December 2005
Vol. 3, No. 12

Tips & Inspiration for Organizing a Simpler Life

“”Life is made of millions of moments, but we live only one of these moments at a time. As we begin to change this moment, we begin to change our lives.”

–Trinidad Hunt, author and speaker on leadership

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FEATURE ARTICLE: Organizing for joy

This time of year is supposed to be a time for peace and joy. But preparing for the holidays often ends up being stressful, exhausting and anything but joyful.

Following is my “organizing for joy” plan.
Hopefully, these ideas will spark some of your own:

* PRIORITIZE. Choose the two or three events are the most meaningful to you and your family and plan to attend only those events.

* QUESTION EVERYTHING. Do you really need to do everything you do for the holidays? Are there things you don’t enjoy doing or that go unappreciated or even detract from your holiday in some way? If so, why do them?

* MAKE A LIST. Make a master list of things you need to do and assign dates by which they need to be done. Each day, review your master list and choose those things that need doing today.

* STAY AHEAD. Do as much as you can in advance so that you are less likely to feel rushed instead of ready. For example, you can make and freeze cookie dough in batches and then pull out one batch to bake each night and freeze the cookies until needed. Or set up a gift wrapping station and wrap one or two gifts each night.

* MAKE IT A FAMILY AFFAIR. Get kids involved in decorating, making cookies, wrapping presents, writing out holiday cards, serving at your holiday party, and other activities.

* GIVE THE GIFT OF TIME. Consider planning an activity for friends and family members to give as a gift; for example, a family weekend ski trip or movies with a friend.

* SHOP IN ONE STOP. Buy as many gifts as you can in one place or area of town or online. Or consider giving gift certificates.

* DELEGATE. Take advantage of store wrapping services.
You might also consider hiring someone to come in and do a thorough cleaning to free up your time for holiday fun.

* SHARE YOUR JOY. Donate gently used toys and stuffed animals to a local holiday toy drive, give food or money to a regional food bank, or invite a single, widowed or divorced neighbor or friend to join you for your holiday dinner or festivities.

May your holidays be organized with peace and joy! I’m wishing you all the love and happiness your heart can hold.

Next month: Starting off the new year on an organized foot

QUICK TIP: Changing purses

Make it easier to change purses by organizing like items such as makeup in small cosmetic bags or clear plastic bags. Then, instead of having to transfer a lot of loose items from one purse to another, you just have a few small bags.

SURVEY RESULTS: Why we want to get organized

Last month, I asked: “What would you say is the biggest motivator for you to get more organized?”

As promised, here are the results of that survey:

18% said: Less wasted time looking for stuff/more time for more important things

40% said: Being able to have people in your home without being embarrassed about how it looks

26% said: Less frustration/decreased stress

1% said: Setting a good example for your kids

1% said: Making money off valuable items that are just taking up space

9% said: Clearing out space or a room for better use of that space or room

5% said: Other

I was a little surprised at the results of this survey — and saddened to think that so many of us feel guilty and even depressed about our clutter.

One reader advised “courage” for readers who have spent a lifetime collecting things they might need someday. She’s finally realized “I am not my stuff.”

Another reader mentioned a dining room table that can’t be used for dining because it’s covered with paper. That’s a good place for her to start uncluttering and organizing in the new year.
Where will you start?

NEW SURVEY: New year organizing priority

What is the one organizing project you would most like to complete in the new year?

a. Photographs b. Kitchen c. Closet d. Basement, attic or garage e. Office/papers f. Getting rid of things you don’t use g. Other (please describe)

TO RESPOND TO THE SURVEY, click the following link editor@unclutter.comor send email to editor@unclutter.com with the words “December Survey” in the subject line and your answer in the body of the email. I will share the results of this survey in the next issue.

READERS WRITE: The job jar

My organizing tip is what I call my “Job Jar”.
In this jar (actually a covered ceramic bowl), I place pieces of paper with a small project written on each. I do mean small — polish one pair of shoes, organize one drawer, shelf or cabinet (I specify kitchen, bedrooms, china cabinet).

I only include projects that take about 15-20 minutes. That way, I don’t dread it when I pull out a piece of paper. I try to pick a project once each day, then put the paper right back into the jar before I do the work.

Often, once I start working on one of these small projects, I go ahead and do other things I notice while I’m working in the area.

— Submitted by Diane Tuttle, St. Louis MO

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 latest 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.

SHAMELESS PROMOTION: The calm before the tour

Very soon, my newest book, Cleaning Plain & Simple, will be hitting the shelves of bookstores everywhere. You may even be able to find it at your local Costco Store!

In January, I will pretty much be living on an airplane as I travel around the country doing book signings. I plan to be in New York, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Seattle, Denver, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Miami and Phoenix. More details on that next month. . .

This month, watch for me December 20 at 10:00 a.m. MT on KAZ-TV 13’s A.M. Arizona. I will be demonstrating and talking about holiday cleaning tips.

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.

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.

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