January 2005
Vol. 3, No. 1

Tips & Inspiration for Organizing a Simpler Life

“Determine what specific goal you want to achieve. Then dedicate yourself to its attainment with unswerving singleness of purpose, the trenchant zeal of a crusader.”

–Paul J. Meyer, founder of Leadership Management International

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FEATURE ARTICLE: Organizing to achieve your dream

The New Year is about new beginnings. Make 2005 the year you start “getting a life,” not merely “making a living.”

Have you been waiting for “the right time” to get to work on your dream? There’s no time like right now to get going, and with the New Year, you’ll have some momentum to keep going, says creativity expert, Suzanne Falter-Barns, author of Living Your Joy: A Practical Guide to Happiness (Ballantine; $12.95).

Here are 10 great tips for living your joy!

1. Carve out regular time slots for your dream, and get to work. If you’re a morning person, get up an hour earlier and create as the sun rises. If you’re a night owl, stay up late to get it done. Either way, give yourself a regular shot of at least thirty minutes per day (an hour is better) five times per week. (See #10.)

2. Figure out your soul purpose in life, and put it on your computer. This is your larger job in life. It’s not a task, per se, but some more general gift that you are meant to give to others, such as ‘wake people up to the power of nature’ or ‘remind people of their compassion.’ It can be uncovered simply by journaling, or even meditating on the question.

3. Recognize five time-wasters and end them, pronto. If you compulsively check your email, this one’s for you. Other time wasters include hanging on the phone, parking in front of the TV, and reading the paper from start to finish. Take a clear look at how you spend your time, and honestly assess your time usage.

4. Politely withdraw from at least three situations or relationships that waste your energy. Energy wasters leave you feeling depressed, frustrated, annoyed, unappreciated and vaguely used or beaten-up. Get them out of your life right now, and you won’t believe how much energy they free up for your dream!

5. Find a support buddy or group. This is simply an ally (or a group of them) who really gets behind you and your dream. You can connect via e-mail, phone or live meetings to share inspiration, support, triumphs, disasters, and ideas. Especially helpful if you’re a
procrastinator (be in touch before AND after you get your work done each day.)

6. Make a creative workspace you love. A great creative workspace can be a separate room, or a curtained off corner of your living space that has the tools you need. . .plus inspirational helpers, like visual props, pictures, quotations and the like. Design it with the same care as you’ve planned the work of your dream.

7. Keep power bars, or shakes, in your creative workspace. Cliff Bars, Luna Bars, Power Bars, spirulina shakes, and the like all provide great bursts of energy when you’re burning the midnight oil. Don’t forget them! (These honestly give you more sustained energy than caffeine, and no shakes or sleeplessness.)

8. Dedicate a weekend to decluttering your home and creative work space (and sell off the unwanted but usable stuff.) Clear out all the accumulated stuff you’ve jammed into drawers, shelves, corners and assorted nooks and crannies. Don’t be afraid to discard, or make great bags for sale or give away. This act releases energy that gives you a great boost for your dreams.

9. Start a Dream Savings Account with money made from decluttering. Know that pile of pretty but unused journals you decided to toss while decluttering? (See above.) Sell them on e-bay, or at a yard sale along with other unwanted but usable things. It takes a little effort, but you’d be surprised what you’ll net. Then take that surprising sum right to the bank, and park it in a money market account or CD that earns interest as you add to it regularly. This is the beginning of your dream nest egg.

10. Bring lunch to work, and spend your lunch hour on your dream. Close the door and shut the workday out. Then pull out your sandwich from home (don’t waste time going out to buy one) and get busy on your real work. . .the stuff of your dreams. And don’t open the door for a soul until that sacred hour is past. (If you work in a doorless cubicle, go out to a nearby coffee bar, library, public space, or even your car.)

For information on how to find the time, energy,money to live your purpose in life, check out Suzanne’s book, “Living Your Joy; A Practical Guide to Happiness. Her free ezine, The Joy Letter, brings you a crisp, fresh burst of inspiration for creative dreamers every week or two. Sign up at
http://www.howmuchjoy.com/joyletter.html and receive Suzanne’s valuable report, 35 Guaranteed Time Savers.

Next month: Falling out of love with our stuff


To reduce junk mail and telemarketing calls, fill out those privacy notices you get with your bank and credit card statements or call the toll-free numbers provided and opt out of everything so that the company can contact you regarding your account only.

Also contact the Direct Marketing Association and ask to have your phone, address and email added to their “do not contact” list. And if you haven’t already registered all your phone numbers, including your cell phone numbers at http://www.donotcall.gov, it is advisable to do so now.

HOW TO: Organize holiday decorations

*Consider donating any decorations that you did not put up this year. Throw away broken items.

*Look for post-holiday sales on plastic ornament storage boxes or, if your budget is tight, wrap ornaments in tissue paper and store in partitioned liquor or wine boxes. Store very small ornaments in egg cartons.

*Wrap strings of lights around empty wrapping paper tubes. Cut tubes in half to make it easier to store in a standard size box.

*Keep partially used rolls of wrapping paper from unraveling by slitting an empty wrapping paper tube, paper towel or toilet paper tube from end to end and sliding it over the new roll. Or slip one leg cut from a pair of old pantyhose over one or more rolls and secure the open end.

*Buy holiday paper and cards after the holidays so that you’re all set for next year – and save money too. If you prefer to wait until next year to buy, consider making a list of the things you will need and put that list where you will find it in October or November.

*Plastic tubs are generally better than cardboard boxes for long-term storage of anything because they are less likely to get crushed or attract insects. Long plastic, lidded tubs are great for storing holiday decorations. If you have more than one box, try to use the same size boxes for easy stacking and label each box.

*Create an inventory of each item as you pack it. Then tape an envelope to the box, store the inventory list inside, and label the front of the envelope with a brief description such as Christmas Tree Ornaments or Christmas Room Decorations.

*Cover large hanging decorations with clear plastic trash bags, tape the bags shut, and hang them from rafters in your basement, garage, or attic.

*Store holiday decorations in an out of the way place like your attic or on a high shelf in your garage cabinet and save more accessible space for items that are used more often throughout the year.

SURVEY RESULTS: Hiring a professional organizer

Last month, I asked: “Have you or would you use the services of a professional organizer?”

As promised, here are the results of that survey:

8% said: Have used
60% said: Have not used but would considered using
32% said: Have not used and would not use
0% said: Huh? What’s a professional organizer?

For a free referral to a professional organizer in your area, go to the Web site of the National Association of Professional Organizers at http://www.napo.net.

Are you super organized? If you are interested in learning more about becoming a professional organizer, check out this free tele-class:

Launching Your Organizing Business:
Strive to Thrive in 2005!
Wed, Jan 5, 2005
5:00 pm – 6:00 pm (PST)

Space is limited to 27 registered participants. For more information or to register, visit http://www.workshop4success.com and click on Workshops, then Free Tele-Call.

NEW SURVEY: Where is that. . .?

What is the one thing that you search for most often in your home? (Examples: child’s toy, remote control, car keys, clean socks)

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: Organizing hats, mittens & scarves

My hats, mittens & scarves (summer hats in summer) are kept on the back of my front door. It is made of steel so I wasn’t able to attach hooks, but I took heavy duty magnet clips from an office supply store and they are perfect for keeping my hats, scarves & mittens organized as well as a perfect place to hang them to dry!

–Val Caron, Ontario, Canada

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.


The new year is really off to a great start. I just received word that Organizing Plain & Simple is now in its third edition in Portuguese.

And, I am happy to report that as we go into the third year of publishing this newsletter, we now have nearly 4,300 subscribers. But the most amazing thing to me is that in all this time, only 20 people have only unsubscribed! (Now don’t go messing up my statistics.)

Have you heard? January is National Get Organized Month. Watch for yours truly live in Phoenix:

January 2 (Cable Channel 3)
8:10 a.m. Good Morning Arizona

January 4 (Cable Channel 13)
9:00-10:00 a.m. The Pat McMahon Show

Also in the Phoenix area, I am presenting tips for getting organized in the new year, along with three other professional organizers, as part of a panel discussion at Changing Hands bookstore:

Wednesday, January 5
7:00 – 8:30 p.m.
6428 McClintock Drive – Tempe, AZ (Plan to get there early to get a seat. We’re expecting a full house.)

On January 8, I will be a guest on the Mr. Fix-It Program – not once, but twice. The National Show
is broadcast Saturday Mornings at 8AM Eastern on the Business Talk Radio Network. For a listing of cities in which the program is broadcast, go to http://www.mrfixit.net. You can also listen online at www.businesstalkradio.net. Just click on the Listen Live button. In Denver, tune in to the local program on 710 KNUS News Talk Radio from 10 a.m to noon.

Also in Denver, I will be presenting and signing books, along with several other organizer/authors, at The Tattered Cover Bookstore in the historic LoDo area.

Saturday, January 15
10:00 to Noon

You might also catch me on your favorite early morning television news program on January 19. I will be doing a live satellite broadcast from New York City to 25 cities nationwide to share organizing tips for people with rheumatoid arthritis.

Throughout the month, if you are in your local
Barnes & Noble bookstore, look for my books on display tables. You’ll also find my first book, Unclutter Your Home, on display at Kohl’s stores nationwide.

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.