December 2004
Vol. 2, No. 12

Tips & Inspiration for Organizing a Simpler Life

“How many things I can do without!”


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FEATURE ARTICLE: Resolving to get organized

As the new year approaches, our thoughts eventually turn to resolutions. How many times have you resolved to get organized? Why is it so hard to make that resolution stick?

I’m reading The Purpose-Driven Life by Rick Warren and there’s an analogy in there that I want to share:

[Excerpt] Imagine riding in a speedboat on a lake with an automatic pilot set to go east. If you decide to reverse and head west, you have two possible ways to change the boat’s direction. On way is to grab the steering wheel and physically force it to head in the opposite direction. By sheer will power you could overcome the autopilot, but you would feel constant resistance. Your arms would eventually tire of the stress, you’d let go of the steering wheel, and the boat would instantly head back east, the way it was internally programmed.

This is what happens when you try to change your life with willpower: You say, “I’ll force myself to eat less. . .exercise more . .quit being disorganized and late.” Yes, willpower can produce short-term change, but it creates constant internal stress because you haven’t dealt with the root cause. The change doesn’t
feel natural, so eventually you give up. You revert to your old patterns. [end excerpt]

What is the root cause of your disorganization?
Before you add “Get organized” to your list of New Year resolutions, see if you can pinpoint one belief that may be limiting your ability to get organized. For example, do you believe that getting organized is a waste of time because it’s just going to get disorganized again? If so, that will be your experience.

Also take a good hard look at why you have so much clutter. Think about your relationship with your stuff. Could it be that you are trying to define who you are by what you own?

Know that simply making a resolution to get organized is probably not enough to ensure success. Recognize that you’ve got to change. And that change must begin in your mind. Think about why you want to get organized, what you are doing that is contributing the current mess, and what you can do about that.

Then go ahead and make that resolution to get organized. And let me know how you make out.

Next month: Organizing to achieve your dream

SURVEY RESULTS: Opening mail

Last month, I asked: “How often do you open and sort your mail?”

As promised, here are the results of that survey:

69% said: Every day
20% said: Several times a week
2% said: Once a week
2% said: Every other week or so
0% said: Once a month
3% said: Once in a blue moon

I thought you might be interested in some of the advice from other readers:

“I place my junk mail in one pile to be shredded and my important mail in my work bag and read it during breaks.”

“I gave up sorting through my mail daily because of the time it always takes. Now I toss it in a basket & sort through it 2-3 times a week. It’s been a bonus in that it helps keep the clutter off of my dining table, plus I find that the time spent is actually less.”

“I sort out my mail every day. I receive so many catalogs and magazines (wanted) as well as credit card and mortgage solicitations (unwanted!) that if I don’t keep on top of the mail it becomes overwhelming. To help keep the paper under control, I purchased an attractive matching metal bin and “french flower pot” (tall, narrow container) which I use as I sort the mail. All junk mail gets addresses torn off and put into the flower pot for shredding or burning in my mom’s fireplace and the rest goes into the larger metal bin to be added to paper recycling once a week.”

“I sort my mail in the garage next to the trash bin. Junk mail never enters the house. I open my bills twice a month so I can pay what is due at the first of the month and the last.”

NEW SURVEY: Hiring a professional organizer

Have you or would you use the services of a professional organizer?

a. Have used
b. Have not used but would considered using
c. Have not used and would not use
d. Huh? What’s a professional organizer?

send an e-mail to editor@unclutter.com with the word “Survey” and your letter answer in the subject line. Feel free to include comments in the body of your e-mail. I really enjoy reading them.

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

READERS WRITE: Organized holiday decorating

I really enjoy decorating my home with holiday decorations.  To simplify the task and save lots of time, after each holiday I take pictures around my house of how I displayed the items before
packing them away until the following year.

I store the pictures on the computer or in a file folder with the holiday name for easy reference when it comes time to decorate again. It saves me a lot of time and spares me the frustration of trying to figure out where I had placed the decorations the previous year.

Maureen Demers
Delmar, NY

WRITE TO WIN an autographed copy of my most
recent book!

Do you have a question about uncluttering or organizing? Or a really great organizing tip that you would like to share with other readers?

Send an e-mail to
with “Readers_Write” in the subject line.

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

NOTE: I get a lot of questions and it’s hard to get to them all. Please know that I do my best.

SHAMELESS PROMOTION: New search tool on Web site

On the home page of my Web site (http://www.unclutter.com), you can now search for a particular organizing topic. If that topic is mentioned in one of my previous newsletters, it will come up in the list.

Oh, and last month, I forgot to tell you that I had a tip featured in O magazine. How could I forget? Here’s the tip as it was published:

Make a holiday gift list. Start by asking Who, what, where? suggests Donna Smallin, author of The One-Minute Organizer Plain and Simple. “For the where, I narrow my list to as few stores as possible,” she says. “If I’m shopping online, I’ll get the toys in one place, because the shipping will cost less. Also, if you charge all holiday purchases to one credit card, you’ll have a convenient record of exactly how much you spent.”

The One-Minute Organizer was also recently mentioned in Redbook and Home magazines. And I just learned that this book is heading into its third reprint (since September!) for a total of 160,000 copies in print.

By the way, if you would like a signed copy of any of my books, you can order direct from me:
Click on the SignedCopy.com logo to have a signed copy sent to you.

Just a thought: Autographed copies make great gifts for book lovers and anyone you know who wants to get organized.

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