Tips & Inspiration for Organizing a Simpler Life March 2009 – Vol. 8 No. 3
“Most people have no idea of the giant capacity we can immediately command when we focus all of our resources on mastering a single area of our lives.”

— Anthony Robbins
Thank you for subscribing. . .
Welcome new subscribers! And hello to all my friends. I hope you enjoy reading Organizing Plain & Simple Monthly as much as I enjoy writing it. If you find this information valuable, please pass it on to a friend. If you received this issue as a forward and would like to receive your own free subscription, sign up at www.unclutter.com *************************************************
“Goodbye winter, hello summer” storage tips Don’t you just love it when spring rolls around and you can put away all of your winter stuff and bring out your spring-y things?

Just remember: Always wash clothes and bedding before storing them. Perspiration, odors, and stains on natural fabrics attract clothes moths like a bright light in the dark. And don’t use fabric softener or starch either because that’s also good eatin’ for moths.

As you pull out your winter clothing, have a box handy for donating any clothes or shoes you didn’t wear this past winter as well as clothes and shoes your children have outgrown. There’s no point in storing those. Somebody, somewhere could really use the stuff that’s just taking up valuable space in your home.

I like to clean and condition leather boots, shoes and coats before putting them into storage. Hang leather coats on sturdy hangers. Stuff the arms of coats and also tall boots with tissue paper to help them keep their shape. Also important: Do not store leather items in plastic. Fabric garment bags are best because leather needs to breathe.

The best place to store winter bedding and clothing is in your home because it’s climate controlled unlike your basement where your stuff could end up with mildew. (I speak from experience.) Your storage space should be clean, dry, and airy with no direct sunlight.

Sweaters and most everything else should be neatly folded.
If you have a cedar chest, great. Otherwise, use lidded plastic storage bins to protect winter clothing and bedding from dust, insects, and rodents. If you use cardboard boxes or a non-airtight storage solution, avoid using moth balls.
Yes, they repel moths, but they’re also toxic to touch or breathe. Use cedar blocks or chips instead.

If lack of storage space is an issue, vacuum seal bags are a great option. You can reduce the volume of winter bedding by up to 75 percent. And did you know that they make hanging space saving bags for winter coats and suits? Imagine condensing several feet of hanging items to just one foot or less.

Finally, once you store all your winter things, and bring out your spring clothing and bedding, take some time to organize your linen and clothes closet and straighten up your dresser drawers and shelves. Then go out and play.

For more storage tips, check out my latest book, The One-Minute Organizer A to Z Storage Solutions, available in bookstores everywhere. (If your local bookstore does not have it, ask them to order it.) By the way, I just learned that my publisher sold 20,000 copies of my book in the first month! Woot-hoo! If you already bought a copy, give yourself a hug from me.
Hey, did you know? Oprah is looking for you! Did you recently lose your job, or your home went into foreclosure, or you used up all your savings just to stay afloat? Or maybe you had to downsize your home and lifestyle because of tough economic times?

If your family and you… or someone you know… is considering selling your clothes, jewelry, collections, antiques, kids’ stuff, etc. to help pay the bills, but don’t know how to get started, fill out the form at https://www.oprah.com/plugform.jsp?plugId=1068088 and who knows? You might be a guest on The Oprah Show! You’ll be sure to let me know, won’t you?

Survey Results: Do you unpack now or later? Last month I asked: When you return home from traveling, do you unpack your suitcase at your earliest opportunity (right away) or when you get around to it (eventually)?

72% said: Right away 28% said: Eventually

If you tend to drag your suitcase to your bedroom where it sits for the next few days, weeks or months, here’s what the rest of us do.

We head straight for the laundry room where we promptly unload all of our dirty laundry. Then we roll that suitcase to the bathroom and put away our toiletries (or take a few moments now to restock the traveling toiletry bag and store it your suitcase where it will be ready for your next trip).

What’s left? Not much – maybe a few items of clean clothing to rehang or put away or a few souvenirs that you can gather up in one place to enjoy or distribute later. Then store your empty suitcase.

Bonus tip: A locked suitcase makes a great place to hide gifts from snooping family members.

New Survey: Storing passwords and Personal Identification Numbers (PINs)

Where do you store your passwords and PINs?

a. In a spreadsheet b. On paper c. In my head d. Special password program e. Other (please explain)

TO RESPOND TO THE SURVEY, 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.

Smart Readers Write About: Organizing family contact information

I am one of 13 children. All of us have families and our children have families. I am the one that keeps on top of all of our families’ addresses, phone numbers, birthdays, etc. As you can imagine, the list is quite extensive. I’ve always just entered them as a document in Word. There must be a better way to organize this information. Can you help me?
–Submitted by Debi H., Penngrove CA

Debi, did you know that if you are using a PC, you can hold CTRL and F to “Find” a particular contact in any Microsoft document? That might be useful.

But it would be better to enter contacts in a spreadsheet because you could then sort by birthday, city, or even family/generation. Like a Word document, it’s easy to email a spreadsheet document to other family members.

You could also enter contacts in a contact management program such as Outlook. (You’ll be able to cut and paste address information from your Word document.) With Outlook, you can quickly add, search, and update individual contacts, and even merge selected names and addresses to labels, letters, and envelopes. Outlook also provides an option to add details such as birthday and spouse name. You can then share individual contacts to other family members; simply forward via email. Or print your entire address book for distribution.

I use SendOutCards to manage my database. This service reminds me of upcoming birthdays and anniversaries and at any time, I can select a greeting card from the online catalog and the company will print and mail it for me. It also allows me to send holiday cards in a matter of minutes instead of hours. (See more about SendOutCards below.)

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 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.

Card sending made easy One of my favorite authors, Maya Angelou, says, “People will forget what you said. They’ll forget what you did. But they will never forget how you made them feel.”

When was the last time you sent an unexpected card at an unexpected time to someone you care about? How do you think that would make them feel?

Do you remember people’s birthdays and other special occasions? Do you think it matters to them?

How about a simple thank you or expression of appreciation? Do you think that would make them feel good?

Who deserves to hear from you today? I invite you to send a card to that person on me. Go to www.yourcardconnection.com to try the system I use to remember birthdays and celebrate the lives of the people I care about.

Shameless promotion: So what’s up?

Remember I told you I was on the CBS Early Show in January? Here’s a clip of me showing Julie Chen how to get organized using organizing “products” you already own! http://tinyurl.com/8hly6j

I’ve got some speaking engagements coming up next month:

4/22 Phoenix, AZ – LaSiena Senior Living 4/29 Raleigh, NC – Savoy Restaurant

For details: http://unclutter.com/seminars_events.html

Speaking of speaking, if you or someone you know is looking for a motivational guest speaker, you’re in luck! I enjoy presenting seminars, workshops and keynotes to a variety of audiences.

Presentation topics include Organizing 911: Help in a Hurry!, The Joy of Organizing, and Secrets of The One- Minute Organizer. I can also create a custom presentation for your group. To check availability or for more information, please e-mail donna@unclutter.com.

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