Let go of anger and cut people slack

News flash: Nobody is perfect.

Continually focusing on others’ imperfections can easily clutter up our lives and get in the way of a remarkable life. As long as someone’s human rights aren’t being violated or no one’s life is in danger, it usually isn’t worth the energy to get angry and upset over an aggravating behavior.

I read an incredible post on Gretchen Rubin’s website The Happiness Project back in 2006 titled “Remember to cut people slack” that spoke to the heart of this issue:

The “fundamental attribution error” is a psychological phenomenon in which we tend to view other people’s actions as reflections of their characters, and to overlook the power of the situation to influence their actions: I assume that the guy in the drugstore is a jerk who is trying to cut in line, when in fact, he’s a considerate guy who’s rushing to get home with the medicine for his sick, miserable girlfriend.

With ourselves, however, we acknowledge the pressures of the situation. So when other people’s cell phones ring during a movie, it’s because they’re inconsiderate boors. If my cell phone rings during a movie, it’s because I’m a conscientious mother who needs to be able to get a call from a babysitter.

In our personal quests to be better people, we accept that there will be days when we falter. We know that there will be dim moments when we fail to shine. And, we can save time and energy if we acknowledge that others will experience similar bumps along the way.

How can we let go of the anger and focus on more positive behaviors? Try out the following:

  • Ask questions of those around you so that you can get a better idea of what is preventing them from doing their best — don’t make the assumption that the person is incompetent.
  • Take a few moments to think over a situation before you respond (this is something I definitely need to do more often).
  • Cut yourself some slack when you don’t live up to your own expectations.
  • Cut other people slack when they don’t live up to your expectations.
  • Lend a helping hand instead of making a critical remark.
  • Remember that there is a lot to be learned from our inevitable mistakes.

How do you work to cut other people slack in your life?

Uncluttered home office design

misodesignkstation2MisoSoup’s K Workstation is an innovative and space-saving desk design. The K Workstation hugs the wall while providing overhead storage in one continuous structure. 

As I write this post from my large desk, I’m a bit envious. On top of the sleek and modern design, the K Workstation would definitely cut down on my desk’s footprint by about 50 percent. This setup would work well in a shared office, dorm room, small apartment, or any minimalist space.

Check out MisoSoup’s website (the K Workstation is in the “furniture” section) for more product information.

(via Apartment Therapy)

Unitasker Wednesday: The flying alarm clock

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

The Flying Alarm Clock is targeted to the difficult-to-wake audience. At the appointed alarm time, the attached propeller launches and flies away from the base station. An audible alarm can only be silenced by the user retrieving the propeller and returning it to its base.

It includes a snooze function, the very existence of which defies imagination.

While the clock would seemingly cause a Rip Van Winkle to get out of bed, so would any ordinary alarm clock placed across the room from the bed. Additionally, decapitation, black eyes, window/mirror breakage, wounded pets, dented ceilings/walls/floors, and plethora harms would not be an issue with an ordinary alarm clock. However, it could be effective if you had a home intruder and were able to coordinate the alarm properly — amazement, injury, and the alarm could prove to be beneficial.

Available from Tech Tools, and a feature at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas.

Safe storage for your digital data

iosafe-soloWe’ve written in the past about personal safes and how most of them will not protect digital data in case of fire. A typical consumer-grade safe is only effective at protecting papers for half an hour during a fire. Most safes that would protect a hard drive cost multiple thousands of dollars and are even out of the price range for many small companies.

Thankfully, this may be a thing of the past. Check out the ioSafe Solo. It is a fireproof and waterproof hard drive enclosure that can protect your data at a more reasonable price (most systems are less than $200).

The ioSafe Solo is available in 500GB/1 TB/1.5 TB hard drive sizes. The fireproof and waterproof specs are as follows:

  • Fire: 1550° F, 30 minutes per ASTM E119
  • Flood: 10′ depth for 3 days, freshwater or saltwater 

We’re delighted to learn about this product and am glad someone stepped into the consumer-grade digital protection market.

(via Engadget)

Soundbar includes Blu-ray, Netflix and Pandora

samsung-htbd8200I’ve written a couple of posts about soundbars in the past, but they just keep improving by leaps and bounds. (Not unlike everything else in the consumer electronics industry.) The Samsung HT-BD8200 features a Blu-ray player and the ability to stream from Netflix and Pandora. Other features include an iPod dock, the ability to stream audio from A2DP-compatible Bluetooth audio devices, and a wireless subwoofer.

With all of the features that are included in this speaker it is a decent option for those of us who want to keep our cable clutter under control without sacrificing our sound or entertainment options. The speaker was shown at last week’s Consumer Electronics Show and is probably going to be released in the first half of 2009. 

(via CNET)

Workspace of the Week: Simple split desk

This week’s Workspace of the Week is Nicole’s small office:



I picked this week’s office simply because I like the way it looks. It’s clutter free and would be easy to reproduce. I’ll let the desk owner supply the details from the photographs’ descriptions:

The bottom level [of the desk] slides out so I can keep my books on it for studying and note taking. I also keep my sodas and stuff there so I don’t spill them on my computer. The deskpad keeps ink, coffee, etc. off my desk. The top level holds my computer, my lamp, my picture frame, and my special Hello Kitty Pez.

When I’m done studying or just want to goof off online, I can slide my books out of the way.

The desk has a power strip mounted in the top back of the desk top. It also has a usb, phone, and ethernet jack (although I use wifi).

Thank you, Nicole, for such a terrific submission to our flickr pool.

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.

Study: Disorder begets disorder

I want to call your attention to a recent article in Science magazine that discusses a study conducted in the Netherlands that found “when people observe that others violated a certain social norm or legitimate rule, they are more likely to violate other norms or rules, which causes disorder to spread.”

In one of their experiments, the team of researchers attached paper fliers to bicycles that were parked in an alley with a sign that prohibited graffiti. The researchers covertly observed people as they retrieved their bicycles from the alley, and noted what they did with the paper fliers. Their results are striking.

One day, when the walls of the alley were free of graffiti, about a third of the cyclists littered their flier on the ground. But, on another day, when the walls of the alley were covered in graffiti, more than two-thirds of the cyclists littered their flier.

Another experiment tested whether or not people would steal money that was protruding from a mailbox when they passed by it. [Researcher Kees] Keizer and his colleagues [at the University of Groningen] observed that, when the area around the mailbox was tidy, only 13% of people passing by stole the money. However, when the area around the mailbox was littered with trash, 25% of the people passing by were willing to steal the money.

Over the course of their experiments, the researchers observed that people were much more inclined to disobey posted signs when it seemed like other people were doing so, litter when there was graffiti or the sound of fireworks present, and even steal when there was graffiti present. Given these observations, Keizer and colleagues suggest that as a certain norm-violating behavior becomes more common, it will also negatively influence conformity to other social norms and rules.

The study reinforce the findings of the Broken Window Theory, but also has very interesting implications for an unclutterer’s home.

The research suggests that if your home is in order, you and others in your home are more likely to keep the orderly state. Conversely, if something is disorderly, it is likely that more mess will develop.

I see this happen all the time in my home. Either my husband or I will feel unmotivated to open up the dishwasher to put a dirty cup or glass inside of it. The next person comes along, sees the dirty cup on the counter, and assumes the dishwasher must be filled with clean dishes. So, the second dirty cup is set on the counter. By dinner time, there will be a collection of dirty dishes on the kitchen counter when the dishwasher has been completely empty all day. Mess begets mess.

What do you think of the findings of this study? Do you find that disorder leads to more disorder? Does order motivate you to continue the orderly cycle? Let us know what you think in the comments.

initial link via Guy Kawasaki, picture by Matt

Choose from the heart: Clutter free and feeling fine

Today we welcome Danielle LaPorte, author of the blog White Hot Truth, as a guest on Unclutterer. She is a consultant who helps entrepreneurs rock their careers, is a former think tank exec, and author of the bestselling book, Style Statement: Live By Your Own Design.

Clutter is the result of choices. That may sound obvious, but until you start to actually examine your choices, a clutter-free life will elude you. Peace of mind is often buried in the choices you didn’t make. The “default” choices to let stuff into your life that doesn’t really match your true self.

Your bookshelf, your dinner plates, your nicky nacs. Shoes! (Shoes are a whole psychology unto themselves. I’m sure if Freud lived longer he would have studied the mental underpinnings of footwear choices.) Your sofa. Your in-box. Your pantry contents – all are the result of your choices. You’re the gatekeeper to your home. And nothing gets past you without your conscious or unconscious approval. So what makes it in…and why?

Do a quick visual scan in your head right now – room by room. How did what’s in there get there? Because it was on sale? Because it came with your ex-boyfriend but didn’t leave when he did? Because you positively love the design. Because it makes your heart sing?

I used to keep a ton of books in my living room because I thought it made me look smarter. Big ego choice. Now, I let books pass through my mind and my hands. And the books that I do keep, are well, the keepers – absolutely precious texts that I refer to for regular facts or inspiration.

Ego choices can be deadly. I know someone who chose a Mercedes she couldn’t afford because she wanted to drive up to her high school reunion in it. I had another client with a closet full of vampy, slutty clothes – when what she felt best in was a crisp white shirt and straight jeans. She kept choosing trashy clothes in rebellion against her mother, who for years, told her what was proper to wear.


  1. My [insert name of well-meaning relative] gave it to me and I just can’t throw it out.
    This is tricky. But it gets down to this: life’s short and it’s your place. Objects carry memories and attitudes with them. If you want your home to be your temple or your chill-zone, then making choices based on obligation are only going to weigh you down.
  2. I really hate this [insert home item or piece of clothing] but I’m waiting to have the money to buy a new one.
    Something amazing happens when you get the stuff you don’t like out of your life – stuff that you do like has the room to show up. So chuck the old futon chair from university days, even if it means you sit on the floor for a while. You’ll be raising the vibe, shedding unwanted pounds and sending the universe a clear signal that you’re ready for quality…right now, not later.
  3. I got it for free, so I may as well keep it.
    Gasp. This is the ultimate gotchya-sucker default choice. ‘Cause ain’t nothing for free, baby! (Well, true love is free, but that’s about it.) If it’s taking up physical or mental space – it’s costing you. Everything has an environmental cost to manufacture, ship and dispose of. And when I think of all the “free” crap that I lugged around from apartment to apartment in moving vans – I could have saved enough to buy stuff I really loved.
  4. But what if I need it someday?
    Trust that if you ever need it, you’ll have what you need to get it. If you haven’t worn it for a year and half – give it away. If you’re waiting to lose the ten pounds, forget it. Just love yourself now. A happy life is an as-is life. And junk drawers are called junk drawers for a reason.

Simplicity demands ruthlessness. Consistent, conscious choices create momentum in your life, vitality, sweet satisfaction. You are what you eat. You are the friends you keep. And you are the stuff you choose. So choose from the heart every time – it always knows what’s best for you – and your living room.

TripIt organizes your travel itinerary

tripit-logoTripIt promises to organize your travel. Simply e-mail your flight itinerary, car rental info, and hotel reservations to TripIt and the service prepares all your information into one master itinerary.

How it works:

  1. You email all of your travel informations to Tripit.
  2. TripIt builds you a master itinerary with all your plans, weather, maps, restaurants and more.
  3. You can then print, access, or share your itinerary via paper, email, personal calendar or mobile device.

For those of you who travel quite a bit this looks like a helpful tool to keep your travel information in one place. The mobile feature can also keep all of this information in the palm of your hand without having to carry around the hard copies.

TripIt is compatible with over 250 websites, including airlines, hotels, rental car agencies, cruise lines, and travel agencies. And best of all the service is free so why not give it a try the next time you head out on the road.

Unitasker Wednesday: The book brush


All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

I don’t know about you, but I have a serious problem with dust covered books in my home. I’m always trying to dust off my books, but there isn’t an easy way to do it. I usually resort to pounding the books together in the back yard and I end up with a mouthful of dust. There has to be a better way!

Oh, but there is a better way thanks to Book Brush. For just $80 you too can have the ingenious tool that looks like a book, but is really a brush. No really, it’s a brush! The brush is designed to be used to dust off the top of your books. It is so useful you may find yourself buying a couple more just to hand out as gifts.

Note: I have never dusted off the top of my books let alone pounded them together in the back yard. I would think, however, that a clean, dry paint brush would be a MUCH cheaper alternative if you wanted to dust your books.

Thanks to reader Andrew for bringing this unitasker to our attention.

Design Public’s Organization Blog Fest

The website Design Public is hosting an Organization Blog Fest for a week and a little more this January. Each day is a new post with tips, tricks, and advice on how to help you organize your life. So far, the series has been well written, and I recommend you check it out.

Unclutterer was asked to contribute to the advice-wielding group, and my post “Outfitting a Minimalist Kitchen” ran last Thursday. I’m interested in hearing from you what you think about the list of minimalist food preparation utensils. Leave a comment expressing your ideas either here or on Design Public — I’ll be checking both places to see what you think.

Winter storage event at Home Depot

home_depotHome Depot is currently holding a sale on all storage products until January 31. The Winter Storage Event prices are available online and in-store. (Some products are in-store only.)

When most of us are watching our wallets, this is a good opportunity to take advantage of sale prices while organizing a specific problem area of our homes. Categories of storage include: closet storage (wood and wire), garage storage, living room storage, pantry storage, and multi-purpose storage.

Before you head out to your local Home Depot, be sure to figure out what you need for your specific organization project. Make sure you take measurements and try to envision what you need before you make your purchase.