Need help getting organized in 2009? (Upstate Today)

Need help getting organized in 2009? (Upstate Today)
This undated photo provided by e-pill, LLC shows the e-pill Cadex Medication Reminder Watch. The watch has 12 alarms, including reminder text messages up to 36 characters. The alarm beeps every three minutes for up to four hours until the person presses a button to turn it off. Use the watch for other reminders as well.

Upstate Today (South Carolina)

Need help getting organized in 2009?

There are plenty of new tools to help, says Standolyn Robertson, president of the National Association of Professional Organizers, which sponsors Get Organized Month every January.

Some suggestions from the experts on how to keep track of everything from schedules to finances.


There are lots of products to help with organizing schedules, from Web calendars to Go Mom! planners. Most professional organizers recommend an erasable wall planner and assigning a color to each family member.

Make sure the board is in a place where everyone can see it, says Alicia Rockmore, CEO of Buttoned Up Inc. in Los Angeles. Children over the age of 8 should write in their own schedules, so the board should not be too high, she said.

Lisa Zaslow, of Gotham Organizers, is a fan of the WhoMi On-the-Wall Family Calendar,, which has separate color-coded lines for up to four family members.

Stephanie Vozza, founder of The Organized Parent, also suggests parents use a separate personal planner. Many people make plans when they are not at home, she says. Transfer pertinent information in the personal planner to the master calendar, she said.

For coordinating with people who don't all live in the same house, such as divorced parents, use a service like Google Calendar, says Karin Stewart, president of Daily Mastery in Hoboken, N.J.

Heather Cabot, 38, Web Life Editor for Yahoo! recommends, a Web service that helps families manage schedules, shopping, to-do lists and chores.


There's no shortage of help in this department, with several Web sites and gadgets promising to make shopping easier. Create a list on Plan menus with help from, a site that includes recipes, shopping lists and cooking tips. Download coupons from

Vozza said she plans her meals once a week and shops from a master list that she prints off her computer. Shopping with a list helps cut down on impulse buying, says Kim Danger, family savings expert for And planning meals helps avoid takeout temptation, she says.

Zaslow said sometimes specialized grocery list products can be confusing since they list so many items. Much cheaper and easier is a plain pad attached to the fridge with a magnet, she said.

"As soon as you see you are running low on an item, add it to the list," she said in an e-mail. "You can keep a pen handy by attaching it to the fridge with some Velcro."

Rockmore recommends SmartShopper, a voice-activated grocery list maker. ( (It also works for errands). Robertson suggests the IntelliScanner Kitchen Companion,, a pocket-sized bar code scanner. You scan items as you throw them away and then connect the scanner to the computer to print the categorized list.

For coupons, Danger suggests a plastic coupon organizer with tabs for various categories. Some grocery stores, such as Kroger, also allow shoppers to download coupons to their loyalty cards. So there's no clipping required.

Bottom line: "Figure out what works for you and stick with it," said Vozza. She knows someone who has a map of the grocery store and writes her list on the map, according to where the items are located.


Counting calories, carbs and fat grams can be annoying.

But several Web sites and gadgets promise to make the process less tedious, such as the online calorie counter, or the Cal-Carb Clicker, a small device that tracks calories, carbs, fat grams or whatever you are counting.

"The USDA has a database and virtually all of the calorie counters use that as the base," said Karen Miller-Kovach, chief science officer for Weight Watchers. "Then often, they'll add to it."

For people on the go, Sensei for Weight Loss ( transforms a cell phone into a virtual dietitian, sending personalized menus and shopping lists. And Weight Watchers Online subscribers and eTools members can search and calculate point values on their BlackBerry, iPhone or Windows Mobile 6 device.

If this all sounds too technical, use the old-fashioned pen and paper. Miller-Kovach said when it comes to food diaries, it's more the act of writing it down than the precision that matters.

For exercise, many calorie counting sites include an exercise diary. If you want to log more details, such as reps, weight, distance and even heart rate, check out


There's no need to spend any money to track finances, says Jean Chatzky, author of the upcoming "The Difference: How Anyone Can Prosper In Even The Toughest Times."

"You can do it with pencil and paper, simply making notes of everything you spend on a daily basis and then putting those expenditures into categories once a week," she says.

Some traditionalists recommend the envelope system, says Amber Kostelny-Cussen, president of Amber's Organizing in Chicago. Set a cash budget, put the cash in an accordion plastic envelope dividing it into categories. When the cash is gone, you're done spending in that category, she says.

If you want to use software, Kostelny-Cussen recommends Quicken. You can also create a simple Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, she says.

For the Web savvy, Chatzky suggests using a money management Web site, such as mint, Wesabe or Geezeo, which aggregate your financial accounts, track your spending patterns and help you stick to a realistic budget.


If you keep forgetting to pack your son's lunch or take your medicine, there are plenty of things you can do besides sticking post-it-notes everywhere.

"Send yourself e-mail," says Robertson. "Call yourself and leave a message. Make a list in a notebook and carry it everywhere."

Stacy DeBroff, 47, founder of, suggests peel and stick chalkboard panels ( Andrea Cousens, 38, a mom of four in Naperville, Ill. sets Outlook reminders. Stewart's Outlook calendar and cell phone are synchronized, so gets reminders even when she's on the go.

Several Web sites and gadgets also make it easy to remember things. sends free text message reminders to cell phones instantly or at a date and time specified.

A keychain digital memo recorder records voice messages up to 20 seconds long. And the e-pill Cadex Medication Reminder Watch ( has 12 alarms, including reminder text messages up to 36 characters. The alarm beeps every three minutes for up to four hours until the person presses a button to turn it off. Use the watch for other reminders as well.
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