November 2005
Vol. 3, No. 11

Tips & Inspiration for Organizing a Simpler Life

“People become really quite remarkable when they start thinking that they can do things. When they believe in themselves they have the first secret of success.”

— Norman Vincent Peale

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FEATURE ARTICLE: Cleaning up your hard drive

Regular cleanup of your computer’s hard drive will help keep it operating at peak performance. It’s a good idea to perform these cleanup activities every three months or so. Write the task in your calendar now as a reminder.

Always back up data before starting any computer cleanup activities in case you accidentally delete something you did not intend to delete.

* Uninstall unused programs.
Unused programs take up hard drive space and, in some cases memory which slows down your computer.
However, deleting a software icon from your desktop does not remove the associated program. Check your owner’s manual for the proper way to uninstall the programs you no longer use.

* Defragment your hard drive.
When you save files, they are stored randomly on the hard drive; sometimes they are even broken into pieces to fit whatever space is available.
Defragmenting your hard drive reorganizes those scattered pieces, allowing your computer to find a file more quickly when you ask for it. This process can take a while and is best performed when you are not using your computer, as it will slow the system down.

* Delete temporary files.
Every time you go online, your computer saves the pages you visited in temporary Internet files, which reside on your hard drive until you delete them. If you surf online frequently, you may want to delete temporary files once a month; less-frequent surfers can do this once every three months. Deleting temporary files is a very safe function that will not harm any needed files.

* Delete or archive files.
Nonprogram files, such as text documents, don’t take up much space on your hard drive, but music and photographs do. If your hard drive is filling up you may wish to delete files you no longer need or archive entire folders on a CD or other storage device.

Next month: Organizing for joy


In a recent Glad Trash Trends Survey, most women (75%) said they would rather balance their checkbooks, make the bed or do laundry before taking out the trash. Some (15%) even confessed that they’d prefer cleaning the toilet or visiting the dentist.

Personally, I don’t mind taking out the trash, but I do get annoyed when the bag breaks and I have to clean up the mess. I just started using Glad ForceFlex Trash Bags and I have to say that I really like them because they actually stretch around sharp, bulky items like pizza boxes and milk cartons that tend to poke through a typical bag. I guess that’s why they say, “Don’t get mad, get Glad!”

By the way, I also use trash bags to collect clothing and other items for donations, cover up seasonal storage items such as patio furniture pillows and holiday wreaths, and for collecting and carting clothing that needs to go to the dry cleaner.

SURVEY RESULTS: What to do with doo-dads and whatnots

Last month, I asked: “What do you do (or suggest doing) with doo-dads and whatnots that you find around your home?”

As promised, here are the results of that survey:

Many of you seem to prefer putting items into a zippered plastic bag or several bags that you then put in a drawer or storage box. For those times when you do know what the doo-dad belongs to but don’t have to time fix it or find the larger item it belongs to, readers recommend labeling the bag with a marker.

If you’re going to buy something specifically to organize doo-dads, several readers suggested plastic boxes with adjustable divider trays like those used for storing small craft items or hardware.

Other organizing product recommendations included desk drawer organizers for the junk drawer or clear plastic lidded containers; one specifically suggested using a small container with a flip top lid and another uses recycled school pencil boxes that snap shut for storing small items in a drawer.

A few readers said that they collect doo-dads in a decorative basket in a busy location such as the kitchen, family room or laundry room. One courageous reader said: “If no one has claimed the doodad in one month, it really isn’t essential and it can go to doo-dad heaven.” Thanks, Dori, for the chuckle.
Another clever reader puts magazines on top of the doodad basket to cover up the clutter.

I like the idea of storing doo-dads in a canister on a kitchen counter or shelf. Another reader suggested putting them in a large, clear plastic box where the whole family can look for “lost and found” items.

Most everyone agreed that it’s best to use something with a lid so that any old thing doesn’t get tossed in – just those things that belong in the jar or canister or box.

NEW SURVEY: Why we want to get organized

What would you say is the biggest motivator for you to get more organized?

a. Less wasted time looking for stuff/more time for more important things b. Being able to have people in your home without being embarrassed about how it looks c. Less frustration/decreased stress d. Setting a good example for your kids e. Making money off valuable items that are just taking up space f. Clearing out space or a room for better use of that space or room g. Other (please describe)

TO RESPOND TO THE SURVEY, click the following link editor@unclutter.comor send email to editor@unclutter.com with the words “November Survey” in the subject line and your answer in the body of the email. I will share the results of this survey in the next issue.

READERS WRITE: Wrapping paper organizer

I was just reading your October 2005 newsletter and saw the survey results for favorite organizing products. Someone said they need a new wrapping paper organizer.

I have turned an old dresser into my wrapping center. The dresser should be around waist high, so you can wrap gifts right on top of the dresser.
No need to drag supplies to a table. The dresser also needs to be wide enough to put long rolls of paper in; mine is 42 inches wide.

My dresser has 3 drawers. The bottom one I use for rolls of paper, the middle drawer I made a cardboard divider and on one side I have gift bags and the other side bows, the top drawer I made more dividers for my tags, tape, scissors and whatever else you need.

I saw this idea in a magazine and I love mine!

Submitted by Pam Sweigert, Batavia IL

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 try to answer as many as I can.


This month, at two very different venues, at the opposite ends of the country, I will present “Secrets of The One-Minute Organizer: How to Get Organized in No Time!”

November 10 – Scottsdale, AZ
– Moon Valley Women’s Club November 22 – Albany, NY
– NYS Department of Agriculture & Markets

Look for the following upcoming mentions of my books: In the December issue of Real Simple magazine, I offer tips for packing up holiday decorations. My favorite tip? Pack them as if you might be moving in the coming year. You never know.

My tips will also be featured in Completely You, a syndicated online magazine, featured in a variety of women’s websites such as www.Modernmom.com and www.heronlinenetwork.com

And those of you in Michigan should look for a feature article on home storage in the November/December issue of Cosmopolitan Home, available at Barnes & Noble.

Just a reminder: Cleaning Plain & Simple will be hitting the bookstore shelves soon. It’s a big book that’s organized into four parts: The Basics, Room by Room Challenges, Everyday Challenges (such as laundry and pets), and Household Challenges (such as indoor air and heating and cooling systems). I will be on tour with this book in January. Stay tuned for details.

If you are looking for organizing tips, look for my books in bookstores everywhere (including online bookstores) and in select Target, K-Mart, Staples, Discovery Channel, and Lowes stores.

If you would like a signed copy of any of my books, you can order direct from me:


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.