Tips & Inspiration for Organizing a Simpler Life July 2010 – Vol. 9 No. 5
“Remember, a real decision is measured by the fact that you’ve taken new action. If there’s no action, you haven’t truly decided.” ~Anthony Robbins
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Organizing storage areas Should you store things you are not using in the basement, attic, garage, or shed?

Careful. . .this is a trick question! If you are not using things, why are you storing them at all?

Okay, some things need to be put into storage because they are used seasonally. I’m thinking of ski equipment, bicycles, holiday decorations, and seasonal clothing, for example.

And some things such as gardening tools, power tools and ladders simply aren’t suited for storage in your living quarters. What doesn’t belong in storage are things that should really be trashed, donated or sold.

Now, back to the original question: Should you store things in the basement, attic, garage, or shed? Base your decision on climate and accessibility.

Easy accessibility makes a garage or shed ideal for storing frequently used items such as lawn, garden, and snow removal equipment. Basements also generally allow easy access to stored items. But basements tend to be very humid, which creates a breeding ground for mold and mildew that can damage clothing and furniture.

So unless you have a heat- and humidity-controlled basement, don’t store anything directly on the floor.
Place everything on shelves or pallets. If flooding is a possibility, you might want to store everything in watertight plastic tubs instead of cardboard boxes.

Because the attic is typically the least accessible storage place, limit attic storage to things you need to access only occasionally, such as holiday decorations and tax records.

Regardless of where you store items, contain like things in boxes or plastic bins and label boxes using a wide felt tip marker. Store boxes and bins with labels facing out so you can find what you’re looking for without having to move heavy boxes.

Store things you use only once a year or less in the back of your storage area. Store items you need to access more frequently in the front or on top.

Now, if you really want to get organized, you can tape an itemized list of the contents to the front of the box. You can even take that idea one step further.

Number each box and keep a master index on your computer that includes the box number, list of contents, and location of the box. If you need to retrieve an item, use the “Find” feature in your word or spreadsheet document to search for and locate the box you need.

Off-site storage should be a last resort. If you are currently renting storage space, think carefully about the items you are storing. Is it really worth the money to store this stuff Or could you get rid of some or most or even all of it?

Periodically, sort through items in your storage areas and reevaluate what you really need to keep. Ask yourself: What’s the worst possible thing that could happen if I just got rid of this?

The biggest reason why we hold on to things we aren’t using is because we think we might need them someday. Ask yourself: Could I borrow or buy another one of these if I do need it someday? In most cases, the answer is yes, so you can give your permission to let the item go.

Favorite organizing products

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

Last month, I mentioned Clutter Diet, an online organizing program for just $15/month. For organizing paper, I recommended FreedomFiler, the system I personally use.

Another one of my favorite organizing products is The Couponizer. It’s a proven system for organizing coupons that saves you time and money. You can use the coupon code SUMMER10 to save $1.00 off your purchase now through July 31, 2010.

Shameless promotion: Another way to simplify your life

A few years ago, I discovered an amazing online system that lets you send real paper greeting cards from your computer.
You select a card from the catalog, type your message, and even upload photos if you wish. They print, stuff, seal, stamp and mail it for you.

The company just introduced a new “Pay As You Go” no- membership-required option. For just $2.99, you can send a card anywhere in the world – postage included. You can also send a gift with your cards.

Talk about simplifying your life! It’s like having a card and gift store right at your fingertips 24/7. Plus you don’t have to find a stamp or remember to mail your card.

What’s really cool is that the company’s mission is to help people reach out to others in kindness. The simple act of sending a heartfelt greeting card or unexpected gift can have a huge impact – much more so than with an e-card.

Who needs to hear from you? To send a card – or a card and gift – go to www.socretail.com/kuper.

(Full disclosure: I liked the service so much, I became a distributor and I earn a commission on all the cards and gifts sent. Do you know someone who could use some extra cash each month? Go to www.sendoutcards.com/kuper to learn more.)

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