Tips & Inspiration for Organizing a Simpler Life
September 2015 – Vol. 14 No. 5

You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine. ~John C. Maxwell

Is poor health keeping you from getting organized?

photo credit: Sorrow via photopin (license)

photo credit: Sorrow via photopin (license)

I know you want to declutter your home. I also know that just the thought of decluttering can be exhausting. And if you’re also battling a debilitating pain, chronic illness, or other medical condition, you may be wondering, “Is it even possible?”

The answer is yes – and here’s how. (Even if you’re healthy, I think you’ll find many of these tips helpful, especially if you’re having trouble getting started or sticking to your goal.)

Know your limits. How much physical work can you do BEFORE you can’t move the next day? It’s okay to do less. If you overdo, take the time you need to recover.

Focus. Start with one small area or project and don’t move on to another until you are done with the first. This is especially important if you are easily distracted or have difficulty remembering what it was you wanted to do as a result of chronic fatigue or aging. If you want to declutter your closet, for example, start with decluttering one foot of your clothes rod at a time. Then declutter and organize your shoes. Then you can move on to accessories.

Pace yourself. Plan to take breaks. Set a timer for no more than 30 minutes. Then take at least a five-minute break to walk away. Don’t forget to set timer to come back!

Declutter daily. The key to success at anything is to do it consistently which means creating new habits. Think about something you do every day and then squeeze in a few minutes right after to do some cleaning up. For example: After you brush your teeth, take a few minutes to make your bed and pick up stray clothing and towels from the floor.

Question everything. The easiest way to decide whether you should keep or toss an item (especially clothing) is to ask yourself: Would I buy this today? If that doesn’t work for you, try this: If you can replace it for less than $20 and in under 20 minutes, let it go.

Make it easy. Once you decide what you can live without, the easiest way to rid of your home of unwanted items is to donate it all to one place. Even easier – go to to find a charitable organization that will come and pick it up.

Be accountable. It’s one thing to say you’re going to do something. It’s another thing to have someone who will hold you accountable to doing it. Find an organizing buddy and check in with each other every day or once a week.

Get support. If you haven’t already, you might want to consider joining my free organizing support group on Facebook. Many of the members struggle with conditions ranging from general fatigue to arthritis to spinal injuries. It’s a closed group so only other members can see what you post. You’ll find lots of support and encouragement there as well as some good ideas.

Reward yourself often. On a break, pour your favorite beverage, put your feet up and read a chapter in a book or a couple of articles in a magazine. After decluttering an entire room, go out with a friend to see a movie. Or buy yourself some flowers. You deserve them.

So those are my suggestions. Anything you’d like to add? What have you found that works for you?

Why you haven’t heard from me in 3 months

helmetOne of the things that inspired the article above was my own personal experience with a minor traumatic brain injury back in mid-March.

I was riding my bicycle in a bike lane when suddenly, my hands were jolted off the handlebars. I tried to re-grab them, but missed and crashed, hitting my head so hard that my helmet broke in five places. Fortunately, I was wearing a helmet, or I might not be writing to you today!

The first person on the scene asked if I was okay to ride home. I looked at my bike on the ground and the scrapes on my knees and elbows and said, “Yes, I think so.” But when he asked where I needed to go, I could not remember where I lived! So he offered to drive me to the fire station down the road to have the paramedics take a look at me. They asked what year it was, and I couldn’t answer that question either. So they took me to the hospital for an MRI of my head. On the way there, I yelled out, “2015!” I knew then that I would be okay.

Other than being sore, I felt fine. But about a month later, during a very busy time with some big deadlines, I noticed that I was having trouble finding the right words (aphasia). My primary physician sent me back to the hospital for an emergency MRI; she was afraid that I might have a slow bleed in my brain. I did not, thankfully! But I was diagnosed with post-concussive syndrome and told to rest my brain, which meant limiting time on my computer.

I never intended to take off the entire summer, but I guess I needed the break. The good news is that my brain and I are back to normal and you can expect to hear from me more often. (Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I DID get back on my “horse” once I got a new helmet!)

Favorite organizing products and resources

As a professional organizer for the last 14 years, I’ve used and recommended a lot of organizing products, services and resources. Every month in this column, I share my favorites.

In the last issue, I introduced you to a way to clean out your closet and help out your kid’s school at the same time! Schoola was created to raise money for schools. Register at Schoola so you can donate clothing to be sold on behalf of your school. You’ll receive a bag that you can fill with your children’s gently used clothing and send back, free of charge. Schoola resells donated clothing on their web site for 70% of the original cost and donates $2 of every $5 to the school of your choice.

At the annual conference of the National Association of Professional Organizers back in April, I discovered Shelf Scouter. Shelf Scouter is a grocery organization app that was created by a mom to organize and track the products you use and make shopping lists that you can print or email or access through the app. You can even share recipes (see below for a link to a few of my favorite easy and healthy dinners) and add the ingredients you need to your shopping list. Your lists can include groceries, household goods, baby needs, and pet supplies.

What I love is that as you create your lists, you’ll see products available for ordering online from major retailers such as Walmart or Amazon so you can have them delivered to your door if you wish. It’s the perfect app for busy professionals, active families, and persons with limited mobility. It’s available for Apple, Android, and the Web. And it’s free! (Check out some of my favorite recipes on Shelf Scouter here.)

Shameless promotion: What I did on my summer vacation

On July 23, we celebrated our two-year anniversary of living and traveling in our motor home after selling our sticks-and-bricks home and everything in it when my husband retired. Two years later, I haven’t missed a thing. As Zac Brown sings in Homegrown, “I have everything I need, and nothing I don’t.”

ozarkWe spent the summer traveling across country to see friends and family in the Northeast.  Along the way, we adopted a stray kitten in Branson, MO (or rather, she adopted us). We named her Ozark and she’s adjusted quite nicely to life on the road. My husband wrote this blog post about her just last week.

I did do some work along the way (if you can call it that!). In Des Moines, IA, I spent a day with the Better Homes & Gardens staff filming a few new cleaning videos. They’re probably nearing final production by now and as soon as I get them, I’ll share them with you.

We also made pit stops in Minneapolis, MN and Albany, NY where I had book signings scheduled for my latest book entitled Clear the Clutter, Find Happiness. I have another signing scheduled for October 7 in Albuquerque. Let me know if you’d like to attend and I’ll get all the details to you.

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.