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Date: Wednesday, 16 Apr 2014 14:15

2013

  • Avoiding magazine clutter
    How do you keep from being overwhelmed by magazines coming into your home? Jeri offers tips for keeping magazines from becoming clutter.

2011

  • Staying organized during an office move
    With an office move, your entire office needs to be put away instantly or you could suffer negative repercussions, like losing productivity, clients, income, or even your job.

2010

2009

  • The deep drawer problem
    The deep drawer is a depository for just about every tool in the kitchen. It contains everything from a whisk to a rolling pin.
Author: "PJ Doland" Tags: "A Year Ago"
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Date: Tuesday, 15 Apr 2014 14:30

I’ve been changing a lot of passwords this week because of the major computer security problem known as Heartbleed. While going through this exercise was no fun, there were some good things that happened as a result, too.

Managing passwords

Most importantly, I’m managing passwords better. As I change them, I enter them into 1Password. It’s one of the many password management tools around — and the one Dave recommended a while ago.

Before, I had a few critical passwords in 1Password as an estate organization tool; I could give my executor (and the person with my financial power of attorney) the passwords to my computer and to 1Password, and he had everything he needed to manage my digital life. I also had a file (innocuously named without “password” in the title) with a list of hints and reminders in it to help me remember the passwords I had chosen. As it happened, though, I didn’t always remember the passwords based on the reminders I had created for myself.

As of now, I’m not using all of 1Password’s functionality. I don’t yet use it to login, and I don’t sync it across devices. But even with my limited use, it’s been a big help.

Evaluating accounts

As I went through my list of websites where I had logins and passwords, I found some that I just don’t need any more. For example, I had a login to IFTTT — which is a very useful tool for some people, but not anything I’ve found I need. So instead of changing the password and adding it to 1Password, I just closed the account.

Points of confusion

I found some notes in my password hints file that were confusing, including my notes about Etsy. It winds up I had created two accounts, which I used interchangeably. Since each one has some purchase history, I’m leaving both in place — but now I have two entries in 1Password so I won’t get confused again.

Notes about complicated passwords

I changed my email passwords, and I thought I had updated my computer and my cell phone appropriately — until I found out that I could receive email on my phone, but not send it. I figured out what I had missed, and now I have a note in 1Password reminding me to make this additional update whenever I change passwords again.

Remembering master passwords

Since my password for 1Password is a long, complicated collection of letters and numbers, I do have it written down and tucked away somewhere — a place no one is going to find it. However, I’ve been going into 1Password enough lately that I don’t even need to pull out my reminder any longer.

What about you? Have you taken steps to better password management lately? If so, please share in the comments!

Author: "Jeri Dansky" Tags: "Computer Data, Tips"
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Date: Monday, 14 Apr 2014 14:30

No one likes to think about dying, but disorganization and lack of planning while you’re alive can lead to family disputes and large tax payments after you’ve passed away. The following are a few tips to help you get organized in case of an emergency.

List what you own

Create a home inventory listing everything you own. Most lawyers suggest you include everything with a value greater than $100. However, if there are sentimental items valued less than $100, list those as well. Non-physical items should also be inventoried. This would include digital music and movie collections and computer software applications.

Include other assets in the inventory such as savings accounts, life insurance policies, investments, and pension plans at various past places of employment.

List what you owe

List all of your debts including car loans, mortgage, and outstanding balances on credit cards. Create a list of any institutions or organizations you pay on a regular basis, for example your monthly payment to your gym or annual donations to a favourite charity. Include on this list any places that may have your credit card information on file such as your iTunes or Netflix accounts.

Simplify and unclutter

Once you’ve completed your inventory, you may decide that it is better to liquidate some of your assets while you’re still alive and well. You will be able to see the joy in people’s faces as you pass along some of your treasured items that you are no longer interested in keeping. If you have a certain collection, (e.g. Star Wars collectibles) ask your family members who would most appreciate receiving it on your death. You don’t want to burden your family members with something they would consider clutter. If you can’t find anyone, consider leaving instructions for selling it.

Get professional financial and legal advice

Each jurisdiction has its own laws, rules and regulations regarding estate planning, so it is extremely important to get professional advice. Lawyers and estate and financial planners can tell you which accounts should be made joint and which ones “transfer-on-death.” They can also provide advice on which accounts beneficiaries need to be listed. These professionals will provide information on what your executor would be expected to do when you pass away and what options are available for beneficiaries.

Choose an executor (estate administrator)

An executor is someone who administers your estate after you’ve passed. This person (or people) is responsible for locating and probating your will, making your funeral arrangements, paying taxes owed by your estate, and distributing your assets to beneficiaries. This can be a daunting task for many people so it is important to choose your executor carefully. Discuss your estate with potential executors. You may decide to choose co-executors, such asa family member and a lawyer.

Ideally, the executor should have enough free time to complete all of the tasks. (It can take up to three years to completely settle an estate). The executor should be organized and be able to keep complete and accurate records of all transactions pertaining to the estate. If you have assets outside of the country, your executor may have to obtain a passport and visas to deal with those assets. If you spend much of your time online (banking and investing), consider choosing an executor who is tech-savvy.

Getting it all organized

All necessary documents should be accessible by your executor when you pass away. I am the executor to my aunt’s estate and she has a folder in her filing cabinet labeled, “What to do when I’m dead (or almost).” I know that I should look in this folder should anything happen to my aunt. This folder contains important information such as:

  • The key for the safety deposit box where the legal documents are stored (Will, Power of Attorney, deeds, passport, birth certificate, etc.)
  • Names and contact information of lawyers, financial advisors, banks.
  • Home inventory list
  • List of people to notify of death (friends and neighbours)
  • Funeral arrangement details and contact information for funeral home

A file folder is a good option if the management of the estate is fairly straightforward, but if your estate is larger and more complicated there are a couple of organizational alternatives.

Portavault is a binder that holds hundreds of pages of documents in easily identifiable categories. It comes with a water-resistant case and lockable zipper that makes it secure and easy to transport in case of emergency. It comes with a list of handy tips and tricks to help you organize your documents.

For those who prefer a non-paper-based solution, The Doc Safe allows you to keep copies of your documents online. The advantage of a cloud-based system is that it is accessible from anywhere there is an Internet connection. If your executor is computer-savvy, this might be the best option to choose. However, you need to ensure your executor can access the system and is comfortable with it while your still alive.

Regardless of which system you choose, an organized estate may be the best legacy you can leave your beneficiaries.

Author: "Jacki Hollywood Brown" Tags: "Home Organization, The Big Picture, Tips"
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Date: Sunday, 13 Apr 2014 14:15

2013

2012

  • Unitasker Wednesday: Pour some iced coffee on me
    There are special trays to make frozen coffee cubes and special coffeemakers to make only iced coffee. Seriously. These things exists. I’m not making them up. They’re real.
  • Using timers to improve productivity
    Timers help you to stay focused and complete tasks — specifically the not-so-fun ones and the ones that have to get done — in reasonable amounts of time.

2011

2010

Author: "PJ Doland" Tags: "A Year Ago"
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Date: Thursday, 10 Apr 2014 14:30

I’m not one of those people who obsessively organized her books, clothes, or toys as a child — but I do thank my family, and one of my first bosses, for teaching me some valuable lessons as a child and a young adult. The following are important life lessons they taught me, years before I became a professional organizer:

Perfectionism often doesn’t pay

I have distinct perfectionist tendencies, but over the years I’ve learned that they don’t always serve me well. The story that really highlights this happened when I was in middle school.

I had a homework assignment that involved listing the rivers found in a number of the 50 states. I sat at my desk with a big atlas, and wrote down every single river in those states. There are a lot of rivers, and this was a very time-consuming task.

My parents insisted that the teacher really just wanted the biggest rivers and that I was going overboard — which, in retrospect, I certainly was. But there was no convincing me, and I missed an annual family outing to the local cider mill — something I looked forward to every year — so I could complete the assignment to my ridiculous level of detail. I gave up delicious cider and fresh-cooked doughnuts, and no one cared about my very complete list of rivers except me.

I didn’t learn my lesson back in grade school, but the story has since become my touchstone when I find myself veering back into unnecessary perfectionism. “Are you doing the river thing again?” I’ll ask myself.

Keep up on maintenance

My family lived in Michigan, and I had a beloved aunt, uncle, and three cousins who lived in Florida. Much to my delight as a grade-school kid — and much to my mother’s horror — these relatives would sometimes take road trips, which included coming to visit us with almost zero notice.

I remember getting a phone call from my aunt telling me that all five of them were at a certain intersection, and asking how to get to our house from there. She was about a five-minute drive away.

As I grew older, I understood why my mother went into a tizzy when she got such calls. And the lesson I took away was to always be ready for unexpected (but very welcome) company.

While I’m far from being a neat freak, I do want to keep my life and my home organized enough — no perfectionism here — that I would always be delighted to get a call like the one from my aunt. It requires doing maintenance tasks (like putting things back in their homes) on a regular basis.

Focus on one thing at a time

I remember a day in one of my first jobs when I was feeling totally overwhelmed. My boss came by and coached me through it. “What’s the first thing you need to do?” he asked. Then he had me ignore everything else, and only work on getting that one thing done. Then I moved on to the next thing and the next, until it all got done.

The same strategy can apply to other situations, like an overwhelming backlog of papers to sort. You pick up just one piece of paper and decide what to do with it. And then the next and the next — and after a while, the paperwork is complete.

Author: "Jeri Dansky" Tags: "The Big Picture, Tips"
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Date: Wednesday, 09 Apr 2014 20:43

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

Try your best not to think too intently about if this week’s unitasker selection is truly a unitasker. If you do, you’ll realize it’s in the same realm as the stuffed animals in your child’s room, and the utility of those items is either very high or very low based on an exact moment in time. But, these are funny and don’t hold much purpose beyond keeping us all entertained through this post.

Introducing Canned Unicorn Meat:

Canned Unicorn Meat

and Canned Dragon Meat:

Canned Dragon Meat

You dislodge the bottom of the container to discover a disarticulated stuffed animal inside:

Stuffed Unicorn Carcass

“Magic in every bite!” Heh.

And, speaking of unicorns, this inflatable unicorn horn for your cat is sure to upset your cat for days to come. (The look on the cat’s face in the image at the destination of that link says it all.)

Author: "Erin Doland" Tags: "Unitasker Wednesday"
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Date: Wednesday, 09 Apr 2014 14:15

2013

2011

  • Teaching toddlers about organizing
    Young children are eager to be independent, and helping your child learn skills that foster this independence as well as acquire valuable organizing concepts are a great place to start the teaching process.

2010

2009

Author: "PJ Doland" Tags: "A Year Ago"
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Date: Tuesday, 08 Apr 2014 14:30

Like a phoenix from the ashes, the lowly CD and its storage case are again ready for work.

While I was working on last week’s scouting leadership post, my wife asked if I wanted to see how she keeps her girls’ patches organized. As you may know, scouts can earn patches and badges to show that they’ve mastered a skill, participated in an event or otherwise done something deserving formal recognition. Keeping track of who has earned what can be daunting, especially when you’ve got a large group.

When I saw the wall of CD sleeves above, one per girl, I knew I had to share it with the Unclutterer readers.

What you see here is a series of soft plastic CD sleeves, like for a small CD binder, attached to a big piece of foam core board. Each girl’s name has been written in permanent black magic marker at the bottom of “her” sleeve, and there are even two extra sleeves for holding supplies. It’s effective, portable, and very inexpensive. I can see this working in classrooms, garages, kids’ bedrooms, and more.

Inspired, I took to the Internet to see how other people are using this nearly extinct technology. The following items are the best of what I discovered.

  1. Recipe card holder. I wish I had thought of this years ago. Typically, I tape a new recipe to the oven hood or stick it to refrigerator door and then have to worry about removing adhesive residue later. An old hard CD case makes perfect sense as a way to protect recipes from spills without any need for tape or Goo Gone.
  2. Cable storage. In this example, spindle cases that once held CD-Rs are repurposed for cables. I’ve got so many cables in my basement work area, and many are in bins I can’t see into. This solution puts the contents front-and-center. Love it.
  3. Mosaic photo collage. To use a plastic CD case as a photo frame is kind of a no-brainer, but this mosaic takes the idea and runs with it. Instructables has the detailed how-to for building an impressive wall display out of something you’d otherwise purge.
  4. Mini dry erase board. This idea is fantastic because it’s so simple — all you do is cut a piece of white paper and insert it into the plastic case. Boom, you’re done. A dry erase marker will wipe clean from the plastic. I’d use this as a last-chance prompt for that one thing I’ve got to remember to do. It could also work in classrooms where kids are writing down answers and then holding them up for their teachers to see.
  5. Closet divider. OK, this hack uses a CD, not the case, but it’s still a fun recycling idea. After carefully measuring the circumference of the rod in the closet, adjust the CD’s central hole as necessary and then apply a label. Slide the result onto the rod and you’re all set to organize your closet like in a department store.

I’m sure there are more that I’ve missed, but these are five good ones that I’d actually use. Do you use old CD cases for storage? If you feel like sharing, let us know about your recycling solutions in the comments.

Author: "David Caolo" Tags: "Decluttering, Home Organization, Tips"
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Date: Monday, 07 Apr 2014 14:30

Have you ever been in a situation where you felt that you couldn’t organize your bedroom until the laundry room is organized, but you couldn’t organize the laundry room until the bedroom is organized? This is a deadlock or stalemate situation — one in which several actions are waiting for the other to finish, and thus none of them ever is completed.

There are two basic ways to break a stalemate, one is by diplomacy and the other is by imposing military might.

Diplomatic method

The diplomatic method creates the least amount of disruption, however it does take a lot more time to complete the organizing process. It involves working a little at a time in each space, alternating back and forth. In the above example between the laundry room and the bedroom, you may choose to spend 15 minutes in each space each day organizing. You may repeatedly need to transfer clothing between rooms. You may decide to do a few loads of laundry every day. Additionally you would cart away clothing that is no longer suited to your lifestyle. Slowly, over the course of time, both rooms would become organized.

Military might method

The military might method may cause intense disruption for a short period of time, but the end result can be achieved more quickly than with the diplomatic method. The military might strategy involves clearing a full day in your calendar to complete the entire task and clearing everything from the space all at once. In the laundry room and bedroom example, you would gather up all of the clothing from both the bedroom and the laundry room and dump it in the living room where there is enough space to do a sort and purge. Once that is completed in the living room, your clothing would be returned to its appropriate storage area and the living room would be clear.

You may have to employ a combination of strategies, using both diplomacy and military might. There are no rules in love (of a tidy home) and war (on disorganization). The important thing is to get started and choose the method that works best for you and your situation.

Author: "Jacki Hollywood Brown" Tags: "Closets, Decluttering, Home Organization..."
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Date: Sunday, 06 Apr 2014 14:15

2013

  • Unitasker Wednesday: Egg Dispenser
    One of the wonderful features about the container that comes with each purchase of a dozen eggs is that this container protects the eggs in your refrigerator. It’s like a force field keeping your eggs safe. Those eggs don’t need any extra protection — they already have it!

2012

  • Unitasker Wednesday: Coffee Filter Separator Tool
    Want to know what is not a problem in search of a solution? Separating paper coffee filters. Want to know why it’s not a problem? Because a reusable coffee filter costs less than $1.50 and you have no need to use paper coffee filters or separate them from each other.

2011

2009

Author: "PJ Doland" Tags: "A Year Ago"
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Date: Thursday, 03 Apr 2014 14:30

For more than three years now, my wife and I have both been scout troop leaders (Girl Scouts for her, Cub Scouts for me). The organizations offer a lot of fun for the kids and, let’s be honest, a lot of work for those of us adults who have stepped up to the plate to be leaders. It’s not without its rewards, though, and getting to spend time with our kids and their friends in a learning and creative situation is worth all the unpaid hours.

Depending on how many kids you’ve got in your club, den, troop, or group, you could feel like you’ve taken on a second job. (Especially when cases of cookies pack your house every winter.) One thing is for certain, the job won’t be fun for you if you’re stressing about running the group and keeping things organized. The following are a few techniques my wife and I have put together for staying sane while being a leader of our kids’ groups.

Who has earned what?

Not all clubs and groups are about earning awards, badges, or patches, but a lot of them are and it’s what many people think of when they consider scouting. And the kids do love earning them. Cub Scouts are actually required to move through several ranks before they become Boy Scouts, and to do so they must earn certain achievements. Of course, one boy will miss a meeting because of illness, another is out of town, and so on. To keep track of all their achievements, I use the following method for tracking who has earned what.

I bought several adhesive CD sleeves from Amazon, as well as a large piece of foam board. Then I labeled each sleeve with a boy’s name and stuck the lot to the board. When a boy earns an achievement, I place the name of it as well as the date into the CD sleeve. Now I have an at-a-glance record of who has done what and who hasn’t.

Run your meetings smoothly

When the kids first arrive for a meeting, they’re usually a little hopped up. At the same time, this is when their parents want to ask questions, hand in permission slips, etc. Unsupervised, riled-up, eight-year-old boys? That’s a bad idea. Instead of letting chaos rule, have a “gathering activity” ready. Each week I have something set up for the boys to do upon arrival, from a simple board game to a pile of Boy’s Life magazines to a diagram of a structure to create with LEGO bricks. If you can tie the gathering activity into the meeting’s main activity, even better. The important thing is to give them something fun, engaging, and cooperative to do while they (and the parents) settle in.

Another idea is to create a job board. I’ve printed each boy’s name on a strip of paper and glued it to a clothes pin. These pins get clipped onto a board with labels like: “Attendance,” “Flag Bearer,” “Den Flag Bearer,” “Assistant,” and “Closing Flag Ceremony.” (These are all regular parts of a Cub Scout meeting.) This lets the boys know what their jobs will be for each meeting. Quick tip: give your more antsy members the “Assistant” job, as you can call on them to help out with all sorts of things as his or her energy levels rise and fall.

Foster independence and leadership

My den only has six boys, but my wife’s Girl Scout troop has 14 girls. The entire troop is broken up into several informal units, each with a rotating peer leader, as selected by the girls. The units brainstorm ideas and report their findings, ideas, strategies, and so on to the troop as a whole via their selected leader. These peer leaders make managing a larger group easier on you and teach important skills to the kids.

Tap into the community

In the business world, we call this delegation. In organizations of volunteers, we call this accessing resources. And, since all the kids in your group have parents, these people are wonderful resources for you to rely on from time-to-time. Ask other about their professions and hobbies and see if they’d be willing to share some of what they know with the kids as the focus for a meeting. Same goes for adults in your child’s life — pediatrician, dentist, school teacher, local firefighter, your friends with cool jobs. And all those boxes of Girl Scout cookies don’t have to be sorted only by you — ask other parents and even club members to pitch in for the big jobs.

Don’t be nervous to reach out to the community, either. Community service is a big part of scouting and many clubs and organizations, and to get the kids involved in projects they’ll enjoy you have to make yourself and your group known. Call up local shelters, non-profits, parks departments, and nature organizations to see if there’s an opportunity for the kids to get involved in hands-on charity work. Chances are, there are many ways the kids can help.

Finally, don’t be afraid to look for help online. I’m starting to see more project ideas appear on Pinterest. And, I love, love, love Scouter Mom.com. The site has certainly given me creative ideas for several den meeting projects. What other resources do you use to things organized and operating smoothly for your child’s club or scouting troop?

Author: "David Caolo" Tags: "Children, Hobbies, cub scouts, girl scou..."
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Date: Wednesday, 02 Apr 2014 14:30

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

Who among us doesn’t love a good play on words? I mean, word games are fun — especially when they go from being a cute spoken joke to being molded plastic you can buy to take up space in your kitchen! Thanks, Taco Truck, for going the distance:

Real thanks go to reader Miranda for sharing this unitasker with us.

Author: "Erin Doland" Tags: "Unitasker Wednesday"
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Date: Wednesday, 02 Apr 2014 14:15

2013

  • Uncluttered car safety tips
    Before you get behind the wheel of your car, follow these four tips to ensure that you will arrive at your destination safely.

2012

  • New storage products for the home
    New storage products that help organize items in the home — Rubbermaid Bento Boxes and Store Clever Trays, DrawerDecor custom drawer organizing system, and Pliio for clothes filing.

2011

2010

2009

Let Unclutterer help you get your home or office organized. Subscribe to our helpful product shipments from Quarterly today.

Author: "PJ Doland" Tags: "A Year Ago"
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Date: Tuesday, 01 Apr 2014 14:30

World Backup Day was yesterday, and the day’s motto is: “Don’t be an April Fool. Be prepared. Back up your files on March 31.”

This is good advice, but, of course, you should back up your files all year round, not just on March 31. Hard drives fail. Computers (and smartphones and tablets) get stolen. Phones get dropped into water and become unusable.

If I lost everything on my computer, I’d be awfully unhappy about that. My computer has precious photos, lots of contact information, my calendar, a monstrous collection of website bookmarks, lots of documents I’ve scanned and shredded, etc. But I’m not worried about losing these valuable items, because I’m protected.

The following is what I do for backup, just to give you some ideas about how you might want to backup your digital life.

Incidental backups

My contacts and calendar are synched to my smartphone and tablet, so I have a backup of sorts there. I have some photos on Flickr, but these are just a select few I’ve chosen to share publicly. I also have some files in Dropbox, so I can access them from everywhere. While these are all fine duplications, I also wanted some true backup solutions.

Backups to hard drives

I have a MacBook, and I use SuperDuper to create a bootable hard drive with all my files. This is a Mac-only solution, and for Mac users I think it’s terrific. I’ve restored my entire computer from a SuperDuper backup, when Apple needed to replace a bad hard drive, and everything went just fine. There are plenty of other backup programs for both the Mac and the PC, but I don’t know if they provide quite the same functionality. If you’re a PC user, please leave a comment about your favorite SuperDuper equivalent.

I use LaCie rugged hard discs (with a Firewire connection) for my backups, and I’ve been happy with them, but there are certainly many other choices. I like the LaCie products because I often carry a hard drive in my purse, and so I appreciate the external protection built into these hard drives. It’s also one of the drives tested for compatibility with SuperDuper. I rotate through three different drives, so if one of these fails, I’m still protected.

Why carry one in my purse? It’s a form of off-site backup, and it’s easier to put one in my purse than to take one over to my safe deposit box. If my house were robbed, or if there were a fire, I wouldn’t want to lose both my computer and my back-up. (Yes, I know this may be a bit over the top.)

Backup to the cloud

I also wanted automated, all-the-time backups — and I believe in what organizer Margaret Lukens calls the “belt and suspenders” approach of having multiple types of backups, so you know you’re covered.

My choice for cloud backups is CrashPlan, but, again, there are many such services to choose from. I picked CrashPlan because people I knew used it and successfully restored files when they needed to, and they were very happy with the service.

CrashPlan and other cloud backups are great in that they run continually, and they provide off-site storage. But, if I needed to restore a computer drive quickly, my cloud backup wouldn’t be nearly as useful as my SuperDuper backup.

What about you? If you’re not doing backups, I highly recommend you start — you don’t want to be an April Fool and lose your valuable data. If you are backing up your data, I’d be interested in hearing your backup strategy in the comments.

Let Unclutterer help you get your home or office organized. Subscribe to our helpful product shipments from Quarterly today.

Author: "Jeri Dansky" Tags: "Computer Data, Technology, Tips"
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Date: Monday, 31 Mar 2014 14:30

Collections aren’t inherently bad. The first book collectors helped create libraries and the first collectors of antiquities helped establish museums. Collections help us identify with the world around us and introduce us to like-minded people. However, labelling a group of similar items a “collection” does not automatically make it one. The following are guidelines to help you identify a collection:

Intention. A collection is intentional. There are certain items that meet the criteria for being a part of the collection and others that don’t. For example, when you collect “vintage pig salt and pepper shakers” you wouldn’t have brand new salt and pepper shakers or vintage cow salt and pepper shakers in your collection.

Time. You are able to spend time managing the collection without sacrificing the time you spend on your job or with your family. You take the time to ensure the items are clean, in good condition, and properly stored. You enjoy spending time with other collectors discussing the collectibles, trading, or buying and selling pieces.

Money. Your collection does not put your financial security at risk. You know the value of the items, know how much new pieces cost, and where to find the best deals for new acquisitions. You may also have prepared a budget for your collection and have ranked new pieces in order of priority of purchase.

Space. Your collection does not take up so much space that it impairs the normal functioning of your home. Because your collection reflects your life, you’ve taken the time to arrange the pieces to complement the beauty of your home. There may be many pieces to your collection but each one is has a special place.

Investment. The investment in your collection should be the joy that it brings you. You might be able to sell a few pieces for a profit but you’re not counting on it for your retirement savings plan. The last time I checked there were over 2700 Star Wars figurines for sale on ebay and 95 per cent of them were selling at less than $100 each.

Future Provisions. You’ve made some decisions on what should happen to the collection when you are unable to care for it. If you’re giving it to someone, that person has agreed to take care of the collection and enjoy it as much as you have. If no one wants to take the collection, you’ve made appropriate plans to sell it.

Overall, the collection should be a joy to own. Seeing it should reduce stress and bring peace-of-mind. The collection should bring a feeling of peace and contentment and reflect part of who you are. If your collection is taking up too much time, money, or space and/or if it isn’t bringing joy to your life, it may have crossed into the clutter category and it may be time to let it go.

Let Unclutterer help you get your home or office organized. Subscribe to our helpful product shipments from Quarterly today.

Author: "Jacki Hollywood Brown" Tags: "Hobbies, Home Organization, The Big Pict..."
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Date: Sunday, 30 Mar 2014 14:15

2013

2012

  • New paper sorting and filing products
    Introduced at the 24th National Association of Profesional Organizers’ annual conference, are new paper sorting and filing products to help you keep your paper mess under control.

2010

Let Unclutterer help you get your home or office organized. Subscribe to our helpful product shipments from Quarterly today.

Author: "PJ Doland" Tags: "A Year Ago"
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Date: Friday, 28 Mar 2014 14:43

Over the past couple weeks you may have noticed some exciting changes to the Unclutterer site. Our tech team has been working diligently to bring you a new and improved experience, and we’re all very happy with the transformations.

The biggest change is how the site looks on mobile devices now. Or, rather, I should say the site now looks awesome on mobile devices. If you have a smartphone or tablet, be sure to check out our fancy new appearance. BlackBerry users are going to notice the greatest improvement — no more scrolling through categories to get to the content! Everyone else is going to love the single column of content instead of all three columns appearing. I love, Love, LOVE these changes.

The desktop version of our website also got a minor facelift. The search function is significantly easier to find and sharing articles is much more convenient. We’ve also increased the width of the content column so we can provide larger images.

On the technical side, we’ve upgraded the server. Most everyone should notice a slight improvement in access speed as a result.

If you discover any bugs, please contact us so we can try our best to fix it. We want everyone who comes to our site to have a wonderful experience. If you like the changes, please feel welcome to share your thoughts in the comments — our tech team did a fantastic job and we would love for them to hear it from you, too. Thank you, PJ and Dancing Mammoth, for the work you’ve done to make us better.

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Author: "Erin Doland" Tags: "Uncategorized"
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Date: Thursday, 27 Mar 2014 14:30

I always find the days before a trip to be hectic, but with a checklist I can take a quick glance at it and make sure I didn’t forget anything I meant to do. It’s great to have a checklist detailing what you want to pack, but a checklist of things to do in the days before a trip is helpful to keep you organized.

The following are some items from my pre-travel checklist. It is based on being a single person with pets but no children, and a neighbor who will bring in the mail when she comes over to feed the cats. I’ve excluded any trip planning — making hotel reservations, deciding what I want to do while there, etc. — because those actions were completed during the travel-planning stage.

Home preparation:

  • Update cat/home care instructions as necessary.
  • Make sure there’s enough cat food and kitty litter.
  • Decide if there are any bills to be paid before leaving (and then pay them). Alternatively, schedule payments electronically to go out at appropriate dates during my trip.
  • Check thermostat levels and adjust as needed.
  • Clean out perishables from refrigerator; use them up or give them away.
  • Take out the trash.

Packing preparation:

  • Makes sure I know the luggage rules for my airline.
  • Get prescription refills as needed.
  • Make sure all the over-the-counter medicines I want to take have not expired; replace if need be.
  • Buy any gifts I want for people I’m visiting.
  • Check the weather forecast for my destination.

Electronic devices preparation:

  • Charge up any electronics I’m taking with me.
  • Load any documents I might want to Dropbox.
  • Get all contact information for my destination into my cell phone.
  • Download any apps I want that are specific to the place I’m visiting.

Additional travel preparation:

  • Arrange transportation to the airport, if needed.
  • Get maintenance done on the car, if needed.
  • Get a haircut, if needed.
  • Remove unnecessary things from my wallet.
  • Remove unnecessary keys from my key ring.
  • Mail off my absentee ballot, if traveling at election time.

Just-in-case preparation:

  • Make sure relevant people have my travel itinerary and know how to reach me.
  • If I’m traveling internationally, make sure those people also have a copy of my passport.
  • Make sure I have a hard drive with a recent full backup in my safe deposit box.

Preparation regarding responsibilities to others:

  • Make sure any roles I serve in organizations will be covered while I’m gone.

Early preparation, for international travel:

  • Make sure I’m OK on passport and visas, if needed.
  • Understand immunization requirements, and get any that I need.
  • Understand any other health issues, and prepare accordingly. (For example, are there any concerns about the drinking water?)
  • Learn a few key phrases in the language of the place I’m visiting, if it’s not English.

Additional preparation for international travel:

  • Call credit card companies and tell them charges will be coming in.
  • Decide if I need to use my cell phone — and if so, figure out how to do that most economically.

Why create such a checklist, especially when it’s all pretty much common sense? Because I’ve had a few close calls when I’ve forgotten to do things that would have seriously disrupted my plans. One time, I didn’t realize my passport was about to expire, right before an international trip. Fortunately, the friend I was traveling with noticed it in time for me to get a renewal. And, I once got a last-minute immunization at the San Francisco International Airport, right before boarding a flight.

There have been less serious incidents, too. Many years ago, I found myself in New Orleans during an unusual cold snap, without warm-enough clothes. I’ve also found myself running around at the last minute getting a new bottle of Advil and a tube of Neosporin.

I got tired of having this type of thing happen, so now I have a checklist. What is on your pre-travel checklist? Share your must-do items in the comments.

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Author: "Jeri Dansky" Tags: "Uncategorized"
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Date: Wednesday, 26 Mar 2014 15:21

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

Each business and organization has its own culture — a mix of personalities and traditions and guidelines, which give the work environment a distinct feel. Since not all of the Unclutterer team works out of our main office, our culture is more collegial than authoritarian and we mostly communicate online. And, when I used the word collegial just then, I meant we spend a lot of time talking about kids and board games and furry friends and laundry and cool stuff we find online.

One of my favorite things about the Unclutterer team is that we all seem to have an eye for spotting unitaskers. “I have no idea what this is” is a common subject line on emails I receive. I get a few each week and I’m always giddy to open up the messages. For instance, this week’s selection was in one of these email exchanges, the Flower Pot Bristle Brush:

While people in other jobs are emailing coworkers about memos and reports, here at Unclutterer we’re discussing the difficult topics like Flower Pot Bristle Brushes. Our interactions cover vital topics as:

It’s a special brush to specifically fit inside a 5″-diameter flower pot. And, the fact that it fits inside just one size flower pot is a red flag, but in theory you could use it on larger flower pots instead of buying other brushes for your larger pots. So, it’s not the size that makes it a unitasker, though certainly something to consider.

Next, it was decided a brush to only clean flower pots isn’t what pushes it into the unitasker category, either. Although, you could easily use any other general purpose bristle brush for the same task and other tasks. You could also use a rag. General purpose bristle brushes and rags are multi-tasking wonders in comparison to a brush made just for cleaning flower pots.

Finally, what convinced us that this brush exists in the realm of unitasker-dom is the fact that its entire purpose — cleaning flower pots — is not something most people do. Flower pots, at their very core, should be dirty since they hold dirt. You buy flower pots and put dirt and plants in them and then throw out the pots when they break. If a plant that was in a flower pot dies, you remove the dead plant, add some more dirt, and put in a healthy new plant. Maybe, if the dirt was the wrong kind of dirt (say it was good for ornamental flowers but not for vegetables) you would remove one type of dirt, tap the bottom of the pot to shake out remaining dirt, and then put in a new type of dirt. In this case, you’re just doing a dirt exchange so cleaning isn’t necessary. But, as stated in the previous paragraph, if you do come up with some need to clean a flower pot like you’re worried about fertilizer contamination or something in a terra cotta pot (not an issue with plastic pots), multi-purpose rags or general purpose brushes along with a swirl of vinegar would certainly do the job and you don’t need to own a single-purpose brush for cleaning your flower pots. (But seriously, what weekend gardener cleans flower pots so often as to need such a specific brush?)

Oh how I love the conversations I get to have with the Unclutterer team. I’m so thankful this is as tough as it gets.

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Author: "Erin Doland" Tags: "Unitasker Wednesday"
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Date: Wednesday, 26 Mar 2014 14:15

2013

2010

  • Unitasker Wednesday: Cupmen Instant Noodle Figure
    The Cupmen Instant Noodle Figure rests on the lip of your steeping noodles and tells you when they’re “done.” In three minutes, the plastic, heat-sensitive Cupmen Figure transforms from a little blue guy into a little white guy. When he’s all white, you know your noodles are ready to eat. Yay, unnecessary plastic doodads!
  • Ask Unclutterer: Magazine clutter
    Reader Nia: “I am especially guilty of magazine clutter. Why am I unable to throw away magazines? It’s seriously painful for me to get rid of them. The only plausible explanation I’ve come up with is that the magazine has done such a good job marketing themselves (all of them have, mind you) that it embodies a lifestyle and not just a pack of paper.”

2009

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Author: "PJ Doland" Tags: "A Year Ago"
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