Get your dot on

Alex Fayle offered the following tip in the comments section on one our posts. It was such a good suggestion, we thought we would bring it to your attention:

A simple way of knowing if you actually use things is to get removable coloured dots and stick one to each of your small appliances and kitchen gadgets. As you use your things, take off the dot (hence why you want to get removable dots).

After six months look at all the things still with dots and decide if you actually want to keep them or not (some things only get used rarely but are totally worth their storage space).

You could just as easily use this approach in other areas of your home or office. Here’s a link to suitable 1/2″ removable colored dots at Amazon.com.

 

This post was originally published in May 2007.

Simple Living and Labor-Saving Devices

In the comments section of our our post on dishwasher-safe products, there was an interesting debate on the merits of hand washing dishes. Some readers were surprised by the amount of thought and effort we seem to expend trying to avoid hand washing cookware.

I am an advocate of technology in the service of simple living. There is physical clutter in our lives, and there is time clutter. Often, judicious use of technology can help us tame the latter.

The Shakers, known for their focus on simplicity in all aspects of life, believed labor was sacred. To that end, they developed numerous labor-saving devices:

  • metal pen nibs
  • the flat broom
  • a prototype washing machine
  • the circular saw
  • waterproof and wrinkle-free cloth
  • a metal chimney cap that blocked rain

In fact, the Canterbury community in New Hampshire owned one of the first cars in the state. They also embraced the use of electricity long before their non-Shaker neighbors.

Good technology has the capacity to simplify our lives and empower us. It reduces time clutter. The arrivals of the washing machine and the electric iron were landmark events in the history of women’s liberation. By reducing the amount of time women spent on chores, they increased the amount of time women could spend on other activities.

By contrast, it’s easy to see that bad technology just gets in the way. We are seduced by the false promises of a food dehydrator. In the end, we are not only parted from our money, but we are left with a colony of unused unitaskers multiplying in the recesses of our kitchen cabinets. From the very beginning, you didn’t have a chance  — by the time you bought the seemingly innocuous wannabe waffle-maker, the war was already lost.

Simple living is about clearing away the obstacles in our lives, including the unwanted tasks. We can only do this if we are honest with ourselves about whether that labor-saving device really justifies the space it consumes.

 

This post was originally published in May 2007.

The minimalist kitchen

The New York Times ran an interesting feature in which food columnist Mark Bittman explained how one could outfit a functional, well-equipped kitchen for less than $300. Even though this article was published in 2007, it is still relevant and helpful.

If you’ll be moving out on your own, you could turn this into a shopping list or a source for ideas for your wedding gift registry. If your kitchen counters and cupboards are overflowing, you might consider using this article as a reality check for the things you already own. If you have all kinds of kitchen accessories you don’t use, and they’re not on this list, you might want to consider getting rid of them.

Particularly interesting is a section at the end of the article where Bittman lists several “inessentials”:

STAND MIXER Unless you’re a baking fanatic, it takes up too much room to justify it. A good whisk or a crummy handheld mixer will do fine.

BONING/FILLETING KNIVES Really? You’re a butcher now? Or a fishmonger? If so, go ahead, by all means. But I haven’t used my boning knife in years. (It’s pretty, though.)

WOK Counterproductive without a good wok station equipped with a high-B.T.U. burner. (There’s a nice setup at Bowery Restaurant Supply for $1,400 if you have the cash and the space.)

However, if an item on this “inessential” list is one that you use regularly (be honest here), or saves you time and effort, by all means keep it.

 

This post was originally published in May 2007.

A year ago on Unclutterer

2010

2009

A year ago on Unclutterer

2013

2009

  • An uncluttered liquor cabinet in time for New Year’s Eve
    Similar to traditional food pantries and linen closets, most liquor cabinets have a bad habit of things going into them faster than items coming out. Before you know it, you’ll find you have three open bottles of vermouth, two dripping bottles of Rose’s lime juice and another of the grenadine, and five bottles of the exact same type of gin. (Well, at least this is what I found lingering in my liquor cabinet.)

A year ago on Unclutterer

2009

A year ago on Unclutterer

2014

  • Organizing a home gym
    If you’re someone who is looking to workout more in the new year, the following are tips on how to get your fitness equipment in order so you can begin your workouts in a comfortable, organized space.

2013

2010

  • Getting organized for the new year
    At the start of every year, I get a new notebook and copy all of my lists from the old notebook into the new. The lists help keep me organized, but the process is a terrific way to prepare for the next year.

2009

  • Uncluttering isn’t for everyone
    As much as your uncluttering strategies and techniques have made a positive change in your life, don’t think about your way of living as being better than how other people choose to live their lives. Think of an uncluttered life as being easier for you.

A year ago on Unclutterer

2011

  • 2011 Unclutterer Holiday Gift Giving Guide: Ultimate generosity
    Instead of tangible gifts, which have been the focus of our Guide in 2011, we are recommending a service as the ultimate gift of generosity. We suggest getting your favorite unclutterer a few hours of consultation, uncluttering, and organizing with a professional organizer.

2010

A year ago on Unclutterer

2014

  • Book review: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
    At first glance, I felt that The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up was like many of the other organizing books that I have read, but she does provide good advice for people who have intense sentimental attachments to everyday items.

2011

  • 2011 Unclutterer Holiday Gift Giving Guide: Organizing products
    Giving organizing products as gifts can be tricky. If not done in a polite manner, you can end up hurting someone’s feelings. However, if a person on your list has expressed interest in receiving a gift with an organizing theme, it can be a welcomed present.

2010

2009

  • Chicago book signing and meet and greet
    December 28, 2009. 4-7 pm (come when convenient, we’re just hanging out). The Book Cellar. 4736-38 N. Lincoln Ave. Technically, this is the first stop on my Unclutter Your Life in One Week book tour. However, I’m thinking about it as a book signing and an Unclutterer meet and greet. Unclutterer team members PJ, Brian, Gary, and I will all be able to make it to this event.
  • iPhone alarm clocks
    My husband and I need a new alarm clock and, after many deliberations, we have decided to go with a unit that works in conjunction with our iPhones. Since the units are all multi-functional (they’re all chargers, and all but the first include speakers), I thought I would share with you our finalists.
  • PDFs and t-shirts: New in the Unclutterer store
    Introducing the new internal Unclutterer store. Available are two t-shirts: “Simplicity is revolutionary” and “Less is more.” Also available are the seven worksheet PDFs that accompany the book Unclutter Your Life in One Week.

A year ago on Unclutterer

2012

2011

2009

A year ago on Unclutterer

2011

  • 2011 Unclutterer Holiday Gift Giving Guide: Light and power
    Extremely practical gifts like LED light bulbs, motion sensor switches, very slowly depleting rechargeable batteries, and a deplete, refresh, charge and test battery charger make it into this year’s uncluttered gift giving suggestions.

2010

2009