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ORGANIZING PLAIN & SIMPLE MONTHLY
February 2008 — Vol. 6, No. 2

Tips & Inspiration for Organizing a Simpler Life
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“Nothing is easier than being busy, and nothing more difficult than being effective.”

— Alec MacKenzie, time-management expert
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FEATURE ARTICLE: Online organizing and time management tools

Did you know? February is National Time Management Month.
On a recent Saturday afternoon, I looked at the clock and exclaimed, “Wow. It’s 4:30 already. Where DOES the time go?” My 8-year-old granddaughter replied, “Well, there are three hands. . .”

If you’re having trouble keeping up with those three little hands; that is, if you’re in need of a little help with time management, following are five online products and services well worth a try.

1. Cozi – www.cozi.com

Cozi’s software was most recently highlighted as the “must have calendar for the family” at the Consumer Electronics Show and as a valuable Web 2.0 resource for busy families.
Cozi makes life easier, less stressful and more fun for busy families. And it’s free.

Cozi helps you centralize “all things family” including your calendars, shopping lists, reminders, and even your digital photos. Cozi even provides a simple way to send quick messages to family members and a journal feature.
Cozi is dedicated to organization for the family so that families have more time to spend on doing things they love.

Take a quick tour of Cozi at http://www.cozi.com/products/default.aspx Then take the Cozi challenge: Try it out for two weeks and email Nettie@cozi.com with pictures of family, if you wish, along with your comments about what life was like before and after trying Cozi.

2. Never Be Late Again: 7 Cures for the Punctually Challenged – www.neverbelateagain.com

I highly recommend this book by internationally recognized management consultant Diana DeLonzor. It cured me! Learn the most common reasons why people are late and discover your own reasons.

I was one of those punctually challenged people. Now, I’m usually early for appointments and I’ve got to say that good things happen to those who show up early. Hey, Diana! That might make a good title for your next book!

3. Shoeboxed – www.Shoeboxed.com

Automatically organize email and scanned receipts into a useful overview of your spending for fast and easy itemization of reimbursable expenses, tax preparation, or budgeting with this free online service.

4. SendOutCards – www.YourCardConnection.com

Now you can send real paper greeting cards from your own computer, with your own handwriting and signature even.

All you do is choose the card you want to send from the online catalog, personalize it, and click SEND.
SendOutCards does all the printing, stuffing, licking, stamping, addressing and mailing – all for about $1 per card! You can even create a customized card using your own digital photo on the cover and add captions, borders, voice bubbles and more.

And you can request to add a gift card or gift check to the greeting card, or even have them send a physical gift with your card (gift boxes filled with such things as gourmet candy, nuts, brownies, cookies, coffee, tea, and cocoa).

SendOutCards does all the work, so you are receiving a product (card) AND a service (preparation of the mailing) . . . making it a huge time saver.

I liked this service so much and found it to be such an incredible productivity tool that I became a distributor for SendOutCards. If you would like to try it for free, go to http:://www.yourcardconnection.com.

5. One Clock – www.directlogic.com/oneclock.htm

A Senior Manager at Westin Hotels & Resorts introduced me to One Clock. He uses it to ensure he’s always on time for meetings.

One Clock is a talking clock that sits in your system tray.
At your selected time interval, either every 5 minutes, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or 1 hour, One Clock will play a chime and announce the current time.

One Clock also features a countdown timer. Use it for anything that requires a countdown timer. Whether it is for cooking, doing laundry, watering the lawn, timing yourself for a test or speech, watching an online auction countdown, or hundreds of other uses.

Next month: Spring cleaning fast and easy

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SIMPLICITY DEFINED: By Tracy Axcell

Simplicity creates calm. Simplicity opens the door to so many extra hours; hours that can be used for more productive things.

Simplicity is something that most of us “naturally disorganized” are not familiar with. We tend to create chaos with all the stuff we add to our homes and offices.

Wouldn’t this year be an extra special year if we dedicated ourselves to living a simplified life? What does that mean in day-to-day terms?

S – stop. Stop buying more, stop spending more. Enjoy what we have and use it for what it was intended.

I – invest. Invest in others lives instead of focusing on our own. Sit down for tea/coffee with someone who could use a friend.

M – move. Move the junk and extra stuff out of your office and home.

P – pray. Who better to bring simplicity than the one who created you?

L – laugh. We have lost the ability to laugh and have fun in our chaotic, clutter-filled days. Find a way to bring the joy of laughter back into your life. Start here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cXXm696UbKY

I – ignore. Ignore the critics -they don’t deserve a minute of your day!

C – change. Do it slowly and allow time to help you, but make a decision today that you will change the chaos- creating habits that steal simplicity from your life.

I – invite. Invite those around you to join you in your quest for a more simplified life. That may mean requesting that mom/dad don’t pass down their “leftovers” to you. It may mean encouraging a friend to just visit you without going shopping and eating out. Invite your “world” to simplify!

T – throw. Throw out the trash. Get rid of the “trash” both physically spiritually. Simplicity is about removing unwanted items and trash is a major issue with disorganized people; things you do that are “waste” and things you keep that are wasting space – get rid of “TRASH”!

Y – year. Give yourself this year of 2008 to slowly create a new, simplified, and enjoyable life at work and home.

SIMPLICITY – LIFE ENJOYED WITHOUT CHAOS AND CLUTTER.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Tracy Axcell is a gifted professional organizer, highly effective businessperson and friend who just moved from Oklahoma to Alabama.

If you know anyone living in the Huntsville, Madison, Athens or Decatur area who could benefit from meeting with an organizer, check out Tracy Axcell’s web site: http://www.officiallyorganized.com.

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SURVEY RESULTS: What was on your 2007 “to do” list?

Last month I asked: On a scale of 1-10 with 0 being nothing and 10 being everything, how much of your “to do in 2007” list did you manage to do?

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

17% said: 8-10 20% said: 5-7 24% said: 3-5 5% said: 0-1 34% said: What list?

Well, 66% of you achieved at least some of the things you wanted to do this year! I find it always helps to focus on the things you DID accomplish rather than the things you didn’t. No need to get down on yourself, right?

That said, when you create a list and actually write down your goals, you are more likely to achieve them – even if you never look at the list again! There’s something in the act of writing your goals that commits them to your subconscious mind.

Try this: Grab a piece of paper and under the heading “Thing I Will Do in 2008,” write down three to five things you would like to do this year, such as pay off your credit card debt, paint the house, or learn to play the piano.

Post your list somewhere you’ll see it every day. Or seal your list in an envelope, write “To be opened on December 31, 2008” on it, and place the envelope at the back of your day planner, tape it to the last page of a wall calendar, or set a date reminder in Outlook (along with a note to remind you where you put the envelope).

At the end of the year, compare your intentions to your experiences. I hope you are pleasantly surprised!

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NEW SURVEY: Are you on time?

Are you almost always on time, early, or late for meetings and appointments?

On time Early Late

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!

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

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READERS WRITE: Getting things done with Outlook

I use “Tasks” in Microsoft Outlook for anything that I do (or should do) on a regular basis.

For instance, I have it set to remind me once a week to “tidy-up the refrigerator.” I take all the items off a shelf at a time and clean the shelf, wipe off the containers if they are going back in, or toss in the garbage/compost. No more moldy throwaways!

I also have reminders set for bills to be paid, taking care of the check book, when to send birthday cards, and call friends. These can be set at any interval, daily, weekly, every three weeks, annually, etc.

— Submitted by Helen S., Webster, WI

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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 book, The One-Minute Cleaner 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.

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SHAMELESS PROMOTION: Another book is on the way

If you missed me last month on “Better,” the nationally syndicated television show, you can still see the webcast at http://www.Better.TV. Search for De-clutter, De-stress.

I’ll be appearing again next month in a spring cleaning segment. Stay tuned for details in the next issue.

This month in the newsstands, look for the February 12 issue of Woman’s Day magazine or check out the online article by Amy Flurry: Clean like you mean it: http://www.womansday.com/home/12710/clean-like-you-mean-it-page3.html

I also got a mention in the February issue of Shape magazine in an article about shaping up your office.

Closer to home, I was interviewed for an article in the Arizona Republic which has also been picked up in the Detroit Free Press and other papers around the country.

Here’s the link if you want to read this article entitled Spouses should cross-train to be prepared for crises: http://www.freep.com:80/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080120/FEATURES01/801200520/1026/FEATURES01

On February 16, I will be one of dozens of professional organizers who have volunteered for Project Destination Organization, an annual room makeover contest sponsored by the Arizona chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO-AZ). We promise a room makeover, but last year’s family returned to find every room in their house organized. This year’s winning family is in for an equally big surprise.

But mostly this month, I’m busy writing a new book. If you struggle with what to do with all your stuff, you’re going to love this book. When I finish writing, I’ll tell you all about it.

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GOT BOOKS?

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 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.

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

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