Sunday, December 31, 2006

Medicine Cabinets (and related spaces)

ABC News tells us How to Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet - and suggests doing this as a first step in getting organized in the new year. The article actually stresses that the medicine cabinet may not be the best place to keep your medicines. The article also wisely stresses the importance of storing all medicines safely, especially (but not exclusively) to protect any children.

One thing it does not mention is how to dispose of those expired medicines. Please do not flush them down the toilet! Alternatives include returning them to the pharmacy for disposal, taking them to a household hazardous waste collection program, or disposing of them (taking specific precautions) in the garbage. If the medicine is not yet expired but is simply no longer needed, you may be able to donate it to a worthy cause.

For more information, see the information published by the
- Ingham Regional Medical Center in Michigan
- Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (PDF)
- New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services

Calendars from Pomegranate

Inuit Art calendar

The San Francisco Chronicle had a good story today about Pomegranate Communications, the Petaluma, California company that publishes some of the nicest calendars around.

The Cost of Disorganization

Office Depot conducted a poll of 2,500 people (representative of the U.S. household population, 18+ on age, gender, geographic division, income and household size, household designation and market size) during November 2006.

The participants reported significant costs from being disorganized:
- 61% said the biggest frustration with their disorganized environment is that they can’t find what they need quickly.
- 51% are concerned about missing important deadlines or appointments.
- 34% reported losing 15 minutes or more per day due to disorganization.
- 27% said they find it hard to concentrate with messy files around.
- 15% said they can't find receipts when they go to do their taxes.

Wreak Order

Getting back to those goodies I found in Real Simple. . .

An article on 16 Quick Ways to Take Control of Your Life included Wreak Order as #12. Here's my favorite part, with thanks to author Jane O'Reilly.

"Moment of Truth No. 1: Those people who save everything, such as the clock shaped like a purple elephant that once adorned my son's nursery wall (he is now 38; the clock broke when he was 10), will be doomed to spending years of their later life, when time is precious, throwing things out. Or, worse, they will be dooming their children to throwing things out.

Moment of Truth No. 2: If the above advice is ignored, mementos turn into life-dulling sludge."

Friday, December 29, 2006

Storage for Kids

wall pockets with dinosaurs

Urchin, in the U.K., has some fun-looking products for children's room storage. And some of them look like they could have uses beyond the children's room.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Clutter Gone Wild

Randy Frost has a good article on hoarding in the Winter 2006-2007 edition of Smith Alumnae Quarterly. If you are already familiar with his work, you won't see anything new - but it's a good introduction for those without that familiarity.

Dr. Frost speaks of hoarding as a set of behaviors, including:
- Excessive acquisition/compulsive buying
- Saving of large quantities of things that most people wouldn’t save
- Difficulty organizing possessions
- Difficulty making decisions

Thanks to Deborah Gussoff and the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization for pointing me to this.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Kitchen Organization Tips from Julia Child

In an article in Real Simple, Julia Child recommends hanging your pots on a corkboard. She also offers this advice: "Don't buy sets of pots and pans, because you won't use all of them. Buy each pot and pan for a specific reason."

Under Cabinet Cookbook Holder

under cabinet cookbook holder

Real Simple directed me to this under cabinet tool - a new one to my list, which includes:

- Under cabinet bread box. Update on Dec. 30, 2009: This doesn't seem to be available any more.
- Under cabinet cutting board. Update on Dec. 30, 2009: I'm not finding this one any more, either.
- Under cabinet knife block
- Under cabinet spice rack (plastic)
- Under cabinet spice rack (stainless steel)

Update on Dec. 30, 2009: I'm not seeing either of the pull-down spice racks any more, but I am seeing the Magic Spicer, a magnetic under-counter spice rack.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Remembering Birthdays, and Appreciating fred flare

Nancy Drew address book

Real Simple had an interesting article on remembering birthdays, which got me to fred flare and the birthday book (for tracking birthdays, naturally).

But then I also found the 8 days a week planner, and the Nancy Drew address book.

Update on July 18, 2010: I no longer see the birthday book on the Fred Flare site.

The Spoon Sisters

very small shredder

Real Simple pointed me to the ID Pilot Wire Identification Labels at The Spoon Sisters - but then I also found some pretty wonderful file folders.

There's also a cute little shredder - but it's probably more cute than practical. (For one thing, it's strip cut rather than confetti cut.) Update on June 11, 2010: I no longer see this shredder on the Spoon Sisters web site.

Real Simple Treasure Trove! Funny Alarm Clocks!

frog alarm clock

Someone in my local Freecycle community was giving away a number of Real Simple magazines, and I was lucky enough to get them. Almost every one had at least something interesting in the organizing arena. So this is the first in a series of postings based on my Real Simple readings - tips and products they specifically mentioned, and other things I found more indirectly as I explored their recommendations.

Clocks are a basic time management tool, but they don't have to be boring. Look, here's a whole collection of animal sound alarm clocks!

Friday, December 22, 2006

The E-Myth Revisited

book cover, The E-Myth Revisited

I've been hearing more and more about this book. While it's mostly meant for small business owners, here's a quote that deals with broader time management issues.

Magnatag Visible Systems

Magnatag huge wall calendar

David Seah has a paean to Magnatag and its products: an amazing array of whiteboard planners, organizers, and scheduling tools. Unfortunately, the Magnatag web site is only viewable by those in the USA and Canada.

Thanks to Patricia Burroughs and Deb of the Analog GTD Yahoo! group for pointing me to David Seah.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Saying No to Disorder

Shame on the New York Times for its article Saying Yes to Mess. It's too bad they don't seem to have consulted with any professional organizers, who could have cleared up the many fallacies included in this article.

The major problem is failing to distinguish between mess and disorder. No organizer I know would have any problem with a kitchen getting messy as a meal was cooked. But a disorganized kitchen would be one where implements/ingredients/recipes couldn't be found, where often-used tools were stored in hard-to-reach places, etc. Disorder keeps you from being able to do those creative, messy things you want to do!

The article also asks, "Why is it better to pack more activities into one day?" Well, again, that's not what being organized is about. Often as we organize our time better, we learn to focus on the most important things and say no to the rest - and leave more white space in our calendars. Being organized has nothing whatever to do with a brittle, rigid schedule - the article has this exactly backwards!

And then there's this line: "To a professional organizer brandishing colored files and stackable trays, cluttered horizontal surfaces are a horror . . ." Well, I don't think stackable trays are usually the best tool, colored folders are only important for people who CARE about color, and cluttered horizontal surfaces are a problem if they interfere with your ability to work as well as you want to.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


BusyBodyBook planner

This planner, designed for families, provides a weekly grid with five columns - one for each of (up to) five family members. Other people use the columns for various other purposes: different school subjects, different aspects of their lives, meal planning (in three of the columns), etc. Update on Sept. 30, 2014: This planner is no longer available.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Giving the Gift of Time

gift certificates for one hour, one evening, one day, or one weekend of your time

Here are some gift certificates from DSIX Design that you can use when giving the gift of your time - a nice gift that won't become clutter. Found via Oh Joy!

Time Management Advice from Alan Lakein

book cover, How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life

It's amazing to me that How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life was written in 1973; the book doesn't feel dated. I finished reading this last night - and I even followed his instructions and wrote down my lifetime goals, and then used them to help develop my To Do list for today. Highly recommended - I just wish there was another edition in print in the USA, since this is a poor quality paperback.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Coat Racks with a Difference

antler-shaped coat rack - white wall with eight of the hangers, also in white

The Erich Ginder Ghost Antler coat rack is certainly not like anything else I've ever seen.

And the Erich Ginder Ghost Tree coat rack (in white or black) is also quite unusual.

I found the Ghost Tree coat racks on Design Public's 2006 Holiday Gift Guide.

How to Organize a Kitchen

There's a nice solid set of advice on wikiHow. There's nothing really new here - but it summarizes the best advice in a concise and well-written list.

To give you a flavor, here's step 3:
Store frequently-used objects in easy-to-reach locations. Notice what you use most often. Figure out where you will use them most. Infrequently used items, like the roasting pan that you only haul out during the holidays, can go on high shelves or in the back of cabinets. They can even be stored outside the kitchen in the garage, attic, basement, guest room closet, or a box under a bed.

Make sure every item in your kitchen has earned its right to take up your valuable space! Remember: if you use it infrequently enough, it should go out altogether. Just because it is large or expensive, does not mean you must keep it. If you made pasta twice ten years ago, please pitch the pasta machine.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Tossing the Tchotzkes

From the Ideal Bite blog:

I just did something so satisfying the other day. I got rid of all my tchotzkes.

Bon voyage, Eiffel Tower miniature! Auf wiedersehen, novelty Oktoberfest stein!

It's bad enough living in a city where most apartments are small enough to make Thumbelina claustrophobic. Accumulation of stuff that I don't need just makes it worse.

Conquering Clutter

There's a very good article in the January/February 2007 AARP Magazine.

Conquering Clutter, by David Dudley
We love stuff. We hate stuff. How did we get so much? And how can we ever dig out?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Right Organizing Tools

The following comes from Robert Lynch on the Yahoo! Group TheNowHabit, quoted by permission. Robert is talking about tools for time management - planning and organizing our work, specifically using the GTD (Getting Things Done) approach - but his words could apply to all the tools we use to get organized.


When we have the right tools and supplies, the things we want to do are easier and more enjoyable.

One of David Allen's small points is that the tools we use to maintain our GTD systems should be enjoyable. I collect fountain pens, so my system is mostly paper-based -- otherwise I can't use my pens!

Whatever methods we use to plan and organize our work in order to get things done, we should try to make those methods easy and enjoyable. Do you like playing with spreadsheets? Do your planning in Excel. Do you like playing with Post-It notes? Plan with them. Do you like seeing everything at once on a whiteboard? Plan on a whiteboard.

There is no single implementation that is going to work for everyone, because we are all different. Find out what can make a system interesting for you, and run with it.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Time Management in a Multitasking World

Penelope Trunk has a thoughtful list of 10 tips, including:

1. Don’t leave email sitting in your in box.
2. Admit multitasking is bad.
8. Make it easy to get started.
10. Dare to be slow.

Read the whole thing; it's a good use of your time!

Monday, December 11, 2006

More Gifts that Won't Become Clutter

Jeff Hutcheson, a fire marshal in Iowa lists his gift suggestions, including:

- A smoke alarm for anyone who doesn't have one
- A fire extinguisher, ditto
- A flashlight and batteries
- Sturdy candle holders
- A sturdy fireplace screen
- Gift certificates for clean-up services to remove clutter
- Warm nightwear or bedding to reduce the need for space heaters
- Large house numbers to make it easier for emergency responders to locate a home

So consider these an addition to my original list of gifts that won't become clutter.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

3 Steps to Clutter-Free Living

bamboo baskets

Natural Home just ran this nice article - nothing particularly new, but a good summary of the basics. The steps they list are ones any organizer would recognize:

1. Lighten up.
2. Sort it out.
3. Keep it up.

Another real plus about the article was the list of resources at the end. Some I knew about, but some were new to me. My three new favorites:

1. The Jigsaw stack-and-roll file cubes and bookcases from re:modern
2. The incredible baskets from Lantern Moon
3. The Basket Locker from Uncommon Goods (hard to describe - just take a look)

Tackling All That Paper

From a Yahoo! group I subscribe to, Bernadette shares her secrets to success. I think it's so powerful to hear this in her own voice. (Published with permission.) Note: Bernadette is using the Getting Things Done methodology, where collecting the paperwork is the first step.


And, I thought about why I'm doing this now, and couldn't get through it before. Here's what I've learned:

. I had to make it fun. Who wants to do things which are a chore or a bore? So, I turned on the radio to a classic oldies station (I am a classic oldie myself) and just said I'm going to collect until I'm tired. Then, I'll stop . . . see where I am and decide if I want to collect again.

. I finally bought everything I needed. I bought file folders, label maker, etc. It certainly is more fun to do this when I have the right tools at hand.

. Finally, I stopped thinking about the past and stopped thinking about the future. Yes, I should have done this years ago (why do I have work papers going back to 1997 for clients who have been acquired?), but backwards thinking is just a monumental waste of time. As a corollary, I could be thinking about the next step . . . but that, too, is just diverting my energies from what I want to do now.

I have thus far pitched 6 recyclable bags of old paperwork!

Friday, December 8, 2006

A Simple Shredder

scissors shredder

The Hasami hand shredder, found though Inhabitat. Update on Jun 11, 2010: The original site that carried these shredder scissors no longer has them - but many sites now have shredder scissors that look similar.)

Slingshot Organizer

Slingshot 2007 mini organizer

Update on Oct. 28, 2010: Although this post features 2007 organizers, there are 2011 versions available now; the links have been updated to point to the new organizers.

This definitely isn't for everyone - but if you have a San Francisco/Berkeley/60s type of sensibility, you might really like it.

There's the mini and the larger spiral-bound.

Thanks to the San Francisco Bay Guardian for the pointer.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Hurry Sickness vs. Slow Life

About three weeks ago I heard a speaker expound on the Slow Food/Slow Cities/Slow Life movement. Now I'm reading a book called Time Management For Unmanageable People that talks about Hurry Sickness.

Here's one of the nicest articles I've found about the slow movement(s). Update on Nov. 23, 2009: The article I was pointing to is no longer on the web site.

Paper or Electronic Planner?

Trying to make that decision? Val Sgro of SGRO Consulting has a self-assessment questionnaire (PDF) that can help.

I'm looking forward to reading her book, Organize Your Family's Schedule . . . In No Time, where this is one of many topics covered.

I came out pretty evenly balanced between paper and electronic - and sure enough, I use a combination of both (electronic planner, with current months printed out to carry with me).

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Child's Room - Storage

child's room with many types of storage

Here's a nice example of a kid's room that uses many different types of storage. Found at

Bookshelves from Reclaimed Lumber

bookshelf from reclaimed lumber

RG Furniture Design makes furniture from select antique lumber reclaimed from historic buildings under demolition in New York City - how cool is that? Take a look at their bookshelves.

Found through dwell DesignSource.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Buying Wisely

New American Dream logo

Organizers see so many unwise purchases, cluttering up our clients' environments. One way to help prevent clutter is to make more conscious buying decisions - to take a fresh look at what comes into our homes and offices.

New American Dream has a wallet buddy (PDF) you can print out and wrap around your credit card, with the following words of wisdom. Some of the questions have to do with whether the object is something worth buying at all; others deal with values you may want to incorporate into your buying decisions.

Quoting the wallet buddy:

Every dollar I spend is a statement about the kind of world I want & the quality of life I value.

Sample questions to ask before buying:
- Is this something I need?
- Do I already own something that could serve the same purpose?
- Can I borrow one, find one used, or make one instead of buying one?
- Was it made locally?
- Was it made with environmentally preferable materials?
- Was it made with fair labor practices?
- Will it serve more than one purpose?
- Is it made well enough to last a useful length of time?
- Will it be easy and cost-effective to maintain?
- Will using it require excessive energy?
- Does it come in excessive packaging?
- Can I recycle or compost it when I'm done with it?
- If I'm still not sure, can I wait a month before deciding to buy it?

Organizing the Paper Clips

magnetic bird for holding paper clips

This magnetic birdie is a nice alternative to the standard functional but boring magnetic paper clip holder.

But my favorite might still be the Dozi magnetic paper clip holder by Alessi, which I wrote about in my October newsletter.

15 End-of-the-Year Tasks to Handle Now provided this list, which includes:

7. Do an early spring cleaning! Purge your office. It’s time to get rid of all that stuff you either don’t need or that doesn’t work anymore.


11. Review your professional magazine subscriptions. Are you really reading all those magazines that get delivered each month? Chances are, you're letting at least some of them just pile up somewhere in the office (to the detriment of your de-cluttering efforts) or you're simply throwing them away soon after they arrive (to the detriment of your local landfill).

Read the full story at MSNBC.

Saturday, December 2, 2006

Decluttering the Spices

red dot with white letters saying Check your spices!

Thanks to fellow organizers Jane Campbell in Maryland and Diane Damico in Indiana, I can point you to this information about identifying outdated herbs and spices.

December 2006 Organizing Tips and More

My December newsletter is now available. The theme is Giving up on Perfectionism.

Product of the Month: nesting baskets made from bamboo

Book of the Month: The Spiritual Art of Being Organized

Donation/Recycling Idea of the Month: Spare change to UNICEF

Friday, December 1, 2006

A Green Wastebasket

wastebasket made from recycled tires

One strategy for staying organized is to have plenty of wastebaskets throughout your home or office. Here's an unusual option: the Thrashcan, made from recycled tires!

Gorgeous Closet Alternative

Berkeley Mills custom closet with shoji

Many closet companies provide very functional systems - but the products from Berkeley Mills are stunning.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Leather Books of All Sorts

Renaissance Art leather books

Thanks to Zack Dubnoff, Corporate Magician, for pointing me to Renaissance Art and their handcrafted leather products. There are photo albums, recipe books, an agenda (day planner), and much more. Update on October 28, 2011: The day planner is no longer available, but all the rest is!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Green Cleaning Services

Dr. Bronner's green cleaning products

After people finish decluttering, they often want to bring in a cleaning service to do the thorough cleaning they haven't been able to do for months or years. And many people are interested in cleaning services with a "green" flavor.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, we're lucky enough to have a number of choices, including:
- The three coops that are part of WAGES - Women's Action to Gain Economic Security - which I learned about through Jon Carroll about a year ago.
- Greenway Maid, which was written up in Springwise.

And today, Springwise tells me there's a green cleaning service in London, called Home Sweet Home.

Apparently, it's quite a trend; there was even a story on green cleaning on ABC News back in January!

The 6 Styles of Procrastination

book cover, It's About Time: The 6 Styles of Procrastination and How to Overcome Them

I sold some books at a local used bookstore last Saturday - and picked up a number of books from the store's "time management" section. The first one I read was a short book called It's About Time: The 6 Styles of Procrastination and How to Overcome Them, by Dr. Linda Sapadin with Jack Maguire.

As Dr. Sapadin points out, everyone procrastinates sometimes. And as a recovering perfectionist, I was especially interested in her chapter about the perfectionist procrastinator - and much of her advice resonated with me.

Just one example: "When you think about performing a certain task, resist the immediate impulse to think of the best possible way that the task could be performed. Instead, think of several possible ways it could be done, and then choose the one that's most realistic . . ."

Moving is Easier Without the Clutter

The Novato Advance had a story earlier this month about how hard it can be to move to a new home when you have a lot of clutter. Here are a couple quotes from the story.

"They finally received a solid bid last week and were pleased when a watertight agreement was reached. But one aspect of the deal left them unsettled: They had less than a month to vacate. The husband is now in a state of panic. A longtime flea market aficionado and packrat, he's spent years amassing 'bargains' of all kinds and has always been loath to let anything go."

"Those who attempt a crash decluttering program often become bogged down. If this is your problem, McNamara suggests you consider hiring a professional organizer to get you on track and keep you there until you reach your goal. She cites one source of referrals: The National Association of Professional Organizers ("

You Need a Home Inventory

Creating a home inventory is no fun - but if you ever have to deal with a major loss, you'll be glad you had one. I did one myself a few years ago; it took a fair amount of time up front, but maintaining it is easy. And now I know how much insurance I need to cover my home contents.

I wrote about this in my September newsletter - but I got prompted to write again because I just recently received this newsletter from someone: Are You Covered? Make Sure By Doing a Home Inventory. (PDF)

I used a simple Excel spreadsheet (and my digital camera) to do my inventory, but the newsletter lists a number of companies that provide software packages specifically for this. Many of them seem to have an extensive set of features for tracking almost anything related to your house and its contents.
- Everything I Own
- Home Manager
- Know Your Stuff
- My Stuff Deluxe

And another software package is:
- The Complete Home Journal

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Desk of the Month

simple home desk arrangement

Thanks to a Chicago Tribune story filed today, I became aware of the Desk of the Month at See Jane Work. Nice pictures to get you dreaming about your ideal desk!

Non-Boring Magazine Files

magazine files with flowers

Blooming Bins magazine holders are a brand-new product.

Magazine files are incredibly useful tools - that can hold a lot more than just magazines. (Why are you keeping all those magazines, anyway?) I use them to hold a bunch of small spiral-bound publications from the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization. They can also be used to hold sheet music, product manuals, etc. Update on Sept. 7, 2011: The National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization is now the Institute for Challenging Disorganization.

While many of them are functional (but boring) cardboard or plastic, there are also some attractive ones:
- SteelWorx magazine files, in silver mesh
- Cubi magazine holders, in leather and wood (dark or natural cherry)

And there are even some Cargo magazine files made from recycled materials, which still look pretty darn nice.

Update on September 26, 2008: Removed bamboo lattice magazine files, no longer available from The Container Store, although the store has many other nice options.

The Floor is not an Option

book cover, The Floor is Not an Option

I'm reading The Floor is not an Option, by Sheila G. McCurdy of Clutter Stop. Right at the start, Sheila poses these questions, which are well worth pondering.

You and I are at your front door. . . . We walk into your living space.
- What do you see? Do you want me to see it?
- What do you hear? Do you want me to hear it?
- What do you smell? Do you want me to smell it?
- How do you feel about the space we've just entered?
- Do you want to be here, or do you want to run away?
- And are these the impressions that you want to give people visiting your home?

I also especially like her section on collectibles and the importance of featuring just a few of them at a time. As she says, "You and others will start appreciating each piece for its beauty instead of their being lost in a sea of similar items. You'll be treating your collection the same way great museums do. They have great storehouses from which they pull only a few items for public viewing which are rotated with others periodically."

Friday, November 24, 2006

Joining Technorati

Technorati tracks 60 million blogs - they may as well track mine! So here is my Technorati Profile.

Big To-Dos are Made of Smaller Pieces

A couple people have written interesting blog entries on productivity, both of which focus on taking big efforts and breaking them down into smaller bite-sized pieces with intermediate goals or deadlines - a very important strategy.

- How to be Ultra Productive - Six Tips
Update on September 6, 2011: The original article seems to have disappeared, but you can see a summary on Lifehack.

- How to Complete Things On Time

Laptop Ergonomics

When I'm working with clients in their offices (including home offices), I can't help but notice how many of them are working in extremely poor conditions, ergonomically. This is especially true for those using laptop computers.

I'm not an ergonomics expert, but everything I've read emphasizes that if you are doing a substantial amount of work on a laptop, you need to compensate for the all-in-one design, which won't ever let you place both the screen and the keyboard/mouse in ergonomically-acceptable positions. A common approach involves getting an external keyboard and mouse, and elevating the laptop.

Some of the best references I've found regarding laptop ergonomics are:
- Cornell University
- Harvard University
- Macworld
- Haworth, Inc. (PDF) - could no longer access this on Sept. 5, 2011

Please make sure your computer set-up won't cause you pain and injury; if you need to make adjustments, do it now!



It's the time of year for buying calendars and/or agendas for 2007. momAgenda has products designed for keeping track of the whole family's activities. The format is "week at a view." Photo from See Jane Work, a site with many nice organizing-related products.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Buy Nothing Day

Buy Nothing Day poster

Happy Thanksgiving! And a reminder that tomorrow, November 24, is Buy Nothing Day. (It's November 25 outside of North America.) Even for those of us who don't choose to "buy nothing," it's a good time be more conscious of our purchasing choices.

You may want to check out my list of 12 Gifts That Won't Become Clutter - some of which don't involve buying anything.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Where to Donate Books for Kids

Jon Carroll reminds those of us in the San Francisco Bay Area about the Children's Book Project - a great place to donate books you no longer need.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Unusual Coat Rack - The Stretto

Stretto coat rack

I was just looking through my latest catalog from Topdeq and noticed this Stretto coat rack. I've added it to my (bookmarked) collection of interesting entryway furniture. I like both the fold-down coat hook, and the smaller hooks, ideal for purses or totes.

You Mean I'm Not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy?!

book cover, You Mean I'm Not Lazy, Stupid, or Crazy?!

I just finished reading this book, subtitled The Classic Self-Help Book for Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder. It's a book by adults with ADD (who are now ADD coaches) for adults with ADD. The book originally came out in 1993; this revised edition just came out this year, and you'd want to be sure to get the updated version.

As an organizer, I especially appreciated the chapter on The Dynamics of ADD in Organizing, but I found the book as a whole quite worthwhile. I loved this line: "ADD is not an excuse, it's an explanation. We have been doing our very best in very challenging circumstances."

Not Your Normal Roladex

desktop address file

This lovely address file comes from lovelydesign, and is handcrafted and made from found paper. Discovered through the Art for the Holidays gift guide, courtesy of Oh Joy!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

PANTREE Cookware Organizer

PANTREE cookware organizer

Just introduced in October, the PANTREE is an interesting-looking tool for storing pots and pans.

Decluttering the Highway

seven people, including Jeri Dansky, cleaning the highway along the coast

I spent a few hours on Saturday cleaning up the highway near home, as part of an Adopt-A-Highway effort sponsored by, which published this photo. (I'm the second from the left.)

Friday, November 17, 2006

Arranging Books by Color

books arranged on bookshelves by color

This works for some people, and it certainly can look lovely. Found on Flickr courtesy of popurls.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Office Depot's Green Book

I'm not usually a fan of big box stores, much preferring to support smaller local businesses. But it's still nice to see Office Depot's 123-page Green Book, showcasing all the "green option" products they carry. From an organizing standpoint, there are file folders, cardboard file storage boxes, Post-it notes, 3-ring binders and more, all made from recycled materials.

And the catalog itself is printed on 100% post consumer recycled content paper that is bleached PCF (process chlorine free).

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Cute Address Book (and more)

address book by Sukie

For those of you using paper address books, here's a nice one from Sukie. It's from the U.K., but you can order on-line and they ship around the world. Update on Sept. 5, 2011: There's now a newer Sukie address book, published by Chronicle Books.

They also have some nice journals, made from rescued paper, hand collected and assembled in India.

Courtesy of the wonderful Oh Joy! blog.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Moving Boxes - greener and cheaper

For all of us who cringe at using brand-new boxes for our moves. . .

I just got a call from Warren at Bay Area Box Express - which reminded me how great is is to have someone selling manufacturers' overstock, misprinted, and barely-used boxes - and at discount prices. And they deliver!

Since Bay Area Box Express only serves the San Francisco Bay Area, another company worth knowing about is

Updated here, February 2008.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Managing bills - a service for frequent travelers

Another organizer just made me aware of the bill payment/management service provided by Paytrust. While you can already set up many bills for electronic payment, this service will provide electronic management of all bills, whether or not the person/vendor offers electronic payment options, and even if it's someone (like a neighbor) who doesn't send a bill. Amy speaks very highly of this service.

Updated May 30, 2008 to remove the organizer's name, at her request, since she has moved on to another business.

ADD Planner

A member of the GTD (Getting Things Done) Yahoo Group just brought the ADD Planner to my attention - a software planner designed specifically for people with ADD. It looks interesting; if he buys it, hopefully we'll hear if it indeed works well for him. Update on Sept. 5, 2011: The site for this product seems to have disappeared.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Recycling Christmas Cards

Just this afternoon I heard someone mention that you can send used Christmas card fronts to St. Jude's Ranch for Children. That used to be true — but they've been buried in cards, and they are no longer accepting them.

Update on Sept. 5, 2011: St. Jude's is now accepting the cards again, with some restrictions — and more than just holiday cards. See the St. Jude's site for all the current information.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Scrapbooking, the Easier Way

I'd always thought of Creative Memories as the company for people who want to do fancy scrapbooking, with all the elaborations. And while Creative Memories certainly sells products for those folks, I found out today that the company also has products to make creating a scrapbook a whole lot easier.

These products include the PicFolio Albums and the Power Sort Box.

Thursday, November 2, 2006

12 Gifts That Won't Become Clutter

I've just published my November 2006 newsletter - and in plenty of time for Christmas, it includes as list of gifts that won't become clutter.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Organizing the Garage - In Style

Here's another high-end garage organizing product line, from Vault - courtesy of the wonderful Springwise.

October 2006 Reading

I'm always reading more books related to organizing; here are my notes from October.

1. No More Clutter, by Sue Kay

This book comes from the U.K. - after reading so many books by American organizers, it was fun to read a British author. It's a solid introduction to organizing concepts. I like her clutter quiz, designed to see how cluttered you are. Time how long it takes you to find these items:

- Your passport
- The spare front door key
- Your doctor's phone number
- Your last bank statement
- An envelope and stamp

Did it take more than five minutes? How stressful was it?

2. How to Simplify Your Life, by Tiki Kustenmacher, with Lothar J. Seiwert

This one was brought to my attention by a friend in Germany, who told me how popular it was over there, and mentioned that it had been translated into English. Again, I thought it would be fun to have a perspective from another country.

Of course, simplification is a big topic, and not all of it relates directly to organizing. There are chapters of simplifying your things, your finances, your time, your health, your relationships, etc.

One of the many good observations in this book: It takes about four hours to read a half-inch thick magazine from cover to cover. Consider this when deciding if it really makes sense to save all those magazines you plan to read someday!

3. Shadow Syndromes: The Mild Forms of Major Mental Disorders That Sabotage Us, by John J. Ratey and Catherine Johnson

This one is related to organizing in that many people with organizing challenges are also dealing with ADD, depression, etc. This book talks about those who don't get diagnosed with a disorder because they don't have all the symptoms; unfortunately, such people may not get the treatment they need. I was very impressed!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Are you ready for a disaster?

At the NAPO-SFBA (National Association of Professional Organizers - San Francisco Bay Area) conference yesterday, speaker JoAnn Scordino (an expert in the field of emergency preparedness) reminded us all how important it is to be prepared. Be prepared for more than 72 hours, she said - be prepared for at least a week.

And there was a neat product on display: the new Grab-N-Go Box, designed to make it easy to grab your most important papers if you have to leave your home because of a fire or other emergency.

Update on Jan. 20, 2011: The Grab-N-Go Box I mentioned is no longer being sold, but you might want to consider the PortaVault from Securita.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Hoarding Conference in San Francisco

Yesterday, I went to the Hoarding and Cluttering Conference put on by the Mental Health Association of San Francisco - lots of wonderful information. Dr. Randy Frost was the keynote speaker, and I'm looking forward to reading his books, which will be coming out soon. In the meantime, you can read about his research at the Obsessive Compulsive Foundation web site.