Organizing for That Which We Don’t Want: The Medical Emergency

If you haven’t faced it yet, chances are good that at some point in your life cycle you will have to deal with a medical crisis of one sort or another. An aging parent may take a fall, or your spouse may require emergency surgery. These are not things we want to think about but having an organized system – a go to spot – for all of your medical information (prescriptions, co-pay amounts, insurance forms, lab results, etc). can make all the difference in the world should calamity strike.

If you are a somewhat organized person, use the tips below by creating a file system for easy access to all of your records. Creative right-brained people may want to organize the information in a box, or, hole-punch all the paperwork to fit inside a 3″, 3-ring binder. Regardless of how you process information, you want to create a space for a variety of information that falls under the category of “Medical.”

A special note for same-sex couples (residing in states where our marriages are still illegal). I cannot emphasize enough the importance of creating a clear path toward your right to speak on behalf of your partner. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPPA) has strict privacy and security rules to ensure patients’ rights and include legal definitions for who is/isn’t a family member, who can/cannot speak on your behalf. Once you meet the person of your dreams and decide to set-up house, your next action should be a visit to your family attorney to create the paper trail to ensure your access your loved one.

1. Gather together all your medical information into one organized and labeled binder or filing system. Some useful information to file is:

  • Health insurance cards, Medicare cards
  • A list of medications (including dosage, frequency, date started/stopped)
  • Medical history
  • All of your emergency contacts (their relationship to you, address, phone number, workplace, etc.)
  • Immunizations
  • Allergies and blood type
  • A sheet to record the date of doctor/dental visits and any tests performed
  • A sheet of diagnosis’ and the dates (blood pressure readings, cholesterol, blood sugar levels, symptoms)
  • A copy of a health care proxy, advanced directives or living will
  • If one is used, a power-of-attorney

2. Regularly update emergency contacts. Also ensure your power-of-attorney, health care proxy, advanced directives, or living will is up to date. Clearly label this information.

3. Create a section for medical bills from providers, labs, and hospitals.

4. Keep a log of Insurance claims you file with the insurance company and insurance claims that have been paid by your insurance company.

5. Create a separate section for financial paperwork, including medical bills you have paid. Include a section for out-of-pocket expenses.

6. Keep prescription drug information – past and current in one section.

7. Keep records of all medical testing such as lab, x-ray, and scan results.

8. Have a section for hospital discharge orders/documents.

9. Keep a calendar in one section of the binder to record all appointments.

10. Clearly label all information, files, and folders. The goal: To find what you need, when you need it. There’s nothing like being organized in the event of a medical emergency.

Top 10 Tips: Fall in Love With Your Clear Space









1. Take time (even just 5 minutes!) at the end of the day to put away items and to make your to-do list for tomorrow. Once you have a clear countertop, keep it that way by routinely maintaining your clear area. Tomorrow will be easier to manage without having to take time to de-clutter and figure out what needs to be done.


2. If you don’t have time to deal with the mail, don’t start what you can’t finish. Oftentimes, we start to go through the mail then stop to prepare dinner, pick up the kids, answer the phone, etc. You can’t chop tomatoes and sort the mail. Period. Before your kitchen becomes the mail center, set aside uninterrupted time to go through the mail. When dealing with your mail, open/pay your bills first as these are the most important items. Consider setting up an auto-pay online so you can skip this step completely. If you receive invitations, RSVP and write down the details on your calendar.
3. Pick a day this month to be “someday” or “later.” We all have those tasks that we’ll get to “later” and “someday,” but not picking a day to do it means it will not get done. Mark your calendar and don’t overbook for this day so you can take care of those tasks.
4. Pictures. We often recommend transferring your pictures to a digital picture frame and deleting the unflattering/dark pictures that didn’t come out well. For people who are not tech savvy, get some small clear bins to store your pictures. Use a timer so you don’t spend five hours reminiscing.

5. Try the hanger experiment to help you pick what wardrobe pieces to clear out and donate. All of your clothes that require hangers should be in the reverse direction from how you normally hang them. After you wear something, put it back in the your closet facing the correct direction. After several months, you’ll be able to visually identify how much of your wardrobe you wear. This could also be applied to other items in your home.



6. Go wireless with what you can. For those items where it is impossible to go wireless, organize the cords so they are out of the way.



7. Clean up your inbox and virtually de-clutter yourself. Are you one of those people with 200+ e-mails in your inbox and don’t know where to start? Immediately discard junk e-mails and set up folders for other e-mails to be stored. Delete routinely. There are several sources to help corral your virtual clutter:, Google Inbox, and Mailstrom are great tools to help simplify your computer life.



8. Keep like with like. Whether it is in your closet, cabinets, kitchen, drawers, etc., keeping scissors with scissors and jackets with jackets is your best bet for easily locating items in the future. Make sure items are easily visible and accessible. If they are not, invest in a storage system that allows them to be, or donate/get rid of what you do not need.


9. Teach your children or significant other how to put back items where they belong and encourage them to take five minutes a day to clean up. The process will go much faster with more hands, and this also ensures that everyone knows where to put items so they are easier to locate in the future.


10. Physically make a clear path! De-clutter your mind by de-cluttering the floors of walkways in hallways and rooms. In addition, you will be better able to focus in your office with less stuff and “noise” going on. Less is more when it comes to de-cluttering.

Top 10 Tips to Plan for the Year of No Clutter!

“I’m going to get organized this year!” stands in the Top 10 of our New Year’s resolutions. And this goal remains on Top 10 lists year and after year. It makes sense, then, that In the world of Professional Organizers, January is Get Organized – or GO! – Month! GO Month activities around the country include “Shred-a-thons,” “Ask the Organizer” panel discussions, closet make-over seminars, and contests for the messiest kitchen pantry.

January is a logical time for GO Month. The beginning of a new year is a good time to create your plan to becoming less cluttered and more organized. Here’s your Top 10 list to get ready for your new year of No Clutter! Call me if you need help developing your own personal plan.  I’m here to help!

Begin with this idea in mind: Clutter starts outside your front door! If it’s in your hand before you bring it home, ask: “It is possible I don’t need this right now?”

Brainstorm, then list, all the spaces (home and work) that you want to de-clutter or organize. As appropriate, be sure to include storage units, piles of business cards, desk drawers, and the trunk of your car!

Prioritize the list. What area(s) of your home or work space makes you the most crazy? Have you put off a home repair because clutter prevents access to that space? Do you want to start small and then work up to the messier areas?

Do you need help? Who do you know who can help clear your path. You want to work with objective, non-judgmental (and physically strong!) friends or family members. Offer to reciprocate [your friends probably have clutter, too!]

Go through your calendar for the entire year. Note the days and times when you have to be at work, the dates of long weekends, and dates for visitors, vacations, and conferences. The plug-in dates for tackling each project.

Get a sense of when you can logically begin (and complete) a de-clutter project. For every hour that you spend de-cluttering, you will need another hour to re-organize. Too many people do not complete their de-clutter project simply because they didn’t leave enough time to do the work.

How long it will take? Choose a small project – the junk drawer! – gather your supplies [waste basket, recycle bag, old towel, kitchen timer]. Lay the towel on a flat surface, dump the drawer on the towel, set the timer, get to work! Don’t leave your work station until you complete the project. How long did it take? What were the distractions? What did you learn about yourself in the process? All of this is good information for when you’re ready to move onto something bigger.

Supplies: for most projects you will need a big supply of trash and recycle bags. For the garage you may need to order a 3- or 4-yard dumpster. Other supplies may include a label maker, boxes for items to be donated, paper/felt-tip pens to mark areas for sorting (trash, donate, keep, recycle), and gloves.

Avoid purchasing anything that you may think will help you become more organized. The time for buying shelves, bins, or containers is after each organizing project when you will know exactly what you plan to keep. Everything you plan to keep should have a “home” within your home.

Maintain your motivation: List all the reasons why you want to de-clutter and become more organized! Post the list where you will see it often. Conceive, believe, and achieve your goals! Remember: you are not your clutter.

Top 10 Tips: Gifts that don’t create clutter

The end of the year! It’s finally here! And yet it won’t leave until we spend time with, or think about people we love, who have brought us joy along the way. Sometimes, it is so easy to find presents for people. For example, if your friend is a gamer you could just buy him league of legends accounts and he’d be happy. But not everyone is so easy to buy a present for.

In my world as a professional organizer I walk into a lot of crowded spaces filled with things my clients can no longer use, or they feel they no longer need or desire. So many of them tell me that some of the clutter is from gifts they’ve never needed but guilt has kept the gift trapped in their home!

I listen to the holiday gift-buying commercials. Before 12/25, television and radio ads encourage you to buy things that people will LOVE!! After 12/25, the ads change, reminding consumers that since they didn’t get the gift they really wanted, they can exchange it for something they’ll really love! No one, it seems, can win at this game of gift giving/receiving.

Here at A Clear Path we’re all about the gifts that doesn’t cause clutter! Being of service, cooking a great meal, helping someone organize… now those are gifts everyone can use!

So with a grateful heart I offer you, our top 10 list for the holiday season: Gifts that don’t create clutter!

1. Take people you love to dinner or cook for them. Cook something you know the person likes to eat or take them out to one of their favorite restaurants or dessert spots. Some of the best memories are shared with loved ones at the table.

2. Help a friend de-clutter their closet. Start by emptying out the space you want to organize and create three piles: toss, donate, and keep. Help your friend by asking them, “do you really need/use that?” when deciding which items to keep. Each item you put back should have a “place.”

3. Professional organizer gift certificate. When you know someone who needs organizational guidance for tough jobs or putting an organizing system in place, a professional organizer is an effective way to get the job done. You will also receive guidance on how to maintain an organized environment. For more information or to order a professional organizer gift certificate, call 818-400-9592 or e-mail

4. Experience Gifts create lasting memories and can be described as more enjoyable and fulfilling than any material object. Whether it’s a tour of the city, a hot air balloon ride, a trip to the spa, your loved one will be happy to be spending time with you enjoying the experience.

5. A calendar. New year, new calendar. Everyone needs a new calendar during the year, make yours unique and special by gifting one with custom pictures or choose a theme you know the person receiving the calendar will enjoy.

6. Gift cards are great gifts for everyone. You can get someone a gift card to a grocery store they frequent, clothing store, the best online watch store, gas card, or even just a prepaid Visa gift card.

7. Household appliances the gift recipient actually needs and will use on a regular basis. Whether it’s a wine opener or food processor, be sure the item will not clutter the kitchen and the person has space for it.

8. Digital photo frames are a great way to display many pictures without taking up much space. The recipient can also upload his or her own photos in addition to the ones loaded on the frame. If you want something more traditional then why not take the recipient to an Art Gallery and see what they like. Photo frames never take up much room after all.

9. Consumables: Food, wine, and other alcoholic beverages, chocolates and other special treats are one good way to spread holiday cheer. Put together a food basket hand picked with the person’s favorite items to personalize the basket.

10. Charitable Gifts are perfect gifts for someone that has everything or immensely supports a charitable cause. Consider making a donation in the person’s name; be sure it is a cause that is important to the person, not just you. Find ways to donate to environmental, children’s, health research, and many other organizations online. Research the fund on Charity Navigator so you know you’re making a wise choice.

5 Quick Tips: Moving with Pets from Silk Touch Moves and Relocations

  • Order your pet’s name/address tags before you move; secure the new tags on moving day. Consider a micro-chip in the event your pet gets loose in an unfamiliar neighborhood.
  • Pack an overnight bag for your precious pooches and curious cats. Include medicine, treats, leashes, bedding… whatever you know will provide comfort to your 4-legged friends in a new environment.
  • Visit the vet before you leave – up date shots, get copies of your pet’s medical history.
  • Choose a pet carrier for comfort. Account for size, cross-ventilation, and a secure door latch. Place a favorite toy and blanket inside to help your pet feel secure.
  • As much as you can, keep your pet away from the chaos of the move. Research doggie day-care in your new city.

Doing it Differently this Year

Rain is predicated in Los Angeles for this first week of November. Regardless of the weather, it’s a bit of a shock to see that the holiday shopping season has begun.

Many people love the holidays but become depressed by the amount of stress it seems to bring into their homes or hearts or both. ‘Tis not (supposed to be) the season for frustration but for love and peace-filled hearts.

So before you start groaning about what lies ahead, here are some strategies for doing the holidays a little differently this year. I’d love to hear if you used these or any other techniques and ideas from past newsletters.

Here’s to a safe and dry November, and a productive end to 2017.


Before your Holiday Season begins, create a list of things/events/experiences that you enjoy as well as those that have caused stress for you in the past. When you are able to identify your holiday stressors, you can proactively try to eliminate them. For example, if putting up decorations is a chore, enlist the help of someone else or invest in decorations that don’t take a lot of set-up or clean up time.

Use your calendar. Include when you will decorate (it may help to span out decorating over several days), airport arrivals/departures, shopping trips, school/work functions. Calendaring ALL of your events will also help you prioritize what is most important to you and/or your family and you may time-map accordingly.

Female hand holding a pen and writing a plan in a planner

Once you have everything you need to do on your calendar, you can begin to plan ahead by creating daily to-do lists for both your life and your holiday preparation. It is easier to prioritize when you know what you need to do and by when.

Take inventory of what holiday items you already have: decorations, wrapping paper, cards, etc. Write down what you have enough of and what you are still missing. If you are noticing the same broken decorations you’ve had for year, toss them. If you have too much of something you don’t need, give it away. And don’t forget to label bins, containers, and storage areas to help you later on.

People Looking Choosing at Colleagues Photo

Delegate tasks to family members to create a family activity. Have one person work on writing addresses on envelopes for cards, another to help with meal preparations, someone else may do the online shopping, etc. This creates shared responsibility and achievement for the whole family.

Decide how you want to send out holiday cards and season greetings. Make a list of everyone to whom you will send a card and have their addresses available. If you’d like to write a special note on the card to each recipient, spread this activity out over several days and try to write two to five cards a day, depending on your schedule.

Gift Present Celebrate Party Wrapped Simple Concept

Try to get as much shopping and preparation done from behind a computer. If you are shopping offline, call ahead before you arrive at the store to reserve the item for which you are looking. You can avoid going to several stores in search of the same item with this method. Even some grocery stores will set aside turkeys or roasts if you call in advance. \

Don’t be afraid to turn down invitations. It’s completely understandable to be busy or “fully booked” during the holiday season. Over-committing may lead to stress when you try to be everywhere at once.

Enjoy living in the season rather than being focused on creating memorable moments for everyone else. Focus on what matters to you and loved ones and prioritize those first.

Don’t know what to do with all the leftovers or unused items from the holidays? Have a holiday after-party to get rid of things you don’t want. You can have a potluck to help everyone get rid of leftovers or a white elephant for unwanted gifts.

5 Quick Tips: Moving the Home Office from Silk Touch Moves and Relocations

  • De-clutter electronics, and e-waste or donate items and equipment no longer in use.
  • Recycle/shred papers no longer relevant to you. For high-volume shredding, consider a certified shred company to do the job.
  • Take a picture of all the plug-ins/cords, code with tape naming each cord, remove from outlets.
  • Pack a box that contains everything you need to re-start your office upon arrival to your new space (stationary, stamps, invoices, pens, staples, tape, etc.).
  • Back up, back up, back up!!! Computer files, important documents, etc. Consider scanning/digitizing critical documents.

5 Quick Tips: Moving Supply Basics from Silk Touch Moves and Relocations

  • Boxes – assess what belongings need to be transported and put them in the corresponding boxes.
    • Wardrobe boxes come with a removable hanger bar so it is easy to transport clothes from one closet to another
    • Electronic boxes are ideal to move entertainment consoles, gaming systems, and computers.
    • Get a lot of these: small (books, toiletries, paper, etc.), medium (shoes, clothes, linens), large (pillow, comforters, lamp shades).
  • Protective Packing- bubble wrap for fragile items, furniture pads, stretch plastic wrap to wrap cabinets to keep drawers in place, packing paper for stuffing boxes to keep things inside the boxes tight
  • Many rolls of packing tape!
  • Sharpies and colored duct tape codes to each room
  • Box cutters and scissors

Fall Back Into Action

I hate to be the one to say it but we’ve got only a few more months left in the year. Oh my!

Do you feel good about meeting your de-cluttering and organizing goals for 2017? If you have had the desire and the willingness to get organized, but lacked motivation or a plan, this month’s newsletter is for you! It is designed to help you get back on track, get back to basics, re-take some baby steps.

For good or ill we live in a culture that bombards us with stuff that we bring into our home, the one place where we want to feel calm. Instead, we feel chaotic.

Take a deep breath and let the de-cluttering begin (again!).

Fall Back Into Action:

1. Remind yourself why you want to be organized! Make a list of what it will feel, smell and look like when you’ve completed a de-cluttering project. Why have you chosen to start this process? Control your surroundings? Improve mental and emotional well-being? Write your goals again, reinforce your commitment.

2. Start small.  Take one step each day to reduce the clutter in your life. Using a basket or box, go through your home or office and pick up ten items that belong elsewhere.  Put them where they belong. Take your trash our regularly. Don’t let it pile.

3. Turn your To-Dos into a “To-Due” list and go for “To Done!” We all know that it’s easier to write a list than to complete it! Some tips: Wake up earlier, put the difficult tasks first, spread tasks throughout the day within a particular time-frame, batch tasks (5 phone calls, 4 emails, etc.), and fit your day together accordingly.

4. If you procrastinate, ask a friend to be your accountability partner.  Explain the tasks you need to accomplish and let your partner hold you to your finish date for each task. Set up “rules” about reminders and consequences.

5. Create storage to stay organized.  If you avoid putting away an item because you don’t know where to put it, think about other similar items you might have and store them all together. If you have too many clothes, keep your winter and summer clothes separate, alternate them in and out of your closet according to season.

6. Become a minimalist. If you don’t need something, why keep it? While it’s tempting to keep all of your child’s art projects, try utilizing the storage space in your computer rather than your house. Take a picture of objects you want as a keepsake but have no space for. Make sure every item in your home has a home, and put things back where they belong. Encourage your children, spouse, or roommate to do the same.

7. Clean as you go. When making dinner, it is easy to end up with a pile of dirty pans and dishes in the sink. To avoid this, wash the dishes as you wait for the food to cook.

8. Time management. Schedule time for interruptions. Sometimes, there really aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. Don’t instantly give people your attention unless it’s absolutely crucial to offer your immediate response. Instead, schedule a time to answer email and return phone calls rather than answer them throughout the day. The 3rd edition of my book, “Psychic Debris, Crowded Closets” has new chapters on managing your time with time: click here for more information.

9. Learn to say “No.” Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm “no” or defer it to a later period.

10. Eliminate timewasters. Whether social media, television, or surfing the Internet, if it is not related to the tasks you need to complete for the day, it can wait! Schedule “free” time so a timewaster is not a waste of time anymore.

5 Quick Tips: Moving with Children from Silk Touch Moves and Relocations

  1. Before the move: let the kids help you cut the clutter from the house. Walk through each space and make family decisions about what is no longer used or useful.
  2. Put together activity kits to keep small children occupied while a lot of stuff is being moved about, in or out.
  3. Kids respond well if you keep them informed of the big and small changes to routines and their environment. They want to feel involved and included in the process.
  4. Involve your 6+ year-olds in the unpacking process – Let them help you organize their rooms to help them learn/get used to locating and putting away toys, books, clothes, shoes, etc.
  5. Unpack in this order: kids’ rooms, play room, kitchen, parents’ bedroom, common areas.