April 2008 — Vol. 6, No. 4

Tips & Inspiration for Organizing a Simpler Life

“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.”
-– Sir William James

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Donating your way to an uncluttered home I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s worth mentioning again. Someone, somewhere could really use the things that are just taking up valuable space in your home.

You may not think of yourself as rich. But if you’ve got clutter (stuff you no longer want or need), you’re richer than you think.

Where I live, we get notices from organizations such as Big Brothers/Big Sisters who schedule periodic pickups in our neighborhood. I use those reminders as deadlines to clean out my closet and look for things I am no longer using. You can also use the change of seasons as a reminder to clear clutter.

Or you can schedule a pickup of furniture, clothing and other household items with some organizations, including the Salvation Army. The sale of each donated item through The Salvation Army’s thrift stores goes to support their addiction recovery programs known as Adult Rehabilitation Centers. To schedule a pick up of goods to be donated, call 1-800-95-TRUCK.

Make a list of the items you are donating. Then be sure to get a receipt from the donation station. It’s up to you to place a value on your donations. The value is the price you would expect to pay at a thrift store.

Buried on The Salvation Army website is a valuation guide to help you come up with a fair market value for your donations. Here’s the link: http://www.salvationarmyusa.org/usn/www_usn.nsf/vw-text-dynamic-arrays/85256DDC007274DF80256B80003D22FC?openDocument

It makes me feel good (and rich!) to be able to give to others. And I also like how my giving comes back to me in the form of a tax deduction for my donations. If you own your own home, chances are good that you can deduct these non-cash donations, too. Check with your tax advisor to be sure. Then file those receipts!

Next month: Cleaning up your outdoor living room
Survey Results: What’s your cleaning style? Last month I asked: How do you most often do your house cleaning:

As promised, here are the results of that survey. . .

13% said: All at once 29% said: Job by job or room by room 41% said: A little here & there or catch as catch can 1% said: I delegate to other family members 8% said: I have a housekeeper 8% said: Other

In my experience, it’s a lot easier to keep up than to catch up. And I’m a firm believer in preventing dirt and grime.

Try these three easy prevention tips:

Hang an Oxo Shower Squeegee (www.oxo.com) and get in the habit of using it on the glass doors after each shower. It takes less than 30 seconds but keeps your doors spot-free so you can go longer between cleanings.

Keep a container of wipes under the bathroom sink for quick countertop clean-ups. Method makes some really great scented wipes that also biodegradable. (www.methodhome.com)

Place mats inside and outside every doorway to minimize tracking in of dirt.

Note: I do not get paid to endorse the above-mentioned products. I just happen to like them.

New Survey: About surveys How important are these monthly surveys to you?

1 – Not at all important (I would not miss them.) 2 – Somewhat important (I enjoy reading the results.) 3 – Very important (I would really miss them.)

TO RESPOND TO THE SURVEY, click the following link editor@unclutter.com or send email to editor@unclutter.com with the word “Survey” in the subject line and the number that corresponds to your answer. Feel free to add comments in the body of your email. I love reading them!

As always, I will share the results of this survey in the next issue.

Smart Readers Write: Storing chargers and cables With the increase in electronics (cell phone, digital camera, MP3 player, Palm Pilot, external hard drive, laptop, printer, etc.) around the house it is very easy to misplace a cable/charger or not know which one goes to which item.

I have found it very helpful to keep the items stored together in a clear plastic box with each component labeled with the name of the electronic item it is for.

Since I have so many, I take it one step further and group the electronic item and components in ziplock bags so they are easy to keep together. Having the component labeled helps me to know which bag it needs to be returned to so it is there the next time I need to use it.

–Submitted by Kay T., Austin, TX

Write to win an autographed book! Do you have a really great organizing tip you would like to share with other readers? Or a question about an organizing challenge you have?

Send an e-mail to editor@unclutter.com with “Readers_Write” in the subject line.

If your question or tip is included in a future issue of this newsletter, I will send you a free autographed copy of my book, The One-Minute Cleaner Plain & Simple. Check it out at http://www.unclutter.com/books.html

PLEASE NOTE: I get a lot of email messages and it’s impossible for me to respond to them all. Please know that I do read them all and try to answer as many as I can.

Shameless Promotion: Yee-haw!

I finished writing another book a few weeks ago. The One- Minute Organizer’s A to Z Storage Solutions will be in book stores in December 2008. We are planning a nationwide workshop tour for Get Organized Month (January) and hope to see you on the road!

I spent last week at the annual conference of the National Association of Professional Organizers in Reno, Nevada.
Then, on Sunday, I demonstrated simple organizing solutions as part of the Grand Weekend at Fulton Ranch Towne Center in Chandler, Arizona.

Next week, I will be in New York City for a publisher’s sales conference. I will also be presenting to a group of realtors from The Corcoran Group in Bridgehampton, New York. The topic is Organize for Success: Get from Good to Great in ’08. Attendees will learn how to organize their physical office space for optimal productivity. They will also learn how to shorten their work day with simple strategies for managing time, paper projects, work flow and contact to make more time for themselves, family and friends.

Do you belong to a group or organization that hires speakers? Please email donna@unclutter.com for presentation topics, availability, and fees.

A few weeks ago, I was interviewed for Brad Swift’s Living and Working on Purpose radio show. If you missed it, you can download it from the archives at: http://www.exceptionalwisdomradio.com/index.html

On my web site, you will find a list of magazines in which my tips have appeared. Here are a few:

Real Simple – Five articles on cleaning and organizing: http://www.realsimple.com/realsimple/search?first=1&searchCriteria=smallin plus this one, which was picked up by CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2008/LIVING/homestyle/03/18/ss.rs.cleaningsolutions/

Better Homes & Gardens – How to fold sheet sets: http://www.bhg.com/bhg/story.jsp?storyid=/templatedata/bhg/story/data/1165417373203.xml

Parents – Cleaning stuffed animals and other advice: http://www.parents.com//parents/search/results.jsp?searchType=allsearch&searchString=smallin

Got books? If you are looking for organizing tips, look for The One- Minute Organizer and Organizing Plain & Simple in bookstores everywhere (including online bookstores) and in select Target, K-Mart, Staples, Discovery Channel, and Storables stores.

For nitty-gritty cleaning tips and techniques, look for Cleaning Plain & Simple in your local bookstore. If they don’t have a copy, please ask them to order one! For quick tips, look for The One-Minute Cleaner, an abridged version of the big book that was released in February 2007.

If you feel a need to simplify your life, check out Unclutter Your Mind: 500 Ways to Focus on What’s Important.
Want a signed copy of one of my books? You can order directly from me: http://www.unclutter.com/books.html

Click on the SignedCopy.com logo to have a signed copy sent to you.

That’s all for this month. Until next month, keep it simple.