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How Do I Manage My Medications?

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

Why Do I Need to Manage Medications?

When you take more than a couple medications, errors can easily happen. This can range from missing a dose to overdose. Managing your medication effectively can help reduce potentially fatal errors. Use one pharmacy to dispense all medications so can monitor unsafe interactions.

How Do I Manage My Medications?

The key to successfully managing your medications is through organization. These organization tips will help ensure your medications are taken safely andon time.

1. Choose a pharmacy and stick with that one.

When you use one pharmacy to dispense all medications, the computer system can easily monitor unsafe interactions. Doctors are fallible just like anyone else. Why not have a check and balance system in place?

2. Use a Daily Pill Organizer

Better yet use two. Have one in use and one you can “build” before the other runs out.

pill organizer can be very helpful if you take many types of medications each day. It has seven or more compartments that hold each day’s worth of medication.

To ensure medication is taken on a timely basis, keep a dosage schedule (see #4) nearby that also includes a physical description of each pill, such as “blue capsule” or “large white pill.”




3. Keep a List of All Your Current Medications

Make a list of all medications you take, with the name, dosage, frequency, side effects, and whether the medication has been stopped. Also include any allergies you have to medications.

Make several copies and give them to doctors at appointments and to your pharmacist. Keep a copy stored on your computer so you can add to it if prescribed new medications, and print out more copies as needed.

I’ve created a Medication List that you can download here.


4. Create a Dosing Schedule Chart

Dosing Schedule Chart is simply a chart of the medications you take on a weekly basis with boxes you can physically mark off each day. You will see at a glance what you have missed.

This can also be done on your computer with a spreadsheet or word processing program. List all medications, what they look like, the times they need to be taken, and a space by each dose, so you can check off when each is taken.

If all your meds fit neatly into a pill organizer, you can delete this step. Some meds (like eye drops) are harder to keep track of and require a reminder!

For those meds that are given “as needed,” you may also want to include why it is taken. This can be annotated as “for nausea” or for whatever reason the medication is needed. If you have medications that require refrigeration, also note it.


5. Check Prescription Labels Often

When looking at a prescription label, check the expiration date and refill information. Properly discard old medication. When running low on a medication that has a refill, call your pharmacist before you run out. This way you will not miss any doses.

If you think you may need a refill on a medication that has none left, call your doctor’s office as soon as possible to allow time for the doctor to call the pharmacist.


6. Use a Pill Reminder Gadget (optional)

There are several electronic pill reminders on the market of varying prices. You can input the name of the medication, how often you need to take it, and if you need to take it with food.

An alarm will sound, much like an alarm clock or cell phone ringer, alerting you to what medication needs to be taken and how much. There are now electronic pill reminders that “talk,” relaying information verbally.

Does this list make you want to hide your head in the sand? I understand. Here is your Quick Start Guide:

  • Adhere to the ONE pharmacy rule, please!
  • Then, get a friend or family member to hold you accountable to at least complete your list of medications (# 3).
  • Once you have that done, look for a pill reminder that has AM/PM dividers and each day’s meds are removable for travel.

You will be well on your way to managing your medications responsibly!

A Place for Every Little Thing

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

When you think “organized” what comes to mind? Do you think of a Martha-Stewart-beautiful room from a magazine? Do you think of the perfect closet organizing system? I wouldn’t mind having either of these dream spaces in my home, but don’t want to set the bar so high I can’t achieve the goal.

Instead, I would rather go with this definition as my aim: “Being organized means being able to find what you need when you need it.” Take the 5 Minute Quiz to find out just how organized you are.

The Problem? As one client put it, “I can’t find anything because every cupboard and drawer is just a mish-mosh, with no rhyme or reason to what is where.”

The Solution The key to finding what you need is having a designated storage place for distinct categories of “stuff”. For example, always keep a first aid container in only one closet/cupboard. Then when you need a band-aid there is only one place to look!


Choose a specific category of “stuff” to sort, purge and contain each month. Remember to store each category in only one place as much as possible and close to where used. These are hints to get you started:

  • January - Have children? Donate old toys to make room for new. No children? Purge old linens and purchase new if needed while sales abound.
  • February - Pull together tax papers. Toss last year’s receipts once year-end statements arrive.
  • March - Clean out plastic ware in kitchen cupboards. Keep 10-12 tubs and lids. Donate rest to Goodwill for recycle.
  • April - Go through warm weather clothes. Toss, donate, repair. Purchase new to fill holes in wardrobe while best sales going on.
  • May - Air suitcases. Assemble trial containers of favorite toiletries for travel. Toss toiletries not used in last 12 months.
  • June - Evaluate beach gear. Downsize or bump up as needed. Pack a “pool” bag with towels, sunscreen, and goggles; keep ready to grab and go.
  • July - Gather all first aid supplies into one container. Dispose of old prescription according to FDA Guidelines. Make a list of anything else you need and complete your kit.
  • August - Get school supply lists early. Scavenge what is in your house before making list to buy. Check out sales flyers, then purchase all at once where “competitor prices honored”.
  • September - Purge kitchen of odd mugs, glasses, chipped plates, etc.
  • October - Look at cold weather clothing – coats, hats, gloves, scarves – toss ratty ones, buy needed items.
  • November - Cull pantry items and pull out serving dishes to get ready for holiday meals.
  • December – Purge and contain Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year décor.

Once you have chosen storage containers and designated places, always put the “stuff” back where it goes. Little by little, you will be able to find anything in 30 seconds or less!

Piling: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

Let’s face it, we all make piles. We get in a hurry and say we will take care of this or that “tomorrow”, as if secret admirers of Scarlet O’Hara’s delusional behavior.

The UGLY: You know you are in trouble when the piles start attacking you when you walk by. Books tumble onto your ankles. The breeze of your passing makes papers flutter and fall onto the walkway that you have so carefully maintained. You have to walk sideways or climb over your piles to get to the farthest corner of the room.





This is the ugly face of piling. The piles become mountains. You feel tired even looking at them, much less dealing with the delayed decisions
they represent. 
The GOOD: Believe it or not, there is a good side to piling. Often a pile starts as a specific category of things. Some examples are:
  • Bills to pay
  • Clothes to go to the dry cleaner
  • CD’s you love most right now
  • Birthday cards for this month
  • Supporting papers for taxes or home refinance
Creating piles for specific actions is a very good thing. The piles can be effective as a visual prod to action.



The BAD: The problem comes when the action attached to that pile is not completed (pay the bills, take clothes to dry cleaner, re-sleeve CD’s when new favorites emerge, etc.) and the pile is covered with the next layer of To Do’s. Over time, The BAD turns UGLY.
How can you and I use our tendency to pile constructively? Here are a few tips.


  1. Physically label the pile with a sticky note or 3×5 card on top with the category of thing and the action you want to take, and a deadline for getting it done.*
  2. *Give yourself a deadline of 1 week or less if possible. The longer you delay taking action, the less chance this task will be treated like a priority.
  3. Do not place anything on top that is unrelated to this category.
  4. For paper, vertical piles are best. Use colorful file folders labeled with action words: “PAY UP BEFORE THEY TURN THE LIGHTS OFF” or “TAKE THAT, STINKING IRS MONEYGRUBBERS!” in an inclined sorter. You will see at a glance what to work on next.
  5. If the pile is still there after the deadline,ask yourself if you really care. What’s the worst that will happen if you don’t get it done? Will you go to jail? Do you care enough to get the clothes dry cleaned, send the birthday cards, refinance? If not, chuck the pile. Donate usable items to someone who cares.
Note to SELF: Don’t try to do or be everything to everybody. Choose the best and let go of the rest.


Goodwill Spreading Good Will

Friday, February 1st, 2013

Every other month, central Ohio organizers meet for encouragement and to sharpen our craft. At our January NAPO-Ohio meeting, we invited Kat Ellery of Goodwill Columbus to tell us more about what her organization does with donated items.

I knew the gist of the mission was to help the disabled. Goodwill’s stated purpose is more profound:


“Building INDEPENDENCE, QUALITY of LIFE, and WORK opportunities for individuals with disabilities and other barriers.”


The latest stats point to Goodwill’s continued success. In 2011, 1241 individuals received job training, 543 were provided wage opportunities and 205 persons were placed in competitive employment.

In order to provide services, Goodwill receives donations to sell or recycle. In other words, this organization is a GREEN dream! The amount of raw goods recycled in 2011are staggering.

  • 997,184 lbs. of metal recycled
  • 889,000 lbs. of wood recycled
  • 347,517 lbs. of plastic recycled
Kat was rather surprised at our specific questions and comments. We organizers want to see the extra “stuff” our clients are willing to part with go to a good cause.

What I learned was that some of the “stuff” I had considered good only for the land fill would actually be stripped down and sent to recycling. These are a few examples:

  • Non-functioning strings of Christmas lights – the copper is reclaimed (and a job provided)
  • Broken furniture, small pieces of wood – wood recycled
  • Old cassette and VCR tapes – plastic recycled
  • Plastic hangers – plastic recycled
  • The wires you have no idea what they do to – copper reclaimed
  • Old computers – broken into component parts, partnering with Dell to recycle NO NEED TO SCRUB INFO.



In other words, if you don’t need it and you don’t think anyone else can use it – GIVE IT TO GOODWILL!





For larger items and pick up, Goodwill suggests these organizations in Franklin County:

Remodeling/Construction materials - Habitat for Humanity of Central Ohio, 614-RESTORE

Mattress/Box Spring - Salvation Army in Central Ohio614-221-4269

Food, personal care items - Mid-Ohio Food Bank614-274-7770

Large appiances – Mattress/Box spring - Furniture Bank614-272-9544

Large freezer/Refrigerator - AEP Ohio Recycling Program877-545-4112

I love it when a plan comes together and we all work together to help others, don’t you?

Why Can’t I Finish Anything?

Friday, February 1st, 2013


MARTHA: I asked my husband, Jeff, to lend a hand with this month’s newsletter. Jeff is a certified project manager and sees the world thru a PM’s eyes. Here are his thoughts on what can happen when you or I attempt an organizing project:

JEFF: Let’s say you want to do some housework, specifically dusting. You gather the dust rag and your favorite cleaner and start.

As you are working around the room, you notice that the floor needs vacuumed so when you finish dusting, you get out the sweeper and go at it.

You are tooling around the room cleaning the floor, when you become upset. You can see some spots on the baseboard that are quite unsightly and need to be touched up with paint. So, you finish sweeping and the break out the paint, paint brushes…

You can now see what is going on; your work is never going to end. Discouragement is just around the corner.

This is an example of “scope creep”. Your initial project scope (i.e. dust the room) has grown to include vacuuming and now painting!

When you start a project, make sure you identify the scope of the project. Define what you want to accomplish. Be sure it is realistic and attainable for the time and money you want to expend on it. And don’t let it grow!!

Almost always, if the scope of a project increases, then the time, money, and energy required to finish grow also. Plus you and your team members are in jeopardy of becoming discouraged. Good luck this month and watch for that scope creep!

NOTE: Jeff was kind. In his example, we finished the chore – the project – we initially intended to complete. Unfortunately, that is often not the case, especially when the project is not one we enjoy!



Jeff Clouse has been managing projects for over 20 years at Federal, State and local government levels. He is a certified ProjectManagement Professional (PMP) who lives very happily in Columbus, Ohio, with his lovely wife, Martha


More Space, Less Filling!

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

One reason for clutter is that we have too much stuff and too littlespace. Is the lack of space the real problem?

If you agree to live in one of the new micro-unit dwellings that Mayor Bloomberg is proposing for New York City – 300 square feet of livingspace - you could truly claim a small space!

Most of us here in the U.S. have plenty of room for the essentials – what we need to live. We even have room for beauty to feed our soul – art, fabric touches, pops of color.


So, what is the rest of the stuff we have crammed into our homes until we cannot relax? As you look around, do you see…

  1. Inherited items valued by someone else? Ask yourself “Am I the owner this item deserves?” Often the answer is NO, the item needs someone who will enjoy ownership, rather than seeing it as a burden.
  2. Things that remind you of the past? If the reminder is a good one, find a way to keep the memory (take a picture) but lose the thing. Bad memory – let it go.
  3. Information you want to chew on? This may be in newspapers, magazines, or books. However, you know you can’t read it all. Make a rule for how long you will keep each item: newspapers must go out on Sunday; take magazines to your DR’s office after 2 months. Choose to read books on a Kindle or borrow from the library so books don’t stack up.
  4. Projects you have started but never complete? Find someone who loves that activity and let him finish it
  5. Lots of those things you love? That may be clothes, knick-knacks, dolls, stuffed animals, or CD’s, whatever. If it makes you happy and you have a place to store it, keep it all. If not start now to pare down your collection.

At some point, too many possessions cannot be tamed even with the best Rubbermaid organizers. Your home can be a calm retreat oncemore as you gift those items you don’t need or love to someone else. Let’s go for: More Space, Less Filling It!!



Book, Friend, Foe?

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

Don’t you love checking out the bookshelves when you visit a home? The books that make the cut to “keepers” tell you a lot about their owner. When you recognize a book you love, there is an immediate feeling of connection to the other person! That makes for a great conversation starter.

With the Kindle and Nook, the day may come when we can’t be nosy anymore! Until then, you may struggle as I do with letting go of books you have collected along the way.

The approach I use at home and with clients is from Judith Kolberg’s book Conquering Chronic Disorganization. She advocates sorting books into three piles:

  1. Best Friends – Those books you love, refer to often, or plan on reading again (and again) are definite keepers.
  2. Acquaintances – These are the books you enjoyed at one time, but have no ongoing desire to revisit. Let a friend enjoy these?
  3. Strangers – Non-fiction you read half-way; fiction that one reading was enough. You have no problem saying goodbye and letting these go to another owner.

For book lovers, this personification of inanimate objects makes perfect sense!

Options for the books you don’t keep:

  • Share with friends
  • Sell at Half-Price Books
  • Donate to Better World Books   (shipping is prepaid)
  • In Columbus, OH area, call Rodger Williams of Crestview Books. He comes to you, makes an offer, then carts away the books you no longer need.

Now you are ready to put your friends back on your newly cleared shelves. Organize by size, subject matter, or author. A designer friend suggests shelving like-colored jackets as a group. Add photos or colorful accent pieces for eye appeal. Nice!