Tips & Inspiration for Organizing a Simpler Life January 2011 – Vol. 10 No. 1
You can do so much in 10 minutes’ time. 10 minutes, once gone, are gone for good. Divide your life into 10-minute units and sacrifice as few of them as possible in meaningless activity.”
–Ingvar Kamprad

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9 ways to start the new year on an organized foot Did you make a New Year resolution to get organized? You’re not alone. Getting organized is consistently in the “Top 5” list of new year resolutions.

If you’ve tried before to get organized and failed or were successful at getting organized only to find yourself in a state of disorganization again, don’t despair. You can do whatever you put your mind to and organizing is no exception.

Following are a few pointers to help you get organized – and stay organized this year:

* Get your brain in gear. Think about why you want to get organized. What’s in it for you? What do you stand to gain by getting organized?

* Make organizing a priority. Don’t just talk about getting organized. Look at how you spend your time and adjust your priorities accordingly to give yourself the time you need to get organized.

* Establish a reward. Getting organized is reward in itself. (You’ll see!) But let’s say you want to organize your clothes closet. If you pull out all those clothes you no longer wear and take them to a consignment shop, you can reward yourself with something new that you WILL wear with the money you make.

* Focus your efforts. Work on one project at a time: a bookshelf, closet, dresser, jewelry box, toy box or whatever. Keep at it until you have organized it to your satisfaction. Then move on to your next project. Taking each project to completion provides momentum and motivation for the next project.

* Make and keep organizing “appointments.” Make an appointment with yourself to spend 15 minutes each day on organizing activities. Honor that appointment as you would any other. But what can you accomplish in 15 minutes? It may surprise you to learn that 15 minutes a day adds up to 7 hours a month. That’s a lot of organizing time!

* Let go of the past. Give yourself permission to let go of anything you no longer love or use. Give it away, donate it or sell it.

* Get help. If you have the resources to hire a professional organizer to help you get organized (or at least get a start), do it. For a referral to a professional organizer in your area, go to the Web site of the National Association of Professional Organizers. http://www.napo.net

* Act as if you are organized. This may sound crazy, but when you act as if you are organized, you will become more organized. How do you do that? Through action. Think before you act. Don’t just set something down; put it away. Find a home for “homeless” items. Take care of today’s things today.

* Make yourself accountable. Tell a friend or family member about your organizing goals. Ask that person to check in next week for a report on your organizing activities.
You’ll be less likely to let that resolution fall by the wayside.

Still time to sign up for my organizing teleseminar!

The hardest part of getting organized is getting started.

Here’s the solution. Sign up now for an organizing teleseminar on Thursday, January 20 at 4pm Eastern Time.
The topic is GO: Get Organized! I guarantee you that if you take this seminar, you’ll get at least one simple idea that you can implement right away and enjoy immediate results.

* Find out how getting your brain in gear is the first step to getting organized.

* Quickly decide what to keep and what to toss by asking yourself one simple question.

* Get tips on how to turn clutter into cash – fast.

* And much more!

We’ll have a total of 60 minutes together – 45 minutes of content and 15 minutes for questions and answers.

This is a phone seminar, which means you don’t even have to leave your home to learn the simple strategies I’ll be sharing to help you get organized for life. Just dial into the call at the appointed hour. (You’ll receive an email after registration with details about how to access the call.)

Can’t make the call? No problem! You can register and I will record the seminar for you so you can listen at your convenience.

Register now at http://gogetorganized.eventbrite.com The regular price for this 60-minute seminar is $27. But for you my loyal reader, it’s only $19 when you enter the discount code SAVE8 when you register. I’ll look forward to meeting you on January 20.
Favorite organizing products and resources

As a professional organizer for the last 10 years, I’ve used and recommended a lot of organizing products, services and resources. Every month, in this column, I share my favorites.

This month, I’d like to introduce you to Minimus. Minimus carries an in-stock warehouse inventory of well over 2,000 travel size and individual size items. Among these are many popular brand name products that are not available for retail anywhere else in a travel size.

More and more people use travel sizes, not just for travel packing, but for carrying on the go, around the office, and to help de-clutter, organize and ease storage (often increasing selection while decreasing inventory) especially in downsized living and work spaces.

You might be thinking: What about cost of smaller items? Isn’t it less expensive to purchase in larger sizes? Consider the following:

* Shelf life/waste. If you don’t plan on using a lot of something often, then the larger container (medicines, laundry care, etc.) may not get used before it expires.

* Cash flow. Yes, on a per-ounce or per-dose basis, travel sizes are more expensive, but you are spending less “out of pocket” in the short term. So, again, if you aren’t planning on using a lot of an item in the short term, it means you aren’t “investing” in your own “inventory” to put on your shelf that will eventually provide a savings in the long term.

* Space. If space is a premium, then holding on to large sizes of items that you use infrequently can take up a lot of space.

* Breadth of choice. In some cases, such as medicine packets, a packet might be $.79, whereas the full bottle might be $7.90. For $7.90, you could get 10 different packets of 10 different medications, such that you have a more robust offering for both you and guests. Otherwise, you’d be spending $79 to get those same full bottles, and odds are, you’d end up throwing a bunch of it away in a year or so when the contents expire (again, the above “waste” issue).

* Guest consumables. For a guest bathroom, you might not want to offer a guest a half-used bottle of a shampoo or similar product. Having some travel sizes is a nice touch and takes up less space in the bathroom. It also can allow you to offer a “nicer” item that might normally be more expensive in the larger size.

Thanks to my friends at Minimus, you can enjoy a 5% discount off your order now through January 31, 2011. Enter “unclutter5” as your coupon code at checkout.

I love that they provide free ground shipping on orders of $20 or more. And they will ship products to wherever you need them, such as travel stops and destinations. Speaking of travel, they’ve got a nice selection of travel accessories also.

For a look at more of my organizing favorites, visit www.unclutter.com/favorites

A letter from a reader about clutter Please help! I live with my sister and we are both pack rats. We were pretty poor growing up and we always had hand-me-downs. Guess, it feels good to get what you want- even though it may come from a garage sale or thrift store.

Another problem for me is that I am also a teacher and I feel I need to keep every book and or magazine I read.
Nevertheless, I have learned that you have to be willing to give things up in order to enjoy what you have. The old saying is true-you will not be able to see the forest if you have too many trees! Right-Right! – A.S., Hurst TX

Dear Arlean,

Do you LOVE everything you own? Probably not. Most things have a life cycle. Either they wear out or we “wear” of them. My suggestion is to make a conscious effort to figure out what you absolutely love and can’t live without and donate the rest to people who were once in your financial situation. Think about the fact that what’s just taking up space in your home is very much needed by someone, somewhere, right now.

As for keeping books and magazines, try placing a limit on HOW MANY you keep. You might, for instance, designate a few shelves for books. If you run out of room for more books, take a few minutes to purge your shelves of books that you’ve had for awhile but have never referenced. IF you ever need more information on that subject, you can always go to the library.

If you’ve got a huge backlog of magazines, the reality is that you will never be able to find what you’re looking for. Toss out all magazines older than 6 months to a year old. From here on out, as you read magazines and find information you want to keep, place the article in a 3-hole punched plastic protective sheet and put it into a binder where you keep that type of information; e.g., recipes, decorating ideas, gardening, or what-have-you. Then toss the rest of the magazine.

NOTE: A gentleman wrote to me earlier this month with his preferred process for organizing and that email has disappeared into cyberspace. If you are reading this, could you please resend that email to me so I can share it with everyone? Thanks so much. donna@unclutter.com *************************************************
Shameless promotion: I’m going to Hollywood! Thank you for voting for my book, Organizing Plain & Simple, a finalist in the Best Organizing Book category at the upcoming LA Organizing Awards. I will be in attendance on January 29, 2011 with fingers (and toes) crossed!

A couple of online articles appeared earlier this month that I thought you might like to read:

1/4/11 Parents.com The perfect put-away — organizing and storing holiday decorations

1/5/11 Care.com Clearing Out the Clutter: How to Get Organized

You can also find some quick organizing tips in the February issues of Real Simple (page 130) and Family Circle (page 41) magazines.

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