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Adopt these 4 stress-reducing organizing habits before the holidays

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Photo: James Bombales

It’s the most wonderful time of the year — or is it? For many of us, the upcoming holiday season brings far more stress than merriment. Shopping for gifts puts a sizable dent in your savings, fitting in a workout is nearly impossible, and deflecting your family’s questions about your dating life makes you consider a career in public relations. But adopting new habits now can help you stay organized and productive when the holidays roll around. In fact, you may even begin to feel some of that holiday cheer people are always going on about.

To find out which habits lead to a healthy and happy holiday season, we tapped Jane Stoller, a life-biz organizer and founder of Organized Jane. Keep scrolling for her five holiday habit hacks.

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1. Clean out your closets







Photo: James Bombales, design by Jo Alcorn

“I always recommend doing a quarterly overhaul of your closets,” says Stoller. “The closet is the first thing you see when you wake up in the morning — it’s the first opportunity where you can either lose time or gain time. If you waste 10, 20 or 30 minutes in your closet every morning, that can really impact the rest of your day.” Editing your wardrobe makes it easier to pick an outfit for the office holiday party, and donating those items to charity is a fulfilling way to give back.

If you’re looking to treat yourself this holiday season, Stoller suggests investing in velvet hangers. “They’re space-minimizing and they look nice! Velvet hangers won’t bend your clothes out of shape like wire hangers will.”

2. Prioritize productivity







Photo: James Bombales

“There’s a difference between being productive and being busy,” explains Stoller. “I like to use this time management cube I bought on Amazon — you can set it for 5, 15, 30 and 60 minutes.” Allocating a certain amount of time to complete a task can help you stay motivated. Doing the dishes seems like less of a chore when you’re trying to beat the clock. “It’s also great for kids,” says Stoller. “They’re going to be home on holiday break and you might want to limit their screen time. This cube can help with that.”

3. Evaluate your purchases







Photo: m01229/Flickr

“A common organizing mistake people make during this time of the year is buying too much stuff, and then they buy more stuff to put it in,” says Stoller. Before you head to The Container Store to pick up a set of ornament storage boxes, take inventory of what you already have. Could you use egg cartons or Solo cups instead? The same goes for gift buying — it’s okay to avoid the consumerism craze associated with the holidays. “I love organizing things, but it’s useless if you’re just going to store these things for 10 years and not really use them,” says Stoller.

4. Keep track of your receipts







Photo: ben_osteen/Flickr

If your receipts are stored in a drawer that’s overflowing and refuses to shut, you may want to consider an alternative solution. “During this time of year, it’s important to start digital organization with receipt tracking,” notes Stoller. Her go-to is an app called Neat that allows users to capture and upload photos of paper receipts, forward online receipts to a personalized email address, and organize them into folders that are stored on the cloud. The software scans the receipts for important info and does the expense tracking for you.

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New home? Prepare for the unexpected

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(NC) Buying a house, getting married or having your first baby are all major life events that are likely to affect your finances. But whether you’re in the midst of a major life event or not, it’s important to check in on your finances regularly to maintain good financial health.

Your financial health encompasses things like your spending, savings, borrowing and future financial plans. It also means dedicating a set amount of savings for unexpected future events. It can even include optional credit protection insurance, such as TD protection plans, to help cover your debt balances in case of death, a covered critical illness or total disability.

Even though it can be tough to think about the unexpected, life is unpredictable and it’s important to plan for the unexpected. Find more information at td.com.

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Mortgage pitfalls to avoid

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(NC) Throughout life, you may have moments where you’ll make a large purchase or invest in a costly item, like your family home. But whether you’re in the market for your first new property or already have a mortgage, leaving this asset unprotected can be costly.   

Insuring your housing financial debt, as well as debt for other big-ticket items like a new boat for your lakefront cottage or keepsake jewelry like an engagement ring, is a smart investment in your well-being.

To help protect your debt balances like a mortgage, your bank may have optional credit protection insurance products.

“Your home is one of your biggest assets, yet illness can happen at any stage of life. Worrying about your mortgage when the focus should be on health isn’t a situation anyone would wish for,” explains Shirley Malloy, vice president at TD. “Fortunately, we offer mortgage protection to provide coverage for your outstanding balance should you face a covered critical health event.”

Mortgage protection can be purchased whether you’re in the process of applying for a mortgage or already have a home financing solution. But what about protection options for credit card debt?

“Given the unprecedented circumstances of this year, many Canadians are trying to plan for the unexpected to protect themselves and their finances,” says Malloy. “TD balance protection plus is an optional product designed to help you deal with your credit card payment obligations in the event of a covered event, such as loss of employment.”

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Is your internet too slow? It’s probably not you

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(NC) We all know the aggravation of a school lesson that just won’t stop freezing or the family video call that looks more like a photo montage. And, as we adjust to the impact of COVID-19 on our day-to-day, that slow connection can have frustrating consequences.

Working from home and learning remotely, both need fast, stable internet, something not enough Canadians have yet. Even if you have fast devices in your home, if the infrastructure in your area is not optimal, your connection won’t be either.

Right now, cities have the infrastructure needed to ensure access. But rural and remote communities are hugely underserved, with fewer than half having high-speed internet, and fewer than a third of households on reservations have high-speed connections.

Fortunately, change is coming. The Universal Broadband Fund is backing projects across Canada right now to ensure the reliable, high-speed internet connections families need to work, study, access services online, and safely stay in touch with each other.

The fund existed before COVID, but as a response to the pandemic, its timetable has been moved up by four years to a target of 98 per cent of Canadians with high-speed internet access by 2026. With the faster pace, at least 90 per cent of us should be connected by the end of 2021.

The fund is focused on improvements in rural and remote communities across Canada to fix the disconnect between internet access for urban and rural households.  This means more remote work opportunities, better access to remote learning and safer access to healthcare, no matter where you live.

It’s not just for good connections at home, either. The improvements mean much better access to mobile networks on highways between remote communities. The result is better, safer navigation and access to emergency services for your family, even on the road in the middle of nowhere. Mobile projects will be focused on serving Indigenous communities and the roads leading to them.

The shape these improvements will take in your area will depend on where you live. Canada is huge, and its communities are hugely diverse, with diverse needs. Keep an eye out for local projects — they’re a small part of something much bigger.

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