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Brushing Up Your Routines: How to Stop Chores From Growing Into Huge Projects


Being organized and staying organized might seem unfeasible in a busy household, but if you can distinguish a chore from a non-negotiable routine, you will be surprised with the time-saving results. When we change the way we think about our routines, maintaining our “busy” lives can be more manageable.

Approach home-life organization as you would your personal hygiene.  Do you shower daily?  Do you brush your teeth every morning and at bedtime? I think we can all agree that these are two things we do routinely every day.  It’s not only a healthy practice, it’s a dedicated daily ritual, right?  We find the time to make sure it happens.

Everything else we want to do in a single day spills onto some grandiose list for each of us to do, which sometimes never gets done at all.

I’ve coined the brush your teeth model as the guideline to help my client’s manage their life-organization. Brushing your teeth is not something you schedule, it is something that you just do.  Even moreso, these two times of day punctuate both the start and finish of any given day. So why not use this model as a consistent reminder to check in with yourself? It’s that rare time that you must stop and pause, at the beginning and end of your day. Here’s how to take advantage of this ritual;

1. In the morning, brush your teeth and brush up your productivity.  

Use this time to do one thing that will make your “later” easier.  This should only take you 5-10 minutes. Add this wiggle room into your your designated morning routine every single day. Maybe throw in the laundry, empty the sink, load or unload the dishwasher. Clear a counter. Pre-sort the mail in categories to save you time later.  Set the table for dinner.  Perhaps keep an empty bin handy, and do a quick sweep in the den. Return items back to their designated homes or just corral them in the bin to clear spaces. Deconstructing these annoying chores to a day-to-day practice will prevent them from accumulating into a bigger weekly chore.

The reality is that when neglected daily, these chores can mount into way bigger projects.  Paper piles grow taller, busy hubs become too cluttered, dirty dishes litter sinks, and hampers get overflown with an insurmountable of laundry.

When to-do’s get too big, they are simply not approachable. You’d be surprised how a cluster of just 15 minutes of preparation can ultimately save you exponential time later. Jump starting the task can be very effective.

2. In the evening,  brush your teeth and brush away tomorrow’s potential mistakes.

Before you go to bed, sync your schedule and calendars so they align. So often, we jot down appointments on scribbled notes, put reminders on our phones, but fail to write it down on our paper or virtual calendars.  Too often, important dates fall through the cracks and we miss important events and appointments.  This is great opportunity to organize the next day. Collect your thoughts, write down a doable plan for the day. Maybe a plan for the week is too big.  Keep it simple. Think about what has to get done tomorrow. Trust me, you will sleep more soundly knowing exactly what the next day will look like.

No doubt, maintaining a busy household and lifestyle requires attention.  It cannot and will not run smoothly all by itself.  Sustainable organization can be achieved with just a small change of a dedicated routine. Find the time to tend to your home, schedule, and things, as you would to brush your teeth. It’s as imperative. A healthy life-balance requires it.

Brushing up on these skills every morning and every night will keep things under control.  Consider breaking down some of your weekly chores into daily routines, it will improve your life in countless ways.

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The Key to Finding Your Groove in the New Year

runnerHello 2015. Time to resume. Back to work, back to school, or just back to day-to-day, and perhaps our old routines. I don’t know about you, but it’s been a very long break and it feels so much harder to get back into a groove.

This got me thinking; are we still inclined to return back to our OLD routines in a NEW year just because it’s comfortable?  Or have we thought about changing it up? Indeed it’s a perfect opportunity to do so.

I would say that if your old routines are still working for you, there’s no reason to fix what’s not broke. But if you are slipping back to the same old routines that no longer inspire you to do better or be better, perhaps it’s time to implement a change.

If you find yourself trudging through the days more robotically, rather than sprinting through 2015 as you thought you would, here’s some encouraging thoughts to chew on.

Time.  Give yourself some time to get your mojo back.  It’s only the first week of January. It takes time to acknowledge what’s no longer working for you.  Personal change happens very slowly, so let it.   If you pay close attention, you will know if you are correctly aligned.  You will feel this.

Organize.  Engage yourself.  To channel your cognitive self,  simply start with organizing anything.  Any space, any drawer, any counter.  When you ask yourself  “how will I organize this?” or “how do I feel about that?” it invites self-discovery.  I always say that the process of organizing teaches you so much about yourself.  It can be very clarifying and eye-opening.

Shift.   Even one small realization can shift your thinking. No need to re-invent yourself.  Open yourself up and you will evolve naturally. Make small shifts, not monumental changes. Walk in those new shoes for awhile and find your rhythm.

There’s lots of pressure to live up to the “New Year, New You” campaign.  And while it is a highly motivating concept, there are those that suggest this implies there’s something wrong with the old you. To that I say with implicit conviction, just be “better,” not newer.


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The Synergy in Thoughts & Things; How and When To Let Go

balloons_opt-2As a Professional Organizer, I’m called upon to tour and evaluate your cluttered spaces. I’m in your closets and I’m in your intimate drawers.  I can see the physical overwhelm and implement manageable solutions. But what I cannot see, is what’s inside your head.  Your closets may be bulging but perhaps your brain is about to explode as well.

Thoughts and things go hand in hand, therefore the challenges and strategies of organizing them are very much the same too.  Here’s another way to assess them.

Consider your brain the “closet” that stores your thoughts. Take a look and ask yourself;

  • Is it crowded?
  • Is it disorganized?
  • Are you overwhelmed ?
  • Is it impeding on your productivity and life-balance?

What’s abundantly clear, is overabundance.  Whether it is physical clutter or mental clutter, too much is still too much.  Both can be paralyzing if you don’t routinely clear out these spaces.  The accumulation of outdated possessions is as much a burden as a brain full of to do’s or negative thoughts. When your life-balance is threatened, it’s the opportune time to consider purging.

Although the purging process of thoughts and things may look a little different, they both still need to be organized and managed.

Thoughts.  Write them down randomly as they emerge.  Out of the head and onto a piece of paper is a quality brain dump.  Think of it as a mind/body cleanse, like any healthy nutritional cleanse. Clean house and create space in the brain.

Sort and categorize your thoughts. Some thoughts might require an immediate call to action, others might be just an idea that needs to marinate, or perhaps it’s those nagging emotional road blocks that you’ve been avoiding. Beware that when left unattended, these thoughts tend to get lumped altogether in one big pot,  just like a messy junk drawer.  This causes the overwhelm to mount and that’s when the pounding headache emerges.  Recognize that all thoughts cannot be of equal importance. Everything can’t matter in the same way. Break them down and prioritize them.

Take a pause and look them over at another time. When you step away and revisit thoughts, your perspective may change. Give your brain a chance to process all that is on your mind. This will help segregate the minutia from the significant.

“Seeing” your thoughts on paper is a great way to really “look” at your brain, and even more-so,  a very effective method to organize it. A brain needs to be organized too.

Things.  Assessing the relevance of your things in your life today is the best measure to discern their value, and is an integral part of the letting go process. Faulty thinking can often interfere with this decision-making process so it’s always helpful to recruit an objective voice to talk it out.  This process is much more complex but inherently is guided by parameters of finite space. When your systems break down (or you don’t have any), it may be that “too much” is why you are losing control of your things. The less is more and use it or lose it principle will provide you with a life with less to manage.

As you see, thoughts and things are linked so closely and they typically slip and slide together.  Chances are that if your closets are overflowing and overabundant with clutter, your brain is experiencing similar chaos.  And vise versa, if your thoughts are jumbled, there’s a good chance that your spaces will reflect some evidence of disorganization.

So are your closets bursting at the seams? Does your head sometimes feel likes its going to explode? If you are overloaded with thoughts and things, try exercising that letting go muscle.  More room to breathe,  more life to live.

It may not be realistic to do a closet cleanse daily, but I would recommend a brain dump nightly at bedtime.  I promise you a more restful night’s sleep.  It really works. Would love to hear your thoughts about things.  What’s on your mind?


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Are You Geared Up For March Madness?

Nope, the month of March is not only a time to get caught up in college basketball mania,  it’s also a time to consider if you’ve, personally, “got  game.”  We’re about to transition into Spring; a natural motivator for change. Yet another opportunity to check in with yourself and perhaps, re-align.

Admittedly of all the months in the calendar year, March is clearly the most vague month, no pun intended.  It is technically still part of Winter and yet three quarters into it, the first day of Spring launches.  The worst is behind us and although there might still be a chill in the air (or even a chance of snow), the sun is brighter now and we can sense that warmer days are just around the corner.

This positive mental attitude provides us with the tools to combat the doldrums of what remains of the long cold winter.  Sure, we are all going to have bad days now and then, but we know they are short-lived because the change of season is closer than further.

So let’s get busy and changing our mindset before the Spring weather is upon us.  Set goals NOW and visualize the end result. Have a plan to ensure that they are attainable.  Think about what you want to accomplish this Spring that you did not follow through with last year. What tripped you up?

If you have fallen off the wagon in regard to exercise, then get back to the gym today! Or maybe try something new and trendy?  With the popularity of Pilates, Soul Cycle, and TRX suspension training, getting fit doesn’t have to mean a boring run on a treadmill.  On that first gorgeous Spring day you’ll feel great about your mind, body, and soul, instead of regretful and disappointed.

Organize your to do list  NOW and evaluate it by prioritizing and creating a plan on how to attack one goal at a time. By giving yourself ample time to mentally prepare, you are giving yourself a fighting chance to accomplish at least some of your goals.  Put thought to paper, so you have a concrete plan. This is an excellent motivator for making you more accountable for actually doing it.  Too often, we procrastinate until we are overwhelmed with too much to do, and so nothing gets done at all.

Don’t wait for Spring to pop up and catch you by surprise, then realize that it came and went and you never cleaned out the garage.

Trust me,  before long it will be Summer and you know you won’t be able to resist the pull of the beach. You’ll be thinking…there’s always tomorrow !

Get a jump start on your Spring goals.  Make March your month to literally Spring forward with intention.  If you can make a connection with the change that’s in the air, it is likely to inspire a change in YOU.

So get motivated, and at least, try to change something. Take a shot. Catch the“March Madness” and find ways to achieve your own “slam dunk” moments.  Make it your own kind of frenzy. Game on!







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Are You Too Busy For Your Own Good?

Everybody’s busy.  Who do you know that is not busy?  It’s the new normal.  Just ask anyone, “how are you?” and I’ll bet they’ll reply with a “good,” and add a boastful “busy.” It has become an aspired status that implies heightened productivity and success.  But we must pay attention to our individual capacities and be mindful when we reach our max. Too busy can be counterproductive and unhealthy.

Especially this time of year, we all have so much on our plates.  As if we had any extra time, the holidays just wring us dry of whatever spare time we might have.  But take note…there is good busy and bad busy.

The good busy is immersing yourself in the holiday festivities in a healthy way.  Work hard, play hard, shop smart.  Finding the balance between the every day and the added holiday to do’s, and finding the joy in the busy. Embracing the spirit of the holiday and not getting caught up in the consumer mania is easier for some more than others. The good busy people are able to resist the romance of over -acquiring. Staying focused helps them buy practical, buy less, and reduce the overwhelming holiday stress. They are enjoying the holiday frenzy.

Now for the bad busy.  We all are busy with our  jobs and/or just normal daily responsibilities.  No need to drown yourself in work commitment, holiday shopping, and operate in full throttle 24/7.  We are fragile.  Indeed, we are stressed, pressed for time, and overwhelmed, but we cannot be our best selves if we are constantly pushing the envelope.

In truth, being a workaholic and a shopaholic can prove to be fruitless, exhausting, and lead to burn-out. With the additional holiday pressure to get everything on your list done, you can easily drown in overwhelm and get caught up in a bad busy cycle.

What if I told you that if you stopped being so busy for a minute and relinquished a bit more more time to organize and manage your lifestyle better, you’d actually have MORE time? 

Here’s some helpful tips to reduce the bad busy;

  • Simply make a list of all the things you have to do, but then review the list again.  Now check off the things that only YOU have to do and delegate the rest. Figure out how to cut out a step. Do those things you love to do, and get help with the things you hate to do.
  • No need to spend the time or money on expensive wrapping paper.  Have the store wrap for you, or use shopping bags and stuff them with tissue paper.  Use stick-on labels instead of attaching gift cards. A huge time saver.
  • Simplify the complicated.  If possible, stay out of the stores and shop on-line. Avoid the long lines. They only add anxiety.
  • Don’t struggle with the “perfect” gift.  Buy gift cards.  They are always appreciated and they eliminate returns.
  • Buy clutter free gifts.  They are the most precious of all. Give the gift of time. Buy concert tickets, dinners, dance lessons, or spa treatments.  Be creative with your “love” gifts. They need not be expensive, just thoughtful.
  • Buy baked goods this year or store bought food, if this is too stressful for you.  Don’t feel guilty about it, your holidays will not be less happy.  Focus on the celebration with family and friends.
  • Forgive yourself if you didn’t have the time to send out holiday cards.  Don’t stress about it, let it go. It’s not the worse thing in the world. Maybe next year.


These are all small changes you can make to free up some more time to have fun!  Remember, “done is better than perfect!”

If you can’t enjoy this festive time, what’s the point? Now that you’ve  got a minute…Come join the conversation.  Are you good busy or bad busy?


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The ABC’s of Organizing: Simple But Not Easy

At one time or another, everyone will organize somethingIn theory, it sounds like a pretty simple thing to do.  But it’s actually not so easy, especially if your intentions are to restore order to a really disorganized space.

First, you must make the real distinction between merely “straightening up,” and the methodical process of emptying a space entirely.  Huge difference.  It’s far simpler a task to just skim the surface of a drawer or clear a section of the floor, than to thoroughly deconstruct a complete space and re-organize it. I’m talking about space-altering organization.  Yep, that kind of organizing is another animal indeed.

If you’ve reached that point that you can no longer find anything in your cluttered spaces, it might be time to consider a space make-over. But before you toy with the idea of being more organized, you might first consider these ABC’s prior to undertaking any of the spaces in your home.  This will help you put thought to action.

  • “A”-  Assess:  Take a look around and see if you can identify the trouble spots.  What is not working for you?  Where does the bulk of your clutter seem to land?  How long has it been like this?  Has any specific life event contributed to this neglected mess?


  •  “B”-  Be the Change:  Consider your options.  We can all agree that if you don’t change the way you think about things, then essential nothing will really ever change.  Implementing new organization to your life could be a game changer.  So ask yourself, are you ready to make significant changes in your life and what are the consequences of remaining disorganized?


  • “C”-  Commit:  Once you’ve decide to change your old habits, you must committo the actual process.  Junk in drawers, clothing piles in closets, paper towers on desktops, or cluttered counter tops are not going to miraculously vanish by themselves. You must do the work. In order to tackle the project, you must schedule it to happen. Think about how much time you will need to carve out of your day or weekend to begin the process. The challenge is, of course, to stay committed until the task is completed.


The next step is how to begin.  Where do you start? What to keep or toss? When do you pause? No matter which room or small space you choose, (or whether it be things or paper), the basic principles of organizing are the same.  They are easy to comprehend but are often difficult to execute by yourself.  Here’s the simplified and very abridged version.

  1. Bundle “like” items with “like” items to evaluate the inventory. Eliminate overabundance.
  2. Sort items you want to keep into categories.
  3. Toss the broken or unusable into trash or recycle.
  4. Donate those items that no longer serve a purpose in your life.
  5. Then and only then, decide how you want to store and containerize your wanted items for easier retrieval.


If you become overwhelmed with this method and get stuck in the decision-making process, you will most likely lose the drive to continue. Very often, because it is so difficult to measure what is too much, or discern how much sentimental clutter to let go of, you don’t let any of it go.

Don’t feel the need to go it alone.  Seek out a  Professional Organizer who has the expertise to guide and provide you with the strategies to help complete the process.  Trust in the organizing process because it works.  But don’t underestimate it either, it can be daunting.

So before you begin, get your ABC’s in place, and perhaps a trained professional can coach you the rest of the way through. A simple solution for a not so simple task. If only it could be as easy as 1-2-3.

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The Junk Drawer Epidemic

junk-drawer_optYou are not alone.  Don’t beat yourself up for having a junk drawereverybody has one.  But fess up, how many do you actually have?  You know that drawer.  It’s the infamous miscellaneous drawer filled with random stuff.  It’s the drawer you throw everything into that doesn’t have a home.  It might be where you keep your collection of pens, batteries, flashlights, spare keys, matches, instruction manuals, bills, receipts, and much more.

No doubt, there are endless categories but the problem is, there is not endless space.

It happens so organically, doesn’t it? An overlycluttered drawer that barely closes  leads you to shove new things into other drawers.  And before you know it, like  creeping crud, the junk is spreading like wildfire into multiple drawers!

Your intentions were good initially, I’m sure.  You probably started out monitoring the junk drawer, but eventually it was invaded with random loose change, crumpled post-it notes with scribbled phone #’s on them, newspaper clippings, coupons, phone chargers,  Tylenol, and all sorts of new junk. With no free time, and little regard for designated landing places for these things, you were doomed.

I know life is hectic and it’s much easier to just tuck the clutter away inside a drawer. Everything “appears” neat on the outside.

But unfortunately,  this only results in time wasting consequences.  You’ll likely be spending valuable time opening too many drawers, digging through all the clutter and not finding what you need, when you need it. This would be the wake-up call time to organize and get some control back.

Sort through the junk and consolidate items into “like” categories.  Create designated spaces and consistent homes for items.  No need to tangle your rubber bands with band-aids, paper clips, or old pieces of chewing gum.

When you sort like with like items, you will be able to retrieve and return them with greater ease, efficiently evaluate your inventory, thereby minimizing duplicate purchases. Separate office supplies, clip receipts together, and store medications in a safe and exclusice space. Create a grab and go area for sunglasses and keys.

Stay on top of that drawer and weed often.  Don’t let the junk takeover.  If you let it, it can potentially live in every drawer.  Uh-oh, T-R-O-U-B-L-E.

You can reclaim order in your home by starting small,  one drawer at a time. 🙂

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The 5 R’S That Should Be On Your August To-Do List

1.  RELISH: That’s right, relish the summer!  It’s not over yet, stretch it out.  Frolic in the lazy, crazy days of summer.  Savor the sunshine, appreciate the gorgeous summer sunsets, and take pleasure in the warm evenings that inspire you to do almost anything at all (even if you’re tired from a long day).

2.  RE-EVALUATE: Summer is a great time to focus on YOU.  You’re enjoying the weather, you’re more relaxed and are probably on the higher end of the “happy” scale than you were in the winter.  And so it’s a great time to weigh in on your priorities and goals when you have positive energy flowing.  Take a step back and re-evaluate your life and use this time to regroup.  Organize your thoughts and make changes in the areas that are no longer working for you.  Logical thinking and productive reasoning can really thrive when you are in a positive place.

3.  REBOOT: Not a bad time to shut down either, for a little while.  The turning off will allow everything to re-calculate. Take some time off from the same ‘ol, same ‘ol of every day.  Even if you can’t take a vacation, you can still take a break from the mundane and do something fun.  It’s summertime, don’t harness yourself with huge to-do lists. Give yourself a little more down time and allow yourself to enjoy more leisure time.  Sometimes you just need to turn the switch to OFF.  Shut it down and reboot.

4.  REJUVENATE: Time to refresh. By taking a break, you will activate new energy and potentially restore your focus. Very few can work at their highest potential for long periods of time before suffering burn-out. Capture the benefits of summer like a giant dose of vitamin D!  Rejuvenate.

5.  READY: If you have used your summertime wisely, and relaxed the heck out of it, then give yourself a big A+ in time-management.  Now you’re ready to rock and roll! September is just around the corner and we’ll be blogging about that real soon, but until then…… Enjoy the summer and PLAY hard!





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The Big Bang Theory of July

Is it just me, or are you getting the feeling that retailers are pushing summer out? Summer’s not over…but it’s definitely on sale!  It appears that everything is on sale!  The stores promoting summer seasonal items are practically giving them away.  Get more bang for your buck. Be smart. It’s a great opportunity to purchase summer clothing, outdoor furniture, barbecue accessories, or summer anything for next year.

It’s also a perfect time to assess your inventory.  Think ahead and pay attention to the things you are currently using that you know are on their last leg.  Take the time to replace, repair, or toss the broken or unwanted stuff at the end of this summer.  I know it’s easier to just shove the broken beach chair into the shed or garage and deal with it next year, but do yourself a favor, and act on it now.  No need to hold onto the leaky garden hose, deflated pool floats, cracked pails and shovels, broken umbrellas, or moldy coolers.

Fall clothes will soon to be dominating retail stores, so bathing suits and summer clothes are super inexpensive. It’s a great opportunity to organize for next summer. Why not take advantage now? Buy new basics and save them for next summer.  Be ready.  Be organized.

There is nothing as sweet as being ready and prepared for summer fun!  Oh, and that old rusty sand chair?  Let it go, it’s done. It owes you nothing.  It well served its purpose. Be ready for the first blazing beach day next year, and avoid that last minute trip to the store when you realize the old one’s broken. You’ll be so happy you did! You can also enjoy wearing something brand new at the start of the season at half the price!

These are just the small perks of being organized. It’s all about planning, whether it be for the season ahead or even for the following year.  Exit the summer with a bang! It’s just a theory.

Want to learn more?  Keep reading, I’ll keep writing.

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Just Counting Down for Summer? Or Will You Make Summer Count?

Is Summer your favorite time of year?  It is definitely mine and I’m so elated that Memorial Day is finally here. This weekend always seems to usher in the splendor of summer.  We wait so long for its arrival and at this point in time, we are encouraged that there are far more summer days ahead of us than there are behind us. Summer is fun… it’s happy.  Azure blue skies and the sparkle of sunshine can make an ordinary day, a spectacular one.  Even after a long day’s work, just a walk outside into a summer’s night can turn a stressful day into a calming night.  With the longer days, I think we all are delighted to run the extra errand, take a drive, walk, or do just about anything, because it’s still light outside.

We wait 9 months for summer, best not to waste it.  Let us make every day count.  So perhaps before the weeks slip away from us, we should think about how we are going to use our time.  Are we going to merely frolic in the lazy days of summer? Or are we compelled to accomplish something significant on our summer bucket list?

I read this book “168 hours: You Have More Time Than You Think,” and it changed how I look at time forever.  It was eye-opening to realize how many people do not utilize the extra hours of their days in a week.   Yes, everybody has extra hours of down time when they are not sleeping or not working.  Nobody works 24/7 (168 hours), it would be physically impossible. Too many of us are unaware that there are so many valuable hours that can easily slip by.

Here’s how this thinking can change your life too.  Back to our summer plans.  Crunch the numbers; From Memorial Day to Labor Day there are 14 weeks.  If you do the simple math and multiply that by 168 hours (24 hours in a week),  you get 2352 hours.  Now that’s some big chunk of change, don’t you think?  If you are lucky and get 8 hours a night sleep, then deduct another 784 hours.  And  if you work 12 of those 14 weeks, subtract roughly about 480 hours, which leaves you well over 1000 glorious extra hours of  leisure time!!  OMG, you’ve hit the lottery.

Summertime is precious.  Organize it.  Make smart choices.  Manage your time because you own it , it’s yoursPlan your bucket list and aspire to satisfy it.  Spend your hours doing anything you enjoy doing;

    • Make more time for your family and friends.
    • Ride a bike.
    • Take a hike.
    • Read the book you’ve never have the time to.
    • Create a new hobby.
    • Rise early before the dawn.
    • Bask in the sunshine of a summer day.
    • Catch the beauty of a brilliant sunset.
    • Plant, grow a garden,
    • Paint a room.
    • Be ambitious and clean out the garage, basement or attic.
    • And yes, maybe even take a delicious nap on a hammock.

Enjoy the priceless summer hours, you cannot take them back in winter.  Make them count now and optimize your time.

For me, summer energies me…the days are longer, the sun is brighter, and I want to get out and do something.  This is Your  time, Your summer.  Ask yourself this… what will you be doing with all your hours?

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