Laundry Tips: How to Save Time and Lighten the Load

Sort darks from delicates in a snap and put an end to the vanishing sock conundrum once and for all: Erin Rooney Doland, author of Unclutter Your Life In One Week, shares the secret to streamlining laundry time.

Out of all the advice I’m about to give on how to do laundry efficiently, there is one principle that stands out among the others: The less you own, the less you have to clean. If you don’t have many clothes, then your laundry baskets can’t overflow with items. This principle is true for everything in your home (fewer objects to dust, fewer papers to file) and makes a significant impact when you apply it to your wardrobe.

Tips for keeping laundry under control:

For the person who doesn’t mind laundry too much:

  • Decrease the size of your hamper. It’s easy to resist doing laundry until your hamper is full, so use a smaller hamper to keep from getting overwhelmed. Alternatively, most residential washing machines only hold between twelve and eighteen pounds per load (check with your manufacturer for your model’s exact weight limit). Get out your scale, put your hamper on the scale, and note the weight. Then fill the hamper with clothes until your scale reads twelve pounds (or whatever your machine’s limit) above the weight of the hamper. Mark that clothing line on the inside of your hamper so that you know when you’ve reached your one-load limit. (Note: Most washing machines will hold more clothing than their weight limit. Just because they can, it doesn’t mean they should. Your machine will last longer if you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.)
  • Organize immediately. If you sort your laundry by color and separate out the delicates and dry cleaning, do this when you take off your clothes.
  • Make it desirable. The nicer your laundry room, the more time you’ll want to spend there. Replace lightbulbs, clear the spiderwebs, and set up a table to fold clothes on. If you don’t have a washing machine in your home, keep a piggy bank for quarter collection and carry your detergent in water bottles instead of the hefty container it came in. The easier it is to get to the Laundromat, the more likely you’ll be to make a habit of going there.
  • Stay on a routine. I’ll talk about this more in detail in chapter 3.For the person who hates laundry, see everything listed in the “doesn’t mind it too much” section, plus:
  • Get ready for bed at least an hour before you go to bed. If you’re someone who leaves your clothes on the floor instead of in the hamper, it’s probably because you’re exhausted and climbing into bed in the dark. Get ready for bed when you’re still alert and the lights are on to keep you from using your floor as a hamper.
  • Wash-and-wear is the way to go. Any clothing that requires special attention can clog up your laundry system. If you pay a few extra dollars in the store for wrinkle-free fabrics and wash-and-wear items, you end up saving yourself considerable time (no ironing) and money (no dry cleaning bills) over the long term.For the person who loathes laundry with the burning passion of a thousand suns, see everything listed in the “doesn’t mind it too much” and “hates it” sections, plus:
  • Avoid colors that bleed. If you don’t have darks that bleed onto lights, then you can throw everything into the same load. Reds, oranges, blacks, purples, and navy blues are often bleeders, so avoid them for convenience.
  • Buy in bulk. Stop wasting time matching socks. Buy multiple pairs of the same kind of sports and dress socks. I buy six pairs of identical white sports socks and five pairs of identical dark dress socks. When they start to wear out, I turn all of them into rags and replace them at the same time. In my house, we call it the Sock Purge, and it takes place about every six to eight months.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Erin Rooney Doland, author of Unclutter Your Life in One Week: A 7-Day Plan to Organize Your Home, Your Office, and Your Life! (Copyright © 2009 by Erin Doland), is an organization consultant and the Editor-in-Chief of Unclutterer.com, a popular website that has been featured in The Washington Post, The New York Times, Slate, House Beautiful, Lifehacker.com, and on the BBC and HGTV. She is a weekly columnist for Real Simple online, and has written for Ready Made, Women’s Day, and CNN.com, among others. She lives in the Washington, D.C., area with her husband.
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Energize Your Office Space

Ensure that your work environment is working for you with these tips from Jeffrey Wands, successful psychic medium and author of Knock and the Door Will Open: 6 Keys to Mastering the Art of Living.

Your office should reflect who you are in the same way your home does. To make whatever time you spend in the office as productive and positive as possible, you need to make sure that you’re working in an energizing environment.

Here are a few tips for making your office a place where you flourish:

  • Do you know who worked there before you? It’s just as important to clear negative energy from your office as it is to clear it from your home.
  • Clean out the drawers, the shelves, and the file cabinets. Pitching the previous occupant’s personal belongings (or your own leftover clutter) will eliminate negative energy.
  • Shift the energy by making the space your own. If you can’t actually move or replace the furniture, bring in a photo of a loved one or another personal belonging that has positive associations for you.
  • Bring in something you can look at that makes you feel calm and peaceful and reminds you of the greater meaning of your life.
  • Create a “success” or “fame” corner in a color associated with recognition (see page 114).
  • Bring in something metal to help you gain clarity and precision in your work.
  • If you’re moving your own things from a previous office, make certain that you leave behind anything that had a negative meaning for you.
  • If you’ve been feeling sluggish and stagnant in your job, clean out your workplace. Go in on a weekend if you have to and just be relentless — pitch, toss, get rid of all the stuff that’s been preventing the creative energy from fl owing.
  • Place your desk as far from the entrance as possible to draw chi or life force toward you rather than blocking it, and make sure that you sit facing the door so that you’re inviting in more that’s good and profitable, not turning your back on it!
  • If your office has fluorescent light, augment or replace it with a desk lamp that has full-spectrum light, which most closely simulates natural sunshine. Cool, white fluorescent light has been banned in Germany because studies have shown that it has a negative impact on health and well-being, which in turn negatively impacts productivity.
  • Bring in touches of red for increased energy, orange for concentration, purple for inspiration, and yellow to make it a happy space.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jeffrey A. Wands, the author of Knock and the Door Will Open (Copyright © 2010 by Jeffrey A. Wands), Another Door Opens (Copyright © 2007 Jeffrey A. Wands)  The Psychic in You (Copyright © 2004 Jeffrey A. Wands) appears frequently on national television, is a popular guest on radio programs across the country, and hosts his own weekly radio call-in program, “Psychic Sundays,” on WALK 97.5 FM. He has thousands of clients worldwide who wait up to a year for a reading at his Port Washington, NY, office.

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6 Ways to Tame Paper Clutter

Turn those mountains of paper into manageable molehills and learn how to cut the paper trail off at the source with these tips from Linda Cobb, author of The Queen of Clean Conquers Clutter.

It seems that the farther we advance with technology, the more we are inundated with paper. Remember when computer gurus told us we would soon be living in a paperless society? Well, guess what — it seems that the technical revolution has generated a whole new spawn of paperwork.

The vast majority of waste in recycling sites is nothing more than ordinary paper — everything from junk mail, newspapers, magazines, and phone books to the flotsam-and-jetsam paperwork of everyday life. Controlling this particular area of clutter is key to living a less stressful and simpler life. Let’s tackle the paper chase together, shall we?

You’ve Got Mail

When you pick up your mail every day, bring it in the house to the same spot. It can be a basket in the entryway, a designated spot on the kitchen counter, or a space at your desk in the home office. Then take a few moments to go through your mail, and remember the rule to handle each piece of paper only once. Newspapers, catalogs, and magazines go to the magazine rack or a basket, where you can find them and read them at your leisure. Toss out the old catalog as you replace it with the new issue, and make sure to sort through this storage bin regularly (weekly is great) to keep it up-to-date. Toss the water, electric, or car payment into a manila folder or large envelope marked “Bills” for payment. Read personal mail, such as wedding or shower invitations, birthday cards, and the like, and enter information on your family calendar. Scan through junk mail, then toss. The big temptation here is to set down a letter, bill, or “interesting idea” from the junk mail for “later.” However, later usually doesn’t come! Teach yourself to clear out your mail daily, and clutter has that much less of a chance to congregate.

Consider how many charge accounts you have. Do you really need four major credit cards, a gasoline card, and a card for every department store in your nearby mall? Remember that all of these cards generate reams of mail in your direction from these retailers. Simplify your life by cutting down your credit cards to just a few you can use everywhere.

Chances are you’re on some mailing lists for items that no longer interest you. Take 15 minutes today to stop the accumulation of unwanted offers in the mail. You’ll need to make one phone call and write a single letter to do this. To stop unwanted credit offers, dial 1–888–5–OPT–OUT at any time of day or night. Then, write to the following: DMA Mail Preference Service, PO Box 643, Carmel, NY 10512. Include your complete name, address, zip code, and a request to “activate the preference service.” The Direct Marketing Association estimates that this one step will stop 75 percent of junk mail from reaching you for up to five years. Keep in mind this option may stop catalogs and promotions you would have liked to receive.

The Paper Tiger
And some ways to tame it:

  • Think twice before you copy that e-mail or print that delicious recipe you want to try “someday.” The great temptation of the Internet is that it makes so much information available so easily. How may times have you printed out a couple of pages to read later, and later has never come? And how many times have you printed out one page only to be flooded with six or seven? Remember: You don’t have to print everything. The information will be there, on line, the next time you need it.
  • Reuse paper in your printer to copy items for personal use; save the clean copy paper for items you need to send out or keep as a personal record.
  • Consider using electronic or on-line banking — it cuts down dramatically on paperwork.
  • Recycle or toss newspapers and magazines at least weekly. Piles of old newspapers are untidy, and a fire hazard as well.
  • Store important personal papers such as your will, birth certificate, social security card, and passport in a safe place at home (a fireproof box is best) or a safe deposit box at the bank. If you store these papers at the bank, keep a list of what is in the safe deposit box on your computer or in your home files. Go through these papers twice a year to make sure they’re in order. Keep a separate folder for each child in your family. In each, place their immunization record, report cards, birth certificates, social security card, and any other important information, such as allergies, doctors’ names and phone numbers. This will be invaluable, especially at the beginning of each school year.
  • A family calendar is a great idea. Purchase a large one and post it in an obvious place such as the kitchen. Mark down birthday parties, weddings, family parties, as invitations arrive. Keep a clothespin attached to the calendar, where you can hang the invitation or pertinent information. When the event is over, just toss.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Previously the owner of a cleaning and disaster-restoration business in Michigan, dealing with the aftermath of fires and floods, Linda Cobb, author of The Queen of Clean Conquers Clutter (Copyright © 2002 by Linda Cobb), started sharing her cleaning tips in a local newspaper column. After moving to Phoenix she became a weekly guest on Good Morning Arizona — then the product endorsements and requests for appearances started rolling in. A featured guest on radio and television shows across the country, Linda Cobb lives in Phoenix with her husband.

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Does Your Home Stress You Out? Why Less Is More

Don’t let your stuff define you. Embrace a new mind-set of consuming less and living with less, and you’ll find more peace and happiness at home, says expert organizer Peter Walsh in Lighten Up: Love What You Have, Have What You Need, Be Happier with Less.

IT STARTS WITH A VISION
If I had to give you one word that lies at the root of most people’s emotional pain and anguish today, you’d probably be surprised it’s not “money” (or the lack thereof). It’s “stuff.” Stuff keeps us from having the rich, full life we deserve. More stuff doesn’t equate to a better life. Stuff has a way of creeping into and overtaking our homes. It also has a way of defining us, when we should be defining ourselves from a much deeper, intangible perspective. And when our stuff begins to define who we are, we become incapable of defin­ing ourselves outside of what we own and what we can buy. This, as many of you may know by now, is a setup for utter unhappiness. One of my favorite quotes comes from the movie Fight Club: “The things you own end up owning you.” It’s a great quote, one that I use often and one that’s really worth pondering. I can also extend that quote: “The things you own end up owning your identity.

It’s time to seriously examine ourselves and our relationships with the money, people, and things in our lives — and the lack thereof. No one should feel stressed out when she opens the door to her own home or buys staples for living. No one has to. No one should feel like he has “nothing” when he can count on his loved ones, even when there’s a lack of material possessions and money. Your home and your financial stability are within your control. Con­sider this: if your home is not providing you with a place of peace and calm, of focus and motivation; if your home is instead a major source of stress and anxiety in your life, then isn’t it obvious that things are seriously out of balance? If your own home does not offer you some measure of nourishment and calm, where are you finding that peace? Chances are, nowhere! Your home should be the place where you escape all negative forces in the world. How you live in that home — eat, breathe, sleep, play, and connect with loved ones — should be the antidote to stress, not the cause.

To get to the heart of our financial problems, we have to reframe how we view what we own, what we buy, how we pay, what we can af­ford, and what will help us create the life we want for ourselves. This is about living mindfully within our means and it begins with a new perspective and a new mind-set about consuming less, living with less, and being happy with less — a mind-set that embraces the idea that happiness doesn’t automatically come with more. This process must start with a clear vision of the life you want — not a debt num­ber or credit score. Just a vision — your vision — and a big one at that.

LESS IS MORE
Let’s be honest, the concept of less is far less attractive than the con­cept of more. Just that word “less” carries a boatload of negative con­notations. Less drums up thoughts of not having enough, being a few dollars short, getting the short end of the stick, not functioning at 100 percent, missing something, lacking something, and so on. It implies hardship, deprivation, destitution, and poverty. But does it have to be a negative term? What does less mean to you?

Complete the following statements:

With less, I am afraid that:

With less, I won’t be able to:

With less, my happiness is:

Think for a moment about what automatically comes to mind when you think of you with less. Are you afraid that life won’t be as plea­surable or rewarding? Does less mean you can’t be happy? Does the very idea of less threaten your happiness? Will having less and living on less income mean you won’t be living the life of your dreams? Why do you think this way? How is this so? What preconceived no­tions about “more” are clouding your definition of “less”?

Now let’s turn this table around. Our cynical relationship with this word “less” is completely arbitrary. What if we chose to look at it from a different perspective? What if, for example, we couch “less” in terms that relate to abundance? Having less doesn’t have to equate with being less, or missing anything. It can, in fact, result in the opposite effect of being more and having more — less of the things that cripple us or trip us up and more happiness, more simplicity, more relaxation, more satisfaction, more energy, more time, more joy, more order, more freedom, more flexibility, more opportunities, more of the things we truly value and need to live the life we want. This concept of “less” that will change our lives is less stress, less worry, less anxiety, less debt, less dissatisfaction, less frustration, less failure, less chaos, less dependence, less dysfunction in our relation­ships, and less feeling trapped in our financial instability and clutter-filled homes. When you look at it this way, less really can be more.

The shift from seeing less as a negative to less as a positive hap­pens when we embrace the concept of less as an opportunity to be re­sponsible and to be mindful consumers. It’s about filling our souls rather than our physical space. It’s about peace of mind rather than just more, more, more.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Peter Walsh
, author of Lighten Up: Love What You Have, Have What You Need, Be Happier with Less (Copyright © 2011 by Peter Walsh Design, Inc.), is a clutter expert and organizational consultant who characterizes himself as part contractor and part therapist. He is a regular guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show and hosts Enough Already! with Peter Walsh on The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). Peter holds a master’s degree with a specialty in educational psychology. He divides his time between Los Angeles and Melbourne, Australia.

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Give Your Refrigerator a Freezer-to-Floor Makeover

Spills, science experiments, sauces from the last decade…If opening your fridge feels like an archaeological expedition, it’s time for a freezer-to-floor makeover. Learn the best way to store fruits, vegetables, condiments, and half-eaten dinners with this step-by-step guide from Linda Cobb, author of The Queen of Clean Conquers Clutter.

The refrigerator and freezer take a lot of abuse. There isn’t a person alive, I venture, who hasn’t peered into the depths of their refrigerator at one time or another and pulled out a “mystery bowl” lurking somewhere in the back. To stop the science experiments, use these tried-and-true methods.

Clean out the refrigerator and freezer separately, starting with the refrigerator. First remove the entire contents of the refrigerator, examining things as you go to determine what is a keeper and what can be disposed of. Have a sturdy trash bag standing by to receive any “mystery items.” Use a cooler to keep perishables cold while you work. (Don’t worry, this won’t take long!) “Keepers” are condiments such as ketchup, mustard, and salad dressings — if they are still fresh.

A quick word of advice: Even condiments have an expiration date. They last, open in your refrigerator, for about 12 to 18 months. Take a look at them as you replace them in the refrigerator. If they have changed color or look excessively watery, it’s time to toss and restock. And remember, when you are using perishable items such as mayonnaise or salad dressing, return them to the refrigerator as soon as possible to keep them fresh longer.

Now’s the time to thoroughly clean the interior of the refrigerator. Remove glass shelves or racks one by one to clean them. As you take them out, wash the wall areas of the refrigerator that can be reached. A mild solution of 1 gallon of warm water and a couple of squirts of dishwashing liquid and 1–2 tablespoons of borax will do the job nicely. Mix this up in the sink or a bucket, and use a sponge or soft cloth. You probably found that box of baking soda in the back that has been deodorizing the refrigerator for months. Remove it and sprinkle some of the baking soda on a damp cloth to remove stubborn food spills from the walls and shelves. When you’re done, you can place the box with your cleaning supplies, for many other uses around the house. Put a fresh box in the refrigerator. Wash and rinse the shelves and dry with a soft cloth; then replace them in the refrigerator. Here you’ll want to put a coat of Clean Shield® on the shelves before putting items back. This wonderful product creates a nonstick finish that is stain- and soil-resistant. You can mop up spills in your refrigerator with just a damp sponge, making cleanup a lot easier.

  • Group keepers by type. Store salad dressings, horseradish, and other condiments together in the door. Jams and jellies can stay here too. Check the dates on your perishables and dispose of anything that’s past its prime. Consider how you use things in the refrigerator. If the kids are constantly reaching into the back for the jelly, for instance, move it up front and store less frequently used items in the back.
  • Dairy products such as cottage cheese, yogurt, and sour cream should be stored in their original containers. Hard cheese will stay freshest if stored wrapped in foil, wax paper, or plastic wrap after opening.
  • Group fruits and vegetables separately, each in their own crisper bins. This way you can pull open the drawer and know if you need to pick up a head of lettuce or some more apples. This also keeps your produce fresher longer, as fruits and vegetables emit gases that cause each other to deteriorate; grouping like things together will keep these vapors from mingling. Remember not to wash produce prior to storage, as this speeds up deterioration.

Is your refrigerator the place where you keep the leftovers until it’s time to throw them out?

  • A separate section of the refrigerator just for leftovers is a good idea. This keeps you from overlooking them. Store them in see-through containers, and hopefully you won’t shove them to the back to linger for six months! Remove any leftovers from cans and store in plastic or glass to keep a metallic taste from ruining the food. Leftovers need to be refrigerated no more than two hours after cooking, so be sure to store them as soon as mealtime is over. As you store your leftovers in the refrigerator, make a list of them and tack it to the refrigerator door. You’ll be more apt to remember and to use them and you’ll never find a mystery bowl next time you clean.
  • Perishables such as eggs should be stored on the top shelf of the refrigerator. Remember that the door is often the warmest place in your refrigerator, and that’s where the egg container usually is. It’s much safer to store your eggs in their original container until they’re used. For this reason, you’ll want to store your butter, margarine, and cream cheese on the top shelf too. Leave the door area for your sturdier condiments, such as ketchup and mustard.
  • Store meats on the bottom shelf if your refrigerator doesn’t have a meat tray. This prevents them from dripping on other items, in case the wrapping isn’t tight. Thaw a roast or other large cut of meat inside a bowl, so that as it defrosts the juice will run into the bowl, not all over your shelves.
  • If your family drinks a lot of canned juices and soft drinks, a can rack will come in handy. Here’s where an extra refrigerator is a bonus too, to hold beverages you buy on sale or use frequently. A word of warning: Do not place warm cans of soda in the freezer to quickly cool them off. The carbonation causes the can to burst. Not a pretty sight.

Don’t overcrowd the refrigerator, as the premise for keeping food cool is that interior air is allowed to circulate. You’ll want to set the temperature dial to less than 40 degrees to keep harmful bacteria from growing. Look for a refrigerator thermometer at home stores; leaving one in your refrigerator will help you keep your food fresher longer.

Leftovers? Think Again!
By now you probably have collected partially used bottles and containers with just a little left in them. Here’s what you can do with those leftovers.

  • That old odor-absorbing box of baking soda — put it down the kitchen drain followed by 1/2 to 1 cup of white vinegar for a fresh-smelling, clear-flowing drain.
  • Lemon juice — clean your brass with lemon juice by adding salt. Rub it on, rinse, and dry well. Clean stains off counters with a paste of lemon juice and cream of tartar. Remove rust from hard surfaces or white fabrics by putting the lemon juice on the rust. For fabric, lay it out in the sun.
  • Ketchup — now’s the time to shine that copper by rubbing it with ketchup until it shines. Rinse and dry well.
  • Clear soda water that’s lost its fizz — use to wipe down white appliances for a great shine. Buff with a soft cloth. Clear soda water also adds vigor to plants and cut flowers.
  • If that onion is not good enough for the salad, remove rust from your utensils, such as paring knives, by sticking them in the onion and letting them sit until the rust is removed, usually a matter of hours.
  • Put citrus peels from citrus fruit past its prime down the garbage disposal to freshen and deodorize.
  • If that potato isn’t looking great, cut it in half and rub it on white shoes. Let the shoe dry, and then polish for a streak-proof shine. Or, remove mud from clothes by rubbing with the cut side of a potato.
  • Add shine to a wood table by polishing with that last bit of mayonnaise in the jar. Rub it in well and buff with a soft cloth.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Previously the owner of a cleaning and disaster-restoration business in Michigan, dealing with the aftermath of fires and floods, Linda Cobb, author of The Queen of Clean Conquers Clutter (Copyright © 2002 by Linda Cobb), started sharing her cleaning tips in a local newspaper column. After moving to Phoenix she became a weekly guest on Good Morning Arizona — then the product endorsements and requests for appearances started rolling in. A featured guest on radio and television shows across the country, Linda Cobb lives in Phoenix with her husband.

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The Surprising Cost of Clutter in Your Home

Not only does clutter burden you emotionally — it’s costing you financially. Expert organizer Peter Walsh shows you how to calculate the value of unused space in your home due to clutter. From Lighten Up: Love What You Have, Have What You Need, Be Happier with Less

That Clutter Is Costing Real Dollars
It’s easy to put a dollar figure on the cost of professionally stored clutter, but what about the clutter you keep at home? How much is that costing you? I’m not just referring to the financial cost. I’m also talking about what it’s costing you emotionally. The emotional cost may exceed the dollar cost.

Try going through one room and make a quick estimate of the cost of what you’re not using. For example, look in your bedroom and consider the cost of unworn clothes and shoes, unread books, unworn jewelry, or unused makeup. Consider the unused toys in your den or child’s bedroom. If any particular item you come across tugs at your heart or makes you emotional, then consider that an added cost. Add up the cost of the items — I’m guessing that some of those clothes still have the tags on them so it won’t be that hard — and write down the amount. Is it big? How much of that are you still paying off? This simple exercise should give you a rough estimate of the cost of the clutter in your home.

Another assessment you can do is to work out how much each square foot of your home is worth and then see how much of that space is unused due to clutter. Simply take the current value of your home (make a rough estimate; you’re not trying to come up with the exact selling figure for real estate purposes so just obtain the general ballpark figure), and determine how much each square foot is worth.

Value of your home ÷ Square footage of your home = Value of each square foot

____________ ÷ _______________ = ____________

So, if you live in a $250,000 home and it’s 2,500 square feet, then each square foot is worth $100.

The value of each square foot of my home is: ­­­­­­­­­­____________

Now let’s calculate how much of your home’s space is occupied by things you don’t use. Walk around your home and make a rough calculation of how many square feet are unusable because of the clutter. Don’t forget the basement, closets, and garage!

The number of square feet in my home that are occupied by things I don’t use: ­­­­­­­­­­­­­______________

Now let’s find out how much that wasted square footage is worth:

Value of square footage x Square feet occupied by things you don’t use = Value of unusable space

____________ x _______________ = ____________

Are you surprised at the value of the space you’re giving up to things you don’t use? Is it a big waste of space? A colossal waste of money for space that is lost to you and your family? Every month when you pay your mortgage company, a decent chunk of that money is paying for storage in your own home.

Now let’s do this once more but this time go through and write down what everything in each room is worth. Mark which items have been totally paid for. And then write down how much you still owe on the other items. For example, let’s say you have a big-screen TV that you bought for $2,000 when it first came out because you had to have it for the Super Bowl three years ago. Did you put it on your credit card? Have you paid the card off or are you carrying a balance every month? Think about it: if you are carrying a balance, some part of the balance you pay every month is that TV you bought three years ago. If that TV breaks, you are still paying it off even if you replace it. And then you’ll be paying for both the broken TV and its replace­ment! Really look around your house and figure out exactly what you own and what you still owe money on. Was anything worth the worry and stress of those monthly bills?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Peter Walsh
, author of Lighten Up: Love What You Have, Have What You Need, Be Happier with Less (Copyright © 2011 by Peter Walsh Design, Inc.), is a clutter expert and organizational consultant who characterizes himself as part contractor and part therapist. He is a regular guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show and hosts Enough Already! with Peter Walsh on The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). Peter holds a master’s degree with a specialty in educational psychology. He divides his time between Los Angeles and Melbourne, Australia.

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9 Secrets to Organizing Your Accessories

Find the perfect pin, pocketbook and pearl ring in a snap. Judie Taggart and Jackie Walker, authors of I Don’t Have a Thing to Wear, share nine tips on how to organize and store all of your accessories.

Accessories should be in plain view. If you don’t see them, you forget what you own. Put shoes in clear plastic boxes on a shelf or stacked on the floor, arrange them on racks, in rows, or stowed in their original boxes with descriptive labels or a Polaroid picture glued on the end.

Arrange handbags vertically on your closet shelf, in view and in your consciousness. Buy cabinet storage organizers that you can stack on a shelf as a way to double space. Consider adding another shelf in your closet above the existing one.

Hang belts on circle rings or retractable horizontal belt racks with hooks. Similar racks may be utilized for long necklaces. It keeps them from getting tangled in your jewelry box. Just remember not to put belt and jewelry racks next to each other.

During your closet overhaul, make choices about where and how you want to store specific items. We advise placing tees, swimsuits, and exercise clothes in drawers. Sort items according to drawer size. One client with a nine-drawer lingerie chest sorts by athletic socks, trouser socks and panty hose, slips, bras, panties, tees, exercise bras, shorts and swimsuits, sweat suits, and knit pants. Sleepwear goes into the drawers in her bedside table.

Get your scarf collection out of a drawer. Maggie, a talented do-it-yourselfer, ties scarves around a vertical spring curtain rod placed at one end of her closet, from ceiling to floor. Evelyn, a superefficient manager, keeps favorite scarves looped around the blouses, jackets, or dresses she usually wears them with. Amy, an accessory collector, folds scarves and stacks them with her gloves and sunglasses in one of the hanging, windowed shoe-storage gizmos.

Laura, a pharmaceutical sales manager, fastened a grid on her swing-out closet door with a towel bar beneath it. Scarves go on the bar while necklaces hang from the grid alongside a long, three-inch-wide taffeta ribbon studded with her favorite blazer pins.

Jewelry storage is a challenge. Traditional multilevel jewelry boxes are never large enough and refuse to stay organized. We favor the convenience of larger shallow drawers with depths of two to three inches. Bedroom bureaus today often come with flat, velvet-lined drawers across the top, or you can create your own. A top drawer in a bedside table may work, or you could stack clear plastic trays with dividers. Plastic ice cube trays can double as containers for storing earrings or rings. Dividers protect your jewelry from scratching or damage.

Jewelry seems to have invisible tentacles attached to each woman’s inner psyche. Admit it — you keep the oddest things in your jewelry boxes: foreign coins, unstrung pearls, odd stones, single earrings, garish bangle bracelets, wrong-size rings, watches with dead batteries, and hopelessly out-of-date earrings. Like your closet, this assortment is a microcosm of your life. On another day after you’ve cleaned out your closet, attack your jewelry collection. Once again, establish a nostalgia box (gifts from old boyfriends or inherited cameos, etc.), consignment items, broken pieces and dead watches, and a box of valuable items you don’t wear often. The latter you take to a safety deposit box.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Judie Taggart is a fashion professional who has written for Women’s Wear Daily, W, Cosmopolitan, and other national publications. Jackie Walker appears as the “Dr. of Closetology” on Fox TV’s Good Day Tampa Bay. Judie and Jackie have been in the fashion business for more than twenty years, and they lecture together nationally. They are the authors of I Don’t Have a Thing to Wear: The Psychology of Your Closet (Copyright © 2003 by Judie Taggart and Jackie Walker).

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End Closet Clutter and Get Organized in 3 Steps

Tangled hangers, over-crowded racks, dark corners, and jumbles of shoes, purses and ties? Put an end to the chaos hiding behind closed closet doors and get organized. Linda Cobb, author of The Queen of Clean Conquers Clutter, shows you what to keep, what to toss, and how to find a place for everything in your wardrobe in three steps.

Unpack: To do the job right, you have to take everything out of the closet. If you have some rolling racks, put them to use now. If not, you can utilize the shower rod (provided it’s attached firmly to the wall), the bed, and floor. Group the clothes by whom they belong to and into categories — blouses in one pile, skirts in another, slacks in still another. You get the idea.

  • Remove everything from shelves and floor, sorting as you go. Make piles of keepers, “not sure,” and “get rid of.” In the keeper piles, try to group types of clothes together, it will save you time later.
  • Clothes that need laundering or dry cleaning should go in a dirty-clothes hamper or dry-cleaning basket.
  • Take the time to wash down closet walls thoroughly and vacuum the carpet or wash the floor (that way your favorite silk blouse won’t get tangled in a cobweb!).

Evaluate: Sort clothes, putting “toss” or “donate” items into appropriate containers, such as boxes or trash bags. It’s a good idea to use black trash bags so that you or the family can’t see your “treasures” departing. Place the clothes you are keeping on the bed or a rolling portable rack.

As you are evaluating each item, consider:

  • Does it fit?
  • Be tough. If you haven’t worn it in a year, you probably won’t ever wear it again. If you haven’t been a size 6 since high school, move on and eliminate the size 6s.
  • Do I need to alter this? How much will the alterations cost?
  • How about repairs — can the item be repaired and still be wearable?
  • Will shoe polish really take care of that huge scuff mark on the toe of my shoe?
  • Give yourself permission to have a pile of “not sure” things. These are things you just can’t quite make up your mind about. If, after further consideration, you are still not sure, box them up, label the box with its contents, and date it. In six months if you haven’t revisited any of the items, donate the contents or dispose of it.
  • Really consider each item. Where will you wear it? When? If you can’t come up with a good answer, say good-bye!

Eliminate

  • Get rid of extra wire hangers. Give them back to your dry cleaner if he will take them; otherwise donate them to a nursing home or toss them.
  • Anything mismatched will not likely be missed — throw out mismatched items.
  • Look through your “not sure” pile one last time and make any additional judgment calls — be strong!

By now you should have boxes and bags for donating, garage sale, and trash. Remove these from the room, so that you have space to work . . . and no matter now tempting it is, don’t look in these containers again. If they are full, tape them up and label them with where they go and get the trash bags into the trash . . . quickly! It’s like pulling off a Band-Aid®, it hurts less if you just “do it”!

If things cannot be fixed, altered, or repaired and be really wearable, then they should be tossed. If the items are salvageable, then keep them, but take care of the problem before putting the item back in the closet.

Neaten Up

  • Determine hanger type — wire, clip, or plastic. Be consistent. A jumble of wire, plastic, and wood hangers will become tangled and be harder to separate and use — plus it just plain looks better!
  • Start re-hanging clothes, grouping by color and type.
  • If using a double-hung system, hang trousers and skirts on the lower rack.
  • Group blouses and shirts by color, and hang them over appropriate pants or skirts (this is called instant dressing!)
  • Hang long clothes in areas where they won’t tangle with things on the bottom of the closet floor.
  • Hang or fold and store sweaters. Sweaters actually do better when folded because they don’t stretch. If you prefer to hang sweaters, be sure to use padded hangers to avoid those shoulder dimples. And button them to keep their shape.
  • Arrange men’s ties on a tie rack or hang over a hanger. (Take a tip from a salesman friend of mine who has a vast collection of ties: after he wears one, he slips it off his neck without untying, and drapes it over a hanger in the closet. His wife has assembled a half dozen “tie hangers” by color in the closet this way.)
  • Replace purses on shelves in your storage area, grouping matching purses and shoes together.
  • Use a clear plastic shoe box to capture miscellaneous items such as hair-bands, scarves, and belts, and place on the shelf.
  • Cover seldom-worn clothes with a cloth cover, or group them together and cover with fabric, such as an old sheet or tablecloth, to keep them clean.
  • Be sure you have enough light in the closet. Consider a battery-operated light, or one that “taps” on and off as needed. This helps you to avoid leaving the house in one navy and one black shoe!

A Sentimental Journey
Now you’re probably staring at a group of what I call the “sentimental keepers.” These are things you don’t wear or use, but can’t bear to part with — so don’t. Make sure they are clean (stains can oxidize over time), and pack them in a box labeled something like “sentimental favorites.” Store them away, under the bed, on a top shelf, or in the attic (as long as the temperature there remains fairly consistent). You still have the items, but they’re not taking up valuable space in your closet. Who knows, one day when you’re baby-sitting the grandkids and run out of ideas, you may grab it for a “dress up” box. Most kids love to play this game.

No More Closet Confusion
Let’s talk about storage options in your closet.

  • First, consider adding extra shelving. This will give you lots of extra space for those things that you don’t use often, but still need to have on hand, like handbags and totes, evening shoes, sweaters, and bathing suits.
  • If you store things that tend to tip over or fall off the shelf, such as purses or stacks of sweatshirts, put them in a see-through type container such as a plastic milk crate. You want to easily see from the floor what you are looking for. If you used a closed container, have it labeled in bold print.
  • I keep a set of “grab-its” in my closet. These are super-long tongs-like things on a long wooden handle that you can use to reach high above your head. Look for these in home and health stores, and catalogs. They are meant for people who lack mobility, but they’re a wonderful tool to keep handy, not only in your closet, but in the kitchen, garage, and even the living room.
  • Look your closet over and determine how many long items you have, such as dresses and long skirts, trousers that are hung from the cuff, bathrobes, and long coats. This will help you determine how much of your closet space to allocate to their storage. If you don’t wear a lot of long things, then you will only need a small area to store them.
  • If you have a lot of blouses, shirts, trousers folded over padded hangers, and other shorter things, consider adding a bar to the closet to instantly double your storage space. You don’t have to run it the entire length of your closet; you can break the closet up into “long” and “short” zones. By adding double racks, you can store your slacks on the bottom and coordinating blouses on the top rack. Double racks should be installed at about 82 and 42 inches high to make the most of your closet space.
  • Separate your clothing by color and you can grab an outfit at a glance when it’s time to get dressed. This method also lets you know what items are in the laundry too. By adding an extra rack, you may have enough space in your closet to store sweaters hanging on padded hangers to keep them wrinkle free (although I still say sweaters are better folded — no stretching).
  • No need to hang T-shirts; roll them in drawers to conserve space and deter wrinkles.
  • Hooks on the back of the closet door are fine for robes and pajamas.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Previously the owner of a cleaning and disaster-restoration business in Michigan, dealing with the aftermath of fires and floods, Linda Cobb, author of The Queen of Clean Conquers Clutter (Copyright © 2002 by Linda Cobb), started sharing her cleaning tips in a local newspaper column. After moving to Phoenix she became a weekly guest on Good Morning Arizona — then the product endorsements and requests for appearances started rolling in. A featured guest on radio and television shows across the country, Linda Cobb lives in Phoenix with her husband.

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How to Become an Unclutterer

Scribbling “Be more organized” on a list of New Year’s resolutions doesn’t take much effort, but actually becoming an unclutterer requires change. Erin Rooney Doland, author of Unclutter Your Life in One Week, can help.

Unclutterer (un-’kl e-t er- er) n. Someone who chooses to get rid of the distractions that get in the way of a remarkable life.

Distractions, also known as clutter, come in many forms — physical, time management, mental, and bad systems. When your surroundings, schedule, and thoughts are chaotic, it’s hard to move through the day. If you’re constantly late to work because you’re having trouble getting out the door in the morning, then you may have a problem with organization. If your house is in such disarray that you can’t have friends over for dinner, then your problem is likely with physical clutter. If you are overwhelmed with e-mail at work and laundry at home, then you may be using bad processes. If you are repeatedly missing client deadlines, then you may need some time management help. The list of distractions is endless, and only you know specifically how clutter is interfering with your life. By getting rid of clutter and organizing your work and home life, you will free up time, space, and energy so that you can focus on what really matters to you.

As Albert Einstein explained, “Things should be made as simple as possible, but not any simpler.”

An unclutterer lives as simply as he or she can without making life difficult. For instance, I love books and devote an entire wall of my living room to them, but I don’t have more books than I can store on those shelves. You might enjoy television, but instead of being tied to the networks’ schedules, you record programs on your DVR and watch them when it is convenient for you. Simple living isn’t about depriving; it’s about enriching. You’re getting rid of what doesn’t belong to make room for what does.

The official unclutterer motto has been passed down from generation to generation by parents, teachers, and large purple dinosaurs: A place for everything, and everything in its place. Nothing in your home or office should be without a designated living space. Every pair of slacks should have a hanger and space in your closet to hang without getting wrinkled. Every pen in your office should have room in a cup or a container to rest easily when not in use. Think of it this way: If Oprah were to surprise you and say your home or office was going to be featured on her show, you shouldn’t have to run around tossing things into a box to get your space to look the way you want. When everything has a proper place, you never have to wonder where something is or think twice about where to put it when you’re done using it. This way of living might sound like a big change for you — it certainly was for me — but you’re totally capable of making it.

Why Change?
I can’t force you to become an unclutterer or go through the process for you, but I can give you the tools and information you’ll need to make it happen. You’re in control here, and you’re the one who is going to have to put in the elbow grease if you really want to make a change. The benefits of an organized life are so incredible, though, that all of the sweat you invest will be worth it.

If you think making changes in your life is difficult, you’re right. Considering an actual life-and-death situation, only one in ten Americans who has had heart bypass surgery changes his lifestyle to prevent future heart attacks. Most patients don’t adopt healthier lifestyles because they receive very limited information and minimal support about how to make positive changes. When patients are provided with resources and the opportunity to learn about the benefits of making significant changes to their lives, the statistic improves from 10 percent to 77 percent. Almost eight out of ten people will make significant changes to the way they live if given the proper motivation and information for success.

So why am I talking about the grim realities of bypass surgery patients in a book on organizing? Good question. I mentioned these statistics because change of any kind — the life-and-death kind and the not-so-doom-threatening kind — is difficult. Scribbling “Be more organized” on a list of New Year’s resolutions doesn’t take much effort, but actually becoming an unclutterer requires change.

Unclutter Your Life in One Week will be your support system and resource manual as you go through the process of uncluttering and organizing your life. Since I’m taking care of giving you the tools, you’re going to have to supply the second ingredient of success: motivation. You need to determine why you want to make a change. What is it that will drive you to keep working even when you’re struggling?

Close your eyes for a minute, take deep breaths, and let your mind fill with all the things that make you happy. I know it sounds silly, but do it anyway. Relax and focus on the good things in life.

What came into your mind? Did you see the faces of your friends and family? What were you doing? Where were you? Why did these things bring you happiness?

Now make a list of those things that came into your mind. Group items on your list that belong in the same overarching category. Family, friends, hobbies, personal time, good health, career, vacationing, and spirituality are common groups of items, but your list will be unique to your life. Also, no one but you is going to pay attention to this list, so be honest with yourself — don’t list what you think you should list, identify what really makes you happy. This list is your motivation. These items are the reasons you want to become an unclutterer. This list is a reminder to you of what matters most in your life.

Take your list and put it somewhere easily accessible. Fold it up and put it in your wallet or tape it to the dashboard of your car. There will be times when you’re ready to give up on the process and looking at this list will quickly remind you why you’re making a change. This is the life you want.

One of the things on my list is travel. I want to drink wine in Bordeaux, ski the Alps in Switzerland, and photograph elephants in Thailand. To make these trips, I have to save my money and be able to clear my calendar on short notice. Budgeting my finances and juggling my work responsibilities require scheduling, time management, and planning. The more organized and uncluttered my life is, the easier it is for me to be able to travel. Experiencing the world firsthand is a powerful motivator, and so is time with my husband, family, and friends, and being able to accomplish the other items on my list. Do a bit of soul searching and figure out what and who matter most to you. What is it you wish you could do more often or with improved quality?

Work-Life Symbiosis
When people talk about what matters most and what they hope to achieve through the uncluttering process, I often hear responses that include the phrase “work-life balance.” People need to work, but they want to balance that need for income with a rich personal life.

“Work-life balance” is just a buzz phrase in the business world. As far as I can tell, it exists for the sole purpose of making people feel bad. We hear the phrase “work-life balance” and like Pavlov’s dog we’re triggered into thinking, “Ugh, if only I had work-life balance! I would be happy if I had work-life balance! It sounds so dreamy!”

Um, it’s not dreamy — it’s bullshit.

Seriously, do you want your work life to sit in perfect balance with your personal life? Do you want to be at work the exact same amount of time as your free time? (And, don’t forget, you spend a good portion of that free time sleeping.) Since there are 168 hours in a week, you would need to work 84 hours to keep things in “balance.” To keep things equal, you wouldn’t have time to enjoy the money you would be making.

Put aside the numbers for a minute and think only about the quality of your work. My guess is that you draw from experiences in your personal life to help solve problems in your work life. You remember something you encountered when you weren’t at your office or from your past and it helps to spur an idea that advances your work. You can’t flip a switch and immediately stop being Personal You when you’re in the office fulfilling the role of Employee You. You’re one person, not two, and you can’t be balanced.

Stop feeling inadequate about not having “work-life balance” and accept the fact that it is unachievable and undesirable. Instead, aim for something you can attain and enjoy: work-life symbiosis.

Work-life symbiosis is what you achieve when all aspects of your life exist together harmoniously. It’s as crucial to your achieving a remarkable life as simplifying, organizing, managing your time, uncluttering, maintaining your ideal level of productivity, and exploring your personal interests. In fact, the work-life symbiosis concept is the basis of how this book is organized. Explore a week of your life and see how you can smoothly transition from personal life to work life and back again. Arrive at work on time. Go hear your friend’s band play on a weeknight. Fall asleep without a stream of to-do items for work the next day racing through your mind.

As you continue to create your list of what matters most and your vision of your remarkable life, keep this big-picture perspective of work-life symbiosis in mind. Avoid the buzz phrase, and decide what is most important — truly important — to you.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Erin Rooney Doland, author of Unclutter Your Life in One Week: A 7-Day Plan to Organize Your Home, Your Office, and Your Life! (Copyright © 2009 by Erin Doland), is an organization consultant and the Editor-in-Chief of Unclutterer.com, a popular website that has been featured in The Washington Post, The New York Times, Slate, House Beautiful, Lifehacker.com, and on the BBC and HGTV. She is a twice-weekly columnist for Real Simple online, and has written for Ready Made, Women’s Day, and CNN.com, among others. She lives in the Washington, D.C., area with her husband.

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6 Ways to Be More Organized Today

Organizing and time management don’t come naturally to many people, but they can be learned. Julie Morgenstern, author of SHED Your Stuff, Change Your Life, offers tips on getting yourself organized and managing your time for your own benefit.

When you’re physically organized and good at managing your schedule, you make the most of your time, space, energy, and money. And of course, being organized makes almost anything possible, because all of your resources can be invested in the pursuit of your dreams.

Some people believe organization is about neatness or rigidity or a “one-size-fits-all” solution, but if your system is designed properly, the opposite is true. Organizing isn’t about neatness; it’s about function. And organizational systems can be as unique to an individual as his own fingerprint. The key is to custom-design your system around your natural habits and the way you think so that it brings out your best self, rather than restricting you. A good system will help you optimize your resources, interests, and passions and be easy to maintain. Being organized (in your physical space) is as simple as being able to find what you need, when you need it, and to feel comfortable in your space.

Good time management involves the ability to plan systematically and anticipate your needs. It requires you to know yourself exceedingly well: your energy cycles, natural energy sources, the length of time you can focus on any particular task, and what you are good at. It also involves the ability to adjust your schedule, break down overwhelming projects into manageable parts, and delegate effectively.

How Can I Improve My Organization?

Organizing and time management don’t come naturally to many people, but they can be learned. When you are ready to apply these tips to your own space and schedule, the key is to think function — not neatness:

  1. Custom-design your system. Don’t copy anyone else’s system — not your boss’s, your spouse’s, or your best friend’s. You don’t think like they do, so why would you want a replica of their system? Think about your own goals, habits, and style, and design your system accordingly.
  2. Think kindergarten. A kindergarten classroom is the perfect model for organizing any space or schedule. There are clearly defined zones for each activity — a spot for reading, a place for napping, and an arts and crafts corner. For more information on adapting my activity zone model to your space and your schedule, read my first book, Organizing from the Inside Out.
  3. Organize the basics first. Your handbag, briefcase, and/or wallet are the most frequently accessed reflections of your ability to organize, so get those together first. At home, jump-start your sense of control by tackling your entryway, the bathroom, and your underwear and sock drawers. These are the most frequented areas in most homes, and organizing them will take the least amount of time. Starting with those key areas will give you a new daily sense of freedom and control. The rewards you reap will likely inspire you to tackle a bigger organizing project later.
  4. Study yourself. Highly organized people know themselves exceedingly well. Become a nonjudgmental student of yourself and determine your optimal conditions for peak performance. Track your energy cycles, noting the times of day when you have the most/least energy, when your energy starts to fade and what activity (a phone call, chat with a friend, catnap, reading the newspaper, exercising, drinking a glass of water) acts as a natural energy extender. Use a stop watch to time yourself doing routine tasks (at home and work) so you know how long they take. To study more about your personal relationship to time, read Time Management from the Inside Out.
  5. Learn your concentration threshold. What is the ideal amount of time you can focus on reading, writing, paperwork, leisure, cleaning, exercising, or a meeting? Is it four hours or forty-five minutes? Once you know how long you are able to focus on a particular activity, you can set yourself up for success. Plan tasks that won’t be either too much or too little for the time you have available. For more tips on how to boost your productivity and mental energy, read Never Check E-Mail in the Morning.
  6. Hire a pro or find a friend. Organizing can be difficult, because you get caught up in questioning your own needs (or changing them all together), so you never even get to setting up your system. You’ll have an easier time getting organized if you get an outside perspective. A friend or professional will take your needs at face value and help build a system around them. For referrals to a professional organizer near you, contact www.napo.net.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Julie Morgenstern is the New York Times bestselling author of SHED Your Stuff, Change Your Life (Copyright © 2008 by Julie Morgenstern), Organizing from the Inside Out, Time Management from the Inside Out, and Never Check E-Mail in the Morning. She lives in New York City. Visit her at www.juliemorgenstern.com and join the free SHED community.

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