Tips & Inspiration for Organizing a Simpler Life November/December 2008 – Vol. 7 No. 9
Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.

–Antoine de Saint-Exupery
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7 simple holiday organizing tips The holidays are a crazy busy time, so first things first… BREATHE. Remember, everything else is optional.

Here’s an easy way to get into the spirit of giving. Gather up all that stuff that’s just taking up valuable space in your home – you know, stuff you no longer use or love – including holiday decorations that you just keep pulling out and putting away again every year.
Donate it now and take the tax write-off for 2008. Clean out your pantry while you’re at it and donate items that aren’t likely to get eaten to a local food bank.

Now, you know you’re going to be pressed for time. But you want to have a clean house. This is not the time to do a deep cleaning. But do clean where it counts! Focus your efforts on high traffic areas: kitchen, bathrooms, living room – and of course, the guest room.

If you really want to impress guests, nothing freshens up a room like clean carpets and rugs. But you don’t have to go to the trouble of renting a deep cleaning machine — or the expense of hiring a professional carpet cleaning service. I recently tested the new Bissell PROdry and was very impressed with the results. This is the only machine that cleans carpet and area rugs and leaves them dry in less than 30 minutes. It’s basically a home version of those big machines you see at airports and malls where drying time is critical.

What if you get your tree up, but you’re running out of time to decorate it before guests arrive? No problem! Act as if you planned it that way. Put on some holiday music, serve some wine and crackers, and invite guests to add their personal touch as you catch up on each other’s lives.

Get a headstart on your holiday cards while watching your favorite television shows. Spend the time during commercials to review and update your list, address and stamp envelopes, sign and seal cards. Or do what I do – send your cards through SendOutCards. Simply select the card you want to send from an online catalog, personalize it with your own message (in your own handwriting and with your own signature) and click send. They do all the printing, stuffing, sealing and stamping for less than $1 per card plus postage.
Try it. Send a card for free at www.sendoutcards.com/15432 and let me know what you think!

And here’s something you can do with all the holiday cards you receive. Make them part of your holiday decorations! Punch a hole in the upper left corner of each card and then string them on a length of ribbon. Hang it over an archway or door or over your mantel using 3M Command Adhesive hooks that remove easily without damaging your wall.

My favorite tip? Set a fake deadline. Aim to have everything done a day or two early so you can relax with your family and guests. And if a guest asks what they can do to help? Hand them a dish towel or broom!

Hey, did you know? When Black Friday rolls around, you don’t have to get up before the crack of dawn and wait in long lines to get really great deals. Instead, go to the store’s website after midnight and you can order what you want at the sale price.
Sign up to receive notice of sales at www.bfads.net

Survey Results: How organized is your clothes closet? Last month I asked: How would you describe your clothes closet? As promised, here are the results of that survey. . .

11% said: Completely disorganized 48% said: Somewhat organized 26% said: Organized well enough for me 10% said: So organized, even a professional organizer would be impressed

Well, I see that 59% of you could use some help. Nice to know you’re not alone, isn’t it?

One reader said that her closet is fairly well organized by type of clothing (pants, skirts, blouses), but by the end of each season, it’s completely disorganized. I had that same problem until I bought a set of clothes rod dividers. They make it really easy to put clothes back where they belong.
I got mine from The Clutter Diet.com (click on Products).

Another reader is looking for help organizing her purses. They’re currently lining her top shelf and the only way to get to them is to get a step stool.
There’s an over-the-door purse organizer that might be a good solution. I’ve seen one at Bed, Bath & Beyond for $20-$30. But in this case, the reader has sliding doors so that won’t work. You can also find purse organizers that hang from the clothes rod. If you don’t have room in your closet, perhaps you have room in a coat closet or guest room closet? I have one from KangaroomStorage.com (click on Closet).

Finally, a good solution for many readers is to install a system of wire basket drawers. They’re great for organizing socks, underwear, swimwear, t-shirts, shorts, or accessories such as belts and small purses. If you have the room, an alternative is to move a dresser into your closet. Personally, I think it makes sense to have ALL of your clothes in one place.

New Survey: Where do you pay bills? Where do you most often pay your bills? (If you pay bills online, where are you when you do that?)

a. Bedroom b. Kitchen c. Home office/den/study d. Living room e. Outside my home (at work, in the car, etc.) f. Other (where?)

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: Cord organization I use empty toilet paper spools to organize cords for hair dryers, curling irons or any extension cord. Fold the cord into a small shape and insert in the empty toilet paper cardboard. They can be decorated with shelf paper if you wish.
— Submitted by Joan B., Phoenix, AZ

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.

Shameless promotion: Upcoming appearances of The One-Minute Organizer I’m on the road all this month sharing some of my favorite holiday organizing and cleaning tips on morning news programs across the country. Catch me if you can!

11/11 Miami – WTVJ/NBC Channel 6 South Florida Today – between 11am-12pm

11/13 San Diego – KSWB/FOX Channel 5 Fox 5 Morning News – between 8-8:30am

11/17 Albany, NY – WNYT/NBC Channel 13 News Channel 13 Midday – between 11am-noon

11/21 New Orleans – WGNO/ABC between 7:35-7:45am
Greenville – WHNS/FOX between 7:45-7:55am
Palm Springs – KMIR/NBC between 8:10-8:20am
Huntsville – WYAM/IND between 8:30-8:40am
Columbus, OH – WTTE/FOX and WSYX/ABC between 9:05-9:10am
Grand Rapids – WZZM/ABC between 10:30-10:40am
Wichita – KCTU/IND between 10:40-11am
Biloxi – WLOX/ABC between 11-11:10am
Mason City – KIMT/CBS between 11:30-11:40am

11/22 Jacksonville – WJXT/IND Channel 4 The Saturday Morning Show – 8:10am

11/23 Chicago – WMAQ/NBC Channel 5 Weekend Mornings – between 6-7 am

11/24 Hartford, CT – WTIC/FOX Channel 61 Fox 61 Morning Show – between 8-9am

11/25 Winterpark, FL – DailyBuzz.tv Morning Show – 7:20am

11/26 St. Louis, MO – KMOV/CBS Channel 4 Great Day St. Louis – between 10-11am

I will also be appearing on local morning news programs in Milwaukee (WITI/FOX), Albuquerque (KOB/NBC), Memphis (WPTY/ABC), Flint (WNEM/CBS), and Tampa (WFLA/Daytime) as well as a number of other local and national morning news programs.

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