What was in Unclutterer’s fifth Quarterly mailing?

All over the world, subscribers to the Unclutterer shipment from Quarterly have received their fifth mailing from us. If you didn’t subscribe to the fifth mailing, but were curious as to what we sent, I’ve detailed the kit below.

Each box is sent with a letter from our team, and I penned the fifth one. This time we focused on safety, since September (when the boxes arrived) was National Emergency Preparedness Month. What was in the box?

A box!

Okay, more accurately, it was an ANSI standard portable first aid kid with almost everything you could possibly need to administer first aid.

As with our previous mailings, if you missed out on this one and are interested in buying the contents now, a few will be made available through the Best of Quarterly Shop in the coming weeks.

If you’re interested in subscribing to our four mailings a year, we have a sixth mailing coming out in the next quarter (and then a seventh and eighth …). I’m putting together our next one and we’re excited about how it is coming together. Sign up if you want to subscribe to the organizing shipments. If not, we’re totally cool with that, too.

Unclutterer updates

This week has been incredibly exciting in our Unclutterer world and I’m eager to share the details.

First up, I signed a contract for a second organizing book. The working title is Never Too Busy to Cure Clutter and it is scheduled for an early 2016 release. I had a burning desire not to rewrite my first book, so this one took awhile to develop and find the right home for it. It’s full color and fun and will be a visual processor’s delight. I’m working with Harlequin Non-Fiction for this book, which at first might seem like an odd choice, but is actually perfection. Harlequin understands digital better than any other publisher out there, and I wanted the digital version of my book to be as amazing as the print version.

My editor for this book and I have such a similar vision for Never Too Busy to Cure Clutter that it is a little creepy. It will feature hundreds of projects you can complete in as little as 30 seconds, a minute, five minutes, all the way up to full weekend activities. There are quizzes and inspiring quotes and the whole book makes you want to get up off your tushy and get organized — even when you’re pressed for time. I am so excited about being able to make this book for you and others who are interested in finding more organization and less clutter in their lives.

My second announcement is that I’m a featured expert in the August 2014 issue of Real Simple Magazine. I answer a series of readers’ questions about topics ranging from photographs to refrigerators. If you are a subscriber, you should have received the issue earlier this week in your mailboxes. If you aren’t a subscriber, you can get the August issue on newsstands today. The feature begins on page 77 with a drawing of me that doesn’t include a single wrinkle (you’re welcome to pencil those in around my eyes if you prefer authenticity).

I am very thankful to Real Simple for including me in their Ask the Organizer series. I believe I’m the eighth organizer, and they are featuring 12 this year. The feature has been terrific, and I recommend checking out the advice from each month for some amazing tips.

There is also a possibility I’ll be in another issue of the magazine this fall. I’ll keep you posted as we get closer to that publication date.

A Kickstarter project to help music-makers get organized

Today, our parent company launched an exciting Kickstarter campaign for an online platform for music education, practice, and collaboration.

It’s called MusicFol.io and it’s designed to help people keep all aspects of their musical lives organized.

There’s a second video on the Kickstarter page that shows a detailed demo of how the site will work.

If you think you might find this useful, please consider backing the project. And please share it with any music students, teachers or performers you know who could benefit from a suite of online organization and collaboration tools like this.

Friday inspiration and information

It’s Friday and I’m ready for the weekend. As a result, I’m putting the brainy content on hold until Monday and let you explore some links. Have a great and uncluttered weekend, everyone!

  • We’ve written about why-we-buy research before, but I found this article to be a good reminder for what propels us to buy more and more stuff. “Self-control, smells and spending” from the February 20 issue of the Chicago Tribune. (Thanks to Seattle-based professional organizer Denise Allan for the link.)
  • Psychology Today ran an interesting article last week on “Willpower and game theory” that I recommend reading. (Thanks to organizing coach Julie Gray for sharing this link with us.)
  • And now for the toot-our-own-horn segment of this list … last week I was featured in an article on The Huffington Post about how to better organize your mornings: “These Ridiculously Simple Morning Hacks Will Help Set You Up For The Day.” If you struggle with getting out of the house on time, the article contains some helpful hints for improvement.
  • We were featured in two articles in January’s issue of Family Circle that were converted to slideshows for their website: “Declutter Your Home in 31 Days” and “A Place for Everything: Easy Home Storage.” If you like Pinterest, these pieces might speak to you.
  • Finally, Unclutterer is feeling the love from Martha Stewart this month! (And, I assure you, we most definitely love her back.) Two pieces include us that are currently on newsstands in the April issue of Martha Stewart Living under the section “For the Love of Lightening Up.” It isn’t yet available online since you can still buy it. However, on April 15 MarthaStewart.com had this tease of a blog post about the issue that included some of my advice from the magazine: “How To Clear Clutter and Get Organized.”

Have you read any interesting and/or inspiring uncluttering and organizing articles lately? If so, please feel welcome to share them in the comments.

2013 Holiday Gift Giving Guide: Our ultimate pick for an extravagant organized gift

Since 2007, we have been recommending an extravagant organized gift as part of our annual Holiday Gift Giving Guide. The first year, our ultimate pick was the Fujitsu ScanSnap. In 2008, we recommended the Kindle. The following year, we suggested my book, Unclutter Your Life in One Week. In 2010, it was the Fellowes Intellishred Shredder (now called the Powershred). For 2011, our ultimate generosity idea was for hiring a professional organizer. Then, in 2012, it was a closet makeover with Rubbermaid’s Configurations system.

All of these suggestions continue to make terrific gift ideas. In fact, we heavily debated if we should have the Fujitsu ScanSnap be our selection again for 2013. However, we decided we should pick something we hadn’t done before.

For 2013, we have selected a subscription to Unclutterer’s Quarterly shipments as our ultimate extravagance.

It is difficult to put into words the excitement that we feel each time we put together one of these mailings. We know that with each package we are having fun and helping people to be more organized in their homes.

Quarterly is a subscription service that sends out curated packages four times a year, as its name implies. The Unclutterer staff selects the items that go into all of the Unclutterer mailings. We include straightforward directions on how to use/install/manipulate the items. Our assumption is that for every item we send, you will actually be able to subtract one or more things from your homes and offices. Or, the items will help you discover a significantly improved level of organization in your life.

Our previous mailings, which you can now give as gifts after the fact, contained solutions for organizing a mess of cables and getting your filing cabinet in order.

What we love about these shipments are that if you already have the specific area of your home organized, the items make great gifts to give others to help them on their organizing journey. And, the items we pick for our Quarterly mailings are very positively reviewed, tested, and tried and true solutions to disorganization problems.

Want more gift-giving ideas? Explore Unclutterer’s full 2013 Holiday Gift Giving Guide.

What was in Unclutterer’s second Quarterly mailing?

All over the world, subscribers to the Unclutterer shipment from Quarterly have received their second mailing from us. If you didn’t subscribe to the second mailing, but were curious as to what we sent, I’ve detailed the contents below.

Each box is sent with a letter from our team, and PJ penned the second one. As if a secret agent on a mission, he discussed the theme of the mailing — paper control — and how to use the items contained in the box. What was in the box?

  • An Evernote Smart Notebook by Moleskine, which included a code for three months free of Evernote Premium. The notebook makes it incredibly simple to upload digital documents to Evernote and the Premium subscription is an added bonus. (The leather-bound notebook retails for $20 and a Premium Evernote subscription is $15 for three months.)
  • The FreedomFiler physical document filing system. Knowing which documents to keep and which to purge can be confusing, but the FreedomFiler system removes any doubts you might have. You will always know where you important papers are located when using this product. It’s what we use in our home. (The FreedomFiler system retails for $29.95.)
  • An archival box. This product is for papers you want to preserve for decades — like your child’s first school paper or love letters from your sweetie — but that don’t belong in your filing cabinet. (The archival box retails for $8.15.)

If you’re interested, we have a third mailing coming out in the next quarter (and then a fourth and a fifth …). We’re really excited about the next mailing and how it can help people wanting to organize their lives. Sign up if you want to subscribe to the organizing shipments. If not, we’re totally cool with that, too.

Two days left to sign up for Unclutterer’s second Quarterly product shipment

A reminder that if you are interested, Sunday, September 1, is the last day to sign up for Unclutterer’s second Quarterly product shipment. Sign up now if you want to make sure you don’t miss out on our next shipment. To learn more, visit Quarterly’s site or our recent post “What was in Unclutterer’s first Quarterly mailing.” Thank you!

Unclutterer welcomes new writer Jacki Hollywood Brown to the team

Today we welcome a new voice to the Unclutterer team — Jacki Hollywood Brown.

Jacki will be taking over the Monday article on the site, as our beloved Deb Lee has started a new technology organizing company and is knee deep in making it a success. Good luck, Deb! We miss you already.

As sad as we are to see Deb go, we are unbelievably excited to have Jacki join our team.

Jacki Hollywood Brown is originally from Kingston, Ontario, Canada. She holds a Masters degree in Food Chemistry from the University of Guelph and has worked in research and manufacturing. Being a military wife and busy mom has helped build additional time-saving organisational skills. She has moved NINE times since 1990, lived all across Canada, and currently lives in the United Kingdom. Her hobbies include horseback riding and science fiction. She has been professionally organizing since 2004 and is the recent past-president of the Professional Organizers in Canada national association.

We have asked Jacki to use Canadian spellings since doing so is her authentic voice. So, everyone in the U.S. get ready for some amazing organisation advice!

Available at Staples: An uncluttered and time-saving HP four-in-one color printer, scanner, fax machine, and photocopier for the office

The following is a sponsored post from Staples about a product we support. We’ve been aggressively testing this product and the review is based on our first-hand experiences. We agreed to work with Staples because they sell so many different products in their stores, and our arrangement with them allows us to review products we use and have no hesitation recommending to our readers. Again, these infrequent sponsored posts help us continue to provide quality content to our audience.

This spring, HP released a series of new four-in-one color printers exclusive to Staples — the Pro X line. Not too long afterward, we received an HP Officejet Pro X576dw to review. We were interested in this new line of printers for a number of reasons, but one of those reasons is that it’s being marketed as the “world’s fastest color desktop printer.” It actually holds a Guinness World Record for speed, and we thought that was something we wanted to test for ourselves.

The HP Officejet Pro X576dw is $800 and is intended for active use by small- and medium-size businesses. It’s wireless, so everyone in the office can use the same machine. This means instead of buying each employee a scanner and printer, you can save your company a good amount of money with a shared device. Being wireless, it also means you can store it anywhere that is convenient for all of your employees.

And, it really is fast. When I hit print on my computer, it immediately starts printing, and the pages come out at a rate of up to 70 pages per minute (that’s for basic, single-sided printing). The printer we were using before this wasn’t even half that number and it wasn’t color. The HP Officejet Pro X576dw can print, scan, and copy both sides of the paper, so it saves us money by also not wasting paper. It uses what HP calls “PageWide technology.” According to HP, that means it “delivers four colors of Original HP pigment ink at one time onto a moving sheet of paper. As the paper moves, the printhead remains stationary, allowing the HP Officejet Pro X Series to print quickly and quietly.” In short, it moves the paper instead of the ink.

In addition to saving time, it saves money, too. It’s Energy Star qualified and the entire unit consumes less energy than a laser printer. It’s also half the initial cost of a laser four-in-one printer with relatively comparable features. It uses high-yield ink tanks (which you can also get at Staples) that result in fewer and less expensive ink tank replacements over the life of the machine in comparison to a laser printer. You save money at initial purchase and then over the lifetime of the machine.

The setup process is simple. While the machine runs its initial automatic internal configuration, you just use the touch screen on the front to type in the network password and make preferences. You don’t need an installation CD or any high-tech knowledge to make it work.

A few of our favorite functions:

  • You can email the machine things you want printed and copied. If you’re out and about, you can send an email from your smartphone and print documents so they’re available when you and your clients arrive back at the office.
  • I really like the Stamps app, which allows you to print postage through Stamps.com directly on the printer. With the help of a trusty scale, I weigh what I need to send, use the app to print a stamp for the exact postage amount, and then hand the package to the mail carrier. I’ve stopped going to the post office, saving myself a lot of time.
  • For its size, it has a really big paper tray. It holds a full ream of paper (500 sheets), while our previous printer held less than half a ream (200 sheets). It’s genuinely nice not to have a partial ream of paper hanging open in our office supply closet all the time. It sounds silly, but unopened reams stack much more cleaner than open ones.

Exact product specifications and more technical information can be found on Staples’ website. But, on the whole, we are really impressed with this four-in-one printer. It greatly exceeded our expectations, especially with saving us time and money over the longterm.

What was in Unclutterer’s first Quarterly mailing?

All over the world, subscribers to the Unclutterer shipment from Quarterly have received their first mailing from us. If you didn’t subscribe to the first mailing, but were curious as to what we sent, this was our mailing:

Each box is sent with a letter from our team, and I (Erin) penned the first one. I discussed the theme of the mailing — cable control — and how to use the items contained in the box. What was in the box?

  • A large BlueLounge Cable Box for holding a power strip and unsightly cables (which you can’t see so well in the above photo, but you can see much better on BlueLounge’s website)
  • BlueLounge CableDrop adhesive cable holders
  • Beclau Cable IDs for finding the plug you want inside your Cable Box
  • Hyperline Velcro Cable Ties that attach to the cable and hold the slack in your cables
  • And, as previously mentioned, the letter explaining how to use the products

People have started to post before and after pictures to Twitter to show how they’re using the items to control their nest of cables and cords. You can see these images, too, by following the #UCL01 hashtag on Twitter.

If you’re interested, we have a second mailing coming out in the next quarter (and then a third and a fourth …). We’re really excited about the next mailing and how it can help people wanting to organize their lives. Sign up if you want to subscribe to the organizing shipments. If not, we’re totally cool with that, too.

Organizing paperwork with Staples’ Better Binders

The following is a sponsored post from Staples about a product we believe in. For the past month, I’ve been aggressively testing this product and the review is based on my first-hand experiences. We agreed to work with Staples because they sell so many different products in their stores, and our arrangement with them allows us to review products we use and have no hesitation recommending to our readers. Again, these infrequent sponsored posts help us continue to provide quality content to our audience.

When I travel (for work or pleasure) or have special projects, I almost always organize the corresponding paperwork in a three-ring binder. I like to have all of my necessary information in one storage system so I can grab it and go. I also usually have a scanned backup of the same data in Evernote or on Dropbox, but I see these digital copies as being useful only if something happens to my original binder. Usually I need physical copies of the papers I’m keeping, especially with projects, when the papers may be something I’m giving to clients or need to file with a legal entity.

Earlier this year, I was introduced to Staples’ new Better Binder system, and I’ve been using them ever since. I’ve taken them to a conference, on vacation, and am currently using one to store all the paperwork for our second adoption. When finished using the binder for one purpose, I’ve removed the FileRings and dropped them into my filing cabinet. They could also be useful for keeping yearly family or tax information or anything project where you’ll be actively using the paperwork for a period of time and then need to archive it when you’re finished with it.

In short, it is a three-ring binder whose FileRings spine pops out and allows you to file the contents of the binder directly into your filing cabinet. The binders themselves are reusable and additional removable FileRings are available for purchase. (They are currently in the $4 range for the replacement FileRings.)

Removing the FileRings is incredibly simple, especially after you see it done. Pull on the plastic pieces at the top and bottom of the FileRings spine to pop it out. You then push in the top and bottom plastic pieces to hang the FileRings in your filing cabinet. Inserting the FileRings is also simple — set them in place and then push in the top and bottom of the FileRings spine to secure them into the binder.

They also have available Better Dividers, which I really like. The tabs can be inserted on the top or the side of the divider, making them extremely versatile. There are times when having the tab at the top of my binder is helpful, especially when I only have a need for two or three divided sections.

The binder comes with a blank spine label you can tear off and easily slide into place, so you don’t have to cut up a sheet of paper to make one from scratch. The front panel of the binder also allows you to slip in a cover sheet of your own design.

Better Binders come in the traditional size (11” x 11-3/4”) for 8-12″ x 11″ sheets of paper. They’re available in 1″ (275 sheets of paper) for roughly $8, 1-1/2″ (400 sheets) for $9, 2″ (540 sheets) for $11, and 3″ (600 sheets) widths for $14. The binder comes with one removable FileRings spine, but additional FileRings must be purchased separately. Current colors are white, red, black, pink, orange, yellow, green, teal, blue, purple, dark teal, fuchsia, plum, olive, and multi-color combinations of some of these colors. I use the different binder colors to make it even more obvious which binder I need to take with me, in addition to the labeling I use on the binder.

Last day to sign up for Unclutterer’s first Quarterly product shipment

Just a reminder that if you are interested, today is the last day to sign up for Unclutterer’s first Quarterly product shipment. To learn more, visit Quarterly’s site or our initial post “Subscribe to Unclutterer on Quarterly” about the subscription service. The first mailing will be sent on June 14. Thank you!