Baby room clutter: The changing table

My wife and I are fairly new parents. Our daughter is fourteen months old and the clutter that she contributes to our home is fairly substantial. When my wife and I were planning the nursery we were inundated by so many items that we must have.

One of the items that we passed on was a changing table. It is a unitasker that is obsolete as soon as our daughter is potty trained. We simply bypassed this “must have” by using the dresser top as the changing station. It works just as well as a changing table and the top drawer fits all the necessities for changing a diaper.

I’m not exactly sure why anyone buys a changing table. Maybe they are purchased as gifts or people just believe that they absolutely need them. Whatever the reason, it should be known that they are not necessities and the top of a dresser performs just as well. Now the space that the changing table would have occupied is used for all the toys that the grandparents never stop buying.

Peter Walsh answers questions for Unclutterer.com

Peter Walsh is an organizational giant. His books It’s All Too Much! and How to Organize Just About Everything, his television show Clean Sweep on TLC, and his radio show every Friday on XM Satellite Radio (XM156) inspire people to live uncluttered lives. Walsh is an essential resource for anyone looking to bring more order and less chaos into their world, and he is a bit of a hero in these parts.

Peter Walsh recently took time out of his busy schedule to participate in an interview with Unclutterer.com. His answers are informative and motivational, and we hope that you find them as wonderfully inspiring as we do.

Unclutterer: In your book It’s All Too Much!, you indicate that you have walked away from projects when people value their possessions over their relationships. Isn’t this type of unhealthy prioritization at the root of most people’s clutter problems?

Peter Walsh: Clutter comes in many forms and the reasons why people hold onto it is similarly complex. There are two main types of clutter: Memory Clutter – which reminds one of an important person, or achievement or event from the past – and I-Might-Need-It-One-Day Clutter – this is the stuff held onto in preparation for all possible futures that one might encounter. Keeping things from the past or sensible planning for the future are great things – it’s when the objects take over that there’s a problem. With many of the people I encounter, their primary relationship is with their stuff. Instead of owning their stuff, their stuff owns them. This clearly is not only unhealthy but also a real stumbling block to happiness and a fulfilling life. If your stuff is causing problems in your life or relationships it’s time to do something about it!

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8 ways to cut back on computer cables

When deciding to buy or upgrade a computer or peripheral, be sure to consider the number of additional cables the device will add to your workspace. Here are a few things to keep in mind to help you reduce computer-related cable clutter:

  1. Laptops will usually only require a single power cable. Also, they can be easily stored out of sight when not in use.
  2. Opt for bluetooth and wifi enabled peripherals over those that require cords. This is a great way to get rid of cables for your keyboard, mouse, and printer.
  3. If you use a bluetooth keyboard and mouse, an iMac will also only require a single power cable. This is a good alternative to a laptop if you need a larger display. An iMac also affords the benefit of an integrated webcam that won’t require any additional cables.
  4. Many newer peripherals are able to receive power over either USB, Firewire, or Ethernet. Not only does this help you reduce the number of cables, but it also can spare you from having to deal with those large and heavy wall-wart transformers that are usually required.

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Unitasker Wednesday: Portable ice maker

Need ice on the go? No problem! Skymall has you covered with its Portable Ice Maker. At a light 47.5 pounds, this baby sure is portable. Best of all, it works anywhere — anywhere there’s an electrical outlet. Sure, it only does one thing, but it does it well. It’ll make up to 30 pounds of ice! You’ll never be caught short wherever you go. Just bring along 30 pounds of water. Plus it only takes 24 hours to make ice! At just $399, why would you ever buy a mini-fridge (even at half the price).

The load thing

We’ve been on a big charging station kick here lately, so reader Leigh sent in this way cool design. This thing looks like a unitasker, but at about $13 it’s not such a bad way to turn what could be a cable eyesore into a stylish accent.

The Load-Thing comes flat-pack and you fold it yourself. It hooks up to your electric socket and then the device you’re charging (iPod, cell phone, camera, whatever) sits on it. So, is this thing clutter itself or a very neat solution?

Surround sound without the cable clutter

Looking for a surround sound system, but you really don’t want all those wires running around the room to every speaker? Well, here are a couple of options that you may want to look at before you buy that five speaker set.

Polk Audio’s SurroundBar (pictured): The SurroundBar measures in at 42.62 by 4.44 by 5.12 inches (W x H x D).

Yamaha YSP-800: The YSP-800 measures in at 31.5 x 6 x 4.5 inches (W x H x D).

One can not expect to have the same sound quality from these units compared to a full 5.1 surround system, but from the reviews I have read the sound quality is surprisingly good. A step down in sound quality for a easy to set up single speaker system may be the trade-off you are looking for. Also, think of the lack of wires!

The first step in organizing your pots and pans

For those of you that get as frustrated as I do when trying to stack your pots, pans, and lids, here is a cheap and easy way to organize your lids. The Door Mount Lid Rack keeps the lids in order so you can stack your pots and pans in a nice and orderly fashion. The lids get in the way of the stacking process, but this little rack easily solves the problem and for only $8 you can’t go wrong.

Are you a clutterer?

Want to take a clutter quiz? Might you be at risk of surrounding yourself in clutter? Gretchen at the Happiness Project developed a series of questions to help readers of her blog determine if they might be candidates for clutter.

My favorite question?

[Does this] sound like something you’d say … “This is perfectly useful, I can’t just throw it away.”

Enjoy the diversion, and let us know how you scored. I know that I am definitely diagnosed!

The quest for the perfect charging station, part 3

Well, this little device that we saw on Gizmodo may just take the cake. The WildCharge wireless charging station is simple and intriguing. The charger is nothing more than a mouse pad sized gadget that you lay your device on when it needs to be recharged. That’s right, you don’t even need to plug the device into anything, so goodbye to those cables!

You simply lay your iPod, cellphone, or PDA on the surface, and the charging begins. The WildCharge just might end the quest for the perfect charging station. They aren’t available until July 9, so mark it on your calendar and see how this thing performs.


Reader question: Procrastination ender

A reader (whose name we’ll omit to protect the inocent) asked us the following question:

I am married to an attorney and he is very disorganized and procrastinates with everything he does. What advice would you give him or how could I motivate him to act on practices like sending out bills to clients.

This is kind of a strange question to ask a bunch of organizers, but if you think about it, you won’t get any organizing done if you keep putting things off. Big projects, like organizing a home or a business, often go undone because people feel paralyzed by the enormity of the undertaking. As David Allen teaches, you can’t “do” a project, you can only complete steps along the way. Making a list of each physical step you have to take toward a goal is helpful because each individual step will be relatively easy, so you won’t put it off. Instead of thinking “damn, I have to send out the client bills,” you’ll think, “(step one) I need to go through my calendar and make a list of the clients I worked with this month.” “Send out bills” is an amorphous and oppressive task, while “go through calendar” is a five-minute no-brainer.

The only other tip I’d give is to seek professional help in the form of Neil Fiore’s “The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play.” Notice that I phrased the to-dos as “I have to X” and “I need to Y.” Fiore says that if you really feel this way, you’ll procrastinate because you’re doing things you don’t want to do, but instead have to do. He has some great suggestions for moving to a state of, “I want to send out the bills, what’s step one?”

Will “Witricity” save us from cable clutter?

One can only hope that the end of the power cord is near. The recent news that a group of MIT researchers have developed a wireless way to deliver electricity to a device is very welcome here at Unclutterer.

The team of researchers were able to power a 60 watt light bulb from seven feet away. This is a promising step in what is hopefully an inevitable extinction of the dreaded wire mess that surely lurks in your home or office.

From the Daily Tech:

…the WiTricity project does not transmit biologically harmful electromagnetic radiation during operation. Additionally, line-of-sight issues present in microwave technology disappear with WiTricity; magnetic fields are more-or-less unaffected by non-metallic materials in most environments.

The most current WiTricity experiments use coils approximately 20″ in diameter and operate at distances of approximately two meters. The team hopes to eventually power a notebook from a several meters away.