Tips & Inspiration for Organizing a Simpler Life March 2010 – Vol. 9 No. 3
“We can do anything we want to if we stick to it long enough.” ~Helen Keller

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Doing the spring fling

Despite the fact that we had snow flurries here in Detroit this morning, I’m getting the urge to do a little spring cleaning. How about you?

A great place to start is to get a box or trash bag and start tossing in all that stuff you no longer love or use.
My motto: If you don’t love it or use it, lose it. That applies to all of the following:

* Clothing
* Accessories
* Shoes
* Bedding
* Home furnishings
* Small appliances
* Kitchen gadgets
* Sporting goods
* Toys and games
* And so on and so on

If you’re planning to donate goods and take the tax write-off for non-cash contributions, make a list of each item and estimate its value.

According to IRS publications, it’s our legal right to deduct the “fair market value” of non- cash donations. The Salvation Army publishes an online guide to help you estimate fair market value.

Then take that box or bag to the nearest donation station. Or take advantage of a scheduled pick-up in your area. Be sure to get a receipt for your donation, staple your list to it, file it in a folder labeled 2010 Charitable Contributions, and file it with your other current year tax receipts.

Alternatively, if you want to turn clutter into cash, look for an upscale consignment shop that sells home furnishings. They generally give you 40% of whatever they sell an item for which is probably better than you could get a garage sale.

If you don’t mind getting calls and making appointments with prospective buyers, you might consider placing a classified ad in your local newspaper or community newsletter listing some of the larger tickets items you wish to sell, along with your asking price.

Finally, have you considered selling those items on Craigslist.org or eBay instead? There’s a book called eBay for Dummies where you could learn how to sell items on eBay. If the items are valuable, it may be worth your while to invest the time required.

Bonus tip: Declare one day in the spring and fall as “donation days.” Put it in your calendar now.

How to find anything in your purse in seconds How many times a day do you find yourself rummaging through your purse looking for a pen or a tissue or your glasses or keys?

One simple solution is to organize stuff into small cosmetic bags or even clear plastic ziplock bags. Another solution is to choose a bag that organizes itself, like The Butler Bag.

The Butler Bag features loads of built-in compartments for everything from your cell phone, glasses and keys to your notebook, calendar, and more. So you never have to launch an all-out search for anything ever again. They’re as beautiful as they are functional and guess what?

Right now, through the end of March 2010, you can buy one at regular price and save 50% on a second bag – plus get free shipping. This is a special offer for my readers only, thanks to the nice folks at Butler Bag. I have to tell you.
. . I’ve never seen this offer before, and I don’t know when you’ll see it again.

So if you want this great bag for yourself or to give as a gift, here’s what you do:

Go to www.butlerbag.com Enter the coupon code Unclutter50FS in the comments section.

Please note that the company will manually apply the 50% off discount to the lower priced bag of the two.

Also please note that while the discount is available worldwide, free shipping is only available in the contiguous United States.

And, just in case you’re wondering, I do not make any commissions on this special offer.

Survey Results: How do you learn best?

Last month, I asked: What is your preferred method for learning how to get organized (or anything for that matter)?

48% said: Reading (newsletters, books) 16% said: Listening/watching (audio or visual media presentations including CDs, DVDs, phone seminars) 13% said: Group (live seminars, classes, demonstrations) 20% said: One-on-One (personal coaching or demonstration) 4% said: Other (please explain)

I learned how to ride a motorcycle a few years ago at the age of 46. I knew nothing about motorcycling and had no idea how challenging it would be! I actually bombed out of motorcycle school. But then my husband stepped in and taught me and I realized that the group class setting wasn’t right for me. What I needed was one-on-one coaching.

You CAN learn how to get organized. If you’ve read a dozen books on organizing and you’re still struggling, maybe you’d learn better watching video presentations. Or maybe you need a professional organizer to step in and coach you.
If that’s the case, look for a professional organizer near you at the web site of the National Association of Professional Organizers (www.napo.net).

Here’s what one reader said about her experience:

In 2009 I swallowed my pride and contacted a professional organizer. She has been a Godsend!!!! My home has never looked better!!!! I’m not done, but it is now down to manageable boxes that I try to go through at least once every weekend or so.

She was never judgemental and was so happy for each little success I had. It was such an eye-opening experience, that I now throw away things with ease!!! Note: My parents are coming to visit me this week and for the first time I didn’t work myself senseless in preparing for their visit!!!!!

New Survey: How committed are you? How committed are you to achieving your uncluttering and organizing goals?

Scale it 1-10, with 10 being highest.

TO RESPOND TO THE SURVEY, send email to editor@unclutter.com with the word “Survey” in the subject line and the number 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.

Shameless promotion: Spring cleaning week coming up!

Did you know that March 30 through April 5 is National Spring Cleaning Week? What? You didn’t have that on your calendar? J

Tune into Martha Stewart Living Radio on Sirius Satellite at 7am (ET) on April 1 and pick up some tips on dusting from The One-Minute Cleaner (that’s me). If you are not a Sirius XM subscriber and would like to listen online, please visit www.sirius.com/freetrial/register

Oh, and if you want to get busy on your spring cleaning sooner rather than later, you’ll find more of my tips in these articles:

Express Night Out | Styles | The Clean Season: Spring Cleaning When washing the glass, Donna Smallin, author of “Cleaning Plain and Simple” ( $13, Storey), recommends horizontal strokes for the inside and vertical ones

Your Toughest Cleaning Questions Answered! – Cleaning & Organizing But for a better, faster answer, we consulted Donna Smallin, [Nestpert] Donna Smallin, author of Cleaning Plain & Simple and founder of UnClutter.com.
Make A Clean Spring Be sure to wash and thoroughly dry all bedding before storing, suggests Donna Smallin, author of Organizing Plain & Simple (Storey), because body oils are
Straighten up your house in an instant – KOAM TV 7 Joplin and says organizing expert Donna Smallin, the author of A to Z Storage Solutions ( Storey Publishing), who conducted the survey. It’s easy to let clutter build

Woman’s Day – Article Detail Donna Smallin, author of A to Z Storage Solutions, suggests making a new family rule when your company clears out: “If you own something in the basket,

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