Unitasker Wednesday: Spinney the wind-up hopping desk sculpture

Unitaskers usually at least take on one task, but this thing barely qualifies as a unitasker. I guess its “task” is hopping on your desk and entertaining you. If you are easily entertained this thing may capture your attention for hours, but if you are a normal grown adult you will probably grow tired of this desktop toy in about a minute.

You know all the high powered corporate big wigs haven’t arrived until they’ve scored their own personal Spinney. Yes, it may knock over something on your desk while hopping around, but it is so cool. Nothing says, “I’m a successful corporate power player.” like a wind-up hopping sculpture.

It reminds me of the tiny crawling robots in the 1984 Tom Selleck/Gene Simmons movie Runaway. Surely, Spinney isn’t programmed to kill. Or is it!?!

**Unitasker Wednesday posts humorously poke fun at the single-use items that seem to find their way into our homes.

Peter Walsh was in a barbershop Quartet® in Skokie, Illinois

Peter WalshAbout eight miles west of Skokie, anyway.

Uncluttering guru Peter Walsh invited us to cover the kickoff of his nine city “The Organized Home” tour yesterday at the Niles Wal*Mart, where he taught customers the basics of uncluttering, and introduced a new line of Quartet® organizational tools.

As host of TLC’s Clean Sweep and author of the New York Times Bestseller It’s All Too Much, Walsh uses his wit and no-nonsense style to help people discover and eliminate the sources of their own clutter, which typically include what he calls “memory clutter” and “I might need it one day clutter.”

In addition to addressing the reasons for clutter, Peter offers some creative organizational products developed by Quartet®. The magnetic white boards are a home office favorite, allowing you to utilize a single point of capture for scribbled notes, post-its, and other random items, as well as that collection of souvenir magnets Walsh would no doubt scold you for allowing to stick around.

The new products are only available at Wal*Mart brick-n-mortars for now, but they’re quite nice, very useful, and worth the trip. And if you’re nearby any of the following locations, stop in and say “hi” to Peter for us.

  • Minneapolis (Aug. 15) – 10240 Hudson Rd. from 2 to 5 p.m.
  • Denver (Aug. 16) – 4400 Front St. from 2 to 5 p.m.
  • Atlanta (Aug. 21) – 12182 Hwy 92 from 2 to 5 p.m.
  • Dallas (Aug. 22) – 6001 Central Expressway from 2 to 5 p.m.
  • Houston (Aug. 23) – 1313 Fry Rd. from 1 to 4 p.m.
  • Boston (Aug. 28) – 300 Colony Place from 2 to 5 p.m.
  • East New Jersey (Aug. 29) – 101 Nassau Park Blvd. from 2 to 5 p.m.
  • Long Island (Aug. 30) – 1220 Old Country Rd. from 2 to 5 p.m.

The Organized Home Tour

After the yard sale

Well, the yard sale was a great success. The most important thing we succeeded in doing was getting rid of a ton of stuff we don’t use anymore. (In some cases, it was stuff we never used.) I was expecting to sell about $200 worth of our stuff. We ended up selling $500 so that was a pleasant surprise.

Some highlights and more tips:

  • The most expensive item we sold was an Ikea chair for $37. It was a chair we purchased a few years ago that never found a place in our home.
  • My wife set all the toys and child-centered items on low tables at kid’s eye level. It proved to work very well. All of my baseball cards were gone in the first few hours.
  • We found out that “National Garage Sale Day” was on August 10. Our sale was on Saturday the 11th along with numerous others in my parent’s neighborhood. We were not hurting for customers. The weather cooperated which also helped our sale become a success.
  • Everything we didn’t sell was immediately packed up in a truck and taken to the local Goodwill. We only had one truck load to transport.
  • The sale started at 7 am, but our first customer was there at 6:40 am. We also sold a couple large furniture items to neighbors that took a sneak peek at our sale the night before.
  • Some one stole a bag of old t-shirts from us, their lack of payment was made up by the fact that they uncluttered our lives a bit more.
  • Don’t be afraid to give stuff away. We gave quite a few things away for free. Usually, it was a toy but we did get rid of a love seat that saved us an extra trip to the Goodwill.

All in all, the sale was a great success. We got rid of tons of stuff that we didn’t need. I would definitely do it again, but hopefully we won’t accumulate that much stuff again.

Uncluttered ideas from the 2008 Ikea Catalog

The 2008 Ikea Catalog arrived in my mailbox over the weekend. I don’t really understand how it’s the 2008 catalog when it arrives in August and is only valid through June of next year, but I try not to think about those details. Instead, I focus on the joy that is contained within the catalog. There are so many space-saving and organization products inside the 370-page book that my heart goes pitter-patter just looking at it. Here are a few of my favorites (new and old):

Page 139: The Mandal headboard for $149, which contains adjustable shelves and can be stacked (as on page 126 of the catalog) to create a wall of shelving.

Page 77: The new Muddus drop-leaf table for $49.99 can be used as a space-saving table or alternate work surface in the kitchen.

Page 55: The Inreda book-ends, at a price of $4.99 for two, make labeling your bookshelf a breeze. They slide onto any flat surface and the label box hangs over the ledge of the shelf.

If you didn’t get a copy of the Ikea Catalog in the mail, check it out online here in its entirety.

Board game clutter

Some people have closets full of board games. My wife worked with a board gamer who had a closet literally jam packed full of board games and some of the boxes were in pieces. He would receive a new board game for every birthday and Christmas.

The board game itself isn’t really the space hog. The box the game comes in is the culprit. So what does one do to remedy the space that your board games eat up? The solution is rather simple.

First, take each game’s loose pieces and instructions and place them into a ziploc bag. Label each bag with the name of the game. Try and store all your different bags in a large box, but be sure to sort them in some kind of system so they are easy to retrieve. (Alphabetically, seems to make sense.) You may want to use file marking labels for the tops of the bags.

Second, stack all the boards together and label them accordingly. You may want to label the edge of the board as if it were a book in the library. Simply use a piece of masking tape and stick it on the fold. This will make finding the board you need very easy. Note: Some board games don’t fold neatly. So you may want to leave them in their boxes. (e.g. Life, Trouble, etc.)

This solution is quite simple and it will save you tons of space if you are a hard core board gamer.

Megapixel arms race

Shopping for a new digital camera? The amount of megapixels that one can opt for is increasing rather quickly. The Panasonic Lumix FX100S is a tiny little point and shoot that casual users can easily use to shoot photos that are 12 megapixels. Is that really necessary? The amount of space those photos will occupy on your hard drive is quite large, and most casual users really don’t print large format photos. Most prints are most likely 4X6 or 5×7, so 12 megapixels is quite a bit of overkill.

So why would one opt for a camera with so much overkill? Does the high number of megapixels give one the bragging rights to win the race? The sensor inside the camera is much more important to the way a photo looks. The size of the photo is determined by the amount of megapixels the camera is capable of producing. Don’t go for the megapixel hype when you don’t have the disk space to store your large digital photos. Either opt for something more reasonable for your photographing needs or set your 12 megapixel camera down to a more manageable 5 megapixel setting. You will save on disk space and your prints will not suffer in the least.

Helping parents downsize their home

An AARP Magazine article from earlier this year effectively addresses the topic of transitioning a parent from a family home to a retirement community or nursing facility.

“If it’s your child [helping with the process], it’s twice as irritating,” agrees [Terry] Prince [a Sacramento professional organizer]. “It’s a lot easier when it’s a third party.” Much of her work involves simply listening to her clients talk about their stuff, a ritual that the kids may no longer have the patience for. You also have to avoid the drastic measures that many exasperated family members might take when faced with an overloaded home, a stubborn parent, and a moving deadline—just throwing everything out on the curb. At a time of life when loss of control is a painful reality, forced decluttering can be devastating. “Clients need to make the decisions themselves,” Prince says. If you throw things out for them, “they’re not going to feel happy. They’ll feel violated.”

See the full article from the January/February 2007 issue “Conquering Clutter” written by David Dudley here. The article contains many suggestions and insights on this emotional topic.

Thanks to my mom for pointing us to the article!

Unclutter your office with “space for you” printer table

Printer TableWhile suspicion around Unclutterer’s meticulously organized offices is that Treehugger.com must be using this baby to print money, there’s no doubt that they’re left with plenty of extra table-top space to stack it.

This ingeniously concieved printer table disguises the paper input and output trays as drawers, and packs all the moving parts into a clean and efficient form. Rather than try to design a printer that takes up as little table space as possible, why not create a printer that simply IS the table? Brilliant.

Now if we could just figure out what “PC Load Letter” means…

Unitasker Wednesday: Pie Slice Ejector

Man, I love me some pie. But if there’s one thing I can’t stand it’s “difficult” pies. Luckily, Harriet Carter, purveyor of “distinctive gifts since 1958” has me covered. Straight from the ad copy:

Pie Slice Ejector assures perfect “landings” every time! Stainless steel utensil is especially good at serving up neat slices of “difficult” pies, like cream, custard and meringue varieties. Fruit pies and all your other favorites are a snap to serve too, thanks to the unique sliding feature of the handle that gently glides slices onto plates without mess or fuss.

Hat tip Katie!

**Unitasker Wednesday posts humorously poke fun at the single-use items that seem to find their way into our homes.

New iMac

Here at Unclutterer, we are giddy with excitement about the new iMac and its ability to save space on your desk. Without mentioning the reliability and ease of use of the Mac operating system, the sleek design and small footprint of the new iMac is laughably small compared to a PC. Take a look at this comparison:

There isn’t much to add other than the fact that Apple took it easy on the PC by not choosing to use a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard. The wire monster is surely kept at bay by the iMac while the PC has succumbed to the beast. We are all about keeping wires in order, and the new iMac looks to be yet another solution in the long battle. Kudos to Apple for yet another sleek and stylish design.

The 100 Thing Challenge

Reader John points us to his buddy Dave Bruno’s blog in which the intrepid blogger has decided to get rid of everything except for 100 things. After a major house cleaning and purge, he just wasn’t satisfied:

It’s just that, in grand scheme of things, it does not seem like enough. We have a lot of stuff. And honestly, it is difficult to purge. What goes? That is a hard decision. But I have an idea. A spontaneous idea that might change my life forever. I’m calling it the 100 Thing Challenge. And I’m taking it. Here is how it goes.

I’m going to only keep 100 things. All the rest gets purged. Sold. Given away. Traded 😉 Some how, all the other things will no longer remain in my possession.

He’s blogging his progress on the “challenge” and it should be interesting to track his progress.