Organizing The “Stuff” In Our Lives

By Tricia Hoekwater


Organizing the “stuff” in our lives is a daily challenge.  Many of us procrastinate with filing bills, statements or documenting our legacy.

Who keeps track of all the information that relates to your family, health, financial life and personal relationships?

How are you organized?

  • In a folder?
  • In a life-cabinet?
  • In a notebook?
  • In your head?

If you suddenly had to take over for a loved one, would you even know whom to contact to get the documents you need?

Susan shared with me her story about her father:  He began to have a steady decline in his mental health and sadly, it was not apparent until it was too late.  As Susan took over care for her father, she was quickly overwhelmed with the magnitude of work.  She did not know her father’s financial picture, where he banked, account numbers, investments, what type of insurance he owned or did not own, the contact information for his healthcare provider, clergy contact and more.

Susan had to take a leave of absence from her job to shift through the stacks of paper she could find and search for key documents she needed to manage her father’s care.  It took months and required forwarding of his mail to determine much of the information.

Susan has now taken steps to organize her personal legacy for her family by creating a LifeFolio.  Should something unexpected occur in her life, she has peace of mind knowing her loved ones have an organized resource to easily manage what needs to be done.

Here are three simple, easy to get started steps to organize yourself or a loved one:

Create a Refrigerator List

Just like it sounds, this list gets posted on your refrigerator in case you need urgent medical attention or other services:

Include key contacts to be contacted in case of emergency:

  1. Family members with names, phone numbers and email addresses and who to call first.
  2. Neighbor name, phone number and address.
  3. List of any current medications you are taking.
  4. Attorney, CPA, Insurance agent and Primary Care Physician names and phone numbers.
  5. Health insurance carrier information exclude account number).
  6. List regular bills to be paid – just name and due date.  For example: Mortgage (1st of month auto pays; PG&E (21st of month), Cable (18th of Month), Visa (6th of month), etc.

It won’t take you long to create and it’s a strong first step to providing the most important gift to yourself and your family.

About the Author

Tricia Hoekwater

Tricia is a certified project manager with a passion for eliminating paper and creating digital archives of important documents including LifeFolio and Home Inventories.  She is a member of the San Francisco Chapter of the Project Management Institute, The Inventory Institute and the East Bay Senior Resource Solutions group.

A firm believer in being prepared for the unexpected, Tricia loves working with seniors and their adult children, creating peace of mind.

Her passion to be prepared for the unexpected stems from the loss of her parents only two months apart without the benefit of an organized estate.

She enjoys reading, dining out and traveling in her free time.  For more information about Tricia and her services, visit

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