Tips & Inspiration for Organizing a Simpler Life
January 2016 – Vol. 15 No. 1

Most people have no idea of the giant capacity we can immediately command when we focus all of our resources on mastering a single area of our lives. ~ Anthony Robbins

GetOrganizedMonth-300x214Did you make a New Year’s resolution to get organized?

Making resolutions is easy, but keeping resolutions can be challenging. Following are three tips to help you get organized once and for all this year.

Start small. Unclutter your life one drawer, one shelf, one space at a time. Empty the contents and then put back only those things you love and/or use.

Commit to your goal with a plan. You don’t have to put your life on hold to get organized. Just five minutes a day adds up to two hours and 20 minutes a month. You can accomplish quite a lot in two hours and 20 minutes! Or make an organizing appointment with yourself for one or more uncluttering sessions each week. Write these appointments in your calendar and honor them – just as you would any other appointment.

Be prepared to change some habits. As you unclutter and organize, think about the habits that have created disarray in your life – and what you can do differently to help maintain order. For example, if you have a lot of “stuff” that you are not using, try not to buy anything new for a month. If you tend to throw your coat when you come in the door, consciously retrain yourself to hang it up. Be patient with yourself. It takes a few weeks to establish new habits. Remember this: it’s a lot easier to keep up than to catch up.

Looking forward and back

Back in December, I sent you a link to a survey so you could help me decide what to write about in 2016. Thank you so much for your feedback! I received 876 responses and I am still reading through all of your wonderful suggestions.

I can tell you that the #1 topic requested is on overcoming procrastination. Other top answers included ideas for decluttering/simplifying daily life, timesaving tips for cleaning and organizing, organizing papers, dealing with emotional attachments to things, and getting motivated to get started.

It was no surprise to me that 96% of my readers are female. And I’m glad I asked for your age! I now know that 70% of you are age 55 years and older. I love that I am writing to my peers! (I will turn 56 years young in May.)

In case you missed them, here are the top 5 blog posts from 2015 (based on the most views):

Time to Do the Spring Fling (April 2015)

How to Organize Your Photos (March 2015)

A Happy Ending to Paper Clutter (January 2015)

9 Tips for Organizing a Home Office (March 2015)

Organizing Tips Newsletter (April 2015)

Unclutter vs. declutter

Are you more likely to use the word “unclutter” or “declutter?” While doing some research recently, I stumbled upon something I wish I had known 17 years ago.

Google Ngram, which charts the use of certain words in book titles, shows that the word “unclutter” showed up as early as 1918 and began rising in popularity in the early 1940s, shooting up to its peak in 2000 before beginning to fall off.

I registered the domain name in 2000. And my first book Unclutter Your Home: 7 Simple Steps, 700 Tips & Ideas was published in 1999. (The ebook version, by the way, was completely updated and revised in 2015 and is available at your favorite ebook retailer. The paperback version is no longer available though you can still find used copies.)

The word “declutter” first came into use in the 1970s, its popularity shooting up through the ’80s, ’90s, and the first decade of the 21st century. According to Oxford University Press, the term was only added to the 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary in June 2015.

Interesting, no? In any event, whatever word you choose to use – unclutter or declutter – the meanings are the same. And if you need help, you’ve come to the right place!

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.

5pack-PhotoLast month, I introduced you to the Scrigit Scraper. The Scrigit Scraper is a quick, safe and convenient way to remove small amounts of common substances such as food, candle wax, soap buildup, paint, adhesive labels, even bird droppings and pine tar from windshields.

It’s actually two scrapers in one. The flat edge at one end is best for flat surfaces, larger areas, tight edges, plumbing putty, and shower door tracks. The rounded edge is best for curved surfaces, smaller spots, crevices, sinks and toilets, labels and tape.

Congratulations to our three winners in the Scrigit Scraper giveaway!

freedom_filer-150x147This month (because you asked for help with paper organizing), I encourage you to consider the Freedom Filer system. I’ve tested a lot of filing systems over the years and this is my favorite. For one thing, It’s a ready-made system that you can implement immediately using the pre-printed file folder tab labels. It also comes with blank labels so you can customize your system to fit your needs.

What I love about this filing system is that it’s set up to be self-purging with email reminders from the company about what to do at the end of each year. Take a look and see for yourself what you think. Read what others say about it. Check out some of the videos to see it in action. And then maybe, just maybe, you’ll want to purchase Freedom Filer to organize your files in a way that makes it easy to file and retrieve your important papers from today forward. (Look for the Ready-Made Systems.)

Shameless promotion: 5-Day Clutter Cleanse 

As you probably know, I am frequently asked by the media to share cleaning, decluttering and organizing tips. One of my favorite magazine editors sent this email recently:

The Spring 2016 issue of Better Homes and Gardens Storage magazine is now on sale. We’re super-excited about the “5-Day Clutter Cleanse” you helped us create and know that readers are going to love this story!

StorageMagSpring2016He sent me a PDF of the magazine cover plus a spread from the story that features my cleaning advice. The complete story is 8 pages long and takes readers through a five-day clutter cleanse for your bath vanity, work space, entry, closet, and kitchen.

If you want to read the full story, you can pick up a copy of Storage Spring 2016 at your favorite newsstand or bookseller now through March 29, 2016. Or purchase the digital edition at

There’s also a special page at dedicated to the Clutter Cleanse: where you can watch cleaning videos, learn DIY recipes, and download free labels, charts, tags, and other goodies.

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 through one of these links, I may 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 note that I only recommend products that I would recommend whether I got paid or not.