January 2008 — Vol. 6, No. 1

Tips & Inspiration for Organizing a Simpler Life

“Change is not merely necessary to life, it is life.”
— Alvin Toffler, American writer and futurist

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FEATURE ARTICLE: Think yourself organized

Do you believe you can get organized? Or do you think you can’t? Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”

Ford wasn’t talking about organizing specifically. He was talking about the fact that ultimately, our experiences in the life are shaped by our beliefs.

Okay, you can’t really “think” your way to a more organized life. But don’t underestimate the power of your mind because what you think plays a direct role in your success.

If, for example, you believe that nothing you do makes a difference, that will be your experience.

See if you can pinpoint one belief that may be limiting your ability to get organized. It might be something like, “Why bother organizing? It’s just going to get messed up again.” Or “I’ve tried to get organized before and failed.”

I encourage you to let go of these limiting beliefs. Today.
Also let go of the belief that you don’t have time (we all have the same 24 hours in a day) or you don’t know where to start (anywhere will do!) or you don’t know how (you’ll learn as you go!).

While you’re at it, let go of the belief that once an item comes into your possession, you need to be its keeper forever. Think instead about the fact that someone, somewhere really needs the things that are just taking up valuable space in your home and getting in the way.

Do away with the belief that you must keep something because you might need it again. Ask yourself, “If I need this again, could I get it pretty easily and inexpensively?” If the answer is yes, give yourself permission to let it go.

With no negative thoughts to hold you back, start acting as if you ARE organized and you will start to become more organized. Think I’m kidding? Try it.

Next month: Online organizing

YOU’RE INVITED: Book Signing January 10

Book: The One-Minute Cleaner Topic: Green Cleaning Date: January 10, 2008 Time: 7 pm Place: Changing Hands Address: 6428 McClintock Drive (corner Guadalupe) City: Tempe, AZ Contact: 480-730-0205 (bookstore)

There’s a definite trend toward using less toxic products for cleaning. I will be sharing my favorite tips for making your home sparkle naturally with less time and effort.

Can’t make the presentation? Be sure to watch Good Morning Arizona on Channel 3 at 7:50 for a 3-minute sneak preview!

ENTER TO WIN: Phoenix Home Makeover Contest

The Arizona Chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers is searching for a family who truly deserves a “room makeover” for their home. This would be a family that is facing significant obstacles in their life or contributes unselfishly to the community around them.

The winner of this contest will get to choose which room they would like reorganized and redesigned, creating a calm, yet cozy place for their family. This makeover includes contributions from local businesses as well as the services of more than a dozen of Phoenix’s top professional organizers.

Enter to win by filling out an application found at http://www.destinationorganization.org. You’ll also find a terrific video of last year’s winning family.

The winner will be announced January 15th and the makeover will take place on February 16th. But hurry to enter! The contest deadline is January 10, 2008.

SURVEY RESULTS: Tax-deductible non-cash donations

Last month I asked: Did you take a tax deduction last year for items you donated to charity?

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

42% said: No 63% said: Yes

If you itemize on your taxes, you may be able to deduct the “fair market value” of non-cash donations. It’s up to you to determine the value of your donation, which is not the retail price or price you paid. It’s the amount that it could sell for today second-hand. Generally, that’s about 20-30% of the original value – more for designer brands, classic styles and newer styles and less for other clothing.

ItsDeductible, from the makers of TurboTax, determines and assigns the accurate fair market value to thousands of commonly donated items for you maximizing your charitable deductions. This easy-to-use program includes valuations for clothing, toys, household items, sporting goods, games, appliances, and more.

ItsDeductible software retails for $19.95 and comes with a guarantee that you will save at least $300 on your taxes or you can return the product for a full refund of your purchase price (excluding shipping and handling). For more information, log onto http://www.ItsDeductible.com.

You may also be able to find fair market value for donated items at http://www.SalvationArmyUSA.org Go to the Your Help drop down menu, choose Receipts, then Valuation Guide.
The Salvation Army provides lists of high and low condition valuation for all types of items. While the lists are not exhaustive, they are excellent guides.

Just remember that if you plan to take a deduction for your donations, you need to get a receipt!

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

Did you know that December 29 was officially “Still Need to Do Day?” Interesting, huh? It gave me an idea for this month’s survey: 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?

8-10 5-7 3-5 0-1 What list?

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.

READERS WRITE: I need an alternative to sticky notes

Q. You talked about ‘uncluttering our desks’, and I have a question about that. My question is: How do I break the bad habit of ‘sticky notes’ everywhere? They are so convenient (and easy to see with the bright colors), but my desk is cluttered with them! I have a day planner and I know that is where I need to write things, but I don’t always have that right next to me (I might be in the kitchen, living room, office, dining room, etc. when I think of something and I have notepads/sticky notes everywhere), so I just grab a sticky note. I write things down right away, so I don’t forget it, and I can get it out of my mind. It’s just not practical to carry my planner everywhere in the house, or always have to walk back to where it is, every time I think of something! HELP!!!

–Submitted by Janet S., Bend OR

Try this: Get a small, colorful spiral notebook. Instead of reaching for sticky notes, train yourself to only write notes in your notebook. Write today’s date at the top of one page and start jotting notes. If your notebook is not nearby, you’ll have to go get it. But it’s the only to break the sticky note habit. And believe me, you’ll be glad you did. At the end of the day, transfer things you need to your day planner. The little bits of information you collected (phone number, web site, or whatever) can also be transferred to your address book, or wherever. Another idea: Try www.jott.com. This is a free service that lets you “jot” a note to yourself via phone. You call a number that you can program into your cell. You have 15 seconds to leave a message that can be sent as an email to yourself.

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.


If you’re in one of the areas listed below, be sure to tune in to Better TV on Friday, January 11, 2008 for a segment on de-cluttering and de-stressing in the new year.

Phoenix, AZ KPHO/CBS 3 pm
Portland, OR KPTV/FOX 9 am
Hartford, CT WFSB/CFS 10 am
Kansas City, MO KSMO/MYTV 8 am
Milwaukee, WI WTMJ/NBC 3 pm
Nashville, TN WSMV/NBC 11 am
Greenville, SC WHNS/FOX 9 am
Las Vegas, NV KVVU/FOX 11 am
Fort Myers, WFTX/FOX 11 am
Saginaw, MI WNEM/CBS 11 am
Chattanooga, TN WFLI/CW Noon
Springfield WSHM/CBS 10 am

If you miss me on the air, you can see the show online at http://www.Better.TV.

This month in the newsstands, look for the January 2008 issue of Better Homes & Gardens for an organizing article on room remedies. Also look for a Q & A column in Quick & Simple on how to make your bed in a hurry.

For your online reading pleasure, check out this article on how to start your day with less stress with a little pre- bedtime organization: http://greenbaypressgazette.ctwfeatures.com/health/health_20071207_beforebed.html

If you have yet to put away your holiday decorations, check out this article on “undecking the halls” here: http://www.pjstar.com/stories/122207/LAW_BASJAQGQ.065.php


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.

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