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.

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.

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

A little Unclutterer love for The New York Times

On Thursday, Unclutterer was mentioned in The New York Times article “Organize Your Life, It’s Your Civic Duty.” The article follows reporter Michelle Slatalla for a day as she waits to be called for jury duty. She decides to spend her time learning as much as she can from personal productivity websites:

My plan was to read and follow the suggestions posted on all the gazillion online productivity blogs — Unclutterer.com, 43folders.com, Dumblittleman.com and Lifehack.org, for example — that offer eclectic advice on how to spend time fruitfully.

Thank you, Michelle, for thinking of us, and welcome to any new readers who may have found us from the article!


A couple weeks ago, Matt was interviewed by Rachel Mosteller for the article “Chasing Utopia, Family Imagines No Possessions” that ran in the May 17 issue of The New York Times. During the interview, he was questioned about his family’s decision to downsize to a smaller home. He didn’t end up being directly quoted in the article, but he and the rest of us at Unclutterer certainly enjoyed seeing voluntary simplicity getting good press in a major paper:

Though it may not be the stuff of the typical American dream, the voluntary simplicity movement, which traces its inception to 1980s Seattle, is drawing a great deal of renewed interest, some experts say.

“If you think about some of the shifts we’re having economically — shifts in oil and energy — it may be the right time,” said Mary E. Grigsby, associate professor of rural sociology at the University of Missouri and the author of “Buying Time and Getting By: The Voluntary Simplicity Movement.”

“The idea in the movement was ‘everything you own owns you,’ ” said Dr. Grigsby, who sees roots of the philosophy in the lives of the Puritans. “You have to care for it, store it. It becomes an appendage, I think. If it enhances your life and helps you do the things you want to do, great. If you are burdened by these things and they become the center of what you have to do to live, is that really positive?”

Parts of the article are a little more “off the grid” than my personal commitment to simple living, but overall it is filled with wonderful perspective and I recommend reading it if you haven’t already.

Organize your gardening projects with Myfolia.com

After Matt’s post last week about low-maintenance perennials, I thought it might be helpful to provide a tip to those who are more enthusiastic about gardening.

Readers Melissa and Chromy suggest that the green thumb among you may want to take a look at Myfolia.com. It’s an online community that allows you to organize, track, and share your plants. You can submit photographs and ask questions of other members, and learn all there is to know about what is growing in your garden.

I’ve explored Myfolia.com and it seems very similar to Ravelry. Any tool to help organize your hobbies sounds like a terrific resource to me. Happy gardening!