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Managing and Organizing Medications

Monday, March 28th, 2011

We all know for any trip to the DR we will need a list of all medications we take regularly. Usually this is not a big deal … until suddenly it becomes a big deal.

Recently my dear mother-in-law has been struggling to get her medications stabilized after a hospital stay. As a diabetic who also is on Coumadin to thin her blood, trying to balance the interactions is tricky and her medications can change weekly.

The situation can be confusing not only to the patient, but to children and other caregivers who try to keep up with it all.

Both patient and family have to work together to keep medications straight.

The three key pieces necessary to organize and manage medications are:

  1. A written record of medications including the dosage, schedule, what each treats, and the refill schedule.
  2. A reliable method to know when you have taken each dose.
  3. A specified storage place or container to keep the daily prescription drugs that is out of the reach of children.

Why is it so important to have that written record?

Again, each physician is going to ask you for the list, so you may as well go in prepared.

The written record keeps all parties informed as to what the regimen is. You never know when a primary caregiver will become incapacitated. Someone else will be able to step in without a hitch if the medication list is always up to date.

By including refill due dates, it is easier to see at a glance when to contact the pharmacy. That way you are sure keep crucial medicines on hand.
A computerized copy of the medicine chart will make it simple to update when medication or dosage changes. Then you can print out the new chart – 2 copies, one for you, one for your physician.

By a reliable method to keep track of pills taken, do you mean a pill reminder box?

Yes, a weekly pill reminder box is one of the easiest tools to see what you have taken when.
Ideally you will purchase two pill boxes so you can be preparing the next week’s medications before you (or your family member) are done with this week’s. Rather than the standard ugly plastic, get rainbow reminders or discreet traveling kits.

Your third recommendation is to store all daily prescription drugs in one place or container. That seems like a no brainer.

Yes, it does. You would be surprised how easily one prescription bottle can go on vacation if there is not a designated container.

I like using a portable container myself – maybe even one with a handle. It will be easier to carry with you to the place where you can sit comfortably to fill the pill reminders.

Once you get into a system of recording, preparing, and assuring medication is taken on time (whether that is for you or for a loved one) it will become a habit. The less brain power and effort needed, the more likely that action will be performed consistently.

With the right system in place, even laziness (mine, especially) will not interfere with maximum health and safety!

Special offer –  a free downloadable Medication Chart

Image credit: CC-BY lauren nelson

Are You Getting The Right Things Done?

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

Yes, this is the first Monday of the New Year 2011. Did you jump right back into your life and work with gusto? Do you know where you are headed and how to get there?

One of the hardest things about a TO DO list is choosing which task to do first. That choice is difficult to make unless you have a known destination in mind. Then, do you tend to see one task completed, or do you like to dabble with 3-4 in progress at a time?

To find out your productivity quotient, try taking David Allen’s GTD-Q test. This is a “less than 2 minute” activity, so you can do it now. Find out what your strengths and weaknesses are in the “getting things done” arena.

Are you proactive or reactive? Do you have more creative ideas than you ever follow up with? How are you at taking care of details?

Suggested reading after you see your detailed results:

Getting Things Done by David Allen
Time Management from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

Closet Storage Tip: Use Shelf Dividers

Friday, August 13th, 2010

Don’t you hate it when you fold lots of towels or tees and the first time someone grabs one off the shelf the pile tips over?
That’s where closet shelf dividers come in. You can attach these to either solid shelving or the wire shelves in your closets. Just be sure you are ordering the right type! These are a few examples.

Check your big box stores first before you pay shipping.

Organize It


Chrome Shelf Dividers
from OrganizeIt.com
Item No: 014982186409
10” high by 12” deep
Set of 2 – $6.99
These can slide on front of shelf, so fit all widths


Acrylic Shelf Divider
from Amazon.com
8″high x 12″deep
$13.75 each
Pricey, but so elegant! Use for  your MBR closet only?

Lilian Vernon


Wire Shelf Dividers
from Lilian Vernon
SKU: 603989
10 1⁄2″ x 1 3⁄4″ x 12 1⁄4″ H
Set of 2 – $9.98, 4 for $19.96
Expands to fit between most wire shelving slats.

NOTE: Lillian Vernon also has a solid shelf version at a reasonable price, but these fit only 12” shelves.

When you are planning the number to purchase, decide on an odd number of stacks and buy one more divider. (i.e. 3 stacks => 4 dividers)

Finally, if you want to fold with the best of them and fast, this is a neat folding tool!

Michael Graves Closet Organizing System, A Review

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

When I first saw the Michael Graves closet organization system, I thought, “No Way! That will be too much weight on one closet rod!”

With further thought about the possibilities, I have come to the conclusion that the ClosetMax system will work for some folks provided their needs are within certain parameters. Think with me to see if you “qualify” to use this system.

The Michael Graves ClosetMAX System

  • You are committed to keeping only the amount of hats/shoes, sweaters that fit in the hanging bins – a clear “one in, one out” mandate.
  • You want to use the double hang rod in a child’s closet to put his/her hanging clothes within reach.
  • You will use only 3-4 of the hanging storage bins to keep weight at a minimum.
  • You are able to reinforce your existing closet rod that is 6′ or more in length.
  • You are ready to keep the essentials of a spartan wardrobe and let go of mistakes, mismatched items, “weight loss” wannabes, stained and irrepairable items.
  • You will only keep linens used in the adjoining bath here, not the entire linen closet!
  • You want to use the 6 shelf bin to sort and label children’s clothes for each day of the school week.

OK, I am convinced that this system has merit provided it is used carefully. These are the pros and cons to consider when making your decision.


Versatility and cohesive look – The many choices of organizing bins  give lots of options while the neutral palette ties all pieces together.

No tools required – Everything hangs from your existing closet rod.

Multiple double hang options – Each piece has the double hang bar holder, so you can use the lower bar in any configuration.


The weight issue – Everything hangs from your existing closet rod. Be ruthless in trimming down your wardrobe and use this system to keep it in check.

Wasted space – Each of the hanging bins will take 10-20” of closet rod space. Only install the pieces you will fill from top to bottom

Wide access needed – this system may not work for the older narrow closets with limited entry or sliding doors. In order to find what you need quickly, the bins should have direct “reach in” access.

The ClosetMax Collection is now available at Target. You can view the collection online at NeatFreak. This manufacturer blog states that you must purchase from retailer. I guess The Shopping Channel counts because that site sells the above configuration for $89 (S&H extra).

Like any other tool, this closet system will work for the right application. I have been known to hammer the 1” nail I need to hang a picture using the end of a screwdriver. Not the best idea. Use the right tool to get the best results.

Tools: Digitize Your Paper Piles

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

If you are ready to move into the digital age with your paper records, the Neat Company can help.

The Neat Receipts portable scanner can handle receipts and invoices, business cards, and full page scanning. The accompanying software allows you to both organize the information and search for key words for quick retrieval.

“NeatWorks software uses OCR and patented parsing technology to identify and capture key information from scanned documents.  On receipts, it looks for the date, vendor, amount and sales tax.  On business cards, it captures all of the contact information: name, company, title, address, phone, email, website and fax.”

Watch a demonstration of this product to see its capabilities.

Empty your file cabinets onto a thumb drive or your computer’s hard drive to save space and for searchable digital files. How neat!

Favorite Purse Organizer: the Pouchee

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

Pouchee.comFor women there are certain things we have to carry with us at all times: keys, cell phone, lipstick, pens, etc. Put these small things in a big purse and you have instant disorganization! So, we buy purses with lots of little pockets to hold all of our “must haves.” But, to change from one purse to another means to empty out every pocket. What a time waste!

The solution is purse organizers.  The Pouchee is my favorite purse organizer because it is a self-contained unit that you can grab and GO!  There is no wrapping, no sagging, and no assembly. The best way to describe the Pouchee is:  your change purse on steroids.

Black Pouchee exterior

Black Pouchee interior

Within a compact 7×5×3″, you will be able to tote lipstick, cell phone, tissues, a wallet or change purse, all of your credit cards, keys, even a note pad.  The sturdy 2″ metal rings and magnetic closure make it easy to pick up and exchange from one purse to another, or to carry alone when you are on a quick errand. There are enough inner dividers and even a zipper compartment so that all your “must haves” will find a home. You won’t have to dig for keys!

Best of all, the Pouchee comes in 12 different colors in cotton (washable) and 11 colors in leather. You can make a fashion statement with red leather, or support a cause with the Breast Cancer LTD Edition.

Other Pouchee products are available with plenty of pockets including a jewelry traveling case (11×14×2″), and two sizes of automobile console caddies.

I especially wanted to let you know that the Pouchee Purse Organizer is on sale now through Mother’s Day for 10% off your entire purchase. Use the code poucheemom at checkout at the Pouchee.com Store.

Even if the whole package weren’t so practical, I would still love the logo of a kangaroo holding a tiny purse! Cute!

Jerry Seinfeld Had a System

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

In the organizing profession, we are always talking about systems for managing paper, reducing clutter, and making use of time efficiently.  In following up, an organizer will make sure the systems put in place are compementing the client’s personality and lifestyle.

What exactly do we mean by a system? One dictionary definition for system is “orderliness, the use or result of careful planning and organization.” Orderliness is definitely a desired result, but a better description of the system an organizer means is “a way of proceeding, a method or set of procedures for achieving something.”

Jerry Seinfeld had a system. His neighbor, Kramer, found he was spending too much time in the shower and asked for Jerry’s advice.  Jerry said he could take a shower in 10 minutes flat. He had found a procedure that worked for him.

Think about it for a minute… do you reinvent the order that you wash body parts each time you shower, or do you proceed on autopilot?Are you pretty sure that when you are done, you have achieved the desired result? Is dirt and bad smell gone? CHECK! Is skin clean and good smell back? CHECK!

You just followed a system, a certain way of proceeding to get the job done.

The beauty of a workable system is:

1. The system can be documented and repeated.

2. One planning session yields desired results over and over, saving time over all.

3. A  system followed consistently becomes easier as skill increases and habit kicks in.

Kramer did not have a system that was working for him, he questioned the amount of time he was taking and could have used the advice of a professional (Jerry) to become more efficient. If you saw the episode, you know that didn’t happen.  I think Kramer could have used a professional organizer.