September 2005
Vol. 3, No. 9

Tips & Inspiration for Organizing a Simpler Life

“The gift of the family novelist is to turn the cleaning of a closet into an inventory of love and loss…”
–Marilyn Gardner, author

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FEATURE ARTICLE: Organized routines

I spent last week with a friend who has a habit of misplacing her car keys. Every time we got in the car to go somewhere, she would say, “Where are my keys?” She always found them in within a minute or two – either in her purse or in the house. But this happened several times a day.

It may not seem like a big deal to spend a minute here and there searching for lost items. But let’s do the math. If you spend five minutes a day looking for your keys, that adds up to an hour and twenty minutes a month or 16 hours a year. I don’t know about you, but I think life is too short to be wasting time.

Organized routines can save you precious time that can be spent doing things you love doing.
Yes, it takes discipline to retrain yourself to do something differently, such as always putting your car keys in the same place every time you remove them from the ignition. When tempted to just toss them somewhere, you have to catch yourself in the act. Stop. And put them where you have decided they belong, which may be a hook that you hang by the door or a pocket in your purse.

What are you doing that wastes time or creates unnecessary work or stress in your life? How could a more organized routine benefit you? Studies show that it takes 21 days to establish a new behavior. Decide what habit or habits you want to change. Then stick with it. Act as if you are organized and you will soon become more organized.

Next month: Organizing your computer


In an emergency, paramedics will often look through the phone directory on your cell phone in an attempt to locate an emergency contact.
It is becoming common practice to put the letters ICE (In Case of Emergency) in front of the name of your emergency contacts; for example, ICE Tom.
Consider adding ICE2 and ICE3 for backup contacts.

SURVEY RESULTS: Organized help

Last month, I asked: “Which of the following subjects are of most interest to you; i.e., most needed?”

As promised, here are the results of that survey:

5% said: Organizing children 3% said: Organizing a move 1% said: Organized vacation planning and travel 37% said: Paper organizing 21% said: Work/home office organizing 19% said: Closet organizing 12% said: All of the above and then some 1% said: Other (please explain)

In the other category, we had two responses: organizing laundry and organizing gifts. But as you can see, paper was the biggest challenge for our readers.

Lots of people asked for guidelines on how long to keep receipts and other records. If you were one of them, you might want to take a look at the September 2003 issue of Organizing Plain & Simple Monthly at my Web site:


NEW SURVEY: Favorite organizing product

If you could have just one organizing product to use in your home or office, what would it be and what would you use it for?

(No multiple choice this month! Just tell it like it is. I will compile a list of your responses.)

TO RESPOND TO THE SURVEY, click the following link editor@unclutter.com or send email to editor@unclutter.com with the words “September Survey” in the subject line. Use the body of your email to name and/or describe the product. I will share the results of this survey in the next issue.

READERS WRITE: Clutter-free bathroom

I found a great tool in my bathroom organization is a turnstile caddy. Some people use them in the kitchen for spices, but I have mine in my bathroom to keep my saline solution, lotion, deodorant, etc. handy and neat. Now all my bathroom countertops are neat and clutter-free!

–Julia Simmonds, Stafford VA

WRITE TO WIN an autographed copy of my most recent 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 latest 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.


I hope you had a chance to relax this summer. I sure did. After finishing my book, Cleaning Plain & Simple, I spent time with my family (and Hurricane Dennis!) in Key Largo and then visited friends in Long Island and Lake Placid, New York.
But now, it’s time to get back to work.

Neighbors, take note: I will be appearing on Good Morning Arizona Sunday, September 4 at 7:40 a.m.
I’ve been asked to present tips for parents to get organized now that the kids are back to school.

If you live in the Chicago area, look for an organizing article that will appear in the September 23 issue of The Chicago Tribune in a special At Home section. I also had tips featured in the August issue of Child Magazine and the September issues of Real Simple and Cooking Light.

I’m getting out more too. On September 27, I will be presenting tips to a MOPS group here in the Phoenix area (that’s Mothers of Preschoolers in case you were wondering). Then I will head to Denver for the weekend of 9/23-25 for a regional book trade show. The following weekend, I’ll sign books at another regional book trade show in Chicago. These shows are not open to the public, but you can find my books in bookstores everywhere (including online bookstores) and in select Target, K-Mart and Lowes stores.

If you would like a signed copy of any of my books, you can order direct from me:


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

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