Archives for April 2008
Who doesn’t love a doughnut every once in a while? The fresher the doughnut the easier it is to become an addict. If you are addicted to freshly deep fried doughnuts, now you can have your cravings quelled by investing in the Dough-Nu-Matic. The freshly fried dough may scald you incredibly badly, but be patient and you can enjoy your very own doughy goodness.
Why stop by a Krispy Kreme or a Dunkin’ Donuts when you can prepare your very own before you leave for work in the morning?! This bad boy will only eat up 23″ x 7″ x 14″ of valuable counter space. The Dough-Nu-Matic shapes the doughnut, fries it, and dispenses it into the hopper in under a minute. Let them cool, and you can enjoy a fresh doughnut during your daily commute. Of course, you may be adding quite a bit of girth to your waistline if you are partaking in fresh doughnuts every morning, but I challenge you to pass up a fresh doughnut if you have the ability to make your own at the drop of a hat.
Take a look at this video and you may not be able to resist.
**Each week, the Unitasker Wednesday column humorously pokes fun at the unnecessary, single-use items that manage to find their way into our homes.
- No more wire hangers!
No starch, hold the hangers and plastic bags, please.
- Tackling your iPod clutter
Belkin has a solution that adds virtually nothing to your desk space and keeps the iPod wires where they belong — out of sight.
Over the course of the last week, I’ve been reading all of your wonderful comments to our Getting to Know You post. Wow! I never imagined such a robust response!! Thank you, thank you.
One of the things that impressed me was the positive attitude present in almost every single one of the comments. When you talked about the organization challenges that you face in your homes and offices it wasn’t with a sense of defeat, but with the attitude that you just haven’t found the solution. It was truly inspiring.
We took notes on your topic suggestions and have a lot of great ideas for future posts. The list is long, and here are a few excerpts from the list:
- Eco-friendly solutions
- How to help parents transition to retirement communities
- Inherited clutter
- Kid-related clutter
- Non-permanent options for people who rent
- Options for our non-US readers
- Organizing digital data
- Paper clutter
- Photograph and video organization
- Productivity and time management
Another thing worth mentioning is that many people said that they enjoy reading post comments. I agree. Almost every day I learn another technique or strategy for organizing my home and office from reading the comments. Every now and again we get a bad apple comment, but for the most part they are helpful and informed. If a particular post speaks to you, then be sure to watch and contribute to the comments.
I also want to thank everyone for the compliments you gave to Matt, Teri, Brian, and me. We appreciate your kind words.
If you didn’t make suggestions for future post topics in the comments section of the Getting to Know You post, feel welcome to leave your ideas in the comments to this post. We want to help you, so voice your opinions! And, stay tuned for future reader inspired posts.
We wrote about the Kindle when it was first released back in November of last year. Upon its release, Amazon underestimated the demand and a waiting list was awaiting customer orders. Amazon has since increased production and the Kindle is now available for immediate shipment.
From Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos:
Ever since we released our wireless reading device Kindle last November, we’ve been unable to keep it in stock, and we’ve had to work hard to increase manufacturing capacity. Today, we’re excited to announce that Kindle is in stock and ready for immediate shipment.
We’ve also been adding selection. Since launch, we’ve added 25,000 additional books, blogs, magazines, and newspapers that you can download wirelessly to your Kindle, bringing the total to more than 115,000.
Go forth and read all the e-books you would like without worrying about bookshelf space.
Seven years ago, I worked for an economic research firm as a public relations executive. I made excellent money, and I was good at my job. I even liked my boss. Every second I was at work, though, I wanted to shove a hot poker into my eye. When I would sit in bed at night, in those moments before sleep, the phrase “unfulfilled life” continuously looped through my mind. I still can’t tell you exactly what it was that was so awful; I was just in the wrong job, on the wrong path, and every ounce of me knew it.
Fast forward to the present. I don’t make close to what I used to, I work longer hours, and some days I’m downright awful at my job (see the comments to my Semi-Homemade Cooking post for proof). The difference is that I’m now in the right job for me, and at the end of every day I am thankful for this blessing. I get to write full time about a topic I love and interact with incredible readers and an amazing staff.
Somewhere along the way, my husband and I sat down and talked about what were the most important things in our lives. At the top of the list was our relationship. Also on the list, and in no particular order, were our family, friends, pets, food, shelter, spirituality, happiness, and being able to save money for our future children and our retirement. We agreed that we want careers, we are passionate about working, but believe that our careers should match our priorities and not the other way around.
My husband quit the job he had seven years ago and started a company. I quit the job that made me miserable and eventually started working at Unclutterer. Both of us manage staffs across the country, but telecommute from our home office. Our desks are literally seven feet away from each other. We ran the numbers, and this decision to work side-by-side results in us spending 2,200 more hours together a year. And, since our top priority is our relationship, our working arrangement is in line with that priority. Would I love it if someone wanted to give me huge bundles of cash to do my job? Of course I would. But, right now, a massive salary isn’t my top priority.
I’m glad that other people choose to live differently than we do. The world would be an incredibly boring place if we were all the same. (Additionally, I think many couples would hate it if they spent 24 hours a day together.) My point is that a person doesn’t have to remain in a job he or she hates just because the pay is good. There are always other options. Think about what you would do if you were downsized out of your current position, and follow that path. Consider a career that aligns with your life priorities. Apply for a job in a field that interests you intellectually. Or, if spending more time with your family is your priority, look for a job closer to your home so that you don’t have to make a two-hour commute every day. The change can be lateral, it doesn’t have to be for less money. But, if it is for less money, look for ways you can reduce your expenses. Only you know what changes you could make and how you would make them. Just remember that your career doesn’t have to be a punishment, and, if 40 percent of your life is spent working, it should at least reflect your life’s priorities.
If you have children, you may be interested in following the blog Zen Habits. Leo has six children and made a career change in much the same way I made mine. He talks about this decision on a pretty regular basis in his writing.
Also, if you need to stay in a job you hate on a temporary basis, you might want to check out the post How to Keep a Bad Job from Affecting Your Home Life that I wrote for RealSimple.com.
Speaking of careers, you also may be interested in my post today on RealSimple.com about the possessions of a long-haul semi driver. It’s titled, Simple living, trucker style.
In our recent move to a smaller home, we have noticed that our daughter’s highchair is constantly in the way. It doesn’t fold up, it doesn’t fit nicely against the table, and it is getting old. We have started to introduce our two year old to the “big girl chair” (a.k.a normal chair), but she needs to grow a bit before it’s a full-time solution. Since she easily took to her “big girl bed,” we figure it will eventually be a relatively easy transition.
I think if we had it to do over again, we would probably settle on a booster type seat. It saves space and it can easily be used on an existing chair. It won’t get in the way when not in use and it can be removed from a chair and set in a closet when needed. The highchair we have cannot easily be stored away. This folding high chair (pictured) is also an option we would have likely considered, but hindsight is 20/20.
We all have somethings that we are holding onto that serve no purpose other than to remind us of someone, something, or some important event. A few of these items may actually be worth keeping — so where do we draw the line on what to keep and what to shed?
One thing that has survived multiple moves in my life is a baseball I have from my days playing Little League. It is the ball I hit for my first home run.
This Fond du Lac Reporter article has some great tips on what one should do to detach themselves from sentimental clutter. From the article:
LeAnn Peterman, an organizational specialist from Fond du Lac, said it’s important to ask yourself why you’re holding on to an object.
“Questions you should ask are: do I or someone else have a relationship to the item? Is it useful? Do you or someone else need it? And do you have a place for it?” Peterman said. “Does owning it create good feelings or not?”
In helping to make those hard decisions, Peterman recommends the following:
- Items that have a strong sentimental attachment should be organized in a manageable system — taking a picture of an item still retains the visual memory but not the actual bulk of the item.
- Pass along items to others that may have a more sentimental value to them such as cards, pictures or news clippings.
- Pictures that you cannot identify should be tossed or donated to a local historical society.
- Set your criteria and don’t do it alone. If you tend to hoard, invite a person opposite of yourself to help make sensible decisions, they said.
Erin has written on photographing sentimental items on a couple occasions that you may be interested in exploring. One for parents stuck with their kid’s left behind items, and one on photographing your mementos.
- Toy clutter treatment
Teach your kids to take charge of their own toy clutter.
Have you ever tried eating better but still had forbidden foods in the cabinet and refrigerator? You probably thought, “I don’t want that food to go to waste!” I’ve done it every time I’ve recommitted myself to healthier eating … until now.
Now that the college basketball season is over, it’s time to get back on track and eat better. In past attempts, I have left all of my not-so-great food in the cabinets — processed foods, pasta sides, etc. — thinking I’ll want to eat them again someday. In an effort to unclutter my life though, I decided to remove the forbidden foods from the cabinets. And I feel liberated!
I feel calmer and more ready to dedicate myself to a lifetime of healthy eating. When I go into the kitchen, I don’t have to think about the fact that I’ve changed my diet. I just need to eat what I have available. And if I get a craving for something unhealthy? I’ll have to find other options until the craving is satisfied or passes.
So what do you do with all of the undesirable food? You have a few options. First, I tossed all of the junk food. It’s not healthy and I never should have bought it in the first place. Second, I chose to put the not-so-bad foods from my pantry in recycled grocery bags and temporarily stored them on a shelf in a different room. That way, I’ll be able to eat them in moderation once I get into better habits, but I won’t have to think about them until I’m ready. Third, I moved the refrigerated not-so-bad foods to the bottom drawer of the refrigerator and labeled it “NO” with a yellow post-it note. Again, these are foods that will be okay in moderation once I get into healthier eating habits.
You also can donate your not-so-bad food to a local food pantry. This is a great option for those times when you clean out your cabinets and realize you’re never actually going to make anything with those canned artichokes. Good luck to everyone starting on a healthier eating plan!
- Paper clutter begone, part 2
Manuals and instruction booklets can be stored digitally to free up storage space and decrease clutter in your home.
- There’s wealth in simplicity
The advice in The 4-Hour Workweek jibes very well with our own philosophy here at Unclutterer: simplify to be happier, not to be a monk.
As a tornado ripped through a small town in Tennessee, one man’s cluttered trailer was credited with saving the home in which his family sought shelter. From the WSMV-TV article:
A Lawrenceburg man who has saved everything for years said his clutter may have saved his life.
Several homes were destroyed and many more were damaged in Friday’s tornadoes in Lawrence and Giles counties, but Bobby Massey’s family is crediting his bad habit of being a pack rat with saving their house.
I find it hard to believe that a trailer full of clutter withstood the awesome power of a tornado, but the Massey family may argue the contrary.
When the Masseys walked outside, they said the trailer packed with Bobby Massey’s stuff had stood fast and protected the house.
“That thing is loaded down with heavy stuff,” he said.”Had that trailer not been there, what do you think would have happened?” Dorsey asked. “I guarantee you, it would have leveled the house,” he said.
This is one of the first times I can admit to reading a clutter-is-good story. It definitely isn’t persuading me to change my uncluttered ways, but it is interesting. Honestly, I’d be more afraid of what would happen to all that stuff if it were directly hit by a tornado — I’d be terrified of all of the flying projectiles. What do you think? Did clutter save this man’s home?
Our friend Geralin Thomas e-mailed me an article last week about Tax Day. The first four or five paragraphs talk about taxes, but the majority of the article explores procrastination as an affliction that affects most everyone. From the Raleigh News and Observer:
Procrastination is an equal opportunity affliction, according to one of the field’s pioneering researchers, Joseph R. Ferrari of DePaul University. Women are just as likely to exhibit the behavior as men; 20-year-olds are as prone to it as 65-year-olds (much older people, seem to lose the habit). His studies have also found that white collar employees procrastinate more than blue collar workers, salespeople more than middle managers, business executives more than doctors or lawyers.
More broadly, Ferrari said, there are three basic types of procrastinators:
- Arousal procrastinators are thrill-seekers who tackle projects at the last minute, pulling all-nighters at school and work.
- Avoidance procrastinators habitually put off hard or boring tasks
- Decisional procrastinators are paralyzed by indecisiveness.
Be sure to check out the sidebar to the article with advice from Geralin Thomas on ways to curb procrastination. Also, you might enjoy reading the link at the bottom of the page to a Psychology Today blog post on the same topic.
When I procrastinate, it is definitely in the “avoidance” category, especially when it comes to organizing my home and office. How about you?
- Junk Removal
What do you do with all the garbage the city won’t collect?
This week’s Workspace of the Week is Matt.Kolt’s do-it-yourself door desk office:
The desk is made from a recycled door and sits on two sets of legs purchased from Ikea. A piece of Lexan (polycarbonate resin) sits on top of the door to create a smooth work surface. I also like how Matt has made use of this space, putting the desk immediately below a sky light. He’s attached a basket to act as a desk drawer to the underside of the door to add functionality. It’s a well designed, organized space. Very inspiring!
Want to have your own workspace featured in Workspace of the Week? Submit a picture to the Unclutterer flickr pool. Check it out because we have a nice little community brewing there. Also, don’t forget that workspaces aren’t just desks. If you’re a cook, it’s a kitchen; if you’re a carpenter, it’s your workbench.
I recently came across this inspirational and humbling quote:
Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein. — H. Jackson Brown
I have often claimed to not have enough time to do a lot of the things I’d like to do. I’ve made this excuse for things like working out, cooking dinner, doing laundry and cleaning the apartment. But, after I saw this quote, I started thinking about how I actually spend my time and realized that I watch a lot of TV.
According to this 2006 article, the average American watches over 4-1/2 hours of television per day! Over the course of a year, that’s more than 1,600 hours. What can you do in four hours a day? You could stop stressing out about a disorganized closet and help it find order. You could attend a Rolling Stones concert, and even watch the opening band. You could run an entire marathon!
So, the next time you think you don’t have time to unclutter, think about how you’re spending your time and whether turning off the TV for a few nights might give you those needed hours.