Tips & Inspiration for Organizing a Simpler Life August 2010 – Vol. 9 No. 6
“Try not to do too many things at once. Know what you want, the number one thing today and tomorrow. Persevere and get it done.” ~George Allen
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The price you pay for clutter Harry Browne once said, “Everything you want in life has a price connected to it. There’s a price to pay if you want to make things better, a price to pay just for leaving things as they are, a price for everything.”

What is the price you pay for clutter and disorganization? “Leaving things as they are” is most likely costing you one or more of the following:

– Space that could be put to better use.

– Time and energy lost in looking for misplaced things.

– Stress from knowing that you really should get organized but not knowing where or how to start.

And, of course, there are the financial costs:

– How many times have you bought something you needed only to realize later that you already had it?

– How many times have you bought something on sale (or on a whim) that ended up as a permanent fixture in your closet or collecting dust somewhere?

– Have you ever discovered that something valuable was ruined because it wasn’t properly put away?

– Are you considering a move into a larger, more expensive apartment or house largely because you need more room for your stuff? How much will it cost to move? What will be the additional housing cost each year?

– What are you hanging on to that you could sell at a garage sale, on eBay or on consignment and recoup some of your initial investment?

– What items could you give away as non-cash, tax- deductible donations? Do the math. If you are in a 28% tax bracket, a $600 donation of clothing you aren’t wearing is a $168 tax savings.

Weigh the “price you pay for leaving things as they are” against the “price to pay if you want to make it better.” Yes, you will need to invest some time and energy to get organized, but you don’t need to put your life on hold to do it.

Commit to spending 15 minutes a day organizing one area or task until it is done. Don’t get discouraged about how much remains to be done. Just focus every day on doing something toward your goal and eventually, you WILL realize a substantial return on your investment in every aspect of your life.

Favorite organizing products

As a professional organizer for the last 10 years, I’ve used and recommended a lot of organizing products and services. Every month, in this column, I share my favorites.

Have you ever had your computer hard drive crash? If you haven’t yet, it could be a matter of time. That’s why I back up my computer to a remote server via Carbonite.

I like Carbonite because it backs up my documents automatically as I create them. So I don’t have to remember to back up. I have it on my laptop too so even when I travel, my documents are being backed up. They offer a free trial. Check it out: Carbonite.

From a reader: Could you do with less STUFF? Thanks to John Thompson, a reader in Tustin, CA for this perspective which you may find helpful for getting your brain in gear with regard to your STUFF.

When we go shopping, we acquire clothes, appliances, toys and other THINGS. These THINGS after a while of sitting around the house become STUFF. I think it is interesting that THINGS, no matter how they started out, morph into STUFF. Maybe this is what we all need to do to relieve our bulging closets and drawers; look through them and if you only see STUFF, get rid of that and only keep items that are still THINGS.

I have a thought on how to get going on reducing the STUFF around the house. Play a game and imagine that tomorrow you have to downsize and half of what you have has to go because of reduced space to store these items. So each drawer becomes half as much, each closet becomes half as much and pretty soon, STUFF is gone and living becomes more manageable.

Maybe I have this idea because in a few hours I am participating in a neighborhood “garage sale” and have tried to select STUFF that is worthy for such a sale.
Hopefully, in a few hours, people will be happy with their purchases and I will have less STUFF to trip over.

Shameless promotion: What’s black and white and read all over? Lots of articles in newspapers and magazines this month with my tips in them!

What a month. I was interviewed by a writer from the Associated Press, Canadian Press and Gatehouse News Service – all of which distribute content to hundreds of newspapers across the country. Here are two of those clips which you may have seen in your local newspaper:

Organizing your closet: http://bit.ly/d9luAh

Small design and decorative touches can help transform a home for fall: http://bit.ly/dCM3GF

I also had mentions in the September issues of Reader’s Digest and Better Homes & Gardens, both of which just hit the newsstands this month. Here’s the online version of the Reader’s Digest article on versatile uses for 6 essential storage items: http://bit.ly/95d5Ua

Plus, you’ll find some great tips in this WomansDay.com article on tough cleaning challenges: http://bit.ly/a4hzBp

And on top of all that great print publicity, I did a “Clean and Healthy Home” Satellite Media Tour on August 12 which was broadcast live to morning news programs in 10 markets across the country.

I have to say that this kind of media coverage goes a long way toward making up for not being so popular in high school or college. J

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