February 2005
Vol. 3, No. 2

Tips & Inspiration for Organizing a Simpler Life

“The will to conquer is the first condition of victory.”

–Ferdinand Foch, Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces, World World I

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FEATURE ARTICLE: Loving and leaving our stuff

It seems that everything we buy, receive or otherwise accept into our lives becomes a part of who we are – or who we think we are.

We tend to develop emotional attachments to our stuff which makes it difficult to let go. Even when we no longer love it, we can’t leave it. Why is that?

“I can’t throw that out,” we say, “It’s still perfectly usable.

Or “I paid good money for that.”

Or “So-and-so gave that to me.”

Or my favorite: “I might need it someday.”

Following are some suggestions for letting go of the bits and pieces of your life that are no longer meaningful:

* Start with the easy stuff. Grab a trash bag and walk through your house looking for things that are clearly garbage: expired coupons and flyers, empty candy wrappers and other paper trash, expired medicines, stretched out socks, rusted kitchen utensils.

* If you are saving something because you think you may need it someday, ask yourself, “IF I do need it someday, could I get another one pretty easily and inexpensively?” If so, let it go.

* Consider having a yard or garage sale. It’s often easier to let go of something you know is going to a “good” home.

* Think about selling more valuable items on eBay. Large items that would be too bulky to ship can be sold through a local auction service called LiveDeal.com where you can list used items in your local for free. (Check it out, but don’t buy anything!)

* If you have clutter, you are richer than you think. Be an angel of mercy. Pack up what you no longer want or use and take it to the charity of your choice. Someone, somewhere really needs what is just taking up valuable space in your home.

* Create an umbrella rule of thumb about how long you will keep things like clothes you haven’t worn so you don’t have to make a decision about every item.

* Ask a friend or family member to help you and offer a service in exchange: cooking, babysitting, petsitting, or cleaning perhaps. Or hire a professional organizer. Get a free referral to an organizer near you from the National Association of Professional Organizers at http://www.napo.net

* If you have trouble letting go of things, think twice about what you bring into your house, especially those impulse purchases.

Next month: Organizing tax receipts

SURVEY RESULTS: Where is that. . .?

Last month, I asked: “What is the one thing that you search for most often in your home?

As promised, here are the results of that survey:

22% said: Remote control
19% said:Papers (bills, receipts, recipes, notes,
lists, addresses, articles, prescriptions)
15% said:Cordless phone
7% said: Eyeglasses
7% said: Children’s toys
7% said: Socks
7% said: Car keys
4% said: Clothing
4% said: Tools
4% said: Scotch tape & scissors
4% said: Cat toys

Repeat after me: Find a place for everything and put everything in its place.

About that remote control. . .

According to a survey released in 2001 by IKEA, the home furnishings store, men spend an average of 80 minutes per week looking for the remote control; women spend seven minutes.

Here’s an idea for anyone with children or a spouse who has a habit of wandering off with the remote control. Hide it on them. When they ask where it is, respond with something like, “It’s very annoying when you can’t find it, isn’t it?” Maybe even make them keep searching.

Then take the opportunity to make your point that if the remote control is always put back where it belongs – wherever that is – everyone will be able to find it when they want it. Hey, it’s worth a shot.

NEW SURVEY: Buying/selling a home

What do you think makes the biggest impact on prospective home buyers when walking into a home for the first time?

a. Cleanliness
b. Scents/odor
c. Style of décor
d. Furnishings
e. Architecture

TO RESPOND TO THE SURVEY, send an e-mail to editor@unclutter.com with the word “Survey” and your 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: About a “Not to do” list

I enjoy my home, but tend to do things that please me rather than tackle the decluttering. 2005 has arrived and, as usual, I am making promises to myself to attain that beautiful place also known as “organized.”

This year, I have decided not to list resolutions. No more “I will do.” I am making an “I won’t do” list. In 2005, I won’t:

1. Walk out of the kitchen leaving three drawers and two cupboard doors open.

2. Let my mind go blank as I enter the outside door with my purse and keys in my hand.

3. Get up from the couch with the TV remote in my hand and do something such as answer the phone.

I could list more, but I am gong to strive to make three changes at a time.

–Submitted by Jimmie Lou
Forest Park IL

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.

PLEASE NOTE: I get a lot of questions and it’s virtually impossible to respond to them all. Please know that I DO read them.

SHAMELESS PROMOTION: California, here I come

Did you know that liquid chlorine bleach has a shelf life of only six months?

That’s just one of the interesting tidbits I picked up recently while writing my fifth book, Cleaning Plain & Simple, which is scheduled for publication in January 2006.

What I love about writing is that, in my research, I learn so many really interesting things and then I get to share them with my readers. I imagine you coming across one of these things in my book, and saying, “Huh. I didn’t know that.” And it makes the teacher in me so happy!

My manuscript is due May 3 so I am busily writing away every day. However, I do have one special event planned for later this month.

On February 26, I have been asked to present organizing tips at the Grand Opening of the Lowe’s Home Improvement Store in Huntington Beach, California. I will be doing 30-minute stage demonstrations at noon, 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. followed by book signings.

FYI, Lowe’s has a nice selection of organizing products in their stores, including closet and garage organizers. And I have to say that the prices on some items are nearly half of what I have seen them sell for at other stores. They also sell my books, which is another reason to check out your local Lowe’s. <grin>

Or, 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.