Let’s Simplify Pill Management
Whether you are a caregiver to an older adult or a mom managing a family who values wellness, you might find that administering pills can become almost a full-time job. But here are 7 steps to ease your pill pain.
I want to share a system that can simplify pill management and increase consistency in taking meds and supplements for everyone. The secret is the pillbox!
What You Need
Here are some tools you might need for this process.
- Pillboxes with morning, noon, evening, and bedtime compartments that you can find at your favorite pharmacy or Amazon)
- Label maker (optional)
- Medium to large plastic bin or container (these Multi-Purpose bins work wonders, as well as my favorite plastic box ever created).
Devote 30 minutes to this task every week. Make it a commitment and calendar this activity!
- Place all prescribed and OTC meds and supplements that household members regularly take in the plastic bin or tote. The amount and size of pill bottles on hand determine the size of your container or box. This step only happens once because this bin will become the forever home of ingestible medicines and supplements at home. You may benefit from a second plastic container for all OTC medicines NOT taken regularly (like cough syrup, pain killers, allergy medicine, etc.)
- Write each person’s name (or initial) on each bottle lid. Include the intake frequency of that product. For example, “M 1-am/2-pm” indicates that person “M” takes one of those pills in the morning and two in the evening. Repeat this process with all bottles to make it easy to identify from the top inside the bin.
- Label each side of each pillbox with the person’s name taking the meds/supplements from that box. Assign a pillbox to each person taking any product regularly.
- Line all pillboxes on your counter or table and open their lids
- Select all bottles of one person and place in their pillbox all medication and supplements that person takes, according to the timing and dosage needed. Alternatively, you might prefer to work with one product at a time. In this case, distribute that medication into the pillboxes of everyone that takes that product.
- Repeat the process for each person or per product bottle (depending on your preferred method).
- Close all pillbox lids when each box is complete with all medications and supplements for that individual.
Where and Why
Ingestible medicines and supplements are best kept in the kitchen, not in the bathroom. The bathroom humidity affects the product’s power. It also makes sense to keep medication and supplements in the kitchen because we ingest these, usually with water or another beverage. The pantry or a cabinet in the kitchen are optimal places for these pillboxes and the container with bottles.
On the other hand, things we apply to our skin, hair, teeth, or nails go in the bathroom. This group includes things like rubbing alcohol, H2O2, antibiotic creams, muscle pain patches, cotton, gauze, bandages, and the like.
It is simpler to take medications and supplements when we do not need to sort the product, open several bottles, and make the same decisions over and over, several times per day. Therefore, it makes sense to streamline this process.
When medicines and supplements are in one single place, it is easier to find what we need at any given moment. This central location of meds and supplements also facilitates knowing what needs reordering and when. It also eliminates having multiple open bottles of the same product.
The best thing about this process is its inherent accountability – we can easily see who did not take their supplements or medicines and when just by looking at the pillbox. Thus, this system also increases the consistency in taking medications.
Make It Happen
Hopefully, these five steps described above will make it easier for everyone to take their meds and supplements consistently. But to make it happen:
- Devote 30 minutes to this task every week.
- Place this activity on the calendar as a recurrent, weekly activity.
- Make it a commitment.
Pro-Tip: Consolidate medicine when it arrives at your home. Usually, medication bottles come half empty. There is no reason to have several half-empty bottles of the same product, which takes a lot of space and leads to expired medication around the home.
That laundry basket seems to travel around the house and never gets emptied. Do you know that basket? Families don’t have time to finish the laundry. It looks like cleaning up the kitchen is another problem for most people. It seems as if the most significant pitfall in home management is not using those skills that make us succeed at work, at home. A lack of systems and time management at home might be to blame.
I started thinking about this the other day when I counted over ten car trips in a single day. These many trips were not an exception. I have three children, and I never had a chauffeur, a maid, a nanny, or a cook. There was a time in our lives that the average was fourteen car trips a day.
I have worked outside the home during most of my children’s lives, developed my business, and worked with clients. But through it all, the house always looked and felt like the ideal place to rest and recharge.
My life is no different than yours when it comes to time demands. Unfortunately, I have no magic or external help. What I have are good time management skills and systems. These are things we can all learn and apply in the home environment.
I have identified a common pitfall among household managers — not acting as managers at home. Many people do not apply the skill set that makes them successful at work in their homes. Why not?
If you work outside the house, you have managed to keep your job. However, doing so has probably required staying on top of things, not allowing anything to slip through the cracks.
Regardless of the type of work you do, there are out-of-the-ordinary projects and day-to-day ones. And those routine tasks most likely comprise the backbone of your job. Whether you supervise those tasks or execute them, the responsibility is yours. If you stopped ensuring those processes were thoroughly performed, things would go south rapidly.
Why can’t we all plan and execute like actual managers at home? One might think it is because home is where we rest. We don’t want to think of chores and duties at home.
But the irony here is that the less attention you pay to chores and duties, the more chaotic your home environment will be, and the less you can rest and relax at home.
Looking for the million things you can’t find in the home, buying duplicates, wasting time, effort, and money, forgetting essential family commitments, or not having a dining room table available to gather around.
Each time we neglect our home duties, we add a new layer of chaos to our most intimate environment. We invite in the energetic shift that such chaos brings. Are you sure your home is where you want to rest and forget about the stress of your job?
Running the home like a well-oiled machine requires planning what needs to happen. Remember that what gets scheduled gets done. You would not leave it to chance or rely on “when you have time” to make client appointments at work or to write that report for the boss, right?
So then, why not schedule house chores and involve everyone in the household? This way, everyone contributes to the home and learns to execute these domestic chores. This knowledge is essential. Your kids don’t want to go to college to realize they don’t even know how to boil an egg.
Much of our household stress would decrease if we could transfer some of the management skills we proudly display at work to the home and start planning and scheduling the many menial household tasks.
Planning allows us to control when and how these things happen, while scheduling means that those chores will stop interfering with our lives — they will be part of it.
Social distancing and quarantine times, are they over? It’s hard to say. We’ve been too long on this. So, all that time we have been at home and with our loved ones? Make this time count!
Some of the practices we observed during 2020 and 2021 are still here, and some are here to stay.
For example, many companies have realized they are more productive when employees are at home. Therefore, more and more people are adopting this trend as the new normal.
In addition, some schools have kept remote learning as a permanent alternative for the students. As a result, we still share our home space (and for more extended periods) with other household members.
When we are closer together under one roof, clutter and lack of systems seem to hit us harder. Thriving under these conditions requires adjustments for most of us.
But change can be very positive, depending on how we take it. I, for one, have discovered a new joy in being around my husband and children. We have created a productive and harmonious work and play environment for the most part. And I don’t need to mention how ecstatic our dog is with this at-home arrangement.
But living, working, studying, and playing in closer proximity to each other for more extended periods may cause previously considered menial details about our space to appear more significant and bother us.
So here are some things that might help us enjoy our new way of co-existing to make the best of the situation.
Keep It Clutter-Free And Clean
- Strategically place boxes of tissue throughout the house.
- Have a trash can in every room and take out the trash daily.
- Have antibacterial soap or sanitizer on every sink.
- Wash towels and sheets more often.
- Handle your incoming mail daily, rapidly, and efficiently. The last thing you need is more paper clutter around your home.
- Take 15 minutes at the beginning of each day to put the house in order-clean the counters, vacuum floors/carpets, and open up shades or curtains to let in the sunlight.
- Gather dirty dishes and utensils inside the dishwasher throughout the day so counters remain clear. It requires putting away clean dishes every night before bedtime or first thing in the morning, so the day starts with an empty dishwasher.
- Get caught up with your laundry as soon as possible. Laundry is often the nemesis of many households. You don’t need the added clutter right now. Read my laundry process blog if you feel this is a weak point.
Embrace a Positive Attitude
- Make beds every day – this gives you a sense of accomplishment to start your day.
- Get dressed as if you were going to work or school – when you dress up, this shows in your demeanor on the phone and Zoom calls.
Enjoy Family Time
- Go on walks outside with the family – if we are together at home, we can take advantage of that.
- Watch a movie or play board games as a family – welcome back game and movie nights.
- Get to know each other better!
- Develop a system to ensure everyone takes their supplements and medications consistently.
- Grocery shopping needs strategic planning to have what we need while avoiding waste. Although we eat more meals at home, buying more than we need leads to food waste. Have a well-planned system.
- Go to bed and wake up at the usual time every day and keep meal schedules – these two practices allow the body to maintain a routine and feel better.
- Assign spaces for each household member to work or study. These spaces can vary by day, but it is easy to control clutter and to have an increased focus if everyone has a space on their own to operate each day.
- Avoid distractions by making sure your pets are cared for before starting your business or school day. Ensure your pets have adequate food and water, have gone outside (if applicable), and have safe and comfy areas to rest.
- Try listening to Binaural Beats using headphones while you work or study to boost productivity. Binaural Beats in the Beta pattern may help promote concentration and alertness. Listening to Beta waves helps to increase focus, productivity, critical thinking, decision making, situational awareness, and memory. Beta waves also help increase your energy, sharpen your hearing, and improve overall well-being.
- To take productivity to the next level, combine the binaural beats experience with the diffusion of essential oils that enhance your mood and increase brain activity. Young Living Essential Oils are the purest oils you can find. Some oils that improve brain function and affect mood are Vitality, Joy, Awaken, Motivation, Frankincense, Peppermint, Sandalwood, and Lavender.
I believe this time will show us that we can move forward in more productive and efficient ways than we ever thought. As a result, we will arrive at a better place as a society.
In the minds of most, cleaning and organizing are two activities that go together. We think of a messy place and we imagine it both disorganized and dirty. For the same reason, Organizers get asked over and over if we clean, too. When asked this question, I politely smile and say, “Well, I clean my house, of course!” So, you talk dirty to me and I will tell you some cleaning secrets now.
I do have to say that most Organizers, myself included, refuse to place items neatly organized in dirty spaces. Therefore, we do our best to clean some or engage the client in doing the cleaning, so the project ends at its best. But I am the first one to tell the client to please postpone any special cleaning project until the home is organized – for best results on the cleaning.
So Many (Unused) Products!
As an Organizer, I admit I am impressed by the number of cleaning products I find in every household, especially those that need the most cleaning. There is often a plethora of products for every purpose imaginable, as well as multiples of the same products and cleaning tools.
Another factor that confounds me is the presence of dirty cleaning tools. It does not make sense to clean with dirty tools. It would make sense to clean those tools when we finish cleaning, so we keep the clean tools in our newly clean space.
But since it seems like this rarely happens, I feel free to suggest to my clients a handful of multipurpose products and tools that accomplish many cleaning jobs and eliminate most of the extra work.
What You Need
In my opinion, these are the only products and tools you need. Don’t overcomplicate your life and save space in your cabinets and laundry area.
NOTE: These cleaning alternatives might not be preferred options for the environment since they are chemicals and disposable items. Some are not the most cost-effective either. But these products get the job well done with a minimum of effort, which is what most people need. They keep the tasks simple and are a less expensive alternative than engaging a professional cleaning company. You can also research natural alternatives to the chemicals, especially recipes created with Young Living essential oils, baking soda, and vinegar.
1) Swiffer Sweeper Dry + Wet All Purpose Floor Mopping and Cleaning Starter Kit with Heavy Duty Cloths Swiffer wet (initial kit)
2) Swiffer Sweeper Dry Refills – forget the broom and dustpan!
3) Swiffer Sweeper Wet Mopping Cloths – you do not want to deal with a mop and a pail anymore, right?
4) Swiffer Dusters 360 Extended Handle (long handle kit plus refills)
5) Clorox Ultra Clean Disinfecting Wipes (1 container per bathroom and 1 in the kitchen)
6) Clorox Free & Clear Multi-Surface Cleaner
7) Scotch-Brite Multi-Purpose Scrub Sponge (4-6) – these are the best sponges, even for doing the dishes manually
8) Ajax All-Purpose Powder Cleaner with Bleach or Comet Cleanser (one or the other, but just one) – for when additional scrubbing power with bleach is needed.
9) Assortment of brushes with and w/o handle and different kinds of bristles
10) Gloves (you need to protect those hands!)
11) Arm & Hammer Clean Shower Daily Shower Cleaner (1 bottle per shower or tub) – this product is truly a miracle. Tilex has its own version as well.
12) Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Sponges (tough stains, marks on walls, even cleaning the tub w/o bleach)
13) Microfiber rags (4-5) – Use dry with Windex for stainless steel, glass, and mirror. Use it to dry off washed surfaces. Use wet with the multipurpose cleaner to clean all surfaces.
14) Clorox toilet wand kit (one per toilet) – The kit leaves in the bathroom by the toilet. The sponge is single-use, disposable. The sponge contains the cleaning agent, so there’s no need to have an additional product. Do not flush the sponge. Dispose of it in the trash.
15) Windex (regular kind – just 1 bottle)
16) Pledge Multi Surface Antibacterial Everyday Cleaner – If you have special surfaces such as wood, use this product instead of Clorox Multipurpose. Use with a dry microfiber rag.
17) Cleaning caddy – Keep all your products in the caddy, so they can be moved around your house. Only one set of products is needed. You want a caddy that is rectangular, with straight angles, and not overly divided.
18) Trash bags in sizes according to trashcans in the home (very important to always line your trashcans. To avoid ruining the look a nice-looking trashcan, use transparent bags. Pro tip: knot the rim of the bag to make it fit the border of the trashcan. Hide the excess bag between the trashcan rim and the bag rim.
19) If you have dogs/cats, you will want these two things:
a) Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Lithium-Ion Cordless Hand Vacuum
b) Evercare Pet Extreme Stick Plus 100 Sheet Lint Roller (and extra rollers) Or some other product with this purpose. Pro-tip to use lint rollers: do not dispose of the cover. After using the product, peel off the used sheet and leave the new sheet ready to use protected with the original cover.
Follow A Process
- Assign a day to wash towels and bedsheets. A good idea to simplify your life: have only one complete set of towels per person, per bathroom, and one set of sheets per bed that truly complement the décor. When it is laundry day, wash, dry, and place them back in use. No need for storage space. No need to fold.
- Wash bathroom rugs at least once a month.
- Assign a day for each household person to do their laundry (from start to finish on that day). That way, family members take turns and there are no loads of clothing waiting around for washing.
- Accumulate all dirty dishes and utensils inside the dishwasher. At night, run the dishwasher. Empty the dishwasher completely and put everything away, first thing in the morning (or before bed). There is no need to keep that strainer or piles of dirty dishes around the kitchen day after day.
- If you have dogs or cats, it’s probably a good idea to vacuum once a day or at least once every other day. With the cordless vacuum, this is truly therapy.
- Keeping disinfecting wipes in the kitchen and bathroom makes it easy to wipe off surfaces as often as needed.
- At least once a week, clean the inside of toilets with the toilet wand and the outside with the Clorox wipes. Clean all surfaces with wipes and clean the mirrors with Windex.
- Keeping a bottle of Clean Shower in your shower or tub helps you use this product daily. When you do this, this product virtually eliminates the need to clean the shower! Probably once a month you’ll want to scrub the tiles and all other areas with Ajax or a Mr. Clean Eraser sponge.
- Dust all that you can see with the duster. It is so easy to work with this product, that you’ll get in the dusting mood quite fast. When finished, just trash the duster.
- Always clean top to bottom and left to right so you can keep track of what has been done. Also, dirt falls on the floor and you want to leave the floor for last.
- Finally, use your vacuum all over, go over the floor with the dry Swiffer if desired, and finally, use the wet Swiffer to clean the floors.
- Don’t forget to dress your beds, re-place bathroom towels, and change all trashcan liners at the end.
- Get yourself a wonderful glass of wine and take a bubble bath in your clean tub!
All this is exponentially easier if your house is uncluttered and organized. If it is not, let’s start with that, shall we? Then you’ll see how easy it is to maintain your home clean.
One way or another I tend to end up having my best client sessions in the bathroom. It is interesting (and sometimes hysterical) how consistently and naturally this happens! Let me explain.
There is a lot to be explored about how people use their space and how they move around. As an Organizer, it is important for me to retrace the clients’ steps throughout their space and understand their routines to see areas of opportunities to improve their systems and their lives. Only by retracing my clients’ steps and moving in their spaces the way they do or having them show me how that happens, can I best notice their roadblocks to efficiency or where their systems fail. This is how amazing solutions come to life.
When clients understand the importance of this, they get on board. Sometimes they get so excited, they take me by the hand and want to show me how they do virtually everything around the house. So, even though this happens all over the house, the fact is that most of the time we end up in the bathroom!
And We End Up In The Bathroom
One example of a bathroom meeting is about the shower caddy. I personally have always been against typical shower caddies that we hang on showerheads. With those, you would have the water streaming in your face while you reach out for your products. Do you shower facing the shower or with your back to the water stream?
It seems this is a debate comparable to which is the correct way to install the toilet paper roll. If you don’t like the traditional shower caddy, for example, you will need a different solution. Maybe the corner tension pole with baskets is for you. But wait! What if you have high or vaulted ceilings or crown moldings in the bathroom ceiling? There might be unforeseen challenges, but I will always find a solution! It is important that we walk the walk together.
As an Organizer, the right way will be the way that my clients prefer. But whatever that way might be, being aware of how they move around and use their space allows me to see where I can improve their systems or suggest alternatives to make life easier.
This Truly Happened
Oh… but timing and context can make this really interesting! I can’t help but recount one of these bathroom adventures.
A man called me once to help him develop systems, especially in relation to his clothes, bathroom, and laundry routines. This was a very interesting multi-level, high profile, bachelor’s apartment. Because he needed systems in those areas, it was important to explore his routine and habits regarding his clothes. We started the tour of the place and eventually made our way to the third story, where his major area of concern was; the closet/bathroom area. Sure enough, as fate would have it, his girlfriend arrived in time just to hear me say: “Would you like to undress in the bedroom instead of here in the bathroom? Luckily, she knew her boyfriend had hired a Professional Organizer. She was absolutely gracious. Then we started talking about where she would undress! The system needed to work for both, after all.
I love my job! Although every case is different, it seems like we always end up discussing productivity and efficiency in the bathroom, though.