August 2007
Vol. 5, No. 8

Tips & Inspiration for Organizing a Simpler Life

“We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us happy is something to be enthusiastic about.”

–Albert Einstein, scientist and philosopher

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FEATURE ARTICLE: Organizing children

While organization may come naturally to some people, more people learn it through experience. It’s never too early to start teaching your children organiza­tional skills. They may balk now, but don’t be surprised if someday they thank you for it.

The key to organizing children is to make it easy and fun. For example, put a basket or crate in the bottom on a clothes closet that they can just toss shoes into when they take them off. If it’s easy to put things away, it’s more likely children will do it.

You might also make a game out of it. Challenge your child to see how much she can pick up and put away in three minutes. Blow a whistle at the start and end.
Count the items and reward each “pickup” with points that can be redeemed for a bedtime story, quick game of their choice, or other treat.

Following are a few more some simple ways to help organize your children.

Toy storage * Store toys in bins on shelves. Look for reasonably priced units at Target, Ikea and JC Penney.

* Organize bins by toy type; e.g., blocks, animals, balls and label the bins with pictures of what goes in each.

* Store all small toys up high to prevent the chance of accidental choking in small children.

* Teach the concept of putting away toys before getting out more toys; reward young ones with lots of praise.

* Organize “traveling” toys in your car with a netted bag that hangs over the back of your seat.

Bedrooms * Organize dressers so that each drawer holds a specific type of clothing; e.g. t-shirts, shorts, underwear and socks. Label drawers with photos or words, depending on the age of the child.

* Hang a second clothes rod from the top rod so they are able to reach hanging clothes and hang them back up again.

* Get stuffed animals off the bed and floor with a nylon hammock that hangs across one corner of the ceiling.

* Use space under the bed to store art supplies, coloring books, and collections in clear plastic bins, decorated and labeled with colored markers.

* Put hooks on the back of the bedroom door at the right height for hanging backpack, jackets and clothes that will be worn again.

* Provide a trash can.

* Raise beds up with bed lifts and add an extra-long bedskirt to create extra storage space for seasonal items and collections.

* Give them a hamper with wheels or a removable bag to make it easy for them to transport their dirty clothes to the laundry room.

Getting started * Help them sort through their stuff to see what they’ve got and then use plastic storage boxes, crates, or shelving to store “like with like.”

* Bring older children with you to shop for organizing products; they’re more likely to use what they pick out, not what you pick out for them.

* Reward your child for uncluttering and organizing activities by giving an extra privilege or doing something together as a family.

Next month: Organized in minutes

UPCOMING WORKSHOP: Phoenix, August 25

Phoenix-area residents are invited to a seminar on family organization, August 25 at 10 a.m., presented by the knowledgeable staff at the Storables store on Frank Lloyd Wright & Pima in Scottsdale.

By the way, Storables has retail locations in Portland and Tigard, OR; Seattle, Bellevue and Lynnwood, WA, San Jose, CA and Edina, MN. If you go, be sure to pick up a copy of one of my books!

PRODUCT REVIEW: Our Stuff Storage

Paintings, drawings, sweet little-kid notes. Young children’s endearing efforts cover fridge doors everywhere.
But still, they just keep coming.

When Denverite Charlie Hibbeln, father of two, faced this familiar dilemma, as a graphic designer he decided to do something about the storage chaos. And that is how Our Stuff Storage, Inc. began.

With the help of his “experienced mom” business associate, this creative dad designed an overlapping, large-pocket system that fits neatly on the wall or the back of a door

With its numerous pockets labeled by age or grade, Our Stuff Storage products are always ready to receive treasures, be they artwork, class photos, reports, ribbons or writings.

Once the pockets are filled, parents simply fold and fasten to create a portfolio for long-term storage that will easily survive family moves.

For more information or to order, go to http://www.ourstuffstorage.com.

SURVEY RESULTS: How often do you organize?

Last month, I asked: How often do you spend at least 15 minutes engaged in an organizing activity?

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

40% said: Daily 47% said: Once a week or more 12% said: Less than once a month 1% said: Never

A whopping 87% of you are engaged in organizing activities at least once a week.

Sometimes I wonder why you subscribe to this e-mail newsletter! Actually, I was tickled to learn that some of you actually credit your organizing vigilance to the regular tips and reminders you receive from me.

Many of those who said they organize one or more times a week, say that they are working toward daily organizing.

I find that one of the best practices is to spend just 5-10 minutes each night picking up and putting away things before turning out the lights in each room.

If that seems like too much, try just doing it in one room one night and another room the next night.

NEW SURVEY: Is it harder to keep up or catch up?

Which is harder for you to do:

a. Organize and keep up with everyday stuff b. Unclutter and clean up older messes c. Both d. Neither/other

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 letter that corresponds to your answer. Feel free to add comments in the body of your email. I love reading them!

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

READERS WRITE: Before and after photos

I take digital pictures of my cluttered areas in my home and then envision what they would look like nice and tidy.
I draw on the picture to outline the exact area that needs to be organized.

This helps me take a whole room and transform it into small manageable projects.

I then take a digital picture after it’s done and have my own “before” and “after” shots so that I can appreciate my accomplishments in more than one way. It also helps me keep those newly tidy places tidy.

–Submitted by Johanna S., Rego Park NY

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 bestselling book, The One- Minute Organizer 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: How can one person be in so many places at one time?

LifetimeTV.com just relaunched their web site with yours truly as their resident organizing expert. Check it out.
You’ll find an article on Organizing Your Outdoor Room here: http://www.lifetimetv.com/lifestyle/home-crafts/get-organized/organize-your-outdoor-room

and another called The Procrastinator’s Guide to Organizing: http://stage.lifetimetv.com/lifestyle/home-crafts/get-organized/procrastinator-s-guide-home-organization

On HGTV.com, you’ll find an article entitled What You Can Do in the Time It Takes Popcorn to Pop: http://www.hgtv.com/hgtv/ah_organizing_other/article/0,1801,HGTV_3138_5592995,00.html

On the newsstands this month, look for these magazines with articles that include tips and quotes from me:

Real Simple – September 2007 Organizing your purse Parents – September 2007 Cleaning baby stains Modern Bride – Fall 2007 Moving in together Better Homes & Gardens – September 2007 Organizing bedroom closets Woman’s Day – September 2007 50 Best Cleaning Tips


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 just released in February 2007.

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.

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.