying “plan de situation” in a French accent.

I hope you enjoyed some of my organizing souvenirs.  If not, we’ll get back to our regularly scheduled programing soon. For now, I’m still enjoying the effects of my vacation.


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The Organizer is Outta Here!

August 13, 2009

After what feels like a year of planning (and organizing) – it’s finally time for our European adventure.  For the first time in a long time, I’m going to completely unplug from the electronics – RB says he’s going to do the same, but I can’t actually picture it.

Anyway, since you’re here, check out the rest of the tips on Chaos Theory Blog. I’ll be back before you know it, offering up tales of dis/organization from Paris and Amsterdam.

Finally – a huge congratulations to Jon & Galete.  Thank you for getting married in Paris and inspiring this journey across the Atlantic.

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Songs About Organizing: Eddie Vedder, the Redux

August 11, 2009

So, I was away this weekend with the biggest Pearl Jam fan I know. Potentially the biggest Pearl Jam fan anyone knows.  So I was obviously very excited to tell him that I had just written this great post about the song Society.

Well – turns out I was wrong, Vedder did NOT write that song, Jerry Hannan did. (My sincerest apologies, Mr. Hannan.)

However, this fan wanted to be sure that Pearl Jam got their organizing song credit and turned me on to Sleight of Hand, written and performed by Vedder and bassist Jeff Ament off their 2000 release, Binaural.

When he reached the shore of his clip-on world he resurfaced to the norm.
Organized his few things. His coat and keys.
And he knew realizations would have to wait.
Till he had more time. More time.

Isn’t that interesting?  For Vedder and Ament, organizing the coat & keys is part of ‘returning to normal.’  I feel that way too.

As for the “more time” – well, we all could use some of that.  But the surest way to find some is all about organizing your schedule — even if it means scheduling an hour of down time for those realizations.

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Ask the Organizer Friday: Before You Travel

August 7, 2009

Traveling stresses me out — and it’s not just the packing — it’s feeling like I forgot to do something around the house.  Any suggestions on what you should really take care of before you leave?

I get it – travel is stressful!  Here’s a list of some things to do to put your mind at ease:

At any point leading up to your trip:

  • Keep a running list of things you want to bring or take care of as you think of them.  It’s harder to forget if it’s down on paper.

The week before you leave:

  • Call to suspend delivery of your newspapers (or anything you get daily…I hear some people still get their milk delivered).
  • Shop for any items you need (see your running list for details…). Don’t forget a hostess gift if you’ll be staying in someone’s home.
  • Set up your online bill pay for any bills that are due while you’re away. Of course, you could also sit down and do it the old fashioned way – if so, don’t forget to mail it!
  • Traveling internationally? Make copies of your passport – leave one at home, and travel with one.
  • Do the laundry – you’ll want all your favorite clothes to pack.

The day before you leave

  • Pack. (There are plenty of people who think this is too last-minute.  But I like to pack the day before – it means I can have access to all the things I need until I go away.)
  • Check in to your flight online and print your boarding passes.
  • Clean out your fridge of any foods that will go bad while you’re gone.
  • Double check that your TiVo is set for all your favorite shows.
  • Arrange for airport transportation.
  • Straighten up around the house – I think it’s much nicer to come home to a clean.  It helps to prolong the vacation when you get home and don’t feel crazed by the mess.  Or maybe that’s just my crazy.

The minute before you leave

  • Check to see that all the lights (and air conditioning) are turned off.
  • Lock up and head out!

I’m actually traveling to San Francisco today to celebrate the wedding of two of my very favorite people on the planet. Just so you know, my running list of things to remember had: figure out airport transportation, bring the wedding card, get a new memory card for my camera.

Safe travels!

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The Key to a Successful Chef? Being Organized!

August 5, 2009

I love to cook.  I wish I cooked more often —  I just don’t love to cook in our tiny apartment kitchen where there is approximately enough counter space for one cutting board.  But I digress.

Last night, I DID cook (I can make it work — I’ve got a pretty good system going with a handlful of old stacking tables…) and I was reminded of all the organized reasons I love it:

1) Mise en place (pronounced meez en plas). This French phrase (literally “putting in place”) was defined by the Culinary Institute of America to refer to pre-cooking set-up. Get out all of your ingredients, prepare them according to the recipe (chop, dice, filet, etc.) and measure them out as specified.  (Bonus- you’ll know if you forgot something and can run to the store before you turn on the stove.) Ever watch a cooking show and the chef is just throwing things into the pot from those little Pyrex dishes?  His staff did a great job on the mise en place.

2) Time Management. One of the hardest things about cooking is having all the components of the meal ready at the same time.  I do this by working backwards. Say I want to serve dinner at 7:30. I know that the main dish has to cook for 35 minutes and rest for 5 minutes, so I have to get it in the oven at 6:50. I know that it takes me about an hour for all the prep and putting together — so the latest I can start prepping is 5:50. For a simple supper, it’s not a difficult timeline to manage. Come November, I’ll share my Thanksgiving cooking timeline – that one took some serious planning.

3) CAYGO – Clean As You Go. A simple concept, but one I live by. All that prep work generates a lot of dishes to clean up.  Load the dishwasher and wash large items (pots & pans, mixing bowls) as you finish using them. Later, you can focus on the delicious meal you prepared without having to worry about a sinkful of dirty dishes.

I hope this inspires you to get into the kitchen (and if not, at least inspires you to go see Julie & Julia when it opens on Friday!),

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