Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Required: Lifting 25 lbs. of Nothing

I have alerts set on LinkedIn for Controller and Assistant Controller jobs. In the past few years, I have noticed an increasing number of companies posting physical requirements for accounting work.

One came up that read "Physical Requirements: This position requires you to sit, stand and perform general office functions. You may also be required to lift up to 25 pounds occasionally. Bending, stooping and reaching are also frequently required."

As someone who has chronic pain, this makes me angry.

As someone who has hired and worked with people who have disabilities, illnesses, injuries, are pregnant, or are in their 80s and 90s, this seriously pisses me off.

Why should people be dissuaded from applying for accounting work when they only rarely must lift up to 25 lbs.??


At first, it looks to me like a barrier to entry for anyone who can’t lift up to 25 lbs.

Then I said, maybe I’m too cynical and there is an actual legal requirement for this. Like a CYA for companies who don’t want to pay worker’s compensation on the occasion an employee lifts a heavy box and hurts themselves.

But the more I looked into it, it was what I thought at first. That companies don’t want to hire certain employees.


I found that the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics has categories of the type of work and requirements for lifting weights. Most office jobs are classified as “Sedentary” which they define as requiring a strength level based on the weight and duration of lifting and carrying. Sedentary work requires the lifting or carrying of up to 10 lbs. seldom or occasionally, negligible weight frequently, and no weight constantly. Also sedentary work is met when no more than one-third of the workday is spent standing. More fun details here

The types of jobs they classify as sedentary include personal financial advisors, computer programmers, insurance agents, budget analysts, and billing and posting clerks. So, billing and posting clerks (Accounts Receivable and Accounts Payable most likely) are in the sedentary category and they are the ones, in my experience, that deal with large piles of invoices and backup documents.

Then, which jobs require lifting and carrying up to 25 lbs. you ask? Well, that is the next category, classified as “Light Work” which the US BLS defines as seldom and occasionally lifting and carrying 11-25 lbs., 1-10 lbs. frequently, and negligible weight constantly. These jobs include: hairdressers, restaurant hosts and hostesses, waiters and waitresses, teachers and instructors, dental assistants, and phlebotomists. There is no way that our accounting jobs require us to lift the paper equivalent of the trays of plates and glasses a waiter or waitress must lift and carry after every single table. And there is no way we are standing and bending (even with a sit/stand desk), the hours a dental assistant does.


OK, at this point you might argue that this particular job was posted by some really old-school company that keeps banker's boxes of old, dusty paper files and binders in the basement or warehouse. I used to have to dig through such boxes in the 1990s and early 2000s. Even then, someone delivered them up for us. I have lugged boxes of files as an auditor but that was before everything was “paperless.”

No, my friends. Without giving away too much information, the business that posted this job in this 2020s paperless world is a cryptocurrency company! Less than 10 years old! The job description goes on and on about how they love to create efficiencies and how they are so non-traditional. Yeah OK, keep thinking that...

So, why the hell do they expect that their Accounting people should be able to lift and carry up to 25 pounds?

Job postings like this one signal to certain job seekers not to even bother applying; that they will not be an ideal candidate for the job. Basically, if you are disabled, pregnant, old, or even have a sports injury, they don't want you. And they even have the nerve to include an "Equal Employment Opportunity" paragraph directly after. I am not kidding.

Accounting jobs should NOT be restricted by lift and carry requirements. This is so completely ridiculous. Think about it – People who start off being able to lift up to 25 lbs. will eventually grow older, get pregnant, get injured, or sustain an illness. It is part of life. But guess what? We can still do accounting work!

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Kitchen Organization Series: # 4 - Staying Organized

So, now that you’ve created a home for everything in your kitchen, try to keep putting the items away in their home. If something isn’t fitting or working, re-evaluate whether you can declutter some more or if the item actually belongs there. I ended up moving some of my cheesecake pans and Bundt pan to the back of the pans cabinet because I don’t bake that often. It made it easier to put my loaf pans away.

To keep kitchen counters from becoming a junk area, keep a bin with a label on it that says, “Bring upstairs.”  This is for any papers that need to get shredded or buttons that fall off shirts in the wash. Somehow all this stuff ends up on the kitchen counter. This will help keep things that don’t belong out of your kitchen.  

As I mentioned in the introduction post of this series, its’s hard to keep things organized when a lot is going on, but you can always perform a refresh at the beginning of the year. By following my own tips, I was able to declutter my counters and two cabinets to make it easier to cook.

So, my best tip is: Keep everything in its home! And keep other things out of its home!



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Kitchen Organization Series: # 3 - Organizing

Everything must have a home!

This is the trick to knowing exactly what you own and being able to retrieve it easily. Designate areas that make sense in your kitchen. I have all my pots and pans near the stove, glasses and dishes near the dishwasher, baking supplies near the mixer, mugs near the coffee machine.

Don’t go nuts trying to set things up into zones that are recommended online. Just do what feels natural to you. It will evolve over time for you. For example, I couldn’t figure out my leftover containers. They were in 3 different places of my kitchen due to their sizes and weights. I ended up keeping glass containers in one cabinet near the fridge for leftovers and plastic containers near the sink for meal prepping vegetables. This works for me!

Here are some organizing ideas:

-          Designate areas of cabinets such as shelves (or even an entire cabinet) only for that category of items: Don’t put your immersion blender on top of the baking sheets. It should have its own home. This way, you won’t need to dig through random items to get to a baking sheet. Keep the gadgets in their own corner or shelf. You can also corral them together in a dollar store bin or fancier clear container. I re-purposed some of my old tupperwares for this.


-          Heavy duty office supply organizers: I keep my frying pans and skillets on them for easy access, pot lids for easy sorting, glass/ceramic leftover containers, and baking sheets and cutting boards for easy access. This one is similar to the one I have. 



-          Add a shelf: This works great to create another storage level in a cabinet. I added one to house my mugs and another for small plates. I have this one.  



-          Over the cabinet door hooks: I added one to the inside of my cabinet where I keep my frying pans and skillets. I attached a chip clip to it to hold my splatter screens. They are easy to get to and easy to put away after washing. Much neater than my old way of throwing them in the cabinet and wresting them out from under a skillet. These are similar:  


-          Bookends: I used them to keep stacked freezer and sandwich bag boxes from falling over and to keep (some of) my cookbooks contained to their side of the shelf. These are the ones I have:  


-          Baskets: I bought a fancy-looking basket to hold my paperwork on the counter (no matter what you do, papers always end up in the kitchen). I also use a metal crate to hold the cookbooks I use regularly on the counter. Much neater than stacks of books or papers. This is the one I have:   



-          Countertop lazy Susan: This somehow keeps your oils and vinegars (or coffee items) that stay out on the counter from looking too cluttered. They seem to take on a smaller footprint of counter space and are easily accessible. This is one I have:   



Are there any kitchen organizing tools that you like to use? Let me know!


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Updated Kitchen Organization Series: #2 - Decluttering

The first step to organizing your kitchen is to declutter. Decluttering consists of going through your possessions and getting rid of anything that is no longer useful or wanted. It makes sense to declutter before organizing; otherwise, you will waste your time trying to fit things into your kitchen you really don’t need at the expense of things you want to use more often (see my previous post about the salvaged tiramisu cups that nobody used).

Don't you find that the less items you own, the better you take care of those few items? This is because you take pride in them. I remember as a child, I would have only 2 pairs of shoes at a time (one pair of regular everyday tennis shoes and one pair of formal shoes for church and school assemblies). I took such extremely good care of this one pair of white tennis shoes, that my friends thought I always had new shoes! Similar in concept, I now have a few pans of each type that I love using and I hand wash them so they stay as good as new.

In her first book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, Marie Kondo says to take EVERYTHING out to get the full shock of seeing all your stuff out at once. You will realize that you have too much stuff and you shouldn’t feel bad getting rid of it. If just the THOUGHT of ALL your kitchen stuff out frustrates and overwhelms you, here is my suggestion: Take everything out of the drawers and cabinets IN CATEGORIES.


 Kitchen item categories, in any order:

-          Food: refrigerator and freezer

-          Food: pantry staples, kids’ snacks

-          Food: spices

-          Food prep (foil, plastic wrap, freezer bags, sandwich bags)

-          Cookware: pots and pans, lids, baking sheets

-          Cookbooks

-          Plates, bowls

-          Glasses, mugs

-          Thermoses, water bottles

-          Eating utensils

-          Cooking utensils

-          Food storage, Tupperware

-          Kitchen towels

-          Small appliances

-          Baking supplies

-          Serveware

-          Holiday items (plates, trays, mugs)

-          Kitchen gadgets

-          Other stuff: vitamins, medical, junk drawer


Do cookware one day, plates another day, small appliances, gadgets, utensils, etc. (see my list of kitchen item categories above). As you come across a gadget in the drawer with your utensils, put it aside where most of your gadgets are. If you are working on a category with some of the items in storage (ex: baking, holiday serve ware) go get them so you have everything in the house for that category together.

To effectively declutter, go through the items and keep several boxes and garbage bags on hand for trash, donations and storage; plus, a pen and a notepad for notes. You will want to store or display anything that has sentimental value to you. Evaluate your items as follows:


1. Throw out items that are damaged, broken or expired.  

Trash all the food that is expired or was opened months ago (expired cans of soup, open mustard). See if you need to buy anything that you use or eat regularly and add to your shopping list. For things like nutmeg and capers that you may not use as frequently, add these items to a “pantry low list." I keep a list of pantry items that I ran out of or am running low on and refer to it when I prepare my shopping list. Buy these items gradually as they go on sale.  

Throw out those cracked wooden spoons, scratched up non-stick baking sheets, broken kitchen gadgets and BPA plastic containers. These things accumulate because we keep them “just in case.” Seriously - Do yourself a favor and get rid of them! Think of all the precious space in your kitchen that this garbage is taking! Kitchen storage space should be thought of as a premium location where you keep quality items; not crap. I am now able to use the stuff I like without all the junk getting in the way. 

If you only have one baking pan left after this, make a note in your notepad to be on the lookout for baking pan sales at home stores. This is also your opportunity to upgrade and splurge for a nicer item. I got rid of my scratched-up pans and found a set of higher quality pans on sale that are much easier to clean! 

Notepad: food shopping list, pantry low items, upgrades/replacements wishlist


2. Donate, sell or give away duplicates.

When you see all your baking stuff out on the counter at once, you will start asking yourself: “Why do I have 5 sets of measuring spoons?” You don’t need all of them! Keep 1 or 2 and donate the others. Once you have a good pile of items to donate, sell or give away, set it up immediately!  Take advantage of your momentum and schedule the pickup, plan the garage sale, or write up that Facebook/Craigslist ad or call your friend RIGHT NOW! Give yourself a deadline of 3 weeks to get rid of it before putting it out with the garbage; otherwise, it will end up sitting in your garage or basement. 

You should also list the items you are going to donate so you have them ready for tax time. It doesn't take long - I write down each item and quantity (ex: 5 mugs, 3 baking sheets, 1 mixing bowl) on a sheet of paper after I have them all in a box or bag ready to donate. Sometimes I search the values that night and other times I have left it for tax time. But it's quick to calculate the values of the donated items using the pricing guide on Goodwill’s website. Just save this sheet of paper with any receipt you get from the charity. 

Notepad: list of items to sell, list of donation items to deduct


3. Return items and assess your buying habits.

Put aside anything purchased recently that you didn’t open yet or recently opened but were not pleased with. At the end of all this, you can look at the item and see if you still need or want it. The item might be a good replacement for something you got rid of. But if you want to return it go right ahead; it can be liberating. Just make a note to stop buying this type of kitchen item.

To save money, I keep a list of kitchen items I need and refer to it monthly. So, if I go to a home store or shop online, I am on the lookout for these items going on sale. I try to keep to that list and avoid buying random items I *think* I need. Doing this has helped me find items on sale that are better quality because I am looking for them over time. 

Notepad: list of items to return, list of items to stop buying, upgrades/replacements wishlist


4. Keep items that are in good condition and useful.

You will now be left with items that you use every day and some occasion and sentimental items. The action of going through this whole declutter process and taking notes will help you keep items in your kitchen that you actually use and want to take care of.

At this point, you should also make a list of items you want to use more often and any additions that will help you use them. This can be a listing of your cookbooks to go through for recipes, fun appetizer plates you forgot about, appliance attachments and gadgets you can incorporate into your everyday life, or cookie cutters to add to your collection.

Notepad: list of kitchen items to use, upgrades/replacements wishlist


After all this is done, you can organize and create a ‘home” for your items. Keeping them grouped together by category in drawers or cabinets will make it much easier for you to use and keep track of these items. We will talk about organizing your kitchen in the next post of this series. 

How did you do with going through this kitchen declutter process?


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Updated Kitchen Organization Series: #1 - Introduction

Every January, I look over at my kitchen from my couch and want to declutter the shit out of it. So much crap has accumulated over the last few months – mail, junk mail, new Christmas gift mugs and snack bowls, kitchen gadgets still in their packaging, 5 bottles of olive oil. Some things we still need to find a home for. And some things are out because they are easier to access. The kitchen is clean, but there is just a bunch of stuff out on the counters.

It takes a few weeks for the motivation to finally kick in; and by February, there is finally some improvement. This year I threw out some glasses that were saved from tiramisu desserts a few years ago and only reused for desserts once. They were taking up prime cabinet real estate while I had to stretch to reach things that I use all the time. Removing them made space for some new snack bowls and rice rinsing bowls that I use regularly. This was such an improvement!

The best organizing advice I have ever read was to have a "home" where each item belongs and to put the item away in its "home" immediately after using it. The key to keeping this up over the long-term is to make sure that the item's "home" is easily accessible, so you have no issue putting it away. 

In her first book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, Marie Kondo talks about getting rid of items that don't bring you joy and keeping those that do.  Back in 2017, I started decluttering in the order she recommends (with my clothes), but I couldn’t wait to get to the kitchen.  While the "joy" concept helped me immensely in getting through my clothes, the concept of putting things away easily helped me more in the kitchen. I went through a whole process to organize my kitchen which combined what I've learned from this book and all the other resources I have read. This process consisted of Decluttering, Organizing and Staying Organized. 

Since it's a New Year, I thought I would share with you what worked for me in a Kitchen Organization Series. Let me know the most helpful tip you've come across to organize your kitchen. 


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