Curb your cosmetic clutter

The drawers in our bathroom are small and disorganized. Without pointing too many fingers, my wife’s cosmetic drawer is mostly to blame. The drawer is disorganized mainly because there isn’t a way to control where items are placed in the 12″ x 20″ drawer. Everything is chaotic, and tubes of things constantly roll around whenever the drawer is opened and closed.

We remedied her makeup drawer problem by purchasing the Expandable 6 Compartment Cosmetic Organizer. It helped to organize my wife’s cosmetics drawer so well that we purchased another for my drawer of toiletries. Now, everything has its own little cozy place. Also, while I was separating the items, I was able to get rid of the things I never use and my wife trashed a bunch of nail polish she didn’t need.

June wrap up

As the month comes to a close, let’s take a few moments to look back over some of the things that made June 2007 a great month at Unclutterer.com.

June’s top 5 most popular posts:

Additional Highlights:

  • Dean from the band The Dead Milkmen weighed in on our Consider Charitable Giving post. He said that he’s a fan of uncluttering, but wasn’t 100 percent certain that someone from his band once mailed my friend Joel a sock.
  • Organizational giant Peter Walsh took time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. I’m still giddy just thinking about this interview.
  • Cooking legend Emeril Lagasse’s blog linked to our recipe organization post. It’s difficult to impress my mother, but this link from Emeril’s site gave her something to brag about to all of her friends.

A man in uniform

MacUser points us to an article by design academic Steven Heller in the AIGA journal about Steve Job’s wardrobe. Heller imagines a fictional interview with the Apple iCon in which he only has one question:

Heller: Mr. Jobs, it’s not easy to get you to sit for an interview, so I’ll make this short. Why do you always wear blue jeans and a black turtleneck?

The question’s never answered in the “interview,” but in the comments Heller suggests that Jobs understands that he is part of the Apple brand and therefore brands himself consistently whenever he’s acting officially. I think that might well be part of it, but here’s a recent photo of Jobs at one of his kids’ soccer matches — he’s wearing jeans, a mock turtleneck, and presumably white New Balance shoes. So it seems he always dresses like that.

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Improve performance by getting files off your OS X desktop

Keeping files off the OS X desktop is a simple way to improve system performance. Why does this make a difference?

According to Rob Griffiths of Macworld:

“The operating system treats each desktop icon just like a full-size Finder window—the icon takes up a chunk of memory, and the system has to track its position and size at all times. Drop enough files and folders on your desktop, and you may start to notice side effects (such as spinning beach balls) when you’re trying to do something as simple as open a new Finder window.”

The act of maintaining a clutter-free desktop also encourages you to file away useful documents for retrieval when needed. So be sure to put them in some kind of clearly named directory structure that will allow you to easily find things when you need them.

Trash the dress!

For three years after I got married, my wedding dress sat in a lump on the floor of my closet. It had chocolate icing smeared down the front of it, a bourbon and coke stain on the train, and half of its lining ripped out as a result of my husband’s superb dancing skills. Eventually, the dress made its way to the dry cleaner’s where they did a little magic on it. The stain on the back of it remains clearly visible, but the icing was removed and the tear was repaired.

I think the idea of one day having my daughter wear it is downright cruel (An out-dated dress that has a big stain on it! You’ll be the envy of all your friends!), so I’m not really certain why I’ve kept it all these years or even took it to the dry cleaners to be “fixed.” Some friends have suggested that I cut it up and make it into something new, the way that Andie Walsh did in Pretty in Pink. And, I honestly like this idea, but have never acted on it.

My unrealistic desire to cut up my dress and repurpose it came to a sudden halt yesterday when I read an e-mail from my husband about the Trash the Dress project. My days of storing my wedding dress are finished. I have great plans of wearing it in the mud or under water or while skiing or in whatever crazy situation the photographer can imagine. (To give you an idea of my dreams of what to do on this project, check out this collection by photographer John Michael Cooper. Wow.)

If you have your wedding dress in your closet and are looking for a creative way to have it cease being clutter, consider participating with me in the Trash the Dress project.

Now I hope my dress still fits …

Photo at right courtesy of Mark Eric.

Unitasker Wednesday: Mango splitter

Ok, so how many mangos do you eat a year? I’m sure I’ll get a bunch of comments from mango lovers telling me that they can’t live without their mango splitter, but I just can’t justify purchasing a tool to split a specific fruit. I’ve seen a person struggle while trying to prepare a mango for a recipe, but unless your eating multiple mangos at each meal just follow these steps and forget about the Mango Splitter.

Home shopping contributes to clutter

Go ahead and tune into any one of the home shopping channels for a few minutes. It is a bit entertaining to see how excited the TV salesperson gets about ridiculous items like a bedazzled hat. These 24 hour shopping stations make it very easy for people to purchase things they don’t need.

Home shopping is convenient and definitely serves a purpose for people that are not crazy about shopping via the internet or unable to shop at traditional brick and mortar stores, but with that convenience comes the ability to easily accumulate clutter.

This story of a homebound woman is heartbreaking. She suffered a stroke and became infatuated with purchasing tons of items she didn’t need.

She couldn’t walk, but she bought shoes. She couldn’t cook, but she bought six Jack LaLanne juice machines. She rarely left home but she had two 12-foot closets stuffed with still-tagged evening wear when she passed away.

This is obviously an extreme case but QVC is a multi-billion dollar company with legions of faithful shoppers ready to shop at the drop of a bedazzled hat. The comfort that some of these people find in purchasing items is sad and a bit disturbing. If you know someone that has a shopping/hoarding problem, get them some help if at all possible.

Extreme minimalism Monday: hair is clutter

Eschew the trappings of our vain and materialistic culture by shaving your head. Did you know that you can replace the following items with a single razor and a can of shaving cream?

  1. Combs
  2. Brushes
  3. Shampoo
  4. Conditioner
  5. “Product” (Gels, Mousses, Waxes)
  6. Scrunchies
  7. Barrettes
  8. Hairdryer

It’s a practical and stylish approach that is surprising versatile–it works whether you look like Natalie Portman (pictured) or Telly Savalas. And with all the money you save on haircuts you’ll be able to buy cool white clothing and furniture so you can live out the kind of THX-1138 lifestyle that most minimalists only dream of.

Send in your pics

Are you in the process of uncluttering your home or workspace? Send us before and after photos and we’ll post them on Unclutterer to help inspire others. Just shoot them to [email protected]. And don’t forget we love to answer your questions on the site, so send them our way, too.

Read a book and pass it on

I am a voracious reader. Since I was four, I’ve read at least a book a week. Most weeks, the number is around two or three. Digital subscription services, like Audible.com, have made my reading obsession less of a clutter problem than it used to be. But, I would be lying if I said that book clutter isn’t still a stumbling block in my home.

To put this into perspective, I brought nine new books into my house this weekend.

Unlike a good number of cluttered readers, however, I actually read the books that make it into my home (see the “voracious reader” paragraph above). As a result, I have devised a series of questions that I use to review books once I have read them. So far, they have helped significantly at keeping my book clutter better under control.

Questions to ask yourself when you finish reading a book:

  1. Is this a reference book (dictionary, thesaurus, parenting guide, etc.) that I will refer to often? Will it contain accurate content for at least a year? Is the reference book better and more useful to me in printed form than a digital version that I can access from my computer?
  2. Is this a cookbook that meets the standards set forth in this post on getting rid of cookbook clutter?
  3. Is this one of my favorite books? Will I honestly re-read it again at several times in the next few years?
  4. Is this book signed by the author and/or dedicated to me? Am I acknowledged by name in the author’s acknowledgment section?
  5. Is this a children’s book for my child that she will ask me to re-read to her again tomorrow night? Has my child decided that this book is more important than vegetables?
  6. If I keep this book, are there two books (or more) that I can get rid of when I put this on the shelf?

If you answered “yes” to the relevant questions above, keep the book. Otherwise, get rid of it by either passing it along to a friend or family member, selling it to a used book store, or donating it to a charity or a local school or public library.