January 29, 2007

Making it Manageable

My favorite word for tackling the clutter and stuff issue is not the word austere, or minimalist or even the underused word Spartan. It's the word manageable. Keeping it manageable (whatever that means to you) means keeping it under your control without going overboard.

I take at least one or two items a week to the thrift store and sell at least three items a week on eBay, and I still have loads of stuff. I try not to let it bother me since I still plan to take things to the thrift store and sell those items on eBay every week. Keeping it manageable means staying on top of everything as a daily, weekly, monthly or yearly job. Sorry to say, it never ends, but once it is part of your life, you hardly even think about it.

January 22, 2007


If mail or paperwork is taking over your life, from one of my heroines, Hellen Buttigieg, comes the RAFT concept. RAFT stands Read, Act, File, Toss. Scrutinize any piece of paper, junk mail, card or letter that piles up on your desk, bed or kitchen table and place it in boxes or a letter file that is labeled with those four words.

The Read pile needs to be read for information or work. The Act paperwork needs to be acted on immediately and then either filed or tossed. The File category is for important information that needs to be filed such as tax forms or pay stubs. A filing rule of thumb is to keep tax forms for seven years after the year they are filed. Keep important things such as mortgage paperwork or credit reports indefinately. Credit card and bank statements should be shredded after they have been cleared from your accounts. And the Toss category is a given, get rid of it if it is not important. Any personal information should be shredded.

Use the RAFT concept anytime you get a pile of mail or paperwork and that pile will disappear.

January 17, 2007

Storage is a four-letter word

The public storage unit business is lucrative. According to Tom Vanderbilt of Slate Magazine, one in eleven households rents a storage unit and the storage unit industry claims a 90 percenty occupancy of its units. The industry even has an association magazine.

Granted, a storage unit can come in handy when moving or in between homes, but when the cost of storing your stuff exceeds the value of said stuff, you have a problem.

A storage unit is convenient in that you can put all the material possessions, the unwanted Christmas presents, the furniture from college, the winter jackets, paperwork and boxes full of who knows what behind a locked door away from your immediate area. Out of sight, out of mind. However, out of sight, but not out of your wallet. The average cost of a storage shed is between $50 and $100 a month. The average time in a unit is 15 months. I know some people who stick around for 3 or more years. Do the math.

Store is a bad word. Severely question anything you feel you need to store. Do you just want it out of your sight, but can't bare to part with it? Leave it around and out of storage for a while, if you still want it out of your sight, you don't love it and it should not be part of your life. Period.

January 16, 2007

Simplicity in Nature

It makes complete sense that many people find their greatest peace and serenity in nature. The natural world is exactly what it needs to be, no more and no less. There is no excess or clutter or a lack of organization in nature. Every rock, tree, drop of water, leaf, piece of sand and animal plays its part in nature with no thought as to whether they will match the local terrain or whether they will need extra storage to have all the things they want to have.

A walk in the woods in the fall, or in the mountains by a bubbling stream, or by the roaring ocean can bring a new perspective into your own life and how it is affected by its surroundings. Our own living spaces should give us the same feeling that we get from being in the outdoors. Peace, quiet, and the time to reflect on our place in this world.

“Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.” -- Rachel Carson

January 12, 2007

Perfection is overrated

Decluttering, organizing and simplifying is an ongoing process and life sometimes gets in the way. No one is perfect and not one person can live a completely organized and austere existance unless they have an entourage of personal assistants.

No. We will do what we can, when we can. Keeping your life and your surroundings in order is a habit that needs to be learned like brushing your teeth or putting on your seatbelt. Remind yourself each day to take 15 minutes to organize and get your mind in order. Those 15 minutes will translate to a lifetime.

January 11, 2007

The One-Book Concept

No, this is not a Bible touting post. It's a way to get all your random notes, stickies, to-do lists and wish lists organized for good. The One-Book is a small notebook or calendar that holds everything from your to-do lists, shopping lists, financial notes, library lists, future plans and doodles. Carry it with you everywhere and whip it out whenever you need to jot something down, rather than carry a pocketful of sticky notes or paper slips.

I suggest making it a book you like to write in. Mine is a lovely, little book that looks like something an archeologist in a movie would use to draw an ancient map to a priceless golden statue. It is red and gold with a rubber band to keep it closed and a red ribbon bookmark. I have written everything in it from my daily purchases, my financial plans for the month, my travel lists and a doodle of a piece of furniture I'm on the lookout for.

January 10, 2007

9/10ths of the Problem...

Most of my life I have been interested in organization and the wiping out of clutter. When I was a child I would spend an afternoon cleaning out and organizing my friends' sock drawers and toy cupboards. The organizing bug has recently become popular with shows such as Clean Sweep and neat and with the proliferation of stores such as the Container Store and IKEA.

When I'm around clutter, it affects my thoughts, movements and even my pulse and heart rate. When I am clutter free, I feel 10 pounds lighter and I can sleep at night. I want others to feel the same way.

I am starting this blog to get my voice and experiences out there and to eventually begin a career as a professional organizer. I now work as a graphic and web designer (where organizing is a key part of the job), but eventually would like to phase out into my own business. Welcome and enjoy.

"Possession isn't nine-tenths of the law, it's nine-tenths of the problem." -- John Lennon