Ask Unclutterer: Having it all

Reader April asked the following question in the comments section of a recent post:

How do you have time for all of this – running a blog, writing a book, all of these musical activities & all the other stuff you seem to do?

At the time she posted the question, I responded that the answer can be found in my upcoming book — which, is true. However, I’ve felt like a punk ever since for essentially saying, “I have a secret and you can’t know it until November. Na na nee boo boo.”

Since my intention wasn’t to be annoying, April, here is the answer that I should have given to you the first time. The following is my system for living a remarkable life:

  1. Purge clutter, downsize, and minimize. The less stuff you own, the less you have to clean, store, maintain, manage, protect, worry about, stress about, waste money on, forget, and pick up. Have the minimum amount of stuff for you to be comfortable. (This level is different for everyone and you’ll have to figure it out for yourself.)
  2. Organize what you choose to own and use. Your home and office don’t need to be pristine museums, but you and the people who access the same space/items need to be able to easily find things when they’re needed. Order is better than chaos, and order saves you time and energy.
  3. Commit to a streamlined routine for the mundane tasks in your life and be disciplined enough to maintain that routine. If you do 30 minutes of housework a day, your home is never chaotic. But, you have to be committed to these daily activities (dishes, laundry as needed, things put back in place when finished, kitty litter scooped, etc.) and not put them off for another day. The same is true for work; you have to stay on top of the necessary tasks or they will haunt you. I also think of this item as taking responsibility for the things you choose to own.
  4. Determine what matters most to you. Make a list of the people, activities, and things in your life that mean the most to you and then spend the vast majority of your time focusing on these items. Be honest with yourself, though, and put on your list what really matters to you, not what you think should matter to you.
  5. Remind yourself that even if you live to be 100, life is short. There is no better time to live your life than right now. My life’s motto is carpe vitam, Latin for seize life. It’s morbid to think about, but someday might not ever come. Stop putting things off until tomorrow.
  6. Say “no” to what doesn’t matter. If an activity or responsibility isn’t on your list of what matters most to you, say “no” to it. Learn to say “no” in such a way as to not be a jerk, but say “no” when you need to. This is where I greatly differ from most people because I don’t feel guilty about protecting my time. And, as far as I know, most people don’t think I’m a jerk because I’m clear about why I’m declining offers and invitations. (“Taking a yoga class with you would be fun, but Wednesday nights are date night with my husband. Is there a similar class we can take together on another night?”)
  7. Enjoy being industrious. Working provides us with the resources to take care of the things that matter most. Whatever you do for a career, make sure it is something that you enjoy (even if just minimally).
  8. Get rid of everything that is toxic in your life because toxic things are clutter. Toxic people and habits suck up resources and energy. I was an avid smoker until I calculated how much of my money, time, and energy were going into my smoking addiction. No matter how gifted and talented, I avoid employing, working with, and spending time with people who are toxic. A toxic person can waste your time and mental energy faster than any other form of clutter.
  9. Live within your means and save money for retirement, rainy days, and adventures. Get rid of your credit cards and only use cash or your debit card. Live on a budget even if you don’t need to be mindful of your spending habits. Have a retirement account, and two savings accounts — one for emergencies (refrigerator died, fender bender) and one for splurging on what matters most to you (vacation, rock climbing lessons, a camera to capture your child’s first steps). Buy quality instead of quantity. Be a smart consumer.
  10. Take risks and be brazen. A second motto in my life is ad astra per aspera, which is loosely translated as to the stars through difficulty. (It’s also the Kansas state motto.) Great things might fall in your lap from time to time, but for the most part you have to get outside your comfort zone and initiate something new. Have you always wanted to learn to play the flute? Get your hands on a flute and start taking lessons. You’ll be really awful those first six months (or year or five), but you’ll never learn to play the flute if you don’t take the chance and try.
  11. Get adequate sleep. Keep a sleep journal and find out how much sleep you need to function at your best. Then, make sure you get that amount of sleep every night. When you’re well rested, it’s easier to stay calm, be productive, and focus on what you need and want to do.

Thank you, April, for asking your question, and my apologies for not giving you a decent answer the first time. Also, I want to say that I struggle with some of the things on this list like everyone will (especially the sleep item). But, when it happens, it is usually because some type of clutter has crept back into my life and I need to focus again on #1 to get the other items back on track.

Do you have a question relating to organizing, cleaning, home and office projects, productivity, or any problems you think the Unclutterer team could help you solve? To submit your questions to Ask Unclutterer, go to our contact page and type your question in the content field. Please list the subject of your e-mail as “Ask Unclutterer.” If you feel comfortable sharing images of the spaces that trouble you, let us know about them. The more information we have about your specific issue, the better.

84 Comments for “Ask Unclutterer: Having it all”

  1. posted by Lose That Girl on

    Fantastic list, Erin. I cannot wait for your book.

  2. posted by Anita on

    Great list, Erin. I will, of course, be the one who issues the caution about being *too* organized or strict about your schedule, as to not make your life sterile of all surprise or adventure. Your #10 sort of hints at that though.

    One thing I do find disturbing though is that, by the sound of it, the waste of time, money and energy determined you to stop smoking, but the health risks didn’t. I hope that doesn’t mean you put your time and money ahead of your health 😉

  3. posted by Suzyn on

    I have always wanted to learn the trumpet. But it slipped off the to do list. Thanks for the reminder!

  4. posted by Cat on

    I like this list for the most part, although I wish people would stop telling everyone to cut up their credit cards. Used responsibly, as a convenience rather than as a source of income, they are a great uncluttering tool!

    My husband and I share one card that we use for all expenses and we pay it off every month. In return, we can easily see how much we spent on what (often difficult to keep track of using cash), not have to make time to go to the ATM, and if we decide to return something, run into a problem with a merchant, or lose the card, it’s much less stressful (money hasn’t already been debited from the account, and fraud is easier to combat). Less time managing the budget is a great unclutterer for me! Plus we get points, which have turned into gift cards and plane tickets 🙂

  5. posted by Janka on

    To redeem myself from having been cranky about a post in one of my very first comments here, I now I am glad to say that this is a damn good post.

    Cat, I think the point about cutting up credit cards is not to cut the card, but to cut the credit. Your system seems to achieve the same. 🙂

  6. posted by Jessica on

    Erin, if this is the kind of stuff that’s going to be in the book, I’m really excited to see it when it comes out in November. And glad that you didn’t stick your tongue out at us all but were nice enough for this sneak preview 😉

  7. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Cat — I agree with you IF you pay it off every month (then you’re using it as a charge card, not a credit card).

    @Anita — Honestly, when I quit, I didn’t think about the health implications at all. I was in my 20s and hadn’t felt any ill effects of my choice to be a smoker. Time and money (especially money) were much larger factors.

  8. posted by megan on

    Good stuff, Erin. Last night I was THIS CLOSE to not putting my clean socks away. But I did it! I know, I know… you are swelling with pride.

  9. posted by Janine Adams on

    I love this post, Erin. It totally resonated with me. You cut right through the crap. I can’t wait for your book!

  10. posted by Jennifer F. on

    This is a fabulous post. I will definitely be bookmarking this one. Thank you!

  11. posted by April on

    Thanks so much, Erin! It made my morning to see that my question inspired a post. 🙂

  12. posted by Jessiejack on

    Erin, thanks for a great list! These are all my values too but I have never been able to write them as clearly and convincingly as you did! With such a clear credo, it is easier to see the big picture. It IS a matter of pride, as megan writes, to put away the clean socks not beause it’s on a list but because it is living your belief system–that order is better. With that as one of your underlying principles, you can see that it is worth fixing the bed or recycling the paper or whatever the little job is.That little task gets done so life is smoother. When I realize that I don’t feel resentful or annoyed or put upon because I see my life is better when I take care of these details.
    PS can’t wait for the book– Kudos to you for having David Allen write the intro!I don’t think he does that for everyone!!

  13. posted by Martin S. on

    Absolutely fantastic post. Spot on. If more people thought this way, life would be easier and probably more enjoyable.

    Rock on!

  14. posted by Lori Paximadis on

    Amen, amen, and amen again, especially to #8. Life has been so much more fun since I stopped letting myself get sucked into other people’s drama and let a few toxic relationships fade away.

    Looking forward to the book!

  15. posted by Jeri Dansky on

    What a great list, Erin! I had reservations about #9, but your comment resolves that concern.

    How about an example of saying “no” that’s MORE of a “no”? What if you really don’t want to go to a yoga class, even at another time? Or if you might want to take a yoga class, but not with THIS person?

  16. posted by happywriter7 on

    This is a wonderful list. I never felt like it was unattainable. Just something that could be done one step at a time especially if committed to. I think I’m going to make this page my desktop for a while, only after I suggest it to some friends who I know will be appreciative. Thanks!

  17. posted by Vicki K. on

    Did you really keep a sleep journal to figure out optimum sleep hours? That part stuck out to me, because I’m starting to think that my used-to-be-optimum-7-hours of sleep is not so optimum anymore.

    I will get your book – just to keep a regular reminder of how to maintain good life order!

  18. posted by Damsel on

    Great post!!

    @Jeri: I would also add that simply saying “no, thank you” is perfectly acceptable. Once I figured out that I didn’t have to justify my “no, thank you” with an excuse (even if it’s a valid and true one) to anyone, I found an incredible freedom. I just say it sweetly and with a smile. If the person continues to press the issue, I just say, “No, thank you” again or “It just doesn’t fit into my schedule right now” or both!

  19. posted by DJ on

    Great list!

    I’d also add that sometimes toxic people don’t mean to be, but it doesn’t make them less toxic.

  20. posted by Leonie on


    I agree with your comment. Just the other day someone said, “Credit cards are evil”. Let’s assign responsibility where it starts…with the user and not an inanimate object.

    However, for some people who don’t have self control, cutting up the credit cards is likely to be the better decision, especially if they don’t pay it off at the end of the month and end up accumulating debt.

  21. posted by Marie on

    Regarding number 11: If you’re struggling to get the right amount of sleep to feel well, you might want to see your doctor. I dragged through life feeling exhausted for years until I finally found out that I have a thyroid problem.

  22. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Jeri — Damsel’s advice is spot on. “No thank you” works great.

    If you want to spend time with someone just not in the way they suggest, say “What about a tap dancing class instead?” Or, if you like the idea of the class just not with that specific person say, “I’m extremely self conscious when I do yoga and prefer to be in a class of complete strangers. How about we do XX instead?” (where XX would be something you DO enjoy doing with that person). If you don’t like someone across the board, and have zero desire to spend time with him or her, just follow Damsel’s advice with a good ol’ “no thank you.”

  23. posted by Elle on

    Could not agree more with Cat. Credit cards are not evil.

    I get way more out of my credit card than I ever would from a debit card. I have one that gives me cash back on all my purchases, and I use it for nearly everything. Last year I received over $600 in cash back. That’s literally free money.

    Of course, paying the balance in full every month is key. But millions of us do exactly that.

  24. posted by Greg Go / Wise Bread on

    Erin, great post! Thanks for sharing. I needed to hear that. 🙂

  25. posted by Mletta on

    Being organized, saying no, and all the things you mentioned are great.

    But the key to getting things done is dependent on some other factors, some of which are not in our control.

    When you work at the beck and call of others, whether a client or your kids and family, you can’t control your time the way you’d like. THIS is why so many of us get derailed. You can plan around things, but it’s often very, very tricky. (And if you work in anything that is news related, as we do, forget about planning. You’re at the mercy of what’s going on. Period.)

    I personally know women who are organized and flexible and not perfectionists but who still can’t get stuff done as needed. Getting stuck in traffic (at a time of day when supposedly there is none; yes, they think about it when planning their time). Getting a client call or demand for something RIGHT NOW. All kinds of stuff get in the way. Kids who get sick and need attention.

    The other is the issue of your health and energy level. Many people are struggling daily with chronic illness. Not sick enough to be “disabled” but not well enough to be able to do everything at a normal pace. They hate it but have to learn to adjust their life to it.

    We have to accept that we can’t get it all done and some days, we may get next to nothing done.

    Your points about decluttering and simplifying go a long way to help people free up time and energy. Now, we just have to all practice this as best we can. Because sometimes life is full of energy suckers and vampires and they are NOT all people.

    (Just keeping track of finances these days, with all the monitoring now required, is a huge daily time suck. Ugh. But has to be done. The couple of days we didn’t monitor our stuff, was the time when we found out someone had been using our credit card! We spent hours on that to no avail, because just getting a new one was not the answer. We are super careful, never use at retail, only online, only with reputable, known firms (amazon) and we never allow anyone to retain our card info. Ironically, we kept getting calls from the fraud dept for legitimate charges they held up but NO calls for the fraudulent charges! And these people have jobs??

    The amount of time we had to spend afterwards updating stuff was truly a pain. (Several auto payments are linked to our credit card, because the only way you can pay for certain things is this way.)

  26. posted by Patrick Welch on


    wonderful post! Your advice and inspiration is greatly appreciated. I look forward to learning more about you.

    Thanks again – Patrick

  27. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Mletta — A few things:

    First, if you predominantly use cash, you don’t have to worry much about stolen identity and fraud. Another great reason not to use credit cards.

    Second, children and family are on most peoples’ lists of what matters most. Having to drop everything else in your life to spend time with your kids is the point of all this. The OTHER STUFF is the problem, not children and people who are valuable in your life.

    Finally, I know a great deal about living with a disability since I have one. It does zap my energy. That is why living the way I prescribe is so important. If I’m out of the loop for a while, I need to know that my entire world isn’t going to become a gigantic mess. Additionally, I’m constantly reminded that I’m mortal, which is why I think about item #5 more than the average human.

    As you pointed out, a good deal of things in life are out of one’s control — but that doesn’t negate one’s ability to control what one can. I can’t make it stop raining, but I can enjoy the sound of the falling rain, the fact that I don’t have to water the garden, and the free car wash. It’s all about perspective.

  28. posted by Ken Silver on

    I found out the other day what the bank folk call people who pay off their credit cards on time or early: deadbeats! Obviously that’s because the banks don’t make any money from the card users.

    Managed correctly, credit cards give you money for nothing. I have over $1,000 free rewards money right now from about 6 month’s card use.

    And I use empty cards as an emergency fund… I have a couple of cards I never touch with $5,000 credit available, that cost about $35 a year to maintain. Obviously this is not fiscally as good as having $5,000 in the bank gaining interest, but it gives me the freedom to use $5,000 elsewhere in ways that are far more productive. Spent wisely in a business, I can multiply that amount several times a year.

  29. posted by Amanda on

    Quick observation about credit cards. My husband opened my cc statement the other day to find out the cc company had jacked up the interest rate for no apparent reason, as we pay monthly, timely and in full. The problem is that there is now no longer a “grace period”, meaning that interest now starts accruing the minute the purchase goes through, so just be aware of what’s going on with the credit industry.

    They are seeking all sorts of creative ways to separate you from your hard earned money, and if there is no longer a grace period, meaning, no interest until you are late with your payment, what’s the point, even paying in full every month is now not going to help you avoid the interest rate.

    The convenience factor for us has now been overridden by the uber-irritation factor, and we are removing all monthly charges, automatic payments, etc. that we’ve been using our cc’s for and are having service providers go back to submitting an invoice to us which we will now use our bank’s bill payer system to take care of. Monitor your cc statements, and watch for unexpected interest rate increases and the removal of the grace period. Ka-ching.

  30. posted by Scott Gould on

    Thoroughly good article with keen insights into how to run your life.

    I am very similar, I have order for every day. While some laugh, I know it gives me the power to delegate, to lead and to be productive.

  31. posted by How Erin Doland (@unclutterertips) does it all - blog, write book, be awesome, etc. 11 great tips - Twitoaster on

    […] hours ago How Erin Doland (@unclutterertips) does it all – blog, write book, be awesome, etc.… 11 great […]

  32. posted by Susan on

    Brilliantly put…..I think my first reaction, which was that I want to print out these insights and save them….sums up my whole, cluttery problem.

  33. posted by Charley Forness on

    Ah, so great to finally see the book cover. Can’t wait. Hopefully there will be a Kindle version?

    This is a great list in this article. It so happens to be most of the steps I am trying to go through now as I realign my life to transition into a fulltime writer, and a new father of three babies. Unfortunately, I also fail miserably on the sleep thing.

  34. posted by Erin Doland on

    Thank you, everyone, for such a positive response to today’s post. I love positive comments!!

    @Charley — The e-book comes out the same day as the print version. One of the reasons I chose to work with a Simon and Schuster company on this book project is because all their books go digital. I don’t know, however, when/if the digital version is available for pre-sale. I’ll ask my sales team.

    Congratulations on the three babies!!

  35. posted by Brandon on

    Saying no to what doesn’t matter–one of the best pieces of advice out there.

  36. posted by Paul Maurice Martin on

    Wise advice – your upcoming book sounds great!

  37. posted by Dawn on

    The hard thing about #8 is when a toxic person in your life is a family member. That can be a tough one… 🙁

  38. posted by 11 Ways to Have it All « This Could Be Relevant on

    […] Ways to Have it All 11 07 2009 I came across this great article from Unclutterer on 11 Ways to Have it All by Simplifying your life. Here are the items, and a link to the full […]

  39. posted by Etsuko on

    Thank you for the great list! My #1 struggle right now is getting enough sleep. In order to improve the situation, I’m trying to get rid of the big clutter which is my day job 🙂

  40. posted by JLSR on

    This is an excellent list and I will refer back to it often – there is so much wisdom here!!

    I agree that #8 is my biggest struggle – when the toxic person is flesh & blood (in my case, my mother), it’s very difficult to separate yourself. I only see her once or twice a year, but the mental and emotional clutter is a daily struggle.

  41. posted by Laura Cococcia on

    Just came up on your site via Twitter. I’m actually in the process of moving to NYC, which is obviously going to be a fun (!) downsizing exercise. I also know there are tons of people I need to see before I leave, so I’m trying to prioritize that – and I may just have to say “no” as I prioritize what I have to get done. Thanks for this – clearly I needed it most now.

  42. posted by Andrew on

    Hi Erin,

    This is an excellent post – thank you. I’m about to move my family to a new town and so the downsizing reminder was timely.

    And two Latin phrases on one post – how good is that??

    Keep up the fabulous work


  43. posted by PrutsPrinses on

    Erin, I love it when you’re not only the smarty girl on the other side of the web but also the real person who changes her mind 🙂
    I want to let you know this is one of my favorite sites and also the one with the most useful information I know!
    This is a great post 🙂

  44. posted by Heather Stevenson on

    An excellent list, I look forward to your book!

  45. posted by Have More by Choosing Less | Lock in a good on

    […] at Unclutterer yesterday, Erin shared her guide to “having it all”. She explains how she’s able to lead a full life without getting bogged down by Stuff. Her […]

  46. posted by All That Clutter. | Mommy Talks. Wife Stories on

    […] would like to share the article of The Unclutterer. I started a habit of reading these types of blogs to get more inspiration […]

  47. posted by Tammy on


    Thank you for your words of wisdom. Living our life intentionally is key. I completely agree with your philosophy to take control of what we can and gain experience and perspective from what we can not.

    I look forward to reading the book.

  48. posted by Jeanne on

    great list!

  49. posted by Kelly on

    I always read advice on ending toxic relationships. What if the most toxic one in your life is your mother. Sounds good, but can’t always be done.

  50. posted by Becky on

    This was a really good post. Thanks. It was a great teaser to your book.

    Sometimes your “extreme clutter free” looks/decorating seem overboard and cold to me, but this article was full of good ideas–with the ability for all of us to adapt as fits our personalities and situations.

  51. posted by Steven on

    Discovered this post on Get Rich Slowly. This post is really well done.

    I retired in 2005 and moved from California to Illinois. After 30 years of collecting stuff, I gave everything to charity except what would fit in six boxes.
    I’ve never been happier and I truly love my minimalist life style.

    “The least of things with a meaning is worth more in life than the greatest of things without it.”
    -Carl Jung

  52. posted by Jac Lynn on

    Great post. I use flylady dot com to help me keep to my “streamlined routine for mundane tasks”. Especially when I don’t have the time to think about it.

  53. posted by Mandi @ Organizing Your Way on

    This is a great list! I’m currently juggling a ton of projects and I get the impression that people think something must be suffering because of it. But the truth is I have a goal, and I’m working towards it, and this busyness will only last for a season, which keeps me energized as I move forward. Being organized and maintaining my daily routines are KEY to “doing it all,” as is prioritizing my to-do list to eliminate those things that really don’t have to be done after all!

  54. posted by Peter on

    This I completely agree with. I’ve been minimizing everything in my life and it has helped a great deal. I have a list of what is important to me, it’s not allowed to have more than six items, so far I only have five. Of course my partner is on top, she is what’s most important to me after all.
    I’ve managed to minimize my desk down to my laptop and my iPhone. Nothing else sits on top (I used to have a pen on top too, but that goes in the drawer now).

  55. posted by Monday Micro Links For Caregivers 7-13-09 | on

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  56. posted by Doing it All : Productivity501 on

    […] Erin over at Unclutterer has a nice piece about how she does everything by cutting down on the things that aren’t important. […]

  57. posted by Magchunk on

    Excellent list. I am totally printing this out and hanging it above my computer as a daily reminder!

    I think the especially important items are saying no and ditching toxic people/activities. After 17 years of friendship, I finally had to ditch a toxic friend who had changed so much since we met in first grade and was the equivilant of emotional clutter. Drama drama. It would stress me out just to see that she had called or emailed.

    And as someone who works for a non-profit, we’re always recruiting volunteers to serve on our board of directors. Such a bummer when people say no (my boss gets really annoyed, actually). But then I consider, “Would this be a priority to me if I was a volunteer? Would I say yes?” Probably not. Plus, while some organizations value butts-in-chairs for boards, I value committed volunteers who are truly passionate about what we do! Just a matter of connecting with the right people.

  58. posted by Have More by Choosing Less | usabestcreditreport on

    […] at Unclutterer yesterday, Erin shared her guide to “having it all”. She explains how she’s able to lead a full life without getting bogged down by Stuff — […]

  59. posted by Leah on

    I love #10. As a former professor once said: “start piano lessons tomorrow. How old are you? 20? When you’re 25, you will have been playing for 5 years.”

    In my phone, I have a note I wrote last year while squatting on a friend’s couch between the time when my lease ended and my job ended and I moved to a new state. All my stuff was packed up and in storage, and I was having more fun than ever just getting out and seeing people. I wrote “stuff lets us do things but lack of stuff pushes us out of the house and forces us to live in the present moment.” At the time, I had a duffel bag of clothes, my cleats, and my ultimate disc. I went on walks, played ulti, and visited parks all around the city. It was awesome! I’m preparing to move in a few weeks, and I am working greatly to downsize my stuff and make living in the present easier on a day to day basis.

  60. posted by Non-Consumer Mish-Mash « The Non-Consumer Advocate on

    […] means . . . it’s mish-mash time! Here’s terrific post from unclutterer that I think I might actually print out to put on my fridge for inspiration. (Although . . . having […]

  61. posted by Employee or Entrepreneur? The Pros and Cons of Self-Employment | usabestcreditreport on

    […] Update: Erin from Unclutterer (one of my favorite blogs) has posted an article that seems related to this — at least in my mind. She explains how to have it all. […]

  62. posted by pril on

    I think i asked that question or one close to it. wow and slightly weird. i just was checking in and wow. anyway nice read and thank you!

  63. posted by Matt on

    Great article. I definitely agree with your point about streamlining. I struggle with keeping up with specific tasks each day to keep organized and experience first hand the way these things can haunt you. I look forward to reading your tips on this and other things on your blog. Hopefully enough of it will click so I can finally shake these bad habits.

    Thank you,

  64. posted by The Simple Dollar » The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Old Connections Edition on

    […] Having It All This article by Erin Doland is fantastic, outlining in detail the life-changing value of minimizing clutter in all aspects of your life. (@ unclutterer) Related Posts The Simple Dollar Morning Roundup: Post-Super Bowl EditionThe Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Birthday Update EditionSlowing Down, or Starting on My DreamsThe Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Crunch EditionThe Simple Dollar Morning Roundup: Moving Monday Edition Did you like this article? You can get the complete text of all the latest articles at The Simple Dollar in your email inbox each morning by entering your email address below. Your address will only be used for mailing you the articles, and each one will include a link so you can unsubscribe at any time. No comments yet. Be the first. Leave a reply […]

  65. posted by Dia on

    Great streamlined list!
    I’m also a ‘deadbeat’ CC user (needed to get one to establish ‘credit’ to buy my house) & recently challanged a finance charge (& had it removed) because the check ran for $8- less than the total . . . great interaction with the banker, who got it cleared, & we traded cards – her husband works for a company that has massage as an employee benefit ($15 co-pay, & no hastle with paperwork for us – so very Win-Win!) & she hasn’t been using it . . . .

    I’m working on de-thugging my place & doing some streamlining!

    I also try to balance my ‘yes’ & ‘no’ to projects I feel good about.

  66. posted by Mletta on

    RE: Cash versus credit cards.

    We order a lot online. It actually saves us money as well as costs for transportation and time.

    We would NEVER use a debit card to order online. EVER. You have no recourse.

    That is why we use credit cards.

    We pay off the full balance each month.

    You simply cannot pay cash for a lot of things these days. (We also use paypal, but again, we link it to a credit card, not our bank accounts, to protect ourselves.)

    We’re actually doing what the “experts” recommend to protect yourself from identity theft.

    RE: Being available for your children

    There’s a huge difference between doing things for your children and being at their beck and call, which, I’ve seen, in many families where what started out as a few “activities” has turned into nonstop scheduling and driving around.

    I’m sorry, but time in a car with folks rushing to be somewhere, eating in the car, not at a dining table, and parents and kids overwhelmed by fatigue (emotional and physical) is NOT quality family time.

    Parents arguing with each other when they have to seriously disrupt work schedules to accommodate their kids activities schedules is not a way to feel closer to each other.

    I won’t even get into all the craziness that surrounds some parents and their kids when it comes to sports. How the parents hound their kids about performance and competition, etc. to the point that children hate sports.

    I believe in family time, but it’s about real time with each other doing something you all enjoy, or can enjoy. About sitting together at meals, not each person jumping up and down to go somewhere else or get picked up, etc. but sitting together and just relaxing and talking with each other.

    We actually agree. I’m only saying that the ideal is not always achievable and if we could accept that, even while striving to improve our experiences, it’d be easier.

    Too many people think that if only they could get “organized” it would all fall into place.

    Some of the most out of control people I know are those who seem to be “organized.” Look closely and it’s their way to deal with the chaos and the reality of life, which requires true flexibility every day.

    I came from a home with an “organized” parent. It was a nightmare. We kids could not enjoy anything due to our mother’s need to organize EVERYTHING. That is NOT life.

    So while I believe in plans, intentions, discipline and deadlines, I know that life is far more complex and requires more openness to whatever happens. Our kids would learn more if parents would just relax and help their kids learn how to deal with the world where you can’t control what happens a lot of the time.

    Life is not a calendar, schedule or game plan.

  67. posted by link up | SIMA on

    […] Eleven rules for living an uncluttered life. […]

  68. posted by The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Old Connections Edition | USA Best Credit Report on

    […] Having It All This article by Erin Doland is fantastic, outlining in detail the life-changing value of minimizing clutter in all aspects of your life. (@ unclutterer) […]

  69. posted by Jerry Kolber » Blog Archive » Weekly Roundup July 17 2009 on

    […] heard before but Erin brings it all together from her personal perspective. The article is at Having it All.  I particularly like her advice “Even if you live to be 100 life is short”.  Putting […]

  70. posted by Jerry Kolber on

    Great article Erin – I included it in my weekly roundup of the 3 best articles about creativity this week on the web, at my site

  71. posted by Organizing Your Way | Surfin’ the Net: 7/5-7/18 on

    […] Ask Unclutterer: Having It All, Unclutterer […]

  72. posted by Rah BIckley on

    Great list! You rock.

  73. posted by Golfing Girl on

    I’m pretty good at minimizing clutter, but how can I get my 5-year old who loves to save every piece of macaroni art, scribble, etc. to subscribe to the Unclutter mindset?

  74. posted by Employee or Entrepreneur? The Pros and Cons of Self-Employment | Follow My Money - Financial Advicer, Money Management, Debt Free Tips on

    […] Update: Erin from Unclutterer (one of my favorite blogs) has posted an article that seems related to this — at least in my mind. She explains how to have it all. […]

  75. posted by The moral vs the practical « Applying philosophy to life on

    […] moral vs the practical Posted on August 10, 2009 by K. M. Via NoodleFood I came across this blog post on time management. The post is quite good in general but one particular point is not. Determine what matters most […]

  76. posted by 当员工还是当老板?干个体户的利与弊 « 生活奇客 on

    […] 更新:“Unclutter”(我最喜欢的博客之一)的艾琳发表了一篇文章,好像和这个相关—至少我是这个印象。她解释了如何鱼和熊掌兼得。 […]

  77. posted by Charlotte on

    I just want to add that Mletta’s comment is one of the best comments I’ve read online in – well, months, if not years.

  78. posted by body loving blog-o-sphere 07.12.09 on

    […] Ask Unclutterer, Having it All […]

  79. posted by What are you letting go of today? « Melinda Roos on

    […] 5) The stuff which clutters. […]

  80. posted by How to have it all | Tenniswood Blog on

    […] Unclutterer. […]

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