November 2006
Vol. 4, No. 9

Tips & Inspiration for Organizing a Simpler Life

“Consider the postage stamp: its usefulness consists in the ability to stick to one thing till it gets there.”

–Josh Billings, 19th century humorist

Thank you for subscribing. . .

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, you can sign up at: http://www.unclutter.com

Getting into the organizing spirit

The holidays are coming and before you know it, they’ll be just a blur – unless you get organized.

If you spent last year rushing around at the eleventh hour, give yourself a headstart this year to avoid the stress and anxiety of last-minute preparations.

Here are seven tried-and-true ideas:

Tidy guest quarters. Clean the guest room and put fresh sheets on the bed. Make some room in the closet and/or dresser drawers for your guest(s)’ clothing. Clean the guest bathroom and stock with toilet paper, soap, and toiletries.

Prepare meals in advance. Gather your favorite recipes. Decide on your menu(s). Write your grocery list. Shop ahead for snacks and beverages as well as pantry and freezer items. Consider using your crockpot. Or make one or more meals ahead and freeze. You might also want to check out Dream Dinners, Super Suppers, or one of the other great new franchises that allow you to prepare a week’s worth of meals in under two hours in their kitchens.

Ready your home. Clean out your refrigerator and freezer to make room for holiday foods and leftovers.
Donate pantry items that will likely never be used. Get out your holiday decorations and plan to decorate for 10 minutes each day until you are done. Wash holiday glassware and china. Polish silver items. Iron napkins and tablecloths.

Make and freeze baked goods. Make and freeze cookie dough; thaw and bake in batches. Or do all your baking in advance and freeze the finished product. You can do this with breads, rolls, and pie shells.

Send holiday cards in stages. Buy your cards; consider having them imprinted. Buy stamps; get them online at www.usps.gov or at your supermarket. Get your mailing list together; if your address book is stored in a program such as Outlook, consider printing mailing labels. Address and stamp all the envelopes and affix labels if needed. (This is a good project to work on during television commercial breaks or assign this project to your kids.) Then set a goal to write 5-10 cards a day and get them all in the mail by December 15.

Simplify gift-buying. Consider buying gift certificates. I like GiftCertificates.com because they are valid at dozens of stores. A gift certificate for organizing services also makes a great gift; find a local professional organizer at www.napo.net. If you plan to shop, shop online to avoid long lines and traffic jams at the mall. Sites like Froogle.com and MySimon.com can help you find the best prices. If you are mailing packages, have them ready to mail the first week of December. Or use the “Click and Ship” service at www.usps.gov.

Take care of yourself. To feel your best throughout the holiday season, get at least 7-8 hours sleep each

night. Avoid overeating; serve yourself smaller portions. Drink 8-10 glasses of water a day to stay hydrated and healthy. Choose low-carb, low-fat foods to help maintain your energy level. Keep up with your regular exercise routine.

Next month: ‘Tis the season to give (away)


November 15 is America Recycles Day. For interesting tidbits about recycling, check out www.americarecyclesday.org and, while you’re there, enter a contest to win an all-expense-paid Alaskan cruise for two!

I read recently that millions of dollars are wasted in the recycling process because of contamination by items that do not belong in the recycling center. If you are uncertain about what should and should not go into your recycling bins, contact your city sanitation department.

QUICK TIP: Never be late again

“Never plan to be exactly on time—always plan to be early. If you plan to be early, you’ll probably make it just in time.”

“When you are early, don’t think of those extra minutes as waiting. Instead, begin to view waiting time as resting time, luxury time. Prepare for the wait. Bring a book, magazine, or notepad to keep you busy, or just plan to sit and people watch.”

These are two of my favorite tips from the book, Never Be Late Again in which the author reveals that chronic lateness is a surprisingly difficult habit to overcome, and its causes run deeper than just poor time management.

In this entertaining and practical book, you’ll discover:

The root causes of lateness and procrastination

How anxiety, time perception, and adrenaline affect time management

Unique and simple keys to managing time more effectively

Diana DeLonzor is an internationally recognized management consultant and lead researcher of a major university study investigating chronic lateness. For more information or to order her book, visit www.neverbelateagain.com.


I’ve found a really neat service that lets you send real paper greeting cards from your computer. . .
for under $1.

You select the card you want (there are thousands to choose from), type your message, and hit send. The folks at SendOutCards print it (in your own handwriting font if you wish), stuff it, stamp it, and mail it for you.

You can even create custom cards using your own photos, artwork, or logos. And you can add a gift card or check too.

To see for yourself just how easy it is, take the Quick Tour at SendOutCards. I signed up for the service and plan to send my holiday cards this way this year.

In fact, I like the service so much that I became a SendOutCards affiliate. If you want to try the service, let me know and I can set up a gift account for you. That way, you can send a couple of cards as my guest.

By the way, if you have a small business, you know how important it is to keep in touch with clients and prospects. SendOutCards makes it easy to maintain relationships and grow your business. One SendOutCards member wrote to say how sending cards actually saved his business!

SURVEY RESULTS: Paying bills online

In the last issue, I asked: How many bills do you regularly pay online each month?

As promised, here are the results of that survey:

16% said: None 50% said: Some, but not all 34% said: All that I can

A recent Harris Interactive/Market Workshop banking survey of 2,230 Internet households found that more than two-thirds pay at least one bill online (up from 56 percent in May 2005). But look at you! Our survey showed that 84% of you pay at least one bill a month online.

I used to pay credit card bills on the credit card company sites and I thought that was great. I also used direct debit payments — a convenient way to make recurring payments for things like my auto insurance and gym membership.

But now I use the online bill paying service through my bank and I am amazed at how much time I save. What used to take me an hour a month now takes about 5 minutes. As one reader put it: I love paying bills now!

For those of you with security concerns, I hear you. I was concerned too, especially since I have a wireless Internet connection. But unlike many shopping sites, bank sites protect users with multiple levels of security. In fact, studies show that banking online can help decrease the risk of fraud and identify theft by more than 10%.

NEW SURVEY: Holiday cards

Do you plan to send holiday cards this year? Yes No Maybe

TO RESPOND TO THE SURVEY, click the following link editor@unclutter.com or send email to editor@unclutter.com with the words “Survey” and the letter of your response in the subject line. Feel free to add comments in the body of your email. I will share the results of this survey in the next issue.

READERS WRITE: How to organize my hubby?

Dalys Macon of Clinton, MD writes: I am a very organized person and am constantly trying to find ways of organizing at home. For the most part it works with the exception of my husband’s stacks of paper. How do I go about assisting him to rid himself of all the stacks of paper!

I am sorry to say that you can’t get anyone to do anything unless they want to! But if your husband is also bothered by all that paper, perhaps he would be interested if you offered to help him create a better system for filing it.

Having a place to put papers that need to be filed makes it a lot easier to get them put where they belong. Remember that the only papers that need to be filed are those that need to be saved for tax or legal reasons or for some purpose in the future such as bank statements (needed to reconcile), warranties, etc.

To get started, offer your husband this tip: Bring a stack of papers into the living room at night and during commercials, go through the pile and make a decision about each piece of paper: File, Act, or Toss.

As much as you might like to toss the whole lot, your husband must be the person who makes the decision about each piece of paper. Be sure to have a trash can and shredder handy!

WRITE TO WIN an autographed copy of one of my books!

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


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.

SHAMELESS PROMOTION: Read all about it (organizing, that is)

This month at your supermarket checkout or local newsstand, look for the following magazines with tips from yours truly:

Woman’s Day (November 2006) Everyday cleaning tips Redbook (November 2006) Calendaring Woman’s Day (December 1, 2006) Holiday organizing

If you would rather listen than read, go to http://www.thekathleenshow.com/index.html to hear a radio interview I did last month on The Kathleen Show. (I was told that the show will be available for your listening pleasure the week of November 6.)

If you have satellite radio, tune in November 16 to HGTV ON THE RADIO, the program that airs daily on XM satellite’s women’s channel, Take 5 (SM164). I’ll be talking with Nancy Glass about everyday cleaning tips.


My latest, Unclutter Your Mind: 500 Ways to Focus on What’s Important was released in August. If you feel a need to simplify your life, check it out.

For plain and simple tips for cleaning everything in and around your home, look for my book, Cleaning Plain & Simple, in your local bookstore.
If they don’t have a copy, please ask them to order one!

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.

Want a signed copy of one of my books? You can order directly from me:


Click on the SignedCopy.com logo to have a signed copy sent to you.

Note: Cleaning Plain & Simple and Unclutter Your Mind will be available on my Web site Soon. I will be sure to let you know.

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