What If You Don't Want to Get Rid of Stuff?

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Originally posted 2011-11-03 08:44:13. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Organizing doesn’t always mean getting rid of things. It means finding places for them so that you aren’t tripping on them, distracted by them, maneuvering around them or always looking for them.

It means creating a living space that is pleasing and supportive.

You do need space to put things if you’re keeping them, however. I wrote a post back in June about curating your environment. Another aspect of that is cycling your possessions in and out of storage.

To continue the museum metaphor, it’s like treating your home like the Smithsonian Institution (the world’s largest museum collection). With the Smithsonian method, you have a moderate number of things on display at one time, for example. The rest, the majority, is in storage.

Every season, or twice a year, you put those things back in storage and select a new group to bring out and enjoy. There are two nice benefits here: you get to keep your beautiful things and you get to appreciate and get pleasure from them all over again. Even wonderful artwork starts to go unnoticed when it’s always there.

This way, your living space will be more like an art gallery, less like a warehouse.

Imagine visiting the Smithsonian’s basement and looking at objects set three deep on shelves that go up to the ceiling. Compare that with visiting the museum proper, where objects are placed so that you can really see and contemplate them.

Cool Bubble Wrap Calendar

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Originally posted 2008-07-11 10:33:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

calendarYes, a calendar where you get to pop a bubble each day! If you’ve been on vacation, a whole row at once!

According to the website, this calendar is great for that special designer / obsessive / compulsive in your life. If you’re really obsessive, you could find a way to write on the bubbles… Found on Guy Kawasaki’s blog.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

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I’ve been reading Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Early in the book, she tells readers how important it is to start with a vision of how you want your life to be after getting organized. Be specific about what you want and also why you want it. No matter what your answer is, Kondo says the underlying reason is that you want to be happy. 

My free ecourse starts out with that premise too. If you haven’t taken it yet, here’s the link.

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IMG_3094I’m on vacation this week, writing my newsletter from my friend’s backyard in the desert. 

Although I have my laptop and my phone with me, I feel unconnected to my life at home, in a good way. Travel is a great way to unclutter the mind of the daily grind and relax.

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I’m really enjoying Kondo’s book. Many of her ideas are standard organizing practices, but many are new to me, especially her anthropomorphization of objects and her radical method of organizing everything “in one go.”

The biggest benefit to doing it all at once is that she says her clients rarely backslide, ever. Starting with a clear vision, handling each item and committing to keeping it means that her clients are highly motivated to maintaining their new lives. 

I would love to try out Kondo-style organizing with clients. I am thinking of ways I can offer this cost effectively. If you’re interested, please write me back and tell me what you think. If you’ve already done it on your own, I’d love to hear about your experience.

Another gem from the book:

“When your room is clean and uncluttered, you have no choice but to examine your inner state.”

It’s been said that people hide in their clutter and that constantly managing their stuff allows them not to deal with larger issues. 

On the other hand, finally dealing with the clutter gives you more time and energy to devote to your passions and goals. This post, an interview with Christine Arylo, shares similar views. 

Decluttering and organizing always also has the effect of clearing the mind and calming the spirit. Complete decluttering and organizing on the scale Kondo recommends has even stronger effects. To undertake that, you really need to be ready to lead a different sort of life, the one you’ve been dreaming of. 

Get Organized with these 52 Simple Ways

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Originally posted 2010-08-09 13:53:09. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

This ebook will help you get organized. What exactly will you get out of it? Lots of creative, helpful and immediately useful tips, including:

  • You’ll get more time. Time to spend the way you want to
  • You’ll be in control of your environment
  • Your life will be simpler
  • You’ll save money. No more replacing lost items
  • You’ll be prepared for the unexpected. Because it’s going to happen!
  • You’ll experience zen-like calm because you can lay your hands on what you need, when you need it

If you use the tips in this book regularly and make them part of your daily life, I guarantee you that your life will become organized and stay that way. Yeah, it’s a commitment, but you can go at your own pace and incorporate only the tips that work best for you.

In the first half of the book, the tips are action oriented and in the second half, they’re are about your mindset. Thinking about your environment and how you interact with it is a huge part of organizing. Make sure you use tips from both sections. You can do it!

Check out some sample chapters here:

Here’s the link to buy the book. You’ll also be getting a complimentary subscription to my monthly ezine.

Add to Cart


“This is the Year” to declutter your life!

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Originally posted 2007-02-09 13:01:17. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Oprah has declared it! This is the year! And if Oprah says it, well…

On Wednesday, Oprah’s guest was Peter Walsh of Clean Sweep. I saw him speak at the NAPO Regional Conference a few years ago and really enjoyed his down to earth, funny style. With clients he’s direct without being mean and compassionate without being indulgent.

One of the clients he worked with on the show actually works at The Container Store!!! That blew everyone away. But one of the recurring themes of their situation was that they hadn’t realized how bad it had gotten.

I once had a client who looked at photos I’d just taken of her cluttered living room and did not recognize it. She had to look back and forth between the photos and the very same room we were standing in before she believed that it was her living room.

With all the input each of has to handle every day, it’s a defense mechanism to stop noticing some of it. You’d go crazy otherwise. But how do you keep seeing it, so you don’t wake up one day under a pile of dirty clothes and dishes?

Here’s an idea. You know sometimes when you walk in your front door you smell something? The fish you cooked last night, or the cat’s litter box? But once you’re inside for a few minutes, you caArctic_cisco_fishn’t smell it anymore.

So, get a pad and a pen, go outside, close your eyes and pretend you’re someone else: your picky aunt, a new friend you want to impress, or Peter Walsh. Then open your eyes and go inside. What do you see? Use the pad to take notes.

Now is not the time to beat yourself up about how it looks. You’re doing reconnaissance here. Just the facts, ma’am.

When you’re done, try to find some patterns. In the show, Peter found that much of the client’s mess was caused by kids’ toys and clothes. The client agreed that the kids had the run of the house. Now they had a specific issue to work with.

In later posts I’ll talk about how to develop a vision of how you want your home to look and how to use that list to hone in on what to do. For now, choose a small area like the kitchen counter and experiment with noticing what’s on it for a week. I have some other hints on my website here.

It doesn’t matter if you clear it off or not during that week; as Peter notes, you can tidy up all you want but until you get to the reason that the clutter is there, it will come right back. So just notice, look for patterns, habits, types of things that accumulate. Noticing what is, now, will help you move toward what you want it to be.

Organizing Appliances of the Future

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Originally posted 2008-07-21 10:00:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Any day now, the wonders of modern technology will be put to use helping you get organized around the house! Well, maybe not, but a gal can dream, can’t she?

The Mail-o-Matic.  Just feed your mail by the armload into the top chute (you can’t overload this baby!) and the Mail-o-Matic will sort it for you! Mail drops into labeled slots, ready to read. Position the side exit tube over your recycling bin for one-step junk mail handling.Vacuum

The Clutter Buster Deluxe. You’ve heard of in-wall vacuum systems, haven’t you? Well, this beats them cold! The Clutter Buster Deluxe uses a system of small in-wall tunnels that lead to all the rooms of your home. Simply plug the wide mouth nozzle into the wall receptacle and sweep over the floor of any room, and all the items will be sucked up and sent down the tunnels to the appropriate rooms (items are specially pre-tagged by your technician). Activate the junk sensor and the Clutter Buster Deluxe will extract the useless items from the stream and direct them straight to the garbage can!

Nano-ize It! If you’re running out of room to put away all your stuff (and who isn’t these days?), just nano-ize it. This handy device shrinks your stuff down to microscopic size so it can be jammed in to any nook or cranny. Just aim the ray at your stuff, keeping pets and children safely away, and voila! All shrunk down and ready to store! (Macro-izer sold separately.)

Do you have an idea for a space-age organizing appliance that would make your life ever so much easier? Share it here!

Vacuum Party courtesy of Keep My Day Job’s photostream

Organizing kitchen spices

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Originally posted 2014-05-20 16:11:19. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

I worked with a client unpacking and setting up her kitchen this week. I corralled and sorted all her spice containers; jars, plastic bags, paper bags, plastic boxes, fabric bags; and we saw that there were duplicates and even triplicates of some spices.

One problem is that spices don’t all come in the same kind of container and plastic bags don’t work well in a spice rack. That means that some spices end up packed into a larger container in the pantry, away from the jars in the rack.

They’re usually not very usable there because the bags are rolled up or not labelled clearly. In this case they were also pretty tightly packed together. When it’s hard to find one, it’s easier just to buy more and then you end up with doubles and triples.

With spices, that’s a waste of money because they don’t keep very long. Not many cooks need half a cup of turmeric on hand all the time. I like Spicely brand boxed spices because the quantity is small. So here’s what we did:

  1. We got rid of all the expired spices. Some were dated. Some we judged on their color and smell; lack of either means toss it.
  2. We got rid of extra spices. One average spice jar-full is plenty to keep. We tried to select the newest ones to keep judged as described above.
  3. We now had spare jars to wash and empty the bagged spices into. Even so, the jars aren’t exactly the same size. I recommended that the client either start buying one brand or buy her own jars. Uniform containers with uniform labels make it much easier to find what you need quickly.
  4. We used a labelled to identify the jars and put them in the rack in alphabetical order. Some cooks like to sort by type of cuisine, or by the spices they use most often; those methods are fine too. With alphabetical sorting, I put the blends in their own section at the end.

Other spicy notes:

Don’t keep spices above your stove. The heat will destroy the flavor.

Select a spice container based on your cooking style and preferences. If you have a drawer available, you can get handy inserts to keep the jars in place. To save space, attach a rack or two to the inside of a cabinet. If you like having them on the counter, use a tiered lazy Susan. A graduated riser shelf unit is great if you have cabinet space for one.

Photos courtesy of The Container Store

Staying Organized

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Originally posted 2014-04-24 10:04:53. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

bridge painter by Noah BergerI live in California near the Golden Gate Bridge (which celebrated its 75th birthday last year). To protect it from corrosive sea salt, it needs to be touched up all the time. As long as the ocean winds blow, the bridge will need new paint.

I’m talking about maintenance, my friends.

There’s really no way to get around it. Once you organize your space, you have to maintain it or, like that bridge, it will fall down. Your bridge is everything that supports you and the systems you’ve taken time to create. Treat them well.

There’s no need to dwell on the horrific consequences of lack of maintenance. You may already be familiar with them. Let’s talk about freshening up instead. Get your hard hat and lunch box and climb up with me.

How do you spot the touch-up areas?

The easiest way to do this is determine what is out of place. An organized space means everything has a place. Further, each place should be as easy as possible to put things away in.

Which touch-up areas do you tackle?

On the bridge, they inspect to find out where the most corrosion is and repaint those spots. Clearly they’re not going to paint the entire bridge in a day. You don’t have to either.

Start with the things that will become bigger problems faster; work you need to do now, bills to be paid, important mail to deal with. Once you do that, just start in a spot and work your way around (like continuously painting the bridge one end to the other, which is what I thought they did).

If you get used to the idea that maintenance is a perennial routine, you can relax and know that you’re going to enjoy that fabulous view every day when you climb up your personal Golden Gate Bridge and know you’re keeping it in tip top shape.

Are you Doing Important Stuff, or Just Urgent Stuff?

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Originally posted 2009-10-15 17:28:56. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Urgent sounds important, but it's really not. It may be important to someone else, but your involvement is often just a waste of time. Tasks that are urgent require you to act quickly and that means you don't spend time thinking about whether you should do them. They're also often the result of poor planning (or no planning) and bad time management.

Slide1 The words urgent and important are borrowed from Stephen Covey's four-quadrant division of work. As you might guess, people often find themselves stuck doing mostly Quadrant 1 and 3 tasks, just because they have a deadline and someone else is waiting for them. You can't completely avoid these, but at least make sure you minimize Quadrant 3 tasks, which are things like pointless meetings, requests for information, most email, many phone calls.

As for Quadrant 4, obvy, stay away from time wasters. A certain amount of brain shut-down time can help you be more productive; just don't get carried away.

The most important area to spend time in is Quadrant 2. Why is this so hard? One reason is that sometimes these projects are only important to you. That means no one is waiting for it; there's no outside accountability.

To make progress on important projects, you need to value them enough to carve out time in your schedule to work on them. You are not going to find spare time to devote to them. Look for time in your week that's not quite as busy as the rest of the week and block it out for personal project work. That means actually write or type it into your datebook at a specific time on a specific day.

Ultimately, these are the projects that will bring you the most satisfaction and pride of accomplishment. Not all the fire drills and all-nighters that seemed important at the time. Start today on honoring the commitments you make to yourself.