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O-Tip of the Week: Out with the Old

Our O-Tip of the week series we will be providing valuable “OT-Approved Life Hacks” to provide you with simple and helpful solutions for living. 

Often the focus of occupational therapy becomes helping people to organize their activities, their stuff or their time.  So, for the month of April, our series will be all about organization.

It’s hard to stay organized when you simply have too much stuff!  Here are some great tips to help you to be out with the old on a regular basis:

  1.       Say yes:  when you get a call from an organization doing a pick up of used clothing and household items, always say yes.  This will force you to go through a closet or drawer and donate items you no longer need.
  2.       One in one out rule:   this should apply to both kids and adults!  For kids, with each new toy or book they receive have them select an old one to donate to a child in need.  For adults, with each new article of clothing that enters your closet, remove an old one and donate it.
  3.       Let the seasons be your reminder:  each season clean out your closet and drawers and remove items by asking yourself the following questions:

a.      Does this item still fit?

b.      Have I worn this item in the last 12 months?

c.      If I went shopping NOW would I buy this item again?

If you answer NO to any of those… say see you later!

 

 

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O-Tip of the Week: Stay Organized with a ‘Command Center’

Our O-Tip of the week series we will be providing valuable “OT-Approved Life Hacks” to provide you with simple and helpful solutions for living. 

Often the focus of occupational therapy becomes helping people to organize their activities, their stuff or their time.  So, for the month of April our series will be all about organization.

To get your family working together like a well-oiled machine create a “command center.”  Family command center must haves include:

–        A calendar (be sure to write each member’s items in a different colour)

–        Storage for each member’s paperwork / important items

–        A dry erase or chalkboard for leaving messages and reminders for each other

For more ideas on what to include in your command center, and design inspiration check out Good Housekeeping:  Command Center Ideas.

 

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O-Tip of the Week: Maintain Order in Your Drawers

Our O-Tip of the week series we will be providing valuable “OT-Approved Life Hacks” to provide you with simple and helpful solutions for living. 

Often the focus of occupational therapy becomes helping people to organize their activities, their stuff or their time.  So, for the month of April our series will be all about organization.

Never forget what’s in your drawers!  Learn how to fold your and store clothing in your drawers vertically to save space and allow you to see each item.  This video from HGTV provides excellent instructions:

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O-Tip of the Week: Control Clutter

Our O-Tip of the week series we will be providing valuable “OT-Approved Life Hacks” to provide you with simple and helpful solutions for living. 

Often the focus of occupational therapy becomes helping people to organize their activities, their stuff or their time.  So, for the month of April, our series will be all about organization.

Tame the clutter in your entryway and/or mudroom with a little creative organization.  Give each member of the family their own labeled basket to easily stash frequently used items such as hats, gloves water bottles and more. 

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Spring Cleaning 101

It’s Spring and for many of us that means “spring cleaning” time!  Spring cleaning is a great chance to deep clean some of the things you don’t do on a weekly or monthly basis.  Download our free printable Spring Cleaning Checklist for a list of those items we may often overlook to ensure you get a deep clean this spring, leaving you feeling fresh and ready for the beautiful season ahead.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For additional helpful tools and checklists please visit our Printable Resources Page.

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Closet Organization Solutions

With the arrival of spring it’s time to reorganize your closet for the warmer months ahead.  When season’s change it’s the opportune time to prepare for the change in weather by taking stock of what you have, purchasing any items you need, donating any items you no longer wear, and reorganizing so the clothing you need is accessible to you.

Use our printable Seasonal Clothing Inventory Worksheet to help you ensure you have all the items you will need for the changing seasons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For additional helpful tools please visit our Printable Resources Page.

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Organization and Recovery From Brain Injury

Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

Last stop for Brain Injury Awareness Month – my favorite topic – organization!

photo 1

Yes, this is my drawer system to store pens, pencils, and markers. And if I find a pencil in the pen drawer look out! Perhaps being organized and knowing how to find what I need when I need it is one of the many ways I manage the demands of being a business owner and mother of four. But the reality is that we all have different levels of energy, tolerance and mental attention and these things can become depleted after a brain injury. So, if you were an energizer bunny with a DD battery before your injury, chances are your new batteries have been replaced with some AAA’s. This means that daily activities will take more time, more energy, and you will need to recharge sooner. So, considering this, do you really want to spend your valuable energy looking for stuff?

Consider that you have 10 units of brain capacity and energy when you wake in the morning. Every activity you have on your “to do” list takes one unit. Going for a walk, preparing supper, managing the laundry, responding to emails, attending an appointment, completing personal care, and having coffee with a friend all drain your battery. Some of these activities are necessary, some can be put off, and others are enjoyable. So what if you spend one unit of energy looking for your phone, keys, that bill that needs to be paid, your agenda, or those new runners you bought yesterday? What activity will come off your list when you have spent your energy to find something that with some organization would have taken you no time at all? Maybe you will call your friend to cancel, or order supper in again. Maybe the laundry will wait to tomorrow, or those emails will just keep accumulating. But this is unnecessary because you had the energy and cognitive ability to manage these things, it just became misdirected.

Often the focus of occupational therapy becomes helping people to organize their activities, their stuff or their time. Schedules and consistency are keys to helping people to understand the size of their battery and the amount of units each activity takes. This can be difficult when working with clients who did not need to be organized before an injury or illness, but the necessity of this following cannot be ignored. Even small steps to help people to be more organized can have a huge impact.

Helping clients with brain injury to become more organized can take many forms, depending on the client, the nature of their problems, and how they previously organized their stuff and their time. What I tend to witness is the time lost and sheer frustration that clients experience looking for cell phones, wallets and keys. Often, cell phones become used as a “second brain” assisting people to maintain a schedule and make appointments (calendar), remember things (task lists), have access to support systems (contacts, calls, text, email), and negotiate their environment (maps and GPS). If this gadget is so important, it is even more important that people know where it is. Having a catch tray by the front door, in their room, or a standard docking station can be helpful. Wallets and keys should also be left in a consistent location. I am sure we can all relate to that feeling of looking for our keys in their usual spot to find they are missing. But if you lack the ability to efficiently look for these, it could completely derail your day.

After the day to day items have a place, then we can work to simplify other spaces that are identified barriers to function. Perhaps the kitchen has become too cluttered to allow for efficient meal preparation, or the bills are piling up because these are lost in a stack of papers. In the world of insurance I find that clients become overwhelmed by paperwork and this results in missed appointments, non-response to time sensitive material, or failure to submit for expense reimbursement. Slowly, over time and with suggestions and tools (filing cabinets, labels, folders, a pen drawer!) clients become able to more efficiently spend their units of energy on things that are more important, or more fun and ideally, learn to transfer these strategies into other life areas independently – like work, school or parenting.

Originally posted June 30 2014

To read more of our articles on brain injury check out our section on Brain Health.

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Hoarding and Decluttering: 10 Suggestions to Free your Home and Mind

Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

We all have keepsakes that are difficult to throw away. Personally, I still have a bag of stuffed animals from when I was a kid (downsized from the four garbage bags of stuffies I had when I got married), and also have a box called “sentimental stuff” that is filled with cards, letters, and keepsakes that I just can’t emotionally part with (poems from my great-grandmother, the last card my grandparents sent me before they passed away, etc).

While these items and “stuff” may be taking up some closet space, they do not significantly affect my ability to function.  That is when being a “pack rat” can cross a line and refers to the subset of the population whose life is significantly impacted from ‘stuff’ building up in their homes. In 2013 “hoarding disorder” officially became a clinical diagnosis, and it is estimated to affect 3-5% of the population.

Hoarding is defined as: persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions, regardless of the value others may attribute to these possessions. People with this problem accumulate a large number of possessions that often fill up or clutter active living areas of the home or workplace to the extent that their intended use is no longer possible” (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition).

This is a real disorder that has a negative impact on an individual’s emotional, physical, social, financial and even legal aspects of life. Hoarding can get in the way of a person’s ability to participate in daily meaningful occupations, which can result in a deterioration in health and wellness.

It is important for individuals struggling with hoarding to seek treatment. The two current “best treatments” for hoarding disorder are pharmacological and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT recognizes that a person’s thoughts and feelings and behaviors are interconnected and influence one another. Occupational Therapists can use CBT to help someone with hoarding disorder address their disruptive thoughts and feelings to decrease the behavior of hoarding.

While the majority of the population does not struggle from hoarding disorder, the build-up of clutter in a home can sneak up on all of us, and lead to negative consequences such as a disorganized home, feeling discouraged and overwhelmed, and the frustration of misplacing or taking time to find items, to name a few. Here are some unique ways to decrease clutter in the home:

1. Start with 5 minutes. It can be overwhelming to start the process of decluttering, therefore, start with 5 minutes a day and be satisfied with your accomplishments at the end of this time.

2. Give one item away every day for a year. Check out www.365lessthings.com, a blog about a woman who gives away one item a day.

3. Start by filling one bag. Whether it is a donation bag or a trash bag see how quickly you can fill one bag of items to give away or throw out.

4. Do the “Closet Hanger Experiment”. Hang all your clothes with hangers in one direction. After you wear an item replace the hanger in the closet facing the other way. After one year throw away all the clothes on hangers facing the original side – you did not wear these items for a whole year!

5. Do the “12-12-12” challenge. Find 12 things to throw out, 12 things to donate and 12 things to be returned to their proper place in your home.

6. Use the “Four-Box Method”. Systematically go through each room in the house and assign every item to one of four boxes: trash, give away, keep, or relocate. Every item must be assigned something! Remember – you do not have to do this all at once, take your time to go through each room!

7. Make a list and set a time. Make a list of areas in your house you want to clean/declutter then set a time for each one (i.e. 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 40 minutes). Start with the first thing on the list and then STOP when time is up. If you did not finish that area within the given time, set a new time and try again later!

8. Try the “Travelers Method”. Think about how small a suitcase is and how you have to prioritize items when packing for a trip. Use the same mindset when decluttering.

9. Rearrange the room. Every few months rearrange furniture in major rooms (i.e. couches, desks, shelves). This will force you to find the junk that has been collecting throughout your home.

10. Play “Musical Chairs” with your closet. Remove all your clothes and hangers from the closet. Take away 5-10 hangers. Start to put your clothes back one at a time, each time assessing whether to keep the clothing item. STOP once you run out of hangers and donate remaining clothes.

A few other useful tips can include calling a friend to come to help – then reciprocate the offer, or call for a free pick-up of household items and once this is on the calendar make sure you fill a box to donate!  Diabetes and Cerebral Palsy are a few local (Ontario) programs that turn your unneeded items into charity.

Decluttering can seem like a daunting process, but using these strategies, and setting small attainable goals, can help you have a peaceful, clutter free home and mind!

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30 Days Of Organization

This August Entwistle Power has launched a social media campaign dedicated to helping you clear the clutter and get organized! Being organized, at home and at work, helps increase productivity, decrease anxiety and stress, and can help teach responsibility to children. Check out these great organization tips from WebMD and follow our campaign using #organizedOT for daily tips and tricks to help get yourself and your life in perfect order.

WebMD:  10 Ways to Cut Clutter in Your Home

 

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The Brain Injury Rehabilitation of Disorganization

Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

Last stop for Brain Injury Awareness Month – my favorite topic – organization!

photo 1

 

Yes, this is my drawer system to store pens, pencils, and markers. And if I find a pencil in the pen drawer look out! Perhaps being organized and knowing how to find what I need when I need it is one of the many ways I manage the demands of being a business owner and mother of four. But the reality is that we all have different levels of energy, tolerance and mental attention and these things can become depleted after a brain injury. So, if you were an energizer bunny with a DD battery before your injury, chances are your new batteries have been replaced with some AAA’s. This means that daily activities will take more time, more energy, and you will need to recharge sooner. So, considering this, do you really want to spend your valuable energy looking for stuff?

Consider that you have 10 units of brain capacity and energy when you wake in the morning. Every activity you have on your “to do” list takes one unit. Going for a walk, preparing supper, managing the laundry, responding to emails, attending an appointment, completing personal care, and having coffee with a friend all drain your battery. Some of these activities are necessary, some can be put off, and others are enjoyable. So what if you spend one unit of energy looking for your phone, keys, that bill that needs to be paid, your agenda, or those new runners you bought yesterday? What activity will come off your list when you have spent your energy to find something that with some organization would have taken you no time at all? Maybe you will call your friend to cancel, or order supper in again. Maybe the laundry will wait to tomorrow, or those emails will just keep accumulating. But this is unnecessary because you had the energy and cognitive ability to manage these things, it just became misdirected.

Often the focus of occupational therapy becomes helping people to organize their activities, their stuff or their time. Schedules and consistency are keys to helping people to understand the size of their battery and the amount of units each activity takes. This can be difficult when working with clients who did not need to be organized before an injury or illness, but the necessity of this following cannot be ignored. Even small steps to help people to be more organized can have a huge impact.

Helping clients with brain injury to become more organized can take many forms, depending on the client, the nature of their problems, and how they previously organized their stuff and their time. What I tend to witness is the time lost and sheer frustration that clients experience looking for cell phones, wallets and keys. Often, cell phones become used as a “second brain” assisting people to maintain a schedule and make appointments (calendar), remember things (task lists), have access to support systems (contacts, calls, text, email), and negotiate their environment (maps and GPS). If this gadget is so important, it is even more important that people know where it is. Having a catch tray by the front door, in their room, or a standard docking station can be helpful. Wallets and keys should also be left in a consistent location. I am sure we can all relate to that feeling of looking for our keys in their usual spot to find they are missing. But if you lack the ability to efficiently look for these, it could completely derail your day.

After the day to day items have a place, then we can work to simplify other spaces that are identified barriers to function. Perhaps the kitchen has become too cluttered to allow for efficient meal preparation, or the bills are piling up because these are lost in a stack of papers. In the world of insurance I find that clients become overwhelmed by paperwork and this results in missed appointments, nonresponse to time sensitive material, or failure to submit for expense reimbursement. Slowly, over time and with suggestions and tools (filing cabinets, labels, folders, a pen drawer!) clients become able to more efficiently spend their units of energy on things that are more important, or more fun and ideally, learn to transfer these strategies into other life areas independently – like work, school or parenting.

 

 

To read more of our articles on brain injury check out our section on Brain Health.