Archives for June 2007
Switch purses often? Then you have no doubt been faced with the problem of missing items that results from switching the contents of your handbag in a hurry. Well, here’s the solution. The Container Store’s very clever Purse Organizer ($15) has six pockets large enough for cell phones, a notepad, sunglasses, lipstick, or just about anything else. Just switch out the organizer and you’re good to go.
How cool is that? I’ll often ask my girlfriend for something she keeps in her bag, and inevitably she’s left it in her other purse. This can be frustrating. Even more frustrating, though, when your girlfriend is the woman behind Paperclippy. The site that brought this solution to your attention. Sigh. ;o)
Peter Walsh is an organizational giant. His books It’s All Too Much! and How to Organize Just About Everything, his television show Clean Sweep on TLC, and his radio show every Friday on XM Satellite Radio (XM156) inspire people to live uncluttered lives. Walsh is an essential resource for anyone looking to bring more order and less chaos into their world, and he is a bit of a hero in these parts.
Peter Walsh recently took time out of his busy schedule to participate in an interview with Unclutterer.com. His answers are informative and motivational, and we hope that you find them as wonderfully inspiring as we do.
Unclutterer: In your book It’s All Too Much!, you indicate that you have walked away from projects when people value their possessions over their relationships. Isn’t this type of unhealthy prioritization at the root of most people’s clutter problems?
Peter Walsh: Clutter comes in many forms and the reasons why people hold onto it is similarly complex. There are two main types of clutter: Memory Clutter – which reminds one of an important person, or achievement or event from the past – and I-Might-Need-It-One-Day Clutter – this is the stuff held onto in preparation for all possible futures that one might encounter. Keeping things from the past or sensible planning for the future are great things – it’s when the objects take over that there’s a problem. With many of the people I encounter, their primary relationship is with their stuff. Instead of owning their stuff, their stuff owns them. This clearly is not only unhealthy but also a real stumbling block to happiness and a fulfilling life. If your stuff is causing problems in your life or relationships it’s time to do something about it!
When deciding to buy or upgrade a computer or peripheral, be sure to consider the number of additional cables the device will add to your workspace. Here are a few things to keep in mind to help you reduce computer-related cable clutter:
- Laptops will usually only require a single power cable. Also, they can be easily stored out of sight when not in use.
- Opt for bluetooth and wifi enabled peripherals over those that require cords. This is a great way to get rid of cables for your keyboard, mouse, and printer.
- If you use a bluetooth keyboard and mouse, an iMac will also only require a single power cable. This is a good alternative to a laptop if you need a larger display. An iMac also affords the benefit of an integrated webcam that won’t require any additional cables.
- Many newer peripherals are able to receive power over either USB, Firewire, or Ethernet. Not only does this help you reduce the number of cables, but it also can spare you from having to deal with those large and heavy wall-wart transformers that are usually required.
As an adult, you can write “No Gifts Please” on birthday party invitations and guests usually respect these wishes. It doesn’t work this way for children’s parties, however, or for baby showers or even random trips to grandma’s house.
Children love gifts and people love giving children gifts. It’s the way of the world. Gifts, although well intentioned and truly appreciated, can still end up as clutter.
For example, my friend Kristine received 14 baby blankets at a shower her mother threw for her when she was pregnant with her second child. She ended up keeping a couple that were hand knit, one that was quilted, one that could easily be laundered, and then gave the other 10 to charity. She was extremely thankful for the generosity people showed toward her and her future child, but there was no way that she could store or ever use 14 baby blankets.
When having parties for children or baby showers for new parents, there are some things that you can do to help keep gifts from becoming clutter:
Need ice on the go? No problem! Skymall has you covered with its Portable Ice Maker. At a light 47.5 pounds, this baby sure is portable. Best of all, it works anywhere — anywhere there’s an electrical outlet. Sure, it only does one thing, but it does it well. It’ll make up to 30 pounds of ice! You’ll never be caught short wherever you go. Just bring along 30 pounds of water. Plus it only takes 24 hours to make ice! At just $399, why would you ever buy a mini-fridge (even at half the price).
Earlier in the week, I discussed the idea that just because something has a place in your home doesn’t mean that it’s the best place for that object. In fact, just because you have space to store an object doesn’t mean that you should.
If you want to have a home where everything is in its best place, here are 10 places to start looking for hidden clutter:
- Under beds. When I was in junior high, my mom found a “tennis ball” under my bed while she was replacing my mattress. Except it wasn’t a tennis ball, it was a furry, rotten apple. The space under people’s beds can be scary. Clear out the clutter (and the bad apples) from under your bed.
- Closets. If you’re like most Americans, you have sheets, towels, board games, coats, scarves, umbrellas, scrap-booking supplies, exercise videos, outdated spices, shoes, empty boxes, and hundreds of other items that you never use cluttering up your closets. Linen closets, coat closets, pantries, and wardrobes are full of clutter that you can get rid of now.
We’ve been on a big charging station kick here lately, so reader Leigh sent in this way cool design. This thing looks like a unitasker, but at about $13 it’s not such a bad way to turn what could be a cable eyesore into a stylish accent.
The Load-Thing comes flat-pack and you fold it yourself. It hooks up to your electric socket and then the device you’re charging (iPod, cell phone, camera, whatever) sits on it. So, is this thing clutter itself or a very neat solution?
Looking for a surround sound system, but you really don’t want all those wires running around the room to every speaker? Well, here are a couple of options that you may want to look at before you buy that five speaker set.
Polk Audio’s SurroundBar (pictured): The SurroundBar measures in at 42.62 by 4.44 by 5.12 inches (W x H x D).
Yamaha YSP-800: The YSP-800 measures in at 31.5 x 6 x 4.5 inches (W x H x D).
One can not expect to have the same sound quality from these units compared to a full 5.1 surround system, but from the reviews I have read the sound quality is surprisingly good. A step down in sound quality for a easy to set up single speaker system may be the trade-off you are looking for. Also, think of the lack of wires!
Do you really need one of those pesky “beds” taking up space in your home?
If not, consider sleeping on a Japanese futon laid out over a beautiful tatami mat floor. The futon will fold up in thirds for easy storage in a closet and you’ll be left with more functional space during waking hours.
The extreme minimalist knows that comfort should be left to the materialists.
In preparation for a dinner party I threw the other night, I brought down my sugar bowl off the high shelf of my cupboard. The bowl was a wedding gift, and it hasn’t received much use over the years. It’s attractive, though, and durable. I held it in my hands for a few seconds, and then decided that after the dinner I would store it in the same, easily accessible space in my cupboard as the salt and pepper shakers. Since then, I’ve reached into the sugar bowl for my morning coffee’s sugar instead of into the big sugar storage canister as I had been doing.
Reclaiming my sugar bowl started me thinking about other items in my house that I already own and store, but that I don’t use. I like to think of myself as someone who leads an uncluttered life, but I was shocked to find many things I store and don’t regularly use — things I could be using, and want to use.
What’s the point of having good china if it is never used.
For those of you that get as frustrated as I do when trying to stack your pots, pans, and lids, here is a cheap and easy way to organize your lids. The Door Mount Lid Rack keeps the lids in order so you can stack your pots and pans in a nice and orderly fashion. The lids get in the way of the stacking process, but this little rack easily solves the problem and for only $8 you can’t go wrong.
Want to take a clutter quiz? Might you be at risk of surrounding yourself in clutter? Gretchen at the Happiness Project developed a series of questions to help readers of her blog determine if they might be candidates for clutter.
My favorite question?
[Does this] sound like something you’d say … “This is perfectly useful, I can’t just throw it away.”
Enjoy the diversion, and let us know how you scored. I know that I am definitely diagnosed!
Well, this little device that we saw on Gizmodo may just take the cake. The WildCharge wireless charging station is simple and intriguing. The charger is nothing more than a mouse pad sized gadget that you lay your device on when it needs to be recharged. That’s right, you don’t even need to plug the device into anything, so goodbye to those cables!
You simply lay your iPod, cellphone, or PDA on the surface, and the charging begins. The WildCharge just might end the quest for the perfect charging station. They aren’t available until July 9, so mark it on your calendar and see how this thing performs.
A reader (whose name we’ll omit to protect the inocent) asked us the following question:
I am married to an attorney and he is very disorganized and procrastinates with everything he does. What advice would you give him or how could I motivate him to act on practices like sending out bills to clients.
This is kind of a strange question to ask a bunch of organizers, but if you think about it, you won’t get any organizing done if you keep putting things off. Big projects, like organizing a home or a business, often go undone because people feel paralyzed by the enormity of the undertaking. As David Allen teaches, you can’t “do” a project, you can only complete steps along the way. Making a list of each physical step you have to take toward a goal is helpful because each individual step will be relatively easy, so you won’t put it off. Instead of thinking “damn, I have to send out the client bills,” you’ll think, “(step one) I need to go through my calendar and make a list of the clients I worked with this month.” “Send out bills” is an amorphous and oppressive task, while “go through calendar” is a five-minute no-brainer.
The only other tip I’d give is to seek professional help in the form of Neil Fiore’s “The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play.” Notice that I phrased the to-dos as “I have to X” and “I need to Y.” Fiore says that if you really feel this way, you’ll procrastinate because you’re doing things you don’t want to do, but instead have to do. He has some great suggestions for moving to a state of, “I want to send out the bills, what’s step one?”
Your shower should be a serene place where you can escape the outside world for a short time each day. You shouldn’t be distracted by a multitude of containers all over the walls and/or floor of your shower. The Better Living Dispenser Classic IV eliminates the need for the bottles that get in your way.
Let’s face it, those bottles are designed to fall over easily and scare the heck out of your loved ones in the next room. The bottles I recently knocked over are nearly empty, so they need to be perfectly balanced on their heads to get the last of the liquid out. (We are frugal and the need to use every last drop of shampoo is a must.) This dispenser eliminates the bottles, the balancing act, and the false alarm of a shower disaster. If you need more storage space, The Better Living Ulti-Mate Dispenser Classic IV includes a soap tray, mirror, and hooks to store your razor.