Tips & Inspiration for Organizing a Simpler Life
September 2012 – Vol. 11 No. 9

“You must learn a new way to think before you can master a new way to be.” ~ Marianne Williamson

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How to get organized in spite of yourself

Are you standing in the way of your own success? What can you do differently that would help you
to get organized?

Pick the one organizing challenge that causes you the most stress or grief. Do you pay bills late?
Do you have more clothes lying around your bedroom than in your closet? Do you waste a lot
of time looking for misplaced papers or files in your office?

I want you to try the ACT formula on your organizing challenge:

A – Assess your situation.

Ask yourself: How did it get like this? Before you can change anything, you’ve got to accept
responsibility for your role, but don’t beat yourself up about it. It’s okay. You’re okay.
In fact, you may be more okay with it than other people who live in your house (or work in your
office)! But if you’re not okay with it. . . if clutter is upsetting your relationships or
interfering with your job… it’s probably time to do something about it.

C – Commit to change.

Getting organized comes down to changing your behavior. Because let’s face it, if you keep
doing things the same way, you’re going to keep getting the same results. So try something different
and commit to doing it every day for the next 21 days. That’s about how long it takes to establish
new behaviors.

Change one thing such as what you do with your bills when they arrive in the mail. Instead of leaving
them in the counter where they are bound to get lost in the paper shuffle, create a folder or
large envelope labeled “Bills” and put all your bills into it as they arrive. Do this for 21 days
until it becomes habit. Or, if you’ve got too much stuff because you spend all of your free
time shopping, stay out of the stores for 21 days.

T – Tackle one area at a time.

Have you ever attempted an organizing project that left you with a bigger mess than when you started?
What happened? You took on too much at once. It’s understandable. Sometimes we get a burst of
energy and just want to go with it. But you’ve got to start small.

I recommend starting with a single drawer or shelf or section of your clothes rod. Or set a kitchen timer for 10, 15, or 30 minutes and stop organizing when the timer goes off. You can always pick up tomorrow where you left off today. Even if you spend just 5 minutes a day, that adds up to 2 hours and 20 minutes a month. And that’s progress.

I like the ACT formula because the acronymn, ACT, says it all. The organization fairy isn’t going
to be stopping by any time soon. You’ve got to ACT.

Stop putting it off. . . just do it. Oddly enough (and you’ve probably heard me say this
before), perfectionists are often among the biggest procrastinators. We put off organizing
our files, for example, because we haven’t quite figured out the most perfect system. Well, being
organized is not about being perfect.

When you are organizing your time and stuff, keep in mind that 80% done is perfect. The first 80%
of the work provides the most reward with the least amount of effort. Save that last 20% to
work on when you get 80% of everything organized.


Always file documents in the front of a file folder so that all the papers are in chronological order
from newest to oldest.

When you have a few minutes (which could be while you are “holding” for someone), remove a file folder
from a drawer, lay it on your desk and then flip all the papers to the left so that you are looking at
the back side of the last document.

Turn over one page at a time and make a decision about whether to keep or toss. You’ll find that
many of the older papers can be trashed or recycled because they are out of date or simply no longer

Favorite organizing products and resources

As a professional organizer for the last 12 years, I’ve used and recommended a lot of organizing
products, services and resources. Every month, in this column, I share my favorites.

Last month, I introduced you to Carbonite, the program I use to automatically back up all of my
files (because otherwise, I would never remember to do it!) You can try Carbonite for free for 15
days and get two months free when you sign up.

This month, I want to share a new way to organize and store all of your membership and store reward
cards. You know how the stores always give you that little card to attach to your key ring? Well,
I just discovered a free app called Key Ring that lets you scan all of your reward cards and it
stores them (in alphabetical order) on your phone.

When you are asked for your card, you just open the app, select the store, and display your card
for the clerk to scan. And once you scan your cards, you can share them to other family members. Pretty
cool, huh?

Speaking of phones and sharing and rewards, a friend just introduced me to Solavei, a new cell service
provider that offers unlimited calling, text messaging, and data for just $49 a month. That’s $77
less than I was paying! And there’s no contract.

Plus, Solavei pays members for referrals. And to make it easy to share with others, they give all members a
personalized web site. So when you tell your friends how happy you are with your new service and they want
to know more, you just give them the link and tell them to check it out. Like I just did. J

For a look at more of my organizing favorites, visit www.unclutter.com/favorites.

Shameless promotion: Exciting stuff (for me anyway)

Last I checked, my latest book was the #6 top rated book in the Cleaning, Caretaking, Relocating category
of Kindle books. You have no idea how wonderful that makes me feel.

I’m currently working on a series of books on eOrganizing – electronic solutions to organize your time, space and life. Do you have a favorite app or Internet resource you’ve found helpful? If so, please write to me at
donna@unclutter.com and I will gift you a copy of theKindle book when it comes out. Seriously!

Did you happen to see this article on iVillage.com about digital hoarding? Or this one at The Nest.com
on the 20 Habits of Extremely Organized People? You’ll find some of my tips in both of these articles.

Plus, if you get Woman’s Day magazine or you’re waiting in the checkout line, turn to page 56 in
the October issue for some more tips from me and a few of my organizing colleagues. (We all had
input in the article that precedes page 56 also.)

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

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“Organizing Plain & Simple Monthly” is a free subscription service of Unclutter.com. The
publisher, Donna Smallin Kuper, is a motivational speaker, spokesperson, and bestselling
author of nine books on how to unclutter, organize, simplify, and clean up your life. To
contact Donna Smallin Kuper, send an e-mail to donna@unclutter.com.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I, Donna Smallin Kuper, am an affiliate of many products that I recommend and
endorse, so any given issue of this newsletter may contain affiliate links. If you click on a
link and purchase something, I may receive a referral commission. All proceeds from affiliate
programs go toward the continuation of this complimentary newsletter. Thanks in advance
for your support! Please note that I only recommend products that I would recommend
whether I got paid or not.

Copyright 2012 Donna Smallin Kuper, 5540 Douglas Ct., Shelby Twp, MI 48316

EXCERPT PERMISSION GRANTED WITH THIS CREDIT: Excerpted with permission from Donna Smallin’s
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