June 2005
Vol. 3, No. 6

Tips & Inspiration for Organizing a Simpler Life

“. . .a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
— Luke 12:15

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FEATURE ARTICLE: Summertime organizing

I know. You girls (and guys) just want to have fun this summer. But maybe, just maybe, you can squeeze in a little organizing. Who knows? You might end up with more time for fun in the sun.
Following are four plain and simple ideas to get you started.

– Organize chores. Do a little housecleaning every day so that when the weekend comes, you can enjoy it. Clean one room a day. Or spend 30 minutes vacuuming and dusting one day, mopping another.

– Summerize your wardrobe. Put away spring/winter clothes so you don’t have to paw through them to find your favorite summer clothes. If you’re short on a place to store out-of-season items, consider underbed storage boxes. At the very least separate and store out-of-season items at one end of your closet so that they are not with your everyday clothes. Look for vacuum seal bags with hangers that allow you to compress clothing into a minimal amount of space while protecting them from dust and insects. Wash everything before storing for the summer. Moths just love to feed on perspiration and dirt.

– Schedule a garage or yard sale. Summer is a great time to send clutter on vacation. Go through your home looking for items that are just taking up valuable space. Don’t forget to look down in the basement and up in the attic and out in the yard too. Set up a holding area for these unwanted, unused items. Get the kids involved in the process by offering to let them keep all the proceeds earned from selling their stuff or plan a fun family activity with the total proceeds.

– Plan for rainy day projects. What will you do on those days when you can’t be outdoors having fun in the sun? Why not pick a project or two, such as organizing recipes or photographs, that you can work on throughout the summer. So when those rainy days come, you can put them to good use.

Next month: Backyard cleaning tips


A recent survey shows the average American has more than $2,000 worth of unwanted items that could be donated as a tax write-off or sold to generate cash.

SURVEY RESULTS: Settled or not

Last month, I asked: “How long have you been in your current home?”

As promised, here are the results of that survey:

9.4% said: 0-2 years 12.3% said: 3-7 years 18.9% said: 8-12 years 19.8% said: 13-20 years 25.5% said: 21-29 years 14.2% said: 30 years or more

Wow. This was interesting. The average American moves every seven years. And yet, nearly 80% of those responding to this survey have lived in their homes eight or more years. Hmmm. . .

Can you remember what your home looked like when you first moved in? It seems like the longer we stay in one place, the more stuff we accumulate.

One little trick you can use when trying to make decisions about what to keep or toss is to pretend you are moving. Decide whether or not that thing is important enough to move, where it would go in your imaginary new home, and if it is worth going to the effort of packing and unpacking.

If not, make a decision to give it away. Donate it. Sell it at a yard sale. Or offer it for free to someone in your local freecycling community (details at http://www.freecycle.org )

NEW SURVEY: Top priorities

“If you had to evacuate your home for an emergency, never to return again, what is the one thing you could not possibly leave without (besides family members and pets)?”

a. Legal documents (deed, birth certificates, etc.) b. Valuables (jewelry, stock certificates, etc.) c. Photographs d. Memorabilia (other than photographs) e. Collection (coin, stamp, etc.) f. Personal address book g. Computer back-up disk i. A prized possession (please describe) i. Other (please describe)

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: Kid clutter solutions

Here’s a tip that works great for my family. I put a “Give Away” box in our playroom. Anything that my children would rather give away than put away goes in the box and out the door. It’s a great way to help them reduce the clutter and things they have to put away. They have some control over what stays and what goes, and they know they’re passing their toys on to another child who will love them.

–Submitted by Nancy Center, Murfreesboro TN

I have nine grandchildren. In my house, they have a play room. I have put their toys into cute metal pails or baskets and even sandbox buckets, all with handles on them and all decorative to collect things like crayons, colored pencils or markers, tinker toys, rubber toy animals and little metal cars. These containers are colorful and nice to look at.
Also, the dress-up clothes are in plastic tub containers – one for the boys clothes and one for the girls clothes. This way of organizing their smaller, many piece toys as well as their dress up clothes, keeps things much more in order and easy for the children to put back in place. It did take a little training of the oldest ones, but now they are the teachers for the littlest children.

–Submitted by Phyllis Miller, Las Vegas, NV

WRITE TO WIN an autographed copy of my most recent 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 latest book, The One- Minute Organizer Plain & Simple. Check it out at


PLEASE NOTE: I get a lot of questions and it’s impossible for me to respond to them all. Please know that I do read them and do try to answer as many as I can.

SHAMELESS PROMOTION: Still writing after all these months

I’m a few days late getting my tips out this month. Sorry about that! I just got back from the Book Expo of America, which was held in New York City. This is a huge annual event attended by 30,000 publishers, booksellers, authors and a variety of industry vendors and media representatives. I was there to promote my upcoming book, Cleaning Plain & Simple, which is due out in December.

Speaking of which, I am putting the final touches on my manuscript. There’s just so much to write about cleaning, it’s hard to finish up! I am so excited to share all kinds of cleaning tips with you.

Meanwhile, if you would like a signed copy of any of my books, you can order direct from me: http://www.unclutter.com/books.html Click on the SignedCopy.com logo to have a signed copy sent to you.

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