August 2006
Vol. 4, No. 6

Tips & Inspiration for Organizing a Simpler Life

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

— Aristotle

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FEATURE ARTICLE: Organizing a move

One of the things I advise readers to do is to start gearing up for your move as soon as you know you are moving.

Don’t put it off. The earlier you start, the more time you’ll have to make decisions about what to move and what to leave behind.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

* Purge first, then pack. Grab a box of trash bags.
Go through your home one room at a time with the goal of collecting those things that have been collecting dust for years. Throw away anything that’s unfixable, ugly or shabby. Bring the rest to your nearest thrift store or favorite charity.

* Take only your favorites. As you go through your things, ask yourself: Do I use this? Do I love it? If the answer is no, let it go. Packing is a lot easier when you’ve got less stuff to pack.

* Think ahead. As you pack, consider whether or not you will need a particular item where you are going. Will you be able to ride that mountain bike? Will all your furniture fit in your new home? Keep in mind that the fewer things you move, the less it costs to move them and the quicker it is to pack and unpack.

* Label boxes. I always label each box with the room I want the box to go to in my new home. I also add a note about the contents. Example: Kitchen – Pots and pans or Master Bedroom – His dresser.

One reader wrote recently to say that she’s been living in her new home for three months and there are still boxes and things that need to be put away. She asked, “After a big move to another house how do you just sit down and unpack everything and find a spot for it?”

In response, I say: You probably unpacked all the things you really needed. Could it be possible that you really don’t need what you have yet to unpack?

What I would do is move all that stuff off to one side of each room. Then plan to spend 15 minutes each day unpacking one box at a time.

Keep a few empty boxes handy for collecting things you can donate. Just because you have all that stuff doesn’t mean you have to keep it. Give yourself permission to let it go and enjoy the freedom that comes as a result!

Next month: How a household inventory can save you time and money


8/1-7 is Simplify Your Life Week 8/12 is National Garage Sale Day 8/15 is National Relaxation Day

Time to get to it!

QUICK TIP: Three ways to simplify your life

Take one minute to think about how one particular thing frustrates the heck out of you every day. Then spend the next five minutes creating a simple solution.

Example #1: Always looking for your keys? Put a hook near the door and hang them there every time you come home. Or designate a drawer to store all your household keys. Then retrain yourself to put them there every time.

Example #2: Organize your purse. Contain like items such as makeup in cosmetic bags or even zippered plastic bags. Get a plastic envelope for filing receipts; you can find these at office stores. And always put your keys and cell phone in the same place in your purse.

Example #3: Organize bill paying. I usually recommend 13-pocket accordion-style organizers for filing bills to be paid along with 12 months of paid bills.

I also like the Pendaflex® Get-a-Grip portfolio organizer.
It’s got a self-gripping surface on one side to lay flat on a kitchen counter or dashboard and hanging pockets for organizing papers and folders. It’s a great organizer for bills because you can take it anywhere and pay bills on the go. Don’t forget to toss in some stamped envelopes with return address labels!

PRODUCT REVIEW: Homefree.com

Do you have trouble remembering when it’s time to change the air conditioning filter or do other important home maintenance tasks?

Well, you’re going to love this. Now you can get reminders about seasonal home care as well as routine maintenance checks.

Homefree (www.homefree.com) is a personalized, online toolbox that helps simplify home maintenance decisions for busy homeowners. Personalized schedules trigger helpful reminders with information you need to help save time, money and worry.

At Homefree’s web site, you’ll also find lots of helpful advice on a wide range of topics from home care experts (including yours truly!).

SURVEY RESULTS: Where to donate what

In the last issue, I asked: Which one place are you most likely to donate things you’ve decided to let go of?

49% said: The Salvation Army or GoodWill Industries 18% said: Other thrift store 8% said: Domestic violence shelter 3% said: Animal shelter 2% said: Homeless shelter 2% said: School, library or theater 2% said: Hospital, nursing home or senior citizen’s center 17% said: Other (please tell what you donate to where)

The overwhelming response to the “other” category was the American Veterans or the Vietnam Veteran’s – both organizations will come and pick up items.

Other popular recipients included Habitat for Humanity, church rummage sales and friends. I was also reminded by several dear readers that www.freecycle.org is a great place to “donate” unwanted items.

NEW SURVEY: E-newsletters

How many organizing e-newsletters do you currently subscribe to?

a. 1 b. 2-3 c. 3-5 d. More than 5

TO RESPOND TO THE SURVEY, click the following link editor@unclutter.com or send email to editor@unclutter.com with the words “August Survey” and the letter of your response in the subject line. Feel free to add comments in the body of your email. I will share the results of this survey in the next issue.

READERS WRITE: Credit card receipt trick

When I order boxes of checks, I often get spare check book covers and check logs. Rather than throw these away, I now use one for my credit card. I simply put my credit card in the cover with the log.

Any time I buy anything on credit, I immediately log the receipt and put it in the cover. At the end of the month when my credit card bill arrives, I simply pull out my log with receipts to verify and balance against the bill.

Works great and saves tons of time!

–Submitted by Rich Deibel, Kalamazoo MI

WRITE TO WIN an autographed copy of my most recent 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 Organizer Plain & Simple. Check it out at


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


According to a recent industry report, The One-Minute Organizer is currently the #1 bestseller in the home and garden category. This is the tenth time this year that it has been #1. It finished #3 in the charts in 2005.

I mentioned Simplify Your Life Week earlier in this newsletter. To promote the concept of keeping it simple, I made guest appearances on several Phoenix TV shows, including Good Morning Arizona, Sonoran Living and Arizona Midday.

If you’re in the Phoenix area, watch for me again on Good Evening Arizona Wednesday 8/9/06. I’ll be on location demonstrating how to organize a junk drawer and also providing tips for organizing a busy homeowner’s desk.

Look for more “simplify your life” tips in the Saturday, August 12 At Home section of the Scottsdale Tribune.

At newsstands everywhere, look for simple solutions to household headaches in the August 1 issue of Woman’s Day as well as Home Remodeling & Makeovers magazine, a special Woman’s Day publication. Next month, watch for more tips in Woman’s Day as well as Weekend magazine.


For plain and simple tips for cleaning everything in and around your home, look for my latest book, Cleaning Plain & Simple, in your local bookstore.
If they don’t have a copy, please ask them to order one.

If you are looking for organizing tips, look for my books in bookstores everywhere (including online bookstores) and in select Target, K-Mart, Staples, Discovery Channel, and Lowes stores.

Want a signed copy of one of my books? You can order directly from me:


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.