Tips & Inspiration for Organizing a Simpler Life
February 2016 – Vol. 15 No. 2

Hanging on to a bad buy will not redeem the purchase. ~ Terence Conran

7-step plan to reduce paper clutter 

She’s got paper clutter, he’s got paper clutter, we’ve all got paper clutter! You too? What you need is a paper plan – pronto. Here’s my plan for keeping paper clutter down.

Box it up. Clean off your desktop or kitchen counter by gathering and putting all your papers in a box for temporary storage. As you do that, toss anything that is clearly trash such as expired coupons and flyers for events that already took place. Meanwhile, if you are looking for something, you’ll know it’s in the box.

Set aside 15 minutes. Plan to spend 15 minutes daily to go through papers in your box. The best way to work it into your schedule is to do it right after something you always do like clean up after dinner or brush your teeth. Set a timer and get to it.

Question everything. When deciding what you need to save, ask yourself, “Do I need to save this for legal or tax reasons?” If the answer is yes, file it. If the answer is no, ask yourself, “Could I get this information again pretty easily if I needed it?” If so, toss it.

Clip and save. Rather than keeping entire magazines for selected articles, clip and save just the articles ad file them in binders by category; for example, home decorating ideas or recipes. Insert the articles into 3-hole-punched plastic sheet protectors. Use dividers to create subsections. Consider unsubscribing to magazines you don’t have time to read. Did you know that you can request a refund for the unused portion of your subscriptions?

Dump the junk. If you have piles of unopened junk mail offers, credit card solicitations, and catalogs, dump them. Don’t even give it a second thought because more of the same is already on its way to you! Request to get off these lists at

Shred when necessary. Be sure to shred pre-approved credit card offers and any papers with personally identifiable information such as account numbers to reduce the risk of identity theft.

Keep up with today’s stuff. Designate a basket for collecting incoming mail until you have a chance to look at it. Sort through mail daily and either toss or file. Opt for paperless statements from your bank and other financial institutions and from your phone and utility companies and let them do the filing for you!

5 easy ways to organize your closet [VIDEO]

Last summer, I was invited to record some how-to videos for Better Homes and Gardens. Here’s the first video on how to organize your closet. Enjoy!

Favorite products and resources 

As a professional organizer and certified House Cleaning Technician, I’ve used and recommended a lot of products, services and resources over the years. Every month in this column, I share new and old favorites.

Last month, I suggested taking a look at freedom_filer-150x147the Freedom Filer system. I’ve tested a lot of filing systems over the years and this ready-made system is my favorite. It’s actually set up to be self-purging with email reminders about what to do at the end of each year. See how Freedom Filer makes it easy to file and retrieve your important papers from today forward. (Look for the Ready-Made Systems.)

laundrytoteThis month, I thought I’d share a product that I discovered several years ago at the International Home & Housewares Association Show in Chicago. It’s a hands-free laundry tote – a flexible plastic basket with a shoulder strap. I often recommend using a laundry basket for fast and easy clutter clean-up. The shoulder strap on this basket means you have both hands free to clean up twice as quick! There are so many ways you can use this basket around your home. I have two – one that I use as a laundry hamper and another for storing beach and pool gear.

Funny story…a few weeks ago, I noticed that our cat had not used her litter box since I cleaned it the previous day. Concerned that she might have a bladder problem, I made an appointment with a local vet. (We were in Hemet, CA at the time.) Now, as you may or may not know, we don’t have a car – just a motorcycle. I didn’t think the cat would enjoy a ride on the motorcycle and according to the Google map, the vet was only a few miles away – or so we thought. I emptied the tote I use for my laundry and set the cat carrier inside. It fit perfectly. So off we went for what turned out to be a 4-mile walk! I figured that was enough exercise for the day and took a taxi home. (My husband blogged about my ordeal here in his blog.) Oh, and in case you are wondering, Ozark the Traveling Cat recovered quickly and is doing just fine.

Shameless promotion: Connect with me! 

In addition to writing this blog, I also contribute tips to other blogs and share those articles plus other articles I find interesting on my Twitter and Facebook author pages. Here are a few you might like reading: – 5 Ways to Organize Your Important Paper Clutter

HouseLogic – 14 Pro Organizer Tips That Make Moving Easier

Reader’s Digest – 9 Quick Kitchen Cleaning Tips

USA Today – Your Dishwasher Can Clean More Than Just Dishes

If you want to get more decluttering, organizing and cleaning tips, connect with me on social media!

Twitter | @donnasmallin
Google+ | +DonnaSmallin
LinkedIn | DonnaSmallinKuper

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

FULL DISCLOSURE: Some links in this organizing tips newsletter may be affiliate links, meaning if you make a purchase after clicking on one of these links, I will earn a small commission. These earnings go toward the continuation of this complimentary newsletter which is free to you, but does cost to distribute. Please know that I only recommend products that I would recommend whether I got paid or not.