Archives for Unclutter Your Life in One Week
All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!
Reader AMK sent us this unitasker that just might get the award for being the most unnecessary unitasker we’ve ever featured. Introducing, Wilton’s Topping Tornado:
The purpose of this gigantic plastic device is to evenly distribute sprinkles on top of an iced cupcake. You’re not missing anything, all it does is shoot sprinkles at a cupcake.
First: When Unclutter Your Life in One Week was initially released as a hardcover, it was also released as a Kindle version through Amazon (and a number of other e-book reader formats, too). Much to my frustration, the Kindle version had numerous layout issues that made some of the pages significantly difficult to read.
I am pleased to announce that these layout errors have finally been corrected by my publisher, and a new Kindle version is available for download. If you have already purchased the Kindle version you will NOT have to repurchase it to get the update. If you were waiting to purchase the digital book until the Kindle version was fixed, now is a great time to do it.
You should automatically receive an update message from Amazon, and all you’ll need to do is select “Yes” to indicate you would like to download the changes. If you do not receive this message, I believe you can do it manually by going to “Kindle” and then “Manage Your Kindle.” Here, you can select “Your Orders” and then on the drop down menu next to the title choose “Deliver to …” and select your device.
Second: I have donated a signed copy of my book to the Red Cross fundraiser through Writers for the Red Cross. My book is part of a basket of books from writers represented by the Sanford J. Greenburger Associates literary agency. All of the books in the basket, except for Dan Brown’s, are signed by the author. If you’re interested in a signed copy of my book and helping out the Red Cross, you can make a bid in the comments on the Writers for the Red Cross website.
Additionally, if you’re a writer putting together a book proposal, my agent has donated a critique of a nonfiction book proposal or novel to the same fundraiser. You can make a bid in the comments on her auction page. Both auctions conclude this Sunday, March 27.
Thank you to anyone who makes a bid!
Today is the official release of Unclutter Your Life in One Week in paperback. I’m extremely excited about today and this event for many reasons:
- Not all books printed as hardcovers ever make it to paperback. Making it to paperback is a sign that the publisher continues to believe the content of the book is worth staying in publication. I’m really honored and humbled by this.
- A few big bloopers were fixed, especially the one from page 17 in the hardcover. On page 17, I accidentally wrote a sentence stating the exact opposite of what I intended. Oops!
- As a special promotion, Amazon is selling the paperback at almost $7.00 off the suggested retail price — Unclutter Your Life in One Week in paperback is just $8.06.
Thank you to everyone who has supported the book over the last year, and to those who will support it in the future. I truly appreciate the opportunity to continue to share the Unclutterer message in a different medium.
Back in early January, I marked the Ides of March as when I would officially check in on my first set of resolutions for 2010 and finalize my resolutions for the second quarter. In the post “Increasing energy: Erin’s first set of 2010 resolutions,” I outlined what I planned to do for January, February, and March.
For the most part, I’ve kept to the resolutions I created. Unfortunately, I had to take six weeks off from the gym and withdraw from the race I planned to run in April because I kicked a rocking chair and significantly injured my foot. I’m just now getting back into a modified gym routine and can wear regular shoes again.
One of the highlights of my first-quarter resolutions was discovering new recipes for my healthy meal plan. One of the things I did was add the Canyon Ranch Cooks cookbook to my collection. With it, I have successfully made and enjoyed dozens of new recipes. During the doldrums of winter, it was nice to keep mealtime interesting and nutritious. Additionally, simply having more energy has been a wonderful thing.
The theme for my second-quarter resolutions is “Embark on new adventures.” Now that I have the much needed energy I was craving, I’m excited about putting it to use. The following are the resolutions I’ve set for April, May, and June:
- Plant and tend to an herb and vegetable garden.
- Take a knife skills class.
- Go rock climbing.
- Accomplish all 67 tasks on the “Spring Cleaning for the Overachiever” list on pages 189 and 190 of Unclutter Your Life in One Week.
- Go through my entire home and office and play the uncluttering game I’m moving overseas! (Just to be clear, I’m NOT moving overseas, I’m simply playing the game.) Essentially, take on a full-home minimizing project.
To help me achieve these resolutions, I’m going to reference the post “Creating a plan to achieve your 2010 resolutions.” I’m also going to keep up with all of my first-quarter resolutions to maintain the energy levels necessary to help me with these second-quarter goals.
What are your resolutions for April, May, and June? How are your resolutions progressing for 2010? Share your resolution stories in the comments.
Photographer Tasra Dawson put Unclutter Your Life in One Week through the ringer to see if she could clear the clutter and organize her life in seven days. She documented the process with a video series on her website and I want to share it with you. She starts with her closet (where the book begins) and works through to her living room. I loved this series and being able to see the tips from the book in action. She did an amazing job and I hope you enjoy these videos as much as I did.
Part 1: Closet and Drawers
Part 2: The Home Office
Part 3: Mail, Paper & More
Part 4: The Bathroom and Linen Closet
Part 5: Organize Your Jewelry & Accessories
Part 6: Kitchen, Pantry, and Storage Closet
Part 7: CD/DVD Media Storage
My favorite of the videos was episode six, which covers the kitchen and pantry. Be sure to check it out:
We have had a wonderful bump in traffic recently, and we thought it might be a good idea to talk about our history and all that we do here at Unclutterer for the benefit of our new readers. Obviously, there is our daily content on the site and in our feed, but the fun doesn’t stop there.
Unclutterer was started in January 2007 by lawyer Jerry Brito. In March of that year, he sold the website to the Dancing Mammoth company, brought on more writers, and Unclutterer went from being a website with posts a few times a month to a thriving site with content every weekday. In November 2007, Jerry left to start the food blog Crispy on the Outside and Erin Doland was named the new editor of the site. Erin has been with Unclutterer since March 2007 and loves her job more than she can properly express with words.
- Unclutterer Forums — Our active online community where you can gather to share your successes, struggles, suggestions, and smiles. My personal favorite section of the forums are the challenges that people set for themselves.
- RSS feed — All of Unclutterer’s content delivered straight to your RSS reader of choice. If you aren’t familiar with RSS, check out our primer to learn more.
- E-mail feed — All of Unclutterer’s content delivered to your e-mail inbox. Unlike the RSS feed, however, this content is usually delayed 24 hours from when it was initially posted to the website.
- RSS feed without the A Year Ago posts — If you do not wish to receive the A Year Ago posts in your RSS feed, you can subscribe to this content feed. You can also learn how to create custom feeds for any website using Yahoo! Pipes.
- Follow us on Twitter @unclutterer — In addition to our daily content from Unclutterer, we also provide information and links that catch our interest over the course of a day.
- Nest Unclutterer — This free service blocks all of those annoying spambots and advertisers that follow you on Twitter.
- Erin’s column on Real Simple magazine’s Simply Stated blog — Every Tuesday and Thursday Erin produces original content for RealSimple.com.
- Keyfiler — Keyfiler is a web-based service that securely stores all of your license information in one place, for easy reference from anywhere in the world. You can also use it to generate customized reports, export your license information to handy formats like Microsoft Excel, and manage passwords for your favorite websites.
- At the Big River — AtTheBigRiver.com allows bloggers to create intuitive, functional, and humane URLs on the fly, without interrupting the flow of your writing to stop and find the “correct” URL.
- FixMyHTML — HTML code can quickly become a depository for useless tags and slower load times. For an easy way to figure out how to clean up that chunk of HTML code that has been giving you a headache, give this service a try.
- Unclutter Your Life in One Week — Erin’s 7-day plan to organize your home, your office, and your life. Available at major retailers. Published November 2009 by Simon and Schuster.
- Unclutter Your Life in One Week PDF worksheets — If you would like PDF copies of all of the worksheets that appear in the book (so that you don’t have to spend time recreating them yourself or write directly in your book), you can purchase them through our site for $2.50.
- Less is More and Simplicity is Revolutionary T-shirts — If you need a shirt, these are great for spreading the simplicity message.
- Unclutterer icon for iPhone and iPod Touch — With this snazzy icon, you can have Unclutterer as a link right on your main desktop.
We hope that you enjoy all of what Unclutterer has to offer!
When I started writing for Unclutterer, I didn’t have many expectations. I simply wanted to share the information I had learned about uncluttering and organizing with people who were seeking it. I knew how stressed and overwhelmed clutter and disorganization had made me feel, and thought I might be able to help a few people discover a more calm and enjoyable life.
Let me tell you what I didn’t expect:
A feature in The New York Times — “Ending the Reign of Chaos”
When the reporter contacted me and said she wanted to do a feature, I thought one of my friends was playing a joke on me. After a few Google searches, it became obvious that Julie Scelfo was the real thing. She wasn’t kidding. She really wanted to fly to D.C. to spend a day with me.
The piece that ran today in the print edition is marvelous — even helpful to readers — and I am so flattered to have been profiled. Unimaginably flattered. For more information on establishing a family information center in your home, check out the section on Reception Stations in the Monday chapter of Unclutter Your Life in One Week.
(Image by Michael Temchine for The New York Times.)
A reminder that tonight is the first stop on my Unclutter Your Life in One Week book tour:
The Book Cellar. 4736-38 N. Lincoln Ave. I’ll be there from 4:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m.
Again, there isn’t a speech or formal presentation, so come when it’s convenient for you during the three-hour window. Also, Unclutterer team members PJ, Brian, and Gary will all be able to make it to this event. You can hang out with us and other Unclutterer readers, grab a drink, have your book signed (if you’re into such things), and enjoy a post-holiday happy hour in Lincoln Square.
Also — I’ll be on WGN’s Midday News around 11:10 a.m. on Tuesday, so set your DVRs.
After the special bonus to Unclutterer readers ended and we stopped giving away the free copies of the worksheets from Unclutter Your Life in One Week, I started receiving e-mails from people who didn’t participate in the offer asking if they could buy the PDFs. Up until today, we haven’t had any way to sell these materials. We’ve never had Unclutterer products, so we never had an internal Unclutterer store.
I turned to our tech team at Dancing Mammoth and asked if they could setup an online store for us to sell the PDFs. They were up for the task and went to work on the programming. (This was also the point when I asked Simon and Schuster if it was okay to sell them, and they said it was.)
Once the tech team was doing all the heavy lifting, my mind kept returning to a conversation I had last summer with artist Chris Bishop at a party at my friend Kara’s house (Chris did the yellow robot painting in the second picture). Chris and I talked about his insanely popular Barack O’Unicorn t-shirt that he released during the 2008 election. We discussed the body as a canvas and how it constantly transmits messages — I support X candidate, I buy my clothes from X retailer, I listen to X band, I am the type of person who irons my clothes, I have a baby who spits up squash, I don’t follow fashion trends. For good or bad, our clothing says a great deal about us.
With our store on the horizon, I began looking into what it would take to produce Unclutterer t-shirts that convey the positive ideas we promote on the site. If the t-shirt I casually throw on to wear to the neighborhood farmers’ market is going to speak on my behalf, I at least want it to promote something I believe in. Our local silk screen company Reston Shirt came in with a good price for us using quality materials. We ordered the shirts, they produced them, and now we have two t-shirt designs — one with the phrase “Simplicity is revolutionary” and the other “Less is more” — to offer alongside the PDFs in our new store.
I haven’t stopped thinking about items we can offer in the new store. I can see us producing short e-books, calendars, planners, and other useful organizing goods. At this time, however, we’re just offering the PDFs and t-shirts. We’re starting small and seeing how things go.
I want to thank our team at Dancing Mammoth, the fine folks at Reston Shirt, and my friends Kara and David, who were good sports and agreed to be our models (since the t-shirt idea sprung from a conversation at their home, I thought it only appropriate to ask them to join in on the fun). Check out the new internal Unclutterer store and order t-shirts and/or the seven PDF worksheets that accompany Unclutter Your Life in One Week if you need them.
(Note: If you received the PDFs as part of the special bonus, you have the exact product that we’re selling in the store. You don’t need to repurchase the documents. These are available for people who did not participate in the previous offer.)
After lots of amazing planning work on the part of my stellar publicist and sales team at Simon and Schuster, my book tour is becoming a reality. The final details on the later stops (LA, NY, KC, DC) are still being ironed out, but I can go ahead and announce the first event since it is confirmed and ready to go:
December 28, 2009. 4-7 p.m. The Book Cellar. 4736-38 N. Lincoln Ave.
Technically, this is the first stop on my Unclutter Your Life in One Week book tour. However, I’m thinking about it as a book signing and an Unclutterer meet and greet. Unclutterer team members PJ, Brian, Gary, and I will all be able to make it to this event. You can hang out with us and other Unclutterer readers, grab a drink, have your book signed (if you’re into such things), and enjoy a post-holiday happy hour in Lincoln Square.
Don’t feel that you need to be at the event right at 4:00. I’m not giving a formal presentation of any kind — just getting to know our delightful Unclutterer readers. If you’re in the area, we would love for you to come by and say, “hi!”
During the period between when I had finished writing Unclutter Your Life in One Week and its printing, I came up with the idea of creating an online community for people to discuss their progress, share pictures and ideas, and respond to what they had read in the book. The Unclutterer team scheduled a planning meeting to put the idea into action — and then my husband and I got the call that we were becoming parents. Thoughts of this new community were replaced with everything baby, baby, baby.
Once life found a new “normal,” the Unclutterer team resumed talks of this new online community.
While we were taking a break from the project, PJ came up with the idea to expand the community to all Unclutterer readers. It was such an obvious idea that we were all instantly on board. So, instead of building a forum just for book readers, we made a new community for anyone interested in talking about uncluttering, organizing, and the book.
The Unclutterer Forums are now open to anyone who wants to register for them. We have created a few basic discussion categories, but we want you to feel welcome to start new discussions and go wherever the conversation leads you. Do you want to discuss the state of your garage but don’t see it as a topic? By all means, create a Garage topic under Living Spaces! We knew we could never predict all the things you would want to discuss, so please build on the basics we’ve started.
A good place to start is the “Welcome” discussion, where you can tell us about who you are and why you are uncluttering and organizing things in your life. Once you’ve said hello, check out the other discussions and become active in the community.
I want to specifically thank Brian and PJ for all of their hard work putting together the technical aspects of this project. I truly love how the Forums have the look and feel of the blog and appreciate all the work done by everyone on our team at Dancing Mammoth. They’re an amazing group of programmers and I highly recommend them to anyone looking for web developers.
Today is the day Unclutter Your Life in One Week officially goes on sale. It has been a roller-coaster ride, and I am so glad to finally be at this stage in the process. Expanding the Unclutterer message to a new medium is honestly a dream come true. My sincerest desire is that this book will help people discover the benefits of an uncluttered life and inspire them to clear the clutter to pursue what they value most.
On Sunday, I caught my first glimpse of the book “in the wild”:
It was a surreal moment, and when I stopped to think about people actually reading it I was freaked out even more. (Funny, right? I’m a blogger. People read my writing every day. I’m clueless as to why my brain thought it was somehow different.) Thankfully, my son threw up all over himself just seconds after this picture was snapped and quickly brought me out of my panic attack there in Barnes and Noble. Oh, baby puke, what amazing powers you have!
If you pick up a copy of the book, you’ll see that the first people thanked in the Acknowledgments section are you, the readers of Unclutterer.com. Without you, none of this would have been possible. If you didn’t read this site, if you didn’t tell your friends about it, if you didn’t e-mail me questions, and if you weren’t such an amazing group of people, my agent and publisher wouldn’t have even known about our site and its message. You are the reason they took notice and saw the potential for a book. Thank you.
If you buy the book or request it at the library or borrow it from a friend, I hope you enjoy reading it and find it helpful and motivating. I tried my best to write the book I needed when I was overwhelmed with clutter, and I hope it speaks to you wherever you are on your uncluttering journey.
Thank you, again, for supporting me, Unclutterer.com, and the new Unclutter Your Life in One Week. I greatly appreciate it.
I can hardly believe that my book will officially be available tomorrow! Before time runs out on the offer, I just wanted to remind everyone about the special bonus available to Unclutterer readers that ends tonight.
If you order Unclutter Your Life in One Week online before it is officially available tomorrow, I will e-mail you PDF copies of the worksheets in the book as a free, special bonus. Simply fill out the special bonus form to redeem your PDFs. For those of you who have already ordered the book, feel welcome to fill out the form to get your copies. And, if hardcovers aren’t your style, you can also order the Kindle version.
All PDFs will be e-mailed to you tomorrow. The PDFs are copies of worksheets in the book so you don’t have to recreate them on your computer to use them — I’ve done the work for you already.
I have decided to do this promotion on the honor system. I am trusting you and taking your word for it that you ordered the book. And, along those same lines of the honor system, I’m also requesting that no one posts these PDFs online after you receive them. I want to offer something special just for Unclutterer readers, so I hope that you respect my requests.
This is a limited offer and it will disappear tonight from the website.
Thank you to all of you for supporting the book and helping to spread the message about uncluttered living. I truly appreciate it!
Unrelated Note: The Ad Review Center in Google Adsense is doing a really bad job of suppressing political ads, per our preference. Our sincerest apologies. If you see a political ad on our site today or tomorrow, please know that we have requested they not be there and we do not endorse any political candidates or positions.
Below is the final excerpt from my book Unclutter Your Life in One Week we plan to run on the site — this time on how to determine how many towels and washcloths you need in your linen closet.
This is from the Tuesday chapter, “Your Bathroom” section:
“During its second season in 1967, the television show Star Trek aired an episode called ‘The Trouble with Tribbles.’ In this episode, a member of the crew of the Starship Enterprise is given a cuddly, furry tribble as a pet. Unfortunately for the crew, the tribble reproduces at an alarming rate and thousands of tribbles end up eating all of the grain on the ship. The crew runs the risk of dying of starvation out in deep space since their food supply has been so greatly depleted. I won’t give away details about the ending of the episode, but since the show went on to run for another season and a half, you can probably guess that they found a way out of the furry situation.
I mention this episode of Star Trek because I remember thinking about it the first time I cleared the clutter from my linen storage. I was convinced that my bath towels and washcloths had multiplied. I remembered buying one of the towels before I started college, but I had no memory of how I acquired the dozens more in the years since. It was as if they had spontaneously reproduced while the doors to the linen closet were shut.
To determine how many towels and washcloths you need, use this simple math equation:
(House residents + Guest bedrooms) x 2 = Sets of bath towels and washcloths
The logic behind the equation is that you have one bath towel and washcloth in use and another set in the linen closet ready to go. Since houseguests only need towels while they’re staying with you, they don’t need extras in reserve. Most guest rooms can accommodate two people, so multiplying the number of guest rooms by two usually provides for a towel per guest. (I’m using the term guest room in a general sense; in our house the guest room is an apple-green pullout couch in the middle of the living room.) If you have four people living in your home and zero guest rooms, then you should have eight bath towels and eight washcloths: (4 + 0) x 2 = 8. If you have three people living in your home and two guest rooms, then you should have ten towels and ten washcloths: (3 + 2) x 2 = 10.
This equation might not work for everyone, but most people find it to be a good starting point. If you’re a whiz at laundry, you might be able to get by on one set of towels per person. If you’re particular about having a new washcloth every day, you might need more washcloths in your collection. If your towels are falling on your head every time you open your linen closet, it’s time to trim your collection.
One nice thing about getting rid of towels and washcloths is that animal shelters worldwide are more than eager to take used linens off your hands. They are used to provide soft spaces for animals to rest, to dry off recently bathed animals, and to clean up messes. In addition to towels and washcloths, most shelters also take old sheets and tablecloths. Give your favorite animal shelter a call before you make your donation to make sure that they have a need for your unwanted items, and wash the items you plan to donate.”
Below is another excerpt from my book Unclutter Your Life in One Week — this time on how to have a social life in this busy world.
This is from the Friday chapter:
“One of my biggest complaints about adulthood is that it’s difficult to simply hang out with friends. In high school, you could call up your friend and say, ‘Hey! A bunch of us are hanging out at Kara’s place. Stop by if you want to hang out.’ No one scheduled ‘hanging out’ on their calendar. No one knew at the start of the night what might transpire by the end of the night. And no one ever left at eight thirty, tapping at her watch, saying she had an early day tomorrow.
When I graduated college, I was completely unprepared for having to schedule time to hang out with friends. The first time one of my friends told me that she had to check her calendar to see when we might be able to grab lunch together, I laughed so hard I made myself cry. Oh, to have so few responsibilities that we could hang out whenever we want!
Review your list from the Foundations chapter that identifies the things that matter to you most. Is spending quality time with friends and family on your list? What else is on your list? Schedule the time now to live the remarkable life you desire.
- Don’t turn your back on your routines. A little time every day spent on basic routines will provide you with more time in your schedule to pursue the things that truly matter.
- Plan at least one social event a week. Make a date with your friends or loved ones and keep that obligation. If the people in your life are really a priority, then you need to respect the time you spend with them. Say no to less important requests for your time and keep your date.
- Plan at least one stay-home event a week. If you’re already a social butterfly, make a commitment to staying home at least one evening a week and taking care of yourself.
- Keep a list of things you want to do, and do them. Have a list on your smart phone or carry a small notebook with you, and record things you want to do. I have lists of wines I want to try, new restaurants that are getting good buzz, day trip locations, bike trails I’ve discovered, and dozens of other things that have caught my attention. When you’re organized and focused on what really matters, you’ll never have the opportunity to say, ‘I’m bored.’
- Pay money to take a class. When you spend money on a class, you’re more likely to make a commitment to attending it. If you want to have more variation in your meal plan, take a cooking class at your local cooking school to give you ideas and confidence. If you have always dreamed of going to Rome, sign up for Italian language classes at the local community college to get you prepared. If you wish that you and your significant other would go out dancing, take a ballroom dance class together. If finances are tight, look for free classes listed in your newspaper and make the extra effort to attend.
- Stop making excuses. You can come up with reasons for why you can’t do something until you’re blue in the face. Instead of wasting the energy coming up with those reasons, use that same energy to find ways to make it happen. You’ll be surprised by your ingenuity.”