March 2007
Vol. 5, No. 3

Tips & Inspiration for Organizing a Simpler Life

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”

–Andy Warhol, Pop artist

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FEATURE ARTICLE: Getting a jump start on spring cleaning

Did you know that March 25 marks the beginning of National Cleaning Week? Time to get to it!

Following are some tips to help you get a jump start on your spring cleaning, so when the weather turns from cold and wet to warm and dry, you can get out and enjoy it.

* Set your goals. Determine what really needs to be done now.

* Start in high-traffic areas where you can make a big impact such as bathrooms, kitchens, floors, and windows.

* Schedule cleaning time in 15- to 30-minute blocks and tackle one project at a time.

* Remove clutter from floors, coffee tables, and other horizontal surfaces before you start cleaning.

* Gather up your cleaning supplies and tools in a bucket or caddy so you have everything you need in one place.

* Invest in a couple of microfiber cloths for streak-free, lint-free cleaning of hard surfaces.

* Let cleaners do the work for you. To tackle tough stains in the bathroom, for example, try a multipurpose product like Kaboom Shower, Tub & Tile Cleaner to remove rust stains and hard water buildup as well as soap scum without a lot of labor-intensive scrubbing.

* Toss mildewy shower curtain liners in the washing machine with hot water and detergent on the regular cycle. Rehang the liner and allow to air dry.

* Make an appointment to have carpets professionally cleaned to remove tracked-in dirt. Or rent a do-it-yourself carpet cleaning machine.

* Quickly clean and shine dull hardwood floors with an all-in- one kit like the Orange Glo Hardwood Floor Care System that also helps to protect wood floors.

* For squeaky clean windows inside and out, mix one-half cup sudsy ammonia with one pint rubbing alcohol and one teaspoon dishwashing liquid and add enough water to make one gallon of liquid.

* Clean each room from top to bottom: ceilings first and floors last.

* Don’t waste time doing things like washing walls if all you really need to do is spot clean marks. Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is my personal favorite for that job.

* Get family members involved to get the job done faster.

* Reward yourself for completing each project.

For more cleaning tips, check out my books, Cleaning Plain & Simple and The One-Minute Cleaner. Autographed copies are available at http://www.unclutter.com/books.html

Next month: Cleaning up by clearing out


Spring cleaning actually dates back to a time when it wasn’t just something nice to do, but a necessity. Use of kerosene lamps and coal burning stoves left a sooty, greasy film on everything. Housewives would have to empty their homes and spend about a week washing walls and floors as well as every item in the house! According to the book Never Done: A History of American Housekeeping by Susan Strasser, a good husband would not complain about getting cold suppers that week.


Tara Berson, a writer for Lifetimetv.com is putting together a fun, visual piece for Lifetimetv.com that will feature the most embarrassing/odd/ugly things women have in their closets.

She says, “If you’re the type of person who’s still holding on to your gaudy jewelry or accessories from the 80s, acid-washed jeans, neon pink sweatshirt, heinous bridesmaid dresses, stuffed animals with missing ears, etc., please e-mail me why you won’t toss the darn thing in fewer than 100 words. In your e-mail, please include your first name, age, state, and a hi-resolution image (300 dpi) of the item (ideally it’ll be a photo of you wearing or holding it or you can just send a picture of the item).

Email Tara Berson trberson@yahoo.com Hurry! She’s on deadline and needs to hear from you pronto.

SURVEY RESULTS: Seasonal storage

Last month, I asked “When the seasons change, do you separate out-of-season clothing from in-season clothing?”

As promised, here are the results of that survey:

77% said: Yes 23% said: No

Most people need to separate seasonal clothing because their everyday closets aren’t big enough to hold four season’s worth of clothing. Even if you do have the space, it’s easier to find what you’re looking for when you keep only the current season’s clothes in your closet.

Each new season provides an opportunity to sort through last season’s clothes with the goal of collecting items for donation.
If you did not wear something last season, there’s probably a good reason for that (doesn’t fit, hard to iron, too revealing, or whatever) and you are not likely to wear it next season.

If you are really short on storage space for out-of-season clothing, consider getting a few of those vacuum-seal storage bags. You can hang a couple of coats together and seal the bag so that it takes up just a couple of inches on the clothes rod instead of six or eight inches. They’re also great for storing bulky items such as sweaters because not only do they shrink the total volume, they protect from dust and insects all summer long.
Just toss under them your bed!

NEW SURVEY: What are your organizing plans?

Think of one small area or project at home or in your office that needs organizing. Do you believe that you are capable of achieving that goal?

Yes, and I most likely will.
Yes, but I probably won’t.
No, because I lack the time or energy.
No, because I am clueless about where to begin.
Other (please explain).

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!

I will share the results of this survey in the next issue.

READERS WRITE: Clutter-busting with magnets

Buy a set of magnets at any large hardware store — they can be square, round, oblong, whatever – they’re inexpensive.

Magnets are useful for cleaning out junk drawers. They pick up tons of stuff in one clean swoop.

Use a magnet when you are assembling or taking apart something with lots of screws. The magnet will hold them all together so none drops to the floor or gets misplaced.

Use magnets to collect spilled paper clips on your desk or the floor.

Need to find a dropped screw or anything else made of metal – earring, etc? Use one of the larger magnets to sweep the area where the object was lost. You will pick it up.

There are millions of uses for magnets, including using one to hide a spare key under something made of metal, such as a railing, garbage can, mailbox, etc.

— Submitted by Elizabeth Curtin, Pearl River NY

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 bestselling book, The One- Minute Organizer 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.


Autographed copies of my latest books, The One-Minute Cleaner, Unclutter Your Mind, and Cleaning Plain & Simple are now available at my Web site: http://www.unclutter.com/books.html

And did you know that you can search my Web site for topics of interest? Look for the Google Desktop Search Tool at the bottom of each page.

This month, I have tips in the April 1 issue of Family Circle and March issue of American Baby. You’ll also find some great cleaning and organizing tips in these online articles:

http://www.thestreet.com/_googlen/funds/goodlife/10339846.html?cm_ven=GOOGLEN&cm_cat=FREE&cm_ite=NA Tame your clutter, 2/27/07

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/16/AR2007021600797.html New products aim to save space, sanity 2/16/07

http://www.smdailyjournal.com/article_preview.php?id=71572 Label makers inspire love – and organization, 3/1/07

On March 6, I was a guest expert on Monica Ricci’s radio show, Organization Nation! We talked about one-minute organizing tips.
You can hear this hour-long program for another two weeks or so by clicking the blue icon on Monica’s radio show home page.

On March 17, I am speaking at the spring conference of the WDC Chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers.
For more information, go to http://www.dcorganizers.org/seminar07.

While I am on the East Coast, I will begin a 10-city spring cleaning tour. Watch for me on your favorite news programs in New Haven, Philadelphia, Tampa, Miami, Houston, Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore and Phoenix over the next few weeks.

A few months ago, I started sending greeting cards through an online service called SendOutCards. (These are real paper greeting cards, not e-cards.) I love it because I no longer have to run to the store to buy cards; there are thousands to choose from online. I just select a card from the card catalog, type my personal message (in my own handwriting), enter my recipient name, and click send. The cards are printed, stuffed, stamped and mailed for me for about $1. If you want to see how it works, I can set you up with a guest account so you can send a few cards on me. Email donna@yourcardconnection.com if you are interested.


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.

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 Lowes 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.