Unitasker Wednesday: The Towel-matic paper towel dispenser

**How many times have you reached over for one piece of a paper towel only to find yourself under an avalanche of ever flowing paper towels? The Towel-matic paper towel dispenser can save you from that very problem, forever! If you only want one piece of paper towel, it gives you exactly one. If you want a half of a piece, it gives you half. Pretty amazing.

Now you can live a stress free life without having to worry about the dangers of getting crushed by a paper towel avalanche. Thank you iTouchless, this product will surely “make your life a lot easier at home.”

Would you like to see this amazing product in action? You know you do:

**Note: Like all Unitasker Wednesday posts, this one is written fully in jest with ample amounts of sarcasm.

Reader question: Dealing with a cluttery significant other

Reader Jennifer sends in this question:

I wonder if you can address what to do when one person in a relationship is content to be a clutterer, and the other person desires to be clutter-free. Obviously, I relate to this problem. I’d really like to get rid of a lot of the crap we never use (especially since we’re moving soon). However, my partner freaks at the suggestion of throwing stuff out, and I don’t want to dictate which Shiny New Gadgets he can and cannot buy. I’m really averse to preaching.

Jennifer, I feel your pain. I am in an otherwise blissful relationship with someone who is, shall we say, less neat than I am, and we’re moving in together soon. I’m very lucky because she is very understanding and accepting of my OCPD. That’s wonderful, but it does little to address the number of shoes in the apartment.

So what do we neat-freaks do? My first instinct is to nag, but that’s not very fair since it’s our obsession as much as anything else that causes the conflict. Your aversion to preaching is probably right because I don’t think you can ever command someone to stop being how they are. Something you learn in management 101 is that if you want someone to follow a course of action, you can’t just command them, you have to convince them that it’s the right course. You have to have “buy-in.” Otherwise you’ll just get lip service and resentment.

So how do you convince your partner that neat and minimal is the way to go? The same way you would convince them about anything else. Hopefully that’s lovingly and using reason. It also doesn’t hurt to explain why it’s in their best interest and how their quality of life will be improved.

Once you have buy-in, since you’re the neat one, you have to help your partner keep their commitment. Again you want to avoid nagging, so instead use the same tips and tricks you use to help yourself stay uncluttered. Maybe you can agree on what is a reasonable number of shoes to have and then commit to each other that for every new pair that’s bought, and old one has to go. Schedule joint purge days a couple times a year. Who knows, you might even make it fun.

Any other tips for dealing with a not-so-neat significant other? This is one dilemma about which I’d love to hear Dr. Ragan’s advice.

My umbrella has wifi!

Temptation to buy clutter is relentless. Objects like this wifi-enabled Ambient Umbrella will indicate if there is rain, drizzle, snow, or thunderstorms in your local forecast by emitting a blue glow. It’s cool. It’s sleek. You could be the envy of all of your gadget toting brethren. But, like many objects, it is just a little minx luring you to waste your money ($100) and add to your clutter. Run far, far away from these types of temptations.

Put your gadget consumerism to rest and download any number of free weather forecast widgets for your computer’s desktop, web browser, or PDA. Heck, just try looking out the window before leaving your house, and then examine your gadget buying problem.

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

My undergraduate degree is in journalism. One of my favorite smells in life is that of a fresh morning newspaper. Some of the best writing in America, I believe, comes from reporters on a regular beat. So, please know that it is with great consternation that I offer up the following advice:

Cancel your daily print newspaper subscription.

I understand that there is comfort in holding a newspaper in your hands. I know that routines are difficult to break. I also know that newspapers cause horrific amounts of clutter.

You’re reading this post on a computer, so I will assume that you are tech savvy enough to direct your browser to a newspaper’s website. If you don’t know the specific link, check out the following sites to find your favorite local and national papers online: http://www.onlinenewspapers.com/ and http://www.refdesk.com/paper.html.

(more…)

Living in small spaces

PJ wrote about living in the anti-McMansion and the 96-square-foot home in a recent “Extreme Minimalism Monday” post. Coincidentally, days later, I stumbled across this interesting article by Claire Wolfe entitled The Art of Living in Small Spaces. The article has great tips on living in her 360-square-foot cabin, but the tips can also help you live a clutter-free life in your typical-size living space.

Here are some of the tips:

  • Plan to cultivate neatnik habits. Find a place for everything and put everything in its place as soon as you’re done with it.
  • Above all, banish clutter from your kitchen countertops. Eliminate small appliances you don’t need. Stash those you do need inside cabinets. Buy the under-cabinet mounting types of appliances where feasible. Buy or construct a countertop “appliance garage.” An uncluttered kitchen is the biggest step toward small-space sanity.
  • Don’t own a lot of stuff. If you can do without it, do without it.
  • If you heat or cook with wood, a pass-through bin for firewood will save space and mess. Build the bin on the outside wall of your house, with a door to insert wood from the outdoors and another, next to your woodstove, to pull the wood inside.
  • Consider constructing (or buying) a platform bed with big storage drawers underneath.

Extreme minimalism Monday: sounds of silence

The extreme minimalist finally broke down last week and bought himself an iPod. He feels a little guilty about the unnecessary material acquisition, but he likes being able to carry around his recordings of John Cage’s 4’33”.

He asked me to share this video with you this week. It’s his favorite recording of the piece, from a televised concert.

The extreme minimalist also uses this piece as the ringtone for his mobile phone, which is probably why we can never seem to reach him.

iPhone: The Unclutterer review

070708-iphoneYes, folks, I dutifully stood in line for a couple hours and got my hands on a hot new iPhone. After a week with it, it’s time I told you how it fares in the uncluttering department.

The good news is that it lives up to the hype. It is a stunning device that is easily the best mobile phone I have ever used. The call quality is great, the interface is amazing, and the big bright screen is gorgeous. The bad news is that it really isn’t going to do much to relieve clutter, at least not totally. Because it’s a phone, a camera, an iPod, and an internet communicator, you’d think you could consolidate all of your devices. But as good as it is, it’s not going to replace a proper digital camera, a laptop, or even an iPod.

If you’re going on a road trip, for example, you’re going to want a better camera to document your journey than the iPhone’s 2 megapixel offering. If you plan to play hours of tunes over the car’s stereo, the iPhone might also not be the best choice. Although it has terrific battery life, you probably want to save that for actually placing calls and viewing maps. And if you want to take your whole music collection with you so you have options, you’ll still need a high-capacity iPod.

That said, the iPhone will reduce mobile clutter. I would often walk out of the house with a bag just because I wanted to have with me a camera for spontaneous pics, and iPod for a few podcasts, a laptop for email, and a cell phone. Now I just drop the iPhone into my pocket and I’m set. For daily urban jaunts it’s all you’ll need.

If you have any questions you’d like me to answer about the iPhone, just drop them in the comments. Any one else get an iPhone?

Organization facts from Mother Jones

The Mother Jones website just put up an interesting list of facts on organization. Most of them reinforce our core mission here at Unclutterer:

  • Since the 1970s, the average U.S. home has grown by 80%. Yet Americans face a “storage crisis,” according to UCLA researchers.
  • The self-storage industry is only 35 years old. It took 25 years for the first billion square feet of storage space to be built. The second billion square feet was built in just 8 years.
  • 7 square feet of commercial storage space now exists for every American.

There are a few, however, that we just refuse to believe, despite any evidence provided:

  • 1 in 3 IKEA customers say they get more satisfaction from cleaning out their closets than from having sex.
  • Men who don’t organize their sock drawer have sex 3 times more a month than men who do.

The space saving bicycle

So you want a bicycle, but you just don’t have the room to store it? Well, why not check out the Clive Sinclair designed A-Bike, which claims to be the smallest and lightest folding bike in the world.

It folds down to the size of an umbrella and can easily fit just about anywhere. The A-Bike looks easy enough to fold and store, but do those tiny grocery cart wheels have what it takes to carry my weight around? I’m a bit skeptical, so I did a bit of digging to see what others thought.

A-Bike claims that the height limit of the rider is 6’3″, but many users on the A-Bike forum say that that is stretching it. I’m 6’2″ and I just don’t see this thing fitting me very well. The seat looks awfully uncomfortable too. It looks to be about the size of a large sandwich. I don’t believe that it would be very comfortable on longer Bike rides, but I don’t think A-Bike riders are going to be cruising around on any long treks.

So, I guess if you are looking for a tiny bike to ride to the bus station, subway staion, or to work this may be the bike for you. If you do ride the A-Bike to work, the chains are hidden inside the frame so that will save your pant legs from getting torn or covered in chain grease. Granted you may look a bit silly, but I guess that is the price you pay for saving storage space.

Watch the A-Bike in action:

Save money on large purchases with discounted gift cards

This tip is a little off-topic, but it’s so useful we decided to share it nonetheless.

When making a planned purchase from a major retailer, consider going on eBay first to look for gift cards auctions. You’ll find that the auctions usually end with the cards selling for more than 10% off their value, and because the auctions are for cards, it’s also not uncommon for the sellers to offer free shipping. Just be sure to buy from a seller with a good feedback rating.

Why are you here?

If you have ever read our site’s About page, then you have noticed that our regular writers come to uncluttering from different perspectives:

Matt is new to uncluttering and wants to find a little more sanity in his home that has recently seen the addition of a beautiful baby. Jerry is obsessed with order and productivity (always has been) and sees an uncluttered life as the only life. PJ has been so busy lately researching tech issues that he hasn’t yet put up his biography, but if it were posted it would say that he likes an uncluttered lifestyle because it allows him to better focus on the things that are important in life. I came to uncluttering initially because of a small living space and then jumped in with both feet for philosophical reasons.

What drives you to pursue an uncluttered life?

Unitasker Wednesday: The Hollywood Purse Hook

So why do so many made-for-TV products claim to be European or in this case inspired by Hollywood? The Hollywood Purse Hook (the video is worth a visit to the site) is a very specific item that saves you from having to use the floor or an open seat to store your purse.

Well, if it is good enough for Hollywood, I guess it is good enough for us common folk. I’m sure Angelina Jolie, Reese Witherspoon, and Scarlett Johansson don’t leave their homes without their purse hook. So go pick one up so you don’t have to look like some sort of unsophisticated slob using a chair to hold your purse. But wait, there’s more! It comes with its very own velvet storage bag! Act fast supplies are limited.

via: Dr. Amie Ragan