Archives for August 2009
There are many reasons why I have chosen to live an uncluttered life, and one of those reasons is that I’m lazy. If I need to do something I’m not super excited about doing, I want it to take the least amount of time possible and I want it to cause me little or no stress. I’ve created simple routines for things like cleaning and getting ready in the morning because I need to do these things but don’t want to waste mental energy on them.
An example of this is processing mail when I come home: I instantly shred, recycle, or respond to the mail right when I walk in the door. This routine usually takes me two to three minutes, and then I don’t think about the mail or see it again. I used to just collect it and place it on the dining room table, then I would have to touch it again to move it so that we could sit down to dinner, then I would see it after dinner and think about it again, and then I would have to deal with it after worrying about it some more. In the past, I would spend 15 to 20 minutes thinking about the mail each night. Being “lazy” and organized with my mail saves me quite a bit of time over the course of the year. That, and I never have to worry about paying bills late.
Back in January, Leo Babauta wrote a post on this issue on his blog ZenHabits titled “The Lazy Manifesto: Do Less. Then, Do Even Less.” I like his perspective on doing less to increase productivity:
Do Less: The Ultimate Simple Productivity
It may seem paradoxical that Do Less can mean you’re more productive — and if you define “productive” as meaning “get more done” or “do more”, then no, Do Less won’t lead to that kind of productivity.
But if instead you define “productivity” as a means of making the most of your actions, of the time you spend working (or doing anything), of being as effective as possible, then Do Less is the best way to be productive.
Consider: I can work all day in a flurry of frenetic activity, only to get a little done, especially when it comes to lasting achievement. Or I can do just a couple things that take an hour, but those are key actions that will lead to real achievement. In the second example, you did less, but the time you spent counted for more.
Let’s take the example of a blogger: I can write a dozen posts that really say nothing, mean nothing, but take up my entire day … or I can write one post that affects thousands of people, that really reaches to the heart of my readers’ lives, and takes me 1.5 hours to write. I did less, but made my words and time count for more.
If you’re lazy, as I often am, then the choice is simple. Do Less.
But do it smartly: Do Less, but make every action count. Send fewer emails, but make them important. Write fewer words, but make each word essential. Really consider the impact of every action you take, and see if you can eliminate some actions. See if you can achieve a great impact doing less.
This doesn’t mean “less is more”. It means “less is better”.
I don’t agree with everything in his post, but his viewpoint speaks to the heart of uncluttering. Read his post and then come back here to share in our conversation. I’m interested in reading about what your views are on lazy productivity.
Professional organizer extraordinaire Monica Ricci gives a grounded perspective in her guest post on the process of uncluttering and organizing. You can follow Monica on Twitter, Facebook, and her blog for more organizing tips.
Deadheading. It sounds like either a grisly ritual or a summer vacation following your favorite band on tour. But it’s neither. Deadheading is simply the practice of removing the dead flowers from a plant. The reason you deadhead is because if you don’t, the flower will stop blooming, and how disappointing would that be?
All plants have one goal — to go to seed so they can perpetuate their little flower family. Creating flowers is part of that process, and if you leave the dead blooms on the plant, it will stop blooming and concentrate on going to seed. However, when you interrupt that cycle by removing old blooms, the plant then puts its energy into strengthening itself and producing more flowers in a continued effort to go to seed. The more you cut off the dead blooms, the more fresh blooms you’ll get.
This is a lot like organizing your life. The more you clear out and eliminate what’s “dead” in your life, the more space you create for opportunity, love, and success in the future. You have more energy to put toward strengthening yourself and blooming even more gloriously than you did before.
- Money for nothing
MSN Money discusses the high price of clutter.
- Unitasker Wednesday: GoateeSaver
I know plenty of people that have successfully groomed their goatee without the aid of the GoateeSaver, but is the upkeep of those goatees that big of a pain?
- 10 tips to beat clutter in less than five minutes
Gretchen Rubin of the Happiness Project provides great ideas for quick clutter-busting activities.
- Workspace of the Week: Unconventional solutions
This week’s entry uses flower pots, baskets, boxes, and all sorts of unconventional items to store objects in her scrapbooker office.
- Yard Sales: An unclutterer’s ultimate, how-to guide
Professional organizer Geralin Thomas provides the ultimate guide for throwing the perfect yard sale.
- Auto detailing: The extreme clean
I thought I knew what extreme car cleaning was. I was wrong.
- Downsizing our home
The size and upkeep of our 2800 square foot Victorian home is just too much for us.
- Extreme minimalism Monday: Shoes are clutter
I’m still keeping my kicks, no matter what the extreme minimalist says.
- Reader pics: Charles Smith’s uncluttered nursery
Having a baby can really test your ability to keep a tidy and uncluttered home.
- Streamline your security check point routine
Some tips to make your security check easier.
- Birthday cards and reminder systems
Organization systems to prevent you from having to run to the store at the last minute, and you won’t have to worry about forgetting anyone’s special day.
- Unitasker Wednesday: Monogrammed steak brand
I know I enjoy monogrammed food much more than non-monogrammed food.
- Detach yourself from stuff
One of the major reasons people hold on to stuff is the emotional attachment they assign to an object.
- Keep on posting!
The Unclutterer Flickr workspace group is full of inspiring photographs from our readers offices.
Reader Kate S. submitted the following to Ask Unclutterer:
We have a lovely large whirlpool bathtub in our master bath that we never use. When we bought our house last year, it was a nice selling point, but now it just collects dust and goes unused. What should I do with the extra space? Or how can I minimize cleaning something I never use?
Kate, do you live in my house? Do you read minds? Honestly, this is the exact situation in my home. I have a stall shower that is used daily and a large, whirlpool bathtub that only is used when we bathe our cats. It takes a ridiculous amount of time and water to fill the bathtub to reach the whirlpool intake sensor, so we rarely use it.
In my case, I clean the tub immediately after I use it. The other times I just dust it with a dry cloth when I clean the bathroom.
I am at a loss for what to do with your situation otherwise. I hope that our readership chimes in the comments section and gives both of us advice for how to handle the situation. Like you, I feel that the whirlpool tub is clutter, but too expensive to remove (both in replacement cost and home value).
Thank you, Kate S., for submitting your question for our Ask Unclutterer column. My apologies for not having a solution — but I’m sure checking out the comments will help both of us.
Do you have a question relating to organizing, cleaning, home and office projects, productivity, or any problems you think the Unclutterer team could help you solve? To submit your questions to Ask Unclutterer, go to our contact page and type your question in the content field. Please list the subject of your e-mail as “Ask Unclutterer.” If you feel comfortable sharing images of the spaces that trouble you, let us know about them. The more information we have about your specific issue, the better.
This week’s Workspace of the Week is ~bnhymn’s collections crafted office:
Multiple small objects can easily look cluttered when they are displayed, even when they are all on a similar theme. The reason I chose this week’s workspace is because although the tiny art prints are different from card to card, there is nothing cluttered about this collection. Working in this space would be extremely inspiring — not distracting — and that is something to be admired. I think the bright wall color helps the collection stand out and look more organized, but so is the overall arrangement of the pictures. I really think this is a great space.
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.
Not only does knowing how to properly use your kitchen utensils save you time, space, and money, but knowing additional uses for your utensils can have the same effect. Earlier this week, the DIY Life blog wrote about “10 Clever Uses for Colanders.” The post, written by Diane Rixon, includes some smart ideas for making multi-uses with this large piece of kitchen equipment.
These are my favorites from the article:
1. Grease splatter reducer. Carefully place a colander upside down over frying foods. The heat can get out, but the grease is largely contained.
5. Play accessory. Kids love to watch anything drain through a colander. I mean anything. Sifting water, small beads, bird seed, sand, or good old-fashioned dirt through a colander works well for keeping kids entertained.
7. Bug tent. Colanders can’t keep tiny bugs off picnic and barbecue spreads, but they will help discourage large flies. So if your platter has no lid and you’re in a pinch, grab a colander and pop it upside down over your food.
Check out the full list of 10 and then come back here and share more of your ideas for creative uses for colanders and other kitchen utensils.
This week on Unclutterer has been filled with numerous links to helpful articles on other sites. I’ll be honest, the first part of next week is going to be the same. Lots and lots of links — good links, hopefully — but lots of links.
Why all the links? On Monday, my husband and I became parents to a beautiful baby boy.
Our little man is an excellent sleeper, so I’ve been able to find great things around the internet to share with you and comment on while he has been napping, but my mind is a bit overwhelmed and original content isn’t flowing. Since we are adoptive parents, parenthood caught us (pleasantly) a bit off guard.
My first link of the day is to a book review professional organizer Julie Bestry wrote about Everything I Know About Perfectionism I Learned from My Breasts. This book, written by the talented organizer Debbie Jordan Kravitz, has been on my to-read list for months but I haven’t yet reached it in the pile. Julie’s review of Debbie’s book, however, has convinced me to jump it ahead on my list. And, since it persuaded me to read the book, I thought it was a review you might wish to read as well.
From Julie’s review:
As a breast cancer survivor, Debbie’s revelations about the necessity of overcoming her perfectionist tendencies (for her own sake as well as her family’s), informed her desire to write this book. But, to be honest, until I had a copy in my hands, I think I was expecting a memoir, even a breasts’ eye view, as it were, of how her cancer and recovery brought Debbie to some sort of epiphany about the challenges of fighting perfectionism.
In fact, while Debbie does share her own story, this book offers much more, both to those of us who struggle with the ideals of perfection and those of us who have friends, family and co-workers whose perfectionism drives their own behaviors. Everything I Know is informative (indeed, eye-opening) about perfectionism, but also offers practical guidance and motivation to those seeking to become recovering perfectionists.
The subtitle of the book, Secrets and Solutions for Overpowering Perfectionism, explains the direction of the text — and shows that this isn’t a book just for women.
All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!
In your home, you probably have an upright or canister vacuum that you use on your floors. Maybe you also have a Roomba and a DustBuster to clean up smaller messes. Now is the time to add to your cornucopia of vacuums and get the Extreme Bug Vacuum:
If only there were clutter vacuums to suck up the absurd bug vacuum!
- Know Your Stuff home inventory software
Know Your Stuff helps you create a room-by-room inventory of your personal possessions.
- All-in-one washer/dryer
LG may have created the ultimate space saving laundry solution in the All-In-One Washer and Dryer.
- Streaming Netflix
While I’m waiting for the perfect Netflix player to come along Engadget is reporting that LG has a Blu-Ray player that will stream Netflix content.
- Table in a box
Do you have limited space? This new two-person table from Japan might be for you.
- Reader question: Fireproof storage, part two
The second installment in this series discusses features of home fireproof boxes and off-site digital storage devices. Both storage methods are essential if you’re looking to be organized in times of emergency.
- Lay it all out
Laying items out may enlighten you to the fact that you have much more junk than you first thought.
- An alternative to a bulky double boiler
If you are looking for a double boiler, you may want to check out this silicone collapsible alternative.
While at her local Nordstrom’s Department Store, my friend spotted the piano player using a MusicPad Pro for his sheet music. It’s a digital device, much like a Kindle, that can hook to a special music stand or be carted around like a single piece of sheet music. Officially, the product is a “music performance computer tablet.” My friend called me immediately to tell me about this space-saving and organized device.
Digital sheet music for the MusicPad Pro can be purchased and downloaded from the website FreeHandMusic.com. If I understand the information on the website, there is also a subscription service where users can have continuous access to a music library for around $50 per month.
Upon further research, I’ve learned that my comparison of the Music Pad Pro to a Kindle is actually quite common — so common in fact that FreeHandMusic has now made their sheet music available for purchase on the Kindle. Since the MusicPad Pro retails for around $900 and the Kindle around $300, I believe the Kindle is a better deal since it also has the ability to download books, magazines, newspapers, blogs, etc. However, you can scan your existing sheet music into the MusicPad Pro and you can annotate and make notes on page — neither of which you can do on a Kindle.
Irrespective of which digital device might be of interest, I think both are an organized solution for young musicians who are just starting to acquire a sheet music collection. If digitizing your sheet music collection isn’t your forte, you might consider spiral binding your music.
(Image of the MusicPad Pro via FreeHandMusic.com)
Rachel Ray’s website has nine great back-to-school organizing tips to help get your little ones ready for the new year in the article “Back To School Planning” by Katie Hetter. My favorite is the fourth tip:
Organize your routine with fun daily checklists. Amanda Wiss uses checklists to teach her 3-year-old how to get ready for pre-school. For the morning, she includes: brush teeth, take vitamin, eat breakfast, get dressed, put on shoes. “Charlotte is exceedingly proud of herself for doing all the things on ‘her list,’” she says. Older kids can have more advanced checklists that include completing homework, practicing a musical instrument, setting the table, putting out an outfit for the next day–anything you’d like your child to consistently complete. Update lists to incorporate new activities and goals.
Check out the other eight great tips for even more ideas.
It’s easy to buy duplicate items that perform the same task when you don’t have a solid understanding of all the bells and whistles of what you already own. Whether it’s software on your computer or utensils in the kitchen, you should take the time to learn all there is to know about what you have.
To this end, I think that knowing how to properly use a knife can save you time, money, and space. Chef Roger Mooking gives an extremely good lesson on knife skills that makes items like the Slap Chop unnecessary:
If you can’t see the video automatically, check out the clip on YouTube directly.
I recently wrote a post for the Evernote website that I want to direct you to: “5 Ways to Use Evernote to Organize Your Busy Family Life.” Here is the first tip:
1. Remember where you parked
Whether at the mall, an amusement park, or a concert with your kids, the last thing you want to do is delay getting home because you can’t find your car in the enormous parking garage or lot. When you first park, snap a picture of identifying information near your space and save it to Evernote. If you’re in a rental, also add a picture of the license plate of the car you’re driving. Once you’re back, either delete the pictures or add notes about the quality of the spot if it’s somewhere you might want to park again. “Great place for quickly getting onto the highway ramp after a packed concert at Wolf Trap Amphitheater.”
Feel welcome to check it out and come back here and add to the list. Tell us how you use Evernote and other technologies to organize your busy family life.
On Friday, my grandmother turned 100 years old. She is an amazing woman, and turning 100 is just one more accomplishment in her incredible life.
My grandmother’s birthday has me thinking about a phrase that I often repeat to myself:
Even if you live to be 100, life is short.
It’s a reminder to me to not procrastinate and to stay focused on what matters most. There are only 24 hours in a day, and I want to spend those hours focused on what is important to me — sharing with others my passion and knowledge of simple living, embarking on new adventures with those I love, and nine other priorities for my life.
Uncluttering is about clearing the distractions that get in the way of your remarkable life. Once the distractions are gone, you can pursue your priorities and make the most of your life.
My life’s motto is to Carpe Vitam — Seize Life — and my grandmother is a testament to this form of living. I’m glad to have such a happy reminder of this concept as we celebrate her birthday.
- Say goodbye to perfume clutter
Buy only sample sizes of perfume to keep large glass bottles from piling up on your shelves.
- Unitasker Wednesday: Kool dogz ice treat maker
With the Kool Dogz Ice Treat Maker a dog owner can now make a huge ice block for their pooch with this six piece ice making set up.
- Avoid baby gates that require screws
When my wife and I were looking for a baby gate we were set on finding a gate that did not require installation of any kind.
- The phone book problem
Does anyone know how to get publishing companies to stop delivering phone books?
- Workspace of the Week: A back-to-school space
This week’s Workspace of the Week is extremely practical for a student in a small space.
- Mail Pixily your monthly papers to scan
Using a pre-paid envelope, send documents once a month to Pixily to be scanned.
- Turn your old CDs into a workout
Pile all of your old CDs onto a pipe and create your own dumbells.
- The clutter-free DJ set up
- Reader question: Should I hire a professional organizer?
Advice for things to do and consider when hiring a professional organizer.
- The multifunctional Trey chair
The Trey is first and foremost an office chair, but it “also transforms into a rocker with and extra seat for a friend, foot stool, laptop desk, or side table.”
- Your organized workspace
We’ve created a flickr group to which readers can add their pics and everyone can comment on them. Every week or so we’ll pick a workspace to feature on the Unclutterer site.
- Popout maps
The Popout map is about the size of a postcard. It folds out and as the name suggests it pops out with two separate maps.
- Grandparents, consider the fold away crib
Both of our parents have a crib in their home and they take up a ton of space that neither of their homes have to spare.
- Unitasker Wednesday: Warm whiskers neck warmer
Did you have a tough day at work? Your Warm Whiskers stuffed cat will make it all better.
- Reader question: What should I store in a fireproof box?
These items will be beneficial to have immediately following a home fire or in an emergency.