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A Crash course in De-cluttering your life

You are smart. You are talented. You have big dreams and lots of energy…

... But if you’re not organized
, every step is a struggle - and you’re unlikely to accomplish much. You have to work twice as hard as other people simply because you never learned the basic principles of organization.

Sound familiar? Well, you’re not alone. According to the American Demographic Society, Americans waste more than 9 million hours each day looking for lost and misplaced articles.

Here’s a crash course in de-cluttering your life.

1. Make the time to organize your desk, your workplace,
your house and home office.

2. De-Clutter any
clutter-magnets: desktops, shelves,
drawers, closets and cabinets.

3. Decide what you can
do without...and where to put
the things you really need.

4. Use your calendar to
budget your days better and create more quality time for the things that really matter.

5. Learn which products
help you stay organized - and
which ones just get in your way.

6. Decide the fate of
every incoming piece of paper.

7. Aim mail and other
documents to their final destination.

8. Put time-sensitive
documents, like invitations, where you will be sure not to forget about them.

9. Develop files that
are easy to keep current and to use.

10. When you set
up your home office, take traffic patterns
into consideration.

11. Pre-plan your
trip to the office supply store. Be sure your
organizing products help you, not just get in your way.

12. Get things you
seldom use out of your way, but still keep them within easy reach.

13. Use a rule of
thumb to decide what stays, and what goes.

14. Have a mini-agenda
. Use it to shorten business calls by a few minutes each. It can add up to hours per week.

15. Make reasonable
estimates of the time you’ll need
for any task.

16. Consider using
post-it‘s for your things to do list.

17. Consider what
clutter is costing you, and eliminate things you don’t need.

18. Store things
at or near the point where they are to be used.

19. Establish a
place for everything, and put everything in its

20. Use the last
5 minutes of your workday to straighten up.  This will allow it to look nice when you walk back in the next day.

Article reprinted from:

The Miami Herald / January 1, 2006


It's clutter-busting time

Organizing our homes for 2006 is a primary goal for a nation of hoarders and gatherers

Look around you. Clutter, clutter everywhere. We are a nation consumed with the joy of acquiring stuff -- and the agony of getting rid of it.

Tossing out junk is now the focus of at least five home improvement TV shows -- including Clean Sweep (TLC), Clean House (Style Network) and Mission: Organization (HGTV) -- and dozens of self-help books. There are online message boards, magazines, blogs, 12-step programs, support groups, professional organizers and container stores to help us get our lives in order.

''It's all about postponed decisions,'' says Marsha Sims, owner of Sort-It-Out professional organizing service, which is based in Miami Lakes, but organizes homes from the Keys to Vero Beach. ``Everybody is swamped all the time and they have to make a decision: Do I spend time with the kids or make dinner or sort mail? If your priority is not sorting mail, it's on the back burner, which can turn into weeks or months.

'We're all so overwhelmed.
Barbara Hemphill [a nationally known organizing expert] was the one who first pinned it down to delayed decision making. We put something down and think, `I'll put it here for now.' '' Then the time to put it away never comes.

Sims says the majority of her clients are professional women, small business owners, entrepreneurs and successful career types -- in other words, people who seemingly have it all together. ''You get to a point where you can't do it all and there are some things you don't want to do,'' Sims says. ``That's my real clientele -- people who could do it, but really don't want to.''


Some purging tips from people who are tops in the clear-out business

Have a strategy. Be efficient and grab things in categories. Snatch up everything that goes in the bathroom, for instance -- brush, lotion, hair spray, bobby pins -- and make one trip to put them in their place. ''One of the things people do wrong is that they'll pick up eight items and then walk around the house to drop them off,'' Sims says. ``They're in perpetual motion and they never finish the job.''

Start small. Don't try to organize your home in a day. Focus at first on a closet or room that frustrates (or embarrasses) you most.

Work on surfaces first. A place naturally looks more organized when things aren't piled on counters, desks, dressers and floors. Mentally divide the surface in half or quarters and clean it off little by little. Once it's cleaned off, nothing can go back on it. Dust it.

Sort it out. Put things in categories, such as things you love or use, things you could give away or sell and things that can be trashed.

Look for hidden spaces. Try to find new storage spaces. It could be your grandmother's chest or under a bed. Williams, from the Container Store says over-the-door hanging organizers are popular for storing everything from shoes to pantry items. Divide large shelves into smaller spaces so things can easily be seen.

Pare down. If you have more than one of an item, be honest. How many do you really need? If you have an exorbitant number of pens or rubber bands, ask yourself how many are enough. Keep what you can use.

Make it a daily task. Spend 15 minutes a day on decluttering (15 minutes a day adds up to seven hours a month). Write it in your daily planner and honor the appointment as you would any other, advises Donna Smallin, author of Organizing Plain & Simple.

Multitask. Use TV time to sort out a drawer. During commercials, dump the drawer and sort the contents into four categories: throw away, give away or sell, put somewhere else and put back in the drawer. When you're finished, put back what goes in that drawer and get another drawer. At the end of the evening, throw away the trash, put give-away items and things to sell in a box for distribution and put away what belongs elsewhere.

Turn kids into organizers. Arrange toys at kid level so children can put their own things away easily.

M - Mark your calendar for a time to finally clean off your desk. Be realistic about how long it will take.

A - Always have supplies on hand before you begin.

R - Re-arrange equipment, supplies and files in your work space according to their frequency of use.

S - Stack all loose papers in one neat pile to create the illusion of order.

H - Have a designated "in-box" in a convenient location. Encourage others to use it.

A - Allow time in your daily planner for meeting preparation and travel time between appointments.


S - Sort all papers and folders into "to-do" "to read" "to file" "to sort"

I - Identify the supplies you use most often; keep close by only what you use regularly.

M - Make time to clean off your desk daily.

S - Set up a simple desktop area for mail to be sorted each day.
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