Unclutterer on the fEmpowerment podcast

Yesterday, I spoke with the lovely Sandy Shepard and recorded an episode of her fEmpowerment podcast titled “How Not to Get Divorced Before You Get Married – Decluttering and Moving In Together.” We discuss:

  • How the Unclutterer Got Started, including all about Mazes of Stuff and the Bud Lite Bottle rising from the Dead/Rubbermaid Coffin (cue scary music);
  • How to terrorize soon-to-be-husbands (N.B.: Mazes of stuff will do it);
  • Dealing kindly with a Packrat;
  • How to start the decluttering process, be dispassionate, and communicate;
  • Two great ways to diminish the “mine v. yours” struggle;
  • How to discuss what “Simple Living” means to each of you and how to imagine living together as one;
  • Your Toaster or Mine: How to deal when the space won’t hold it all (especially two of everything);
  • Who are You, Really: What new and exciting thoughts you could entertain about decluttering and how not to drag the anchor of the Old You, along with all of her dead/post energy and stories, into your new life; and
  • A whole lot more!

If you’re getting ready to combine your household with someone else’s — a new roommate, a new spouse, a new child, an older parent coming to live in your established home — then you hopefully will find some advice in this episode for how to handle the transition smoothly. Or, if you’ve already combined a household with someone and it isn’t going the way you imagined, you might also want to give this episode a listen. Sandy and I laugh through a good portion of the interview, so you may even just want to give it a listen if you want to smile. And, hopefully, I don’t scare all of you with my story of how I became an Unclutterer.

To listen, follow the link to the article and then click on the red play button at the bottom of the page. A giant thank you, too, to Sandy for picking such a relevant topic and being such a terrific hostess.

Creative uses for velcro cable ties

There are the obvious uses for velcro cable ties:

But, you also can use them to wrap belts for storage or when traveling:

Keep pens and pencils grouped together in your purse or briefcase:

Use multiple ties together to bind larger objects:

Join flip-flops when heading to the pool:

You could even use them to tie up tomato plants.

How do you use velcro cable ties to help keep you organized? Let’s hear about your creative ideas in the comments!

Workspace of the Week: Parent and child office

This week’s Workspace of the Week is Yellow Fence’s parent and child workspace:

This week’s selection is quite possibly one of the most adorable offices I have seen in our flickr pool. The child’s art desk along side the adult work desk is precious and functional. There are additional photos of the space that show that half of the room is dedicated to a play space. Additionally, the use of the kitchen racks keep the room well organized. Thank you, Yellow Fence, you are an office-design muse!

Want to have your own workspace featured in Workspace of the Week? Submit a picture to the Unclutterer flickr pool. Check it out because we have a nice little community brewing there. Also, don’t forget that workspaces aren’t just desks. If you’re a cook, it’s a kitchen; if you’re a carpenter, it’s your workbench.

Weekend project: Tackle newspaper and magazine clutter

If you’re looking for an uncluttering project for this weekend, consider organizing your newspapers and magazines.

  • Gather together all of your newspapers and magazines and set them on a flat work surface.
  • Toss into the recycling bin all of your newspapers that are more than a day old.
  • Recycle immediately any magazine that you know you will never get around to reading.
  • If you have read and flagged articles in any of your magazines, cut them out of the publication and scan them so that you have a digital copy. Then, recycle the originals and the magazine.
  • Any magazine you haven’t read that you still want to read, write June 29, 2008, on the cover of the magazine with a magic marker. In a month, if you still haven’t read it, recycle it on the spot.
  • Put the magazines you intend to read in a location where you’ll see them and read them. Then, as time permits, pick them up and enjoy the publications.
  • Finally, take your paper recycling to your local recycling center or to the curb if you are fortunate to have curb-side pickup.

If your newspapers and magazines are already in order, check out our list of other weekend project ideas.

Make your own collapsible fabric box

Over at Associated Content, they have step-by-step directions on how to make your own collapsible fabric boxes. From the AC article:

Home storage is always in short supply. Often, people resort to using cardboard boxes or plastic cartons to store their items in closets, the attic, or cellars. But many items have to be stored out in the open. A great way of creating quick and attractive storage solutions is by crafting collapsible fabric boxes.

Rather than running out and buying some run-of-the-mill plastic storage bins, you can customize the look by picking out some fabric you may already have. If you are happy with the look of your creation, you can keep the storage box in the open rather than hiding it away in a closet.

Unitasker Wednesday: The cellphone holder

When you are at your desk and you are not using your cellphone, what do you do with it? I generally put it on my desk or keep it in my pocket. What was I thinking?!? All these years I could have had my very own cute and whimsical cellphone holder. You’ll never misplace your cellphone again when you use one of these. With your choice of bear, cat, or dog (pictured) you can even collect all three.

Why not have one at your desk, one on your nightstand, and one on your dashboard? Your cellphone will always be in good hands, er, paws. They are only $4.95, so you won’t break the bank paying for these adorable little helpers. Maybe these cute little holders aren’t unitaskers after all? They can hold anything that is roughly the size of a cellphone. I may pick up a handful of these things to hold onto my wallet, iPod, business cards, my sense of style, and of course my cellphone.

**Each week, the Unitasker Wednesday column humorously pokes fun at the unnecessary, single-use items that manage to find their way into our homes.

How to write in books that aren’t yours

Checking books out for the library is a good strategy for reducing book clutter in your home. However, if you check a book out from the library, you can’t write in it.

I am someone who has “writes in books” as a character trait. Phrases that speak to me, clues in mystery novels, and things I want to remember get scribbled in the margins of most every book I read. In college, my text books resembled works of art with highlighting, drawings, and notes. I can’t just idly track my eyes across a page, I want to interact with the text.

When I check books out from the library or borrow a book from a friend, I use post-it notes or scrap paper to keep track of my ideas so that I don’t deface a book I shouldn’t. My world of writing in books was completely turned upside down earlier this month, however, when I discovered Sheer Colors Post-it notes:

If you’re like me and enjoy taking permanent pens and highlighters to books, the 3M Sheer Colors Post-it notes can make non-permanent ownership of books a lot more enjoyable.

Where to start organizing your home

Many people are overwhelmed by the idea of organizing their homes. When there is so much to do, it can be difficult to know where to begin. If you’re in such a state, let me suggest four ways you can get started. Hopefully one of the methods will be a perfect match for you!

  1. Start by organizing the area you first see in the morning. If your first activity is to walk into your closet to pick out your clothes, then choose to organize your closet. If you get coffee, organize your kitchen. If you hop into the shower, then tackle your bathroom. The idea is that the first thing you see in the morning can set your mood for the whole day, so you should at least start with a sense of calm and order.
  2. Start by organizing the area you first see when you come home after work. Your home should be an area of rejuvenation and relaxation. If the first thing you see when you get home from a long day at work makes you stressed out, then you’re doing yourself a disservice. Is there a mess in the driveway that could be cleared? Do you pull into your garage and curse because you can barely get out of your car? Is your home’s entrance in complete chaos? Whatever is the first place that causes you stress when you come home, start by clearing clutter there.
  3. Start with the area of your home that makes you seethe. Without putting too much thought into it, what is the one area of your home that you avoid because of its mess? Your instincts will quickly call to mind the one space that drives you nuts more than any other area of your home. Get started in that space to get the worst of the worst cleaned first.
  4. Start at the top and work your way down. In the same way that you dust before you sweep, tackle the areas up high in a room and then work your way toward the floor. Think of your work as if you’re completing an archeological dig.

As you’re working, keep in mind that even the smallest steps help your space to be more organized than it was previously and that there is no reason to be overwhelmed by the task in front of you. Good luck with your organization endeavors!

Multi-tasking gadgets worth sharing

We have recently stumbled upon some fun multitaskers and thought you might enjoy them, too:

An ironing board ladder. It’s an adjustable height ladder and an ironing board in one unit. It’s perfect for people in small spaces.

The Chumby. It’s an alarm clock with a LCD display that connects to the internet. You can listen to music and podcasts, get the weather, view sports scores, hear the latest headlines, play games, and message other Chumby users. Basically, it’s the next generation in clock radios.

USB flash drive bracelet. It’s a piece of jewelry and a 2GB flash drive. I can see these being perfect for high school students who are working on projects at home and at school.

Restoration Hardware’s utility apron. Shove everything you can imagine into the pockets while you’re doing housework or gardening. Thanks to Asha at Parent Hacks for this suggestion!

Here are some other multitaskers we’ve covered in the past: iPhone, credit card survival tool, Swiss army knife, chair ladder, and the Coleman blanket.

Have you encountered any fun multitaskers recently? Please share your finds in the comments section.

Documentary defends the clutter lifestyle

Journalist, author, and filmmaker, Josh Freed, directed and starred in My Messy Life. The film documents his messy lifestyle and defends his “cult of clutter.” From the CTV article:

“My Messy Life,” an original documentary directed by and starring Freed himself, takes a light-hearted look at clutter in a symbolic act of defiance against what Freed calls the “tyranny of the tidy.”

In the film, Freed turns the cameras on his home office, which he aptly calls his “messterpiece.”

Aside from his chair, not a single surface is visible in Freed’s office. Notes plaster walls, bins cover the floor and stacks of paper, files and books consume the desk.

Freed’s way of life is the antithesis of what we strive for here at Unclutterer, but this film looks interesting and entertaining. Freed seems to have a good sense of humor about his organizational skills, or lack there of, so the film seems to be a bit tongue-in-cheek.

Freed did need to have some outside organizing help while making the documentary.

During the making of “My Messy Life” Freed’s producers kept the details in check so he could focus on creating.

You can watch a news clip about the documentary here, but unfortunately we can’t seem to find the whole of the documentary online. Have any of our Canadian readers had the pleasure of viewing this documentary? It originally aired on CTV on May 17.

A year ago on Unclutterer