Five ways to use Evernote to organize your busy family life

I recently wrote a post for the Evernote website that I want to direct you to: “5 Ways to Use Evernote to Organize Your Busy Family Life.” Here is the first tip:

1. Remember where you parked
Whether at the mall, an amusement park, or a concert with your kids, the last thing you want to do is delay getting home because you can’t find your car in the enormous parking garage or lot. When you first park, snap a picture of identifying information near your space and save it to Evernote. If you’re in a rental, also add a picture of the license plate of the car you’re driving. Once you’re back, either delete the pictures or add notes about the quality of the spot if it’s somewhere you might want to park again. “Great place for quickly getting onto the highway ramp after a packed concert at Wolf Trap Amphitheater.”

Feel welcome to check it out and come back here and add to the list. Tell us how you use Evernote and other technologies to organize your busy family life.

Staying focused on the big picture

On Friday, my grandmother turned 100 years old. She is an amazing woman, and turning 100 is just one more accomplishment in her incredible life.

My grandmother’s birthday has me thinking about a phrase that I often repeat to myself:

Even if you live to be 100, life is short.

It’s a reminder to me to not procrastinate and to stay focused on what matters most. There are only 24 hours in a day, and I want to spend those hours focused on what is important to me — sharing with others my passion and knowledge of simple living, embarking on new adventures with those I love, and nine other priorities for my life.

Uncluttering is about clearing the distractions that get in the way of your remarkable life. Once the distractions are gone, you can pursue your priorities and make the most of your life.

My life’s motto is to Carpe Vitam — Seize Life — and my grandmother is a testament to this form of living. I’m glad to have such a happy reminder of this concept as we celebrate her birthday.

A year ago on Unclutterer



To-Do Tattoos

I can’t remember where I first saw these, but the “To-Do Tattoo” caught my attention as a great way to help kids remember things. The temporary tattoos in the kit seem a bit unnecessary, but the skin-safe gel pen is a hit in my book.

Sure, you could easily create a digital list or a list on a sheet of paper, but both run the risk of being lost. This way, you can be sure your child makes it wherever he needs to go with everything on his list.

It’s novel, and I like when organizing can be fun.

Ask Unclutterer: Organizing hair styling doo-dads

Reader Karey submitted the following to Ask Unclutterer:

I have a 9-yr-old girl with long hair. She has zillions of barrettes, headbands, clips, bobby pins, etc. and I need some good ideas how to organize these! Any suggestions??

Such a fun and direct question! I recommend using a tackle box. They’re usually less expensive than a container that is marketed for hair styling items, and they’re durable.

This small tackle box has room for all different kinds of items (barrettes, hair bands, combs) and can easily be transported from room-to-room or packed up for a slumber party.

Get a few stickers and Sharpies and let your daughter customize it if she isn’t fond of the bland exterior. I use a tackle box for my makeup, and it works great.

Thank you, Karey, for submitting your question for our Ask Unclutterer column. Check out the comments for additional suggestions from our readers.

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.

Workspace of the Week: Equipment bonanza

This week’s Workspace of the Week is BayAreaBaw’s peripherally intense office:

This is an amazing office and its owner did a terrific job describing it in the photo’s notes:

This home office of mine has been evolving for about six years, with a list of equipment that currently includes:

  • 3 printers (laser, portable inkjet & label)
  • 2 external backup drives (USB & Firewire)
  • LightScribe CD/DVD Burner
  • 2 scanners (ScanSnap & Epson)
  • tape deck, turntable & sound system
  • EyeTV digital television tuner
  • Two 7-port USB hubs
  • 20″ external monitor
  • MacBook
  • wireless phone
  • cell phone, Bluetooth & Palm chargers

My challenge has been how to arrange so much gear in a small space without all of it getting in my way, both physically and aesthetically, and especially how to hide all those cables. At last count there are 21 electrical connections, along with about 15 other USB, Firewire, and charger cables.

Truly impressive, BayAreaBaw. Thank you for your submission!

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.

Storing small memory cards

I don’t know if I’ve ever publicly admitted this, but I’m a gamer. I play at least half an hour every day, and usually more than that. I have numerous electronic gaming systems and even a huge collection of board games for when I want to be away from a computer. I’ll play any game at least once, and when I find a favorite I’ll spend days working to master it.

I didn’t grow up playing video games like many of my peers, but got into it in college thanks to my friend Clark. (Clark also introduced Stevie Case to computer gaming their freshman year of college … small world.) I like solving puzzles and gaming is my constant outlet for that aspect of my personality, and I’ll always be in debt to Clark for being my guide.

There are a couple Nintendo DS Lite games coming out in the next few weeks that I’ve pre-ordered to take with me while I’m traveling for my book publicity. Unfortunately, I don’t have a very organized method for taking all of my DS Lite games (about 30) with me. After a little research, I’m looking at getting one of these:

A Memory Card Album with anti-static pages that can hold three games (or SD cards or MMC cards or other small discs) per page:

Or, a Memory Card and Manual Holder that has places for games and the instruction manuals that come with the games. It too could easily hold other small memory cards:

Do you have multiple games that are stored on small discs or do you carry small cards for work or your camera? How do you keep them stored in a safe and organized fashion? I’d like to know what you use. The smaller memory cards get, I think the more we’re going to address this issue.

Reducing unnecessary distractions from colleagues at work

Mark at Productivity501 has some great tips for keeping office distractions to a minimum in his post this week “People Who Come to Distract You.” I have found that his second point works extremely well:

2. Stand and come out from behind your desk — If you conduct your conversation standing, it will likely be much shorter. This is a good thing to do before you know if they have something valuable or if they are just coming in to shoot the breeze. If you want them to stay, pull out a chair and return to your seat.

I’m not super fond of his fourth tip (probably best not to destroy your company’s furniture), so I’d replace it with the following:

4. Close the door to your office or face a chair backward at the entrance to your cube. Then, hang up a sign on either the door or the back of the chair that states: “Please only disturb in case of emergency.” People will self-censor, even if you’re in a cube.

What tips would you add? Let us know what has worked for you in the comments.

Unitasker Wednesday: Lem-O Saver

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

So you have a lemon, and you only want to use half of it? Wow. Now that is a conundrum. If you only use half a lemon, what will you possibly do with the other half? Sure, you could squeeze the juice out of it and put the juice in a bottle or you could put the lemon cut-side down in a multi-purpose container with a lid — but where is the fun in these solutions? There isn’t any. Those options aren’t fun at all. They don’t make you laugh at how incredibly specific and rarely useful they are like you would if you owned a Lem-O Saver:

But why stop at just ONE very specific produce saving device? You can also buy the Avocado, Onion, Garlic, Cucumber, Apple, Banana, and Tomato Savers! Fill all your cupboards with these extremely specific food storage containers!!

A year ago on Unclutterer



  • Resource list for inherited clutter
    Provided is a resource list of books and an organization that may be of benefit when handling inherited clutter.
  • Are floor mats added as we age?
    My late grandmother was notorious for carpeting her floor with mats. There were mats in front of her couch, at the kitchen sink, in the bathroom, at the foot of each bed, and underneath her rocking chair.
  • Baby toy alternatives
    Obviously, these aren’t going to replace every toy, but they can offset the accumulation of more toys.

Hoarders: A new show

Last night, A&E aired its first episode of its series “Hoarders.” The show will air weekly on Monday nights at 10:00 p.m. ET/9:00 p.m. CT.

I didn’t write about it beforehand because I was nervous about how the show was going to treat the subject matter. Hoarding is a psychological disorder and compulsive hoarders should be under the treatment of a licensed medical professional, and I was afraid that the mental health issues would be pushed aside for the shock and awe of the homes.

After watching the first episode, I have to say that they did go for shock and awe — the show actually began like an episode of the fictional drama “Law and Order” and the music added during editing makes the show sound like a horror film — but, they did mention some of the underlying issues of the psychological disorder. And, in the show’s favor, they used trained professionals to help the hoarders on the show. One of the professional organizers in the first episode is NSGCD-certified Geralin Thomas, whose writing you have seen here on Unclutterer and whose work I greatly admire. So, even though you might not have seen it in the episode, I feel confident that the hoarders were treated with respect off camera and at least in Jill and Ron’s case the hoarders are receiving continuing help.

Unfortunately, I followed the Twitter streams of people responding to the show as they were watching it and was horrified by what some people were saying. Many people were judging the hoarders as being “bad” and “disgusting” instead of individuals, real people, who are suffering from a psychological disorder. I hope that in the coming episodes the show works more diligently to educate viewers about the mental health issues that hoarders experience and treat the issue with more respect (less horror film sound effects and shock-and-awe editing). I also hope that they provide more information about what happens after the initial cleanup and medical treatment that is available for hoarders. As it is now, it seemed that most viewers were just interested in looking at piles of stuff and A&E definitely catered to them.

Instead of the link at the beginning of the episode that referred hoarders to InterventionTV (I’m not kidding, they directed people to a site about how they can be on a reality television show), we at Unclutterer recommend the following resources: