Saturday, March 31, 2007

Time Management Gurus Provide Guidance, not Gospel

Does this sound familiar? Someone you know comes across a good time management book or seminar, and suddenly believes he or she has found the One True Path to good time management - until the next good book or seminar comes around.

As with other aspects of organizing, I'm of the belief that the right time management answer for each person is unique to that individual. There are some general best practices, but a whole lot of room for variation. It makes sense to read widely from some of the best thinkers on the subject, and use their thoughts to craft an approach that works for you - whether that be a single methodology or a mixture.

I recently read the following by Mike in the Do It Tomorrow Yahoo! Group; he captures many of my thoughts on this subject. (Quoted by permission; links added to original text)

"I've gone through several periods of falling in love with Lakein's ABC, Allen's GTD, Gleeson's PEP, Limoncelli's "Time Management for System Administrators", Edwin Bliss, and now Forster's DIT. And Ternouth's paperflow management system (search for that). I kept expecting to find the one true ring buried in one of these books, but funnily enough, I never did.

Now, I use bits and pieces from all of them to fit me and how I work. . . . And you know, I don't care if these books can't get me to 100% machine-like iron-chef efficiency. If they can get me to 60% or 80%, they're doing all right. It's up to me to make up the remainder."

Friday, March 30, 2007

3 New Filing Products from Smead

hanging file folder - traditional with plastic holder and Smead Fastab with tab built in

Smead has been introducing some new filing products - and each time, they kindly send a sample to professional organizers.

The one that arrived in my mailbox today was the FasTab hanging folder. We're all familiar with the normal hanging folders and the plastic tabs used to label them. These new hanging folders have built-in double ply tabs - no plastic tabs needed. (See traditional vs. FasTab picture above.)

I can definitely see the appeal to this product. My major concern is that the folders are only available in 1/3 cut - with left, center, and right tabs. This precludes using straight line filing, where all the tabs are in the same position. Others have expressed some concern that the paper tabs might not hold up as well over time as the plastic tabs do.

Another new product from Smead is the SuperTab file folders - with larger-than-normal tabs to provide more room for writing labels. Again, these are only available in 1/3 cut - and the tabs are only single ply. To me, these address a non-existent problem; I easily solve the issue of too-small tabs by using folders with straight cut tabs, which extend for the entire length of the folder.

And then there are the Smead anti-microbial file folders - which I can no longer find on the Smead web site, although they are available elsewhere. Smead says they are treated with an antimicrobial agent to guard against the growth of bacteria, odors, algae, mold, fungus and mildew. There may be some specialized need for these products - but I can't think of one offhand. My first reaction, perhaps unfair, is that Smead is simply exploiting the incredible fear of germs that has seemed to permeate American culture recently.

Update on November 13, 2007: You can now find the antimicrobial folders by using the advanced search feature.

Update on November 14, 2007: I got an explanation from Smead about the anti-microbial files folders, and they make sense to me now. The main benefit of these products is archival; the antimicrobial protection guards against the growth of mold, mildew, fungus, etc., on the product that could damage archived records. It is especially effective in damp storage areas (basements) or areas with high humidity.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Safe Key-Ping

Safe Key-Ping key holder

Who wants to spend time looking for misplaced keys? Here's one way to keep them handy - use the Safe Key-Ping. Take any key on your key ring and stab it into the bristles. [Update on March 15, 2008: This product doesn't seem to be available any more.]

Other alternatives:
- The immodestly named Marvelous Key Rack
- His and Her Key Holders

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Penguin Donkey Bookcase

Penguin Donkey Bookcase

twentytwentyone in the UK has three versions of the Penguin Donkey: the original version (shown above) designed in 1939 to hold Penguin books, and two revisions designed to allow the donkey to be used as an occasional or side table. You can also see them at the Isokon Plus web site - Isokon being the company that made the original product. Isokon provides information about distributors worldwide.

The Victoria and Albert Museum provides the history of this unusual piece.

(via swissmiss, who in turn found it at Apartment Therapy : the nursery)

Monday, March 26, 2007

Free Promotional Products: Just Say No

promotional tote bag

Key chains. Calendars. Pens. Refrigerator magnets. T-shirts. Tote bags. Freebies seem to be everywhere: at trade shows, home and garden shows, business networking events, the local auto repair shop or insurance agent's office.

But how many key chains, calendars, pens, refrigerator magnets, t-shirts and tote bags do you really need? And while you may not pay anything for the items, they do have a cost; you need to give up space to store them.

"It was free" is not really a good reason to accumulate anything. Sometimes a free promotional item will be truly useful - or something that brings you joy for some other reason. (Maybe it makes you laugh every time you use it.) But in many cases, saying "no, thanks" will serve you best.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

6 Timers to Keep You on Track

Big Timer - large dial, 60 minuters

Timers can be used for so many things:
- to time your workout
- to alert you when the pizza is ready to take out of the oven
- to time a 15-minute clean-up effort (you can do anything for 15 minutes)
- to make sure you take your pills every 3 hours
- to jolt you out of the daze of surfing the web for hours at a time

Ordinary timers are readily available - but if you want something a bit different, consider these.

Baby, Child, Parent and Teacher Focused:

1. Big Timer (shown above) - for when you need a whole classroom (or any roomful of people) to be able to see the timer. Update on Dec. 19, 2011: This product has been discontinued. However, there's another timer that's similar.

Itzbeen baby care timer
2. Itzbeen baby care timer (via Babygadget), with four buttons that count up with the touch of a button - so you can see how long it's been since you last changed the diaper, etc.

timer shaped like lighthouse
3. Time Tracker - a digital timer with three separate lights that change color as time runs out, plus optional sound effects that announce each interval.

Adult Focused

timer on a bolero tie
4. The Traceable Tie Timer, one of many timers available from Control Company: the opposite of the Big Timer, small and lightweight.

Time Timer - visual representation of time - red wedge
5. The Time Timer - for the visually oriented, a timer that focuses on the visual depiction of elapsed time; comes in various sizes.

kitchen tape timer, shaped like tape measure
6. The Kitchen Tape Timer - just for the fun of it.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

3 Ways to Store Your Yarn

yarn stored in bins on the wall

1. Yarn can be beautifully decorative with the right storage in the right room, as this picture from Timely Treasures in San Francisco illustrates.

yarn stored in a wine rack

2. A wine rack can provide yarn storage, as knitty illustrates.

yarn stored in a lateral file cabinet

3. And while it doesn't decorate the room, a lateral file cabinet can be a fine storage container, as Cheryl's Arts and Crafts shows us.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Dart Coat Hooks

hooks shaped like darts

I wouldn't go so far as to say the Dart Coat Hook is the "Best. Coat Hanger. Ever!" as Elsewares claims - but it sure is intriguing.

I'd seen these before - but never with good enough pictures to make them seem interesting - until now.

(Via, in turn via Springwise)

Performa Nuf Slideboard-System

Performa Nuf Slideboard-System

From Germany, here's an interesting storage option: stackable containers that glide along on grooves. They come in six different sizes and seven colors. You can find more information on the manufacturer's web site, including a price list (PDF).

Architonic is another place to go for product information, including a good photo gallery.


Thursday, March 22, 2007

Stash the Shower Stuff

teak shower caddy

When I remodeled my bathroom, I had a niche built into the shower wall to hold my soaps, shampoo, and conditioner.

If you don't have that luxury, this teak shower caddy is a practical and good-looking way to deal with all the bottles. (Via Apartment Therapy: San Francisco)

Another shower caddy - not as luscious looking, but practical - is the flip and fit shower caddy from Simple Human.

Swap Those Clothes You Never Wear

logo for Swap-O-Rama-Rama

At the beginning of March, I wrote about various web sites that help you swap stuff.

Now, the members of the Simple Living SF South Bay/Peninsula Yahoo! Group have made aware of some other swapping options - both clothing swap events, but with quite different sensibilities.

Swap-O-Rama-Rama is a clothing swap and series of do-it-yourself workshops in which a community explores creative reuse through the recycling of used clothing. Events are held throughout the USA, and are intended for women, men, girls and boys. Admission prices run around $5 to $10. Leftover clothes are donated to shelters. (Via Compacting to Save the Earth)

Clothing Swap runs events throughout the San Francisco Bay Area - usually for women, but sometimes for men or teens. There may be wine, cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks available plus spa treats so participants can arrive and unwind prior to the Clothing Swap. Some swaps also feature food, entertainment, live music, and/or a dance class. Ticket prices run in the area of $25 in advance, $35 at the door. All clothes that don't find a new home that night are donated to charity the next day. (Thanks to Kathryn Benedicto for the post.)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Everything In Its Place

kitchen compartment drawers with places for corkscrew, melon baller, etc.

Professional organizers generally agree with the concept of "a place for everything, and everything in its place" - assuming, of course, that the clutter clearing has been done, so we're only finding the right places for things worthy of being kept.

These compartment drawers from Moben in the UK seem like the ultimate in having a well-defined place for everything. I'm not sure how practical they are, though - what if your needs change?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

How to Be a Green Shopper

Shannon Del Vecchio

This is my first guest essay, by Shannon Del Vecchio, a talented Feng Shui consultant and an expert on green interior design. Since I often mention products - some of them green alternatives - I thought Shannon's insights would be useful.

So here's Shannon . . .

One thing to clarify right up front: In the realm of consumer products today, very few options are 100% green. Currently, almost everything we buy has damaged the environment in some way, which produces a vague sense of guilt and anxiety for many ethical shoppers. In order for this current reality to shift, our entire society will need to undergo a truly radical transformation - which is indeed happening, but it takes time.

Meanwhile, most of the products on the market are sustainable in certain ways, yet not in others. For example, let’s say you purchase some delicious locally grown organic blueberries at the local store. Probably, those berries are purveyed to you in a plastic container, one of the most environmentally problematic products in existence. Our favorite renewable resource, bamboo, is usually shipped all the way from China, using up a lot of fossil fuels in the process. Many products with a high recycled content take tremendous energy to manufacture. In fact, virtually ALL products currently have some pros and some cons in terms of environmental impact.

Don’t let this paralyze you! The purest path we can take as consumers is to educate ourselves about the different types of impact, and attempt to make choices that minimize overall impact, while accepting that it cannot be done perfectly (yet).

Clearly, one of the greenest choices out there is to reduce consumption overall, and the second greenest choice is to buy secondhand whenever possible. It is wise to emphasize these choices whenever possible. For the purposes of this article, however, I would like to focus on the factors to consider once you have decided to buy something, you have decided to buy it new, and you would like your choice to be as environmentally friendly as possible.

Things to find out:

* Is the product made from raw materials that were sustainably grown or extracted?
* Is it made from recycled materials or does it have a high recycled content?
* Is it built and finished with non-toxic glues, sealants, paints and stains?
* Is it packaged lightly, self-packaged, or packaged in materials that are recycled, recyclable and/or biodegradable?
* Does the product require minimal amounts of energy to manufacture?
* Is it manufactured locally, using local materials?
* Is it durable and timeless, with a long useful life?
* Can it easily be recycled into something else when you are finished with it?

Keep in mind, you will often get several "no" answers even with products that are considered "green"! So, here are a few more ideas to help you develop your priorities and make a decision, in the land of the imperfect options in which we live:

If health is important to you, place your emphasis on buying organic, non-toxic and biodegradable products whenever you can. Eating fresh organic produce and using zero-VOC interior paints and natural cleaning products is not only good for the earth, but good for you!

If saving money is important to you, focus on buying gently used products, and buy durable products that will have a long useful life. Often you can find beautiful, stylish and well made furniture or clothing at consignment stores for less than a third of original retail.

If ensuring a safe world for your children is important to you, focus on reducing use of fossil fuels by installing solar panels, buying alternative energy credits, driving a hybrid or using public transportation, and shopping locally as often as you can. Climate change is probably the most urgent environmental threat to the next generation.

Obviously all of these issues are interconnected; and most of us care deeply about all of them. Broadly speaking, what all of us need to do is consider issues of social and environmental responsibility before spending our money. The fact that an increasing number of people are doing this already is the impetus behind one of the most radical shifts in commerce that has happened since the dawn of the industrial revolution. To borrow a phrase from “Live the Change!”

[July 25, 2007: This is a slightly modified version of Shannon's original essay.]

3 Unusual CD Holders

wall mounted Snake CD holder

1. The wall mounted Snake CD holder from PO: (A Danish design company) holds 48 CDs.

wall mounted Groove CD / DVD holder

2. If that look doesn't appeal to you, PO: also makes the Groove CD (and DVD) holder in 3 sizes: 32 CDs, 36 DVDs, and 72 CDs.

wall mounted CD holder with covers facing out

3. Volker Hoffman at Living With Music alerted me to the Sigmarail by LOWKON - a way to turn your CD storage into art.

Monday, March 19, 2007

French Storage Tins

yellow French storage tin with pictures of cats and words les langues des chats

Sentou makes a wonderful collection of storage boxes: traditional French tins, and some designed specifically for the kitchen. The designer is Sandrine Fabre, also known as 100DRINE.

I first stumbled upon some of the traditional boxes at Heal's, in the UK, which says the tins are for children's storage - but I think some adults would be glad to use them.

The Bay Tree in Australia has somewhat different selection.

Made in Design is the one site I've found that includes photos of the INSIDE of the lids - which have wonderful pictures, too.

If I'd only known about Sentou when I was in Paris . . .

Chalk Storage Jars

3 storage jars, different sizes; labeled in chalk as nutmeg, cocoa, and sugar

These ceramic storage jars have a blackboard on the outside; you can write in chalk to indicate the contents and/or the expiration date of whatever you're saving inside. And since the labeling is done with chalk, it's easy to re-label whenever you need to.

(Via Ideal Home)

Sunday, March 18, 2007

A-Z Hooks from Sundance

six wordsmith hooks, individual letters, spelling out evolve

I've mentioned before that hooks are great organizing tools - so I'm always glad to find more delightful hooks.

My latest find: the a-z wordsmith hooks from Sundance. Update on Dec. 25, 2011: These hooks are no longer sold by Sundance, and I'm not finding them anywhere else, either.

Sundance also has some very interesting storage options: vintage lockers, chicken coop storage, and draper's cabinets. Update on Dec. 25, 2011: Sundance no longer has the lockers or the chicken coops, but it does have the draper's cabinets and some other storage pieces.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Paper Clip, All Grown Up

bathroom radiator shaped like paper clip

Since I've written about paper clips before, I just had to write about my newest find, the towelclip from Eskimo - a bathroom radiator to heat your towels.

(Via Trendir)

Most Unusual Storage Container Yet

white pots with colorful lids shaped like condoms; one shown as storing condoms inside

The condom pot. What more can I say?

Update on Jan. 31, 2009: No longer available from original site, but this one seems to be the same.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Edward Monkton Address Books (and more)

Edward Monkton address book - nice people

Being a Californian, I had never heard of Edward Monkton, "one of the UK's modern cultural icons," until an hour ago, when I stumbled upon the address books with his illustrations.

Edward Monkton cat of glory 2007 diary

If I'd known about him earlier, maybe I would have purchased the Cat of Glory 2007 diary for a cat-loving friend.

(You might also want to take a look at his official site.)

Funky Computer Desk: Peppy Bit

Peppy Bit computer desk

Here's an interesting desk called the Peppy Bit, found at Margolis Office Interiors Ltd in the UK. A tambour door comes down from the top to bottom. Both the desk and the door are available in about three different mix-and-match colors. (You could put a blue door on that orange desk - or a more sedate silver.) There's another model, the original Peppy, with a somewhat different configuration.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Palecek Furniture: Green and Gorgeous

Palacek Furniture desk

Well, at least it sure looks gorgeous in the pictures. Palecek uses "quickly renewable resources like rattan and plantation-grown woods" - and they always have, for their entire 30 years in business.

See a good selection of their products (including the desk above) at Carolina Rustica.

(Via domino mag)

Update on April 26, 2008: This specific desk - the South Island Oval Desk - isn't on the Carolina Rustica web site any more, but you can see other nice desks from Palacek.

Update on July 31, 2010: Domino Magazine has folded.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Stop Being Late

Penelope at Brazen Careerist has a good article entitled 5 Ways to stop being late. I especially like these:

2. Practice saying what you need to say.
Here’s a great thing to say: “Excuse me, I hate to cut you off, but I have an appointment.”

3. Be a time pessimist.
Assume everything will take a little longer than your first estimate.

If being late is a serious problem for you, I'd also recommend the book Never Be Late Again by Diana DeLonzor.

Serious Shredding

Ativa cross-cut shredder

I've written about shredders before, but this one is for those needing a pretty heavy-duty machine. It's the Ativa CX14W Cross-Cut Shredder from Office Depot, and it manages to be reasonably attractive while shredding up to 14 pages at once - and it handles staples, credit cards, CDs and floppy disks. I haven't tested it (or even seen it), but it sounds good! (Via Update on Jan. 17, 2012: This shredder has been discontinued.

But Bill Westerman's photo reminds us to be careful when using a powerful shredder - you wouldn't want to catch your tie in it. (Note the second icon from the right.) Update on Jan. 17, 2012: This photo has been made private.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Toy Co-op: One Way to Get Toys Under Control

Professional Organizer Judy Brown of British Columbia, Canada extols the joys of joining a toy cooperative:

"One of our best investments was a membership in a toy co-operative. For a small yearly fee (I think it was about $25.00) we could borrow quality sturdy wooden, handmade toys. . . . Once you paid your yearly membership, you could go and take out toys much like you go to the library to borrow books.

The kids got to play with toys we never could have afforded and they enjoyed choosing new playthings every couple of weeks. If you don't have a toy co-op in your area, perhaps you could start one up with other families in your neighbourhood."

Here are some places that have toy co-ops; they each explain how theirs works.
- The Greater Nashua Mother's Club
- The Redwood City Mothers Club
- The Dakota County Family Child Care Association

Want to start your own? Here are some suggestions about how to do that.

(Thanks to Professional Organizer Monica Ricci for pointing me to Judy Brown.)

Zid Zid Kids - Wall Panels

Zid Zid Kids colorful wall panel with pockets for each day of the week

Babygadget does a great job describing the Zid Zid days and days wall panel, explaining how it's used in the writer's household. Another option from Zid Zid is the fly with me wall panel.

To learn more about Zid Zid Kids, see Design Public's write-up. They carry many of Zid Zid's products, but I don't see the wall panels there yet.

And just because the wall panels are meant for little kids doesn't mean we adults couldn't use them, too.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Zero Gravity Magnetic Spice Rack

magnetic spice rack - tins can hang upside down

Here's an interesting new spice rack, now showing at the International Home and Housewares Trade Show in Chicago. (Via BestStuff)

Learning to Say No

just say no

Overwhelmed by all the things you have to do - all the commitments you've made to other people? One skill we all need to learn is how to say NO when someone asks us to take on yet another project or role.

Want some help learning this skill? There's a lot of good advice out there!

1. Guarding Your Time: How to Say No, at BlueSuitMom (via Brazen Careerist)

2. Just Say NO! at The Clutter Diet Blog

3. The Power of Saying "No", by Linda D. Tillman, PhD

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Self Storage in the NYT

Earlier this month I wrote about the burgeoning self storage business, noting that people often use self-storage when discarding stuff would be a more appropriate solution.

Now John Trosko at OrganizingLA points me to a New York Times article, Hooked on Storage.

Home Offices: Selecting the Right Location

I've written about ideas for home offices, for those dealing with space limitations. So how do you decide what option is right for you?

I love this advice from DesignTalk: Are you still having trouble cordoning off the best place in your home for an office? Try this. Take a small table around to several potential spots. Take an hour to write, use your laptop or talk on your cell phone, replicating the activities your home office needs to accommodate. Try this for a few days if necessary. Where do you feel most at home? What area is best lit, most comfortable, productive, quiet?

And from K.J. McCorry: Not surprisingly, studies show that high-quality office environments can boost employee productivity by ten to twenty percent, so don’t put your office in the attic with no ventilation or the 100% unfinished, concrete basement and expect to be successful! Put your home office in a room in which you enjoy being. You should ideally use a separate room, an enclosed patio or another structure on your property that is quiet. If you don't have a separate room that can be designated for your office, choose a location where you will be disturbed the least. For example, partition off a section of your living, family or dining room.

Home Office Ideas I Do Like

home office in a corner of the kitchen

This home office from Real Simple - in a corner of the kitchen - takes little space but feels uncrowded, and has nice lighting. Also, many of us are pulled toward working in the kitchen anyway, partly because kitchens are the natural hub of family activity - so if you have space to create an office, why not? Just be sure that papers stay well away from the dangers of the stove and the messiness of the food. (And watch out for the ergonomics - my major concern in looking at that picture.) However, depending on the type of work you do at home and the ages of your family members, you may need more space, -more privacy, or more quiet than you can get in a kitchen office.

home office in an oddly shaped alcove

All sorts of odd spaces can sometimes become an office space - such as the living room alcove shown in Sunset.

home office in a backyard shed

At the other end of the space and cost continuum, another option - which provides plenty of space and privacy - is a backyard shed, which can look very attractive. Some options are:
- The backyard room from the Shed Shop - and I know someone who has had a good experience with this company
- The ultimate backyard office from Cedarshed (shown above)
- The garden office from iscape in the UK (via Springwise) Update on Oct. 21, 2011: I can no longer access the iscape web site.

Home Office Ideas I Don't Like

home office jammed into a closet

You see this one in magazines a lot - use a closet as an office! I'm not fond of that idea - just look how cramped that area is. Imagine what it would feel like to work there! And there are probably problems with lighting and ergonomics - as well as very poor feng shui. If that closet was just used to store office supplies, I'd be fine with it - but not as a place to pull up a chair and work.

The other idea I don't like is fitting an office into your master bedroom - which is best reserved for sleep, relaxation, and love.

But that doesn't mean you can't make creative use of space to fit an office into the limited space that many of us deal with. I'll provide some nicer alternatives in the next post.

Photo: Better Homes and Gardens - which also has a number of nice storage ideas.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Shoe Storage: Back to Basics

plastic shoe boxes labeled with pictures of the shoes

I've shown some unusual shoe storage options in the past (here and here). This is a much more basic answer - plastic shoe boxes labeled with pictures of the shoes. (Picture from California Style)

But before you buy the storage, make sure you really want all those shoes. One source says that the average woman owns 24 pairs of shoes at any given time, but wears only half that number regularly.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Sorting It Out

book cover, Sorting It Out

I just finished reading Sorting It Out: One Disorganized Woman Solves the Problem of Too Much Stuff, by Cynthia Friedlob. If you are suffering from Too Much Stuff, you might enjoy reading about Cynthia's stuff issues and how she dealt with them. Cynthia also writes a great blog, called The Thoughtful Consumer.

Here is one of my favorite passages from the book.

* * * * *

If there's one characteristic that all of us who hang on to things seem to share, I suspect it's an overdeveloped sense of obligation to our stuff. We "should" find a way to use that old birdcage; maybe we can turn it into a planter. We "should" read all of those back issues of "Tasty Treats" magazine that we haven't had time to go through; there could be some good recipes in there for next year's holiday cookies. We "should" save that dried flower and ostrich feather lampshade from little cousin Eustace; after all, it was a gift and he made it himself. . . .

In fact, I think the only "should" we need to remember is that we should try to live our lives in a meaningful, honorable way, with joy in our hearts. What does stuff have to do with that?

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Trash Cans with a Green Tinge

trash can designed to use plastic grocery bags as liners

Back in February I wrote about binvention, which provides an easy way to reuse plastic grocery bags to collect recyclables.

In a similar vein, Ideal Bite lists two trash cans designed to use those plastic grocery bags as trash can liners: the simplehuman profile can, and the grocery bag trash can (shown above), molded from recycled materials.

3-Ring Binders: Now We are 12

lever arch binders in 14 colors

Back in January I posted a list of nine alternative 3-ring binders - alternatives to the ubiquitous basic vinyl binders.

Well, now I have a few more!

- The Tribeca 3-ring binder at Kate's Paperie - "made in Maine of the highest quality materials using traditional bookbinding techniques"
Update on Feb. 2, 2009: Sadly, this binder doesn't seem to be available any more.

- Bindertek binders - "Superior-quality binders with a flawless European-style mechanism"

- From Empire Imports: A4 size 4-ring binders, A4 size lever arch binders, and U.S.-sized lever arch binders (pictured above)

(Thanks to Karen on the Analog GTD Yahoo! Group for pointing me to Bindertek and Empire Imports.)

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

11 Ways to Swap Your Stuff

I just joined the Simple Living - SF South Bay/Peninsula Yahoo! Group; in catching up on the messages, I saw someone had pointed the group to

Besides SwapThing, there are lots of other opportunities to swap the stuff that doesn't serve you for something that does - or maybe to just get cash in exchange.

Just some of the many sites out there are:

- FrugalReader lets you trade books.
- is just what you'd expect.
- The CD Exchange handles CDs and DVDs.
- is another CD trading site.
- Zunafish lets you trade CDs, DVDs, VHS tapes, paperbacks, video games, and audio books.
-, Cardavenue, and The GiftCard Trader all deal with . . . giftcards, what else?
- Toyswap is also self-evident.
- MamaBarter was designed to help parents trade goods and services, and deals with anything that's "family-friendly" (no wild sex toys, please).

Update on Sept 15, 2015: no longer exists.

A Bookcase called Book

Lagobook bookcase system

As someone whose major indulgence is books, I'm always attracted to new bookcases. Book comes from Lago, in Italy. To quote their web site:

It is an open shelving system, conceived above all to contain books.

Do you dream of a wall tree to climb on, to gather your books like precious fruits?
With Book you can do it.

Do you dream of a life in colour inside a house in colour and do you think you would like to have all the colour shades in the world in your bookcase?
With Book you can do it.

Do you imagine a bookcase that clambers up the wall, falling vertically like dominoes, or that takes on the features of a multicoloured maze?
With Book you can do it.

(Via Designspotter)

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Rowboat Bookcase

bookcase shaped like half of a rowboat

This isn't the most practical bookcase - but it's sure interesting. It's built from Canadian cedar with mahogany trim. Besides this rowboat bookcase, there's also the classic canoe and the E.B bookcase.

Want some other boat-oriented storage? Try boat wine rack - or the wine rack with glass doors.

Monday, March 5, 2007

She Comes in Colors

colorful office furniture - desk, bookcase, pedestal, etc. - from Design Within Reach

There's something in me that really loves office furniture in bright, bold colors. The Nine.Two.Five. Collection from Design Within Reach might be the best of the bunch, but there is also the

- Kool Kolor Rolling Cabinet (and matching pieces) in green and orange

- Powell Teen Trends Boy's Desk (why boy's?) with drawers in red, green and blue

Has anyone else spotted bright-colored office furniture?

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Living with the Space You Have

Last month, I quoted Peter Walsh saying, "You only have the space you have" - one of the key points in his new book.

Now I've found another article that expands on that same idea, on Dr. Amie Ragan's great blog called Psychology of Clutter. She calls it The Space-Clutter Continuum. (Blog found via Monica Ricci's Your Life. Organized.)

These Boots are Made for Donating

Soles for Souls logo

In my September newsletter, I wrote about the Nike Reuse-A-Shoe program for used athletic shoes.

Now here's another place to donate shoes (new or gently-worn): Soles4Souls.

We in the U.S. are quite the shoe buyers. The American Apparel and Footwear Association tells us that women and girls bought 819 million pairs of shoes (not including tennis shoes or other athletic shoes) in 2004. That means every American woman and girl purchased on average over six pairs of women's non-athletic shoes in 2004.

If you've bought shoes that wound up being a mistake, there's no point letting them clutter up your home. Please sell them or give them away; this is just one option.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Self Storage - A Growing Business

t-shirt that says Defy Clutter

Self storage is big business. The Self Storage Association (SSA) represents the $22.6 billion (annual revenues) self storage industry in the United States that comprises 51,223 primary facilities with more than 2.2 billion rentable square feet. And it's not just the USA - the SSA represents members in Canada and 18 other nations around the globe. Rentable square footage of U.S. self storage facilities has increased by 741% from 1984 through 2005.

The SSA web site tells us that DECLUTTERFY™ is an SSA trademarked word identifying the need to put your home, your office and your life into a reasonable order. There are certainly many times where self storage is an appropriate solution to storage issues - for businesses, for people in periods of transition, etc. But I've also seen households put their overflowing possessions into self-storage when the better answer would be to simply get rid of stuff, not put it into storage.

For a fun story on self storage, read Tom Vanderbilt's article in Slate Magazine.

And I was glad to read that at least one self storage facility (North Bay Storage in Petaluma, California) has installed solar power.

Bookcase Doors from Woodfold

bookcase doors

I'm always interested in nice bookcases, because many of my clients have lots of books! (Yes, we do indeed sort through them and give many of them away - but still.)

Bookcase doors probably won't be the answer for many homes or offices - but they might be just what someone needs.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

March 2007 Organizing Tips and More

My March newsletter is now available. The theme is Conquering Clutter, Step by Step.

Tip of the Month: Four Steps to Eliminating Clutter

Product of the Month: Greentea's storage and shelving furniture, constructed using salvaged hard woods such as elm and gingko. (Via Inhabit)

Donation/Recycling Idea of the Month: for selling used books (USA only)