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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

Mama Mia! A Job Well Done

Friday, January 28th, 2011

The report from Ellen Limes, project coordinator:

Job Well Done by a fantastic team of Professional Organizers!

We completed the organizing project for the McGhee family of sextuplets. 6 Organizers and 4 1/2 hrs. later, it was done. Check out the Go Month 2011 photo album on this site for the “before and afters”.

The McGhee’s were very pleased with the project and even let us pose for a photo op with the darling babies. A huge thank you to: Terry Cowans, Melanie Dennis, Mary Donovan, Ellen Limes, and now seasoned organizers Deb McRae and Susan Sugar.

My hat is off to you gals. I wish I could have helped, but grandma duties called. My own 6 day old grandson, Benjamin Sawyer Yakel, is just too cute!

Mama Mia GO Month Project

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

As a way to encourage folks in their organizing projects, the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) has designated January as Get Organized Month (GO Month.)  Each January, local NAPO chapters choose a non-profit organization or a deserving individual to receive complimentary organizing services.

This Wednesday, January 26th, The NAPO-Ohio chapter will be organizing for the McGhee family.

Photo by Peters Photography

Mia and Rozonno McGhee of Columbus, became the proud parents of sextuplets on June 10, 2010. There was an outpouring of help and needed donations throughout the Columbus area.

Now that their household has settled down somewhat, Mia reached out to the professional organizing community to help her make order of the diapers, formula, and other supplies she currently has piled in her attic. A team of six pro organizers – Ellen Limes, Terry Cowans, Mary Donovan, Debbie LaRae, Susan Sugar, and Julie Riber – are donating their time and expertise. Stay tuned for “before” and “after” pictures.

Related news articles:

Woman Has Sextuplets: Mia McGhee Second In Ohio History To Do So

Rozonno and Mia McGhee Debut Their Sextuplets

Sextuplet parents return the favor

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
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
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.

ADD-Friendly Organizing from the Pros

Monday, May 10th, 2010

ADD friendly ways to organize your life - coverEven if you don’t think you have any level of Attention Deficit Disorder you may want to read ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life. In contrast to books that say, ”Just do this, this and this and you will be organized,” ADD-Friendly goes further with very specific methods on how to establish order that will last.

The authors have experience with ADD-ers on two fronts. Judith Kolberg is a professional organizer who founded the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization when she realized that traditional organizing techniques did not work for a significant number of people. Giving insight on working with the psychology behind disorganization is Kathleen Nadeau, Ph.D., a nationally recognized authority on adult ADD.

The authors share strategies that ADD folks can use to help themselves, how to use the help of friends and family, and when to look for professional guidance. With the wealth of techniques given to tame the big three- things, time, and paper- you are sure to find one that will work for you!

Even the page formatting accommodates short attention spans with side-labeled chapter titles to encourage skimming, bold headings that break up the page, and large font text that makes it easy to delve deep in the section that grabs your interest.

Get the book and read it before you pass it on to the messy person you think really needs it. You might be surprised how much you will personally benefit!

Read a more in-depth book review from if you want to know more before you recommend this book to a friend.

Clear the Clutter! Part 3 – Keeping Stuff Contained

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

This past Monday I was giving a presentation at a local Senior Center. I met Terry who found me online and had several printed copies of my blog in her hand. Then she asked, “I found your blogs Clear the Clutter Parts 1 and 2, but not Part 3, did you write Part 3 yet?”

I was embarrassed to have to answer, “No, I have not.”

So, you know what’s coming… by golly, this is Part 3! Maintenance doesn’t have to be a bad word. Use these tips to keep your newly organized space contained and going strong.

Room to live

7 Keep it Organized Tips to making “main-tain” more than two rhyming four-letter words:

  1. Store items by categories. Name the category so you and everyone else know what goes in there. Label, if necessary. Sample categories: first aid kit, cold weather accessories (hats, gloves, scarves), everyday office supplies, Stationery/Bill paying supplies, hair care.
  2. Keep items close to where they are used so you don’t have to travel very far to put them away.
  3. Use containers that fit the item to be stored in size, convenience of access, quality of décor. Ask, “Does this container make me want to put things in it, or is it too hard?”
  4. Set limits on how many you truly need. You are the manager here. Too many extraneous things make it hard to find what you really use and love! How many margarine tubs can you use in a month? That’s enough.
  5. Commit to putting things in their homes that you have designated.  Think “There’s no place like home…there’s no place like home.” Click your ruby slippers and let that object go home.
  6. Gather things that have escaped, or are on permanent vacation from their homes into a “Move” box. Then walk around your house delivering them to the doorstep of the room where they belong. Put each one in its home the next time you enter that room.
  7. If you have kids, make a family play date to do some straightening. In each child’s room let him/her be the manager and tell the “employees” where things go. Hold your tongue, mom or dad. Any headway you make is an improvement on what was before. Other children may make some good suggestions that can better be heard by their sibling.

Maintenance issues often are solved in the organizing process.  When systems are put into place in deference to personality and present habits, the odds become much greater that we can “keep it up.” If you are having lots of difficulties maintaining your organized space, it could be that the system itself needs tweaking.

Organization doesn’t have to be boring. Use color and style to ratchet up your desire to keep your space appealing to the eye and inviting as a fun place to hang out.

Final thoughts:

  • Enjoy your space as you currently have it arranged.
  • Be present in NOW.
  • When you leave an area, look for something that you can deliver to the room you are headed to.
  • Try to spend 10 minutes a day putting things away.
  • Devote a concentrated 2 hours per month working on one area in particular.

Living and working in an organized space is more a process than a destination. Over time as you find systems that work for you and are committed to keeping it up, you will see the gradual change. If you need more support, find a professional organizer in your area on the National Association of Professional Organizers webpage. We are a diverse group but all have a passion to help others live balanced and productive lives.