Thursday, December 2, 2010

21st Century Advice for an Old Problem

Part Two of the book, “Getting Organized in the Google Era” by Douglas Merrill, titled “The New Organization and How to Achieve It,” gets down to the nitty-gritty of 21st Century organization skills. In the first chapter, Merrill debunks another “commonly held assumption” – that organizing solutions are (or can be) the same for each and every one of us. We have proven this to be false ourselves through all of the discussions we have had in our Declutter Club meetings. This may be because each of our organizing needs is different but it also has to do with our temperaments, styles and skills or experiences. He points out that there are “fundamental guidelines to being organized that can apply to many people in many circumstances – things like to-do lists, carrying a small notebook at all times and putting everything in a certain place and remembering where that place is” (page 73) but adds what he sees as a fundamental certainty to the “new organization we need now” the following principle: “Don’t file your information, search for it.” And by saying search for it, he means doing an electronic search either on your computer or on the Internet. I would also add that if things continue as they are now, things like to-do lists and carrying a small notebook will soon be digital for almost everyone either on their hand-held device or their phone (or on some technology we can’t even imagine) which will make searching even those items possible and practical.

He spends the next chapter discussing the “art of the search.” We, as librarians, think of ourselves as search experts because we do this “for a living” but his advice comes from “inside” one of the most popular search engine companies ever: Google. A few of his tips, which start on page 63, are: 1) pay attention to the words you use in your search - entering a singular or plural noun can affect the outcome of your search since Google interprets your search phrase to determine your intent; 2) use as many descriptive and essential words as possible to target your search but skip the common works like a, the, how, where, etc.; 3) Use quotation marks around a phrase if you are looking for an exact phrase to occur in a web page but search strings are not case sensitive even inside the quotations; 4) add adjectives to your search to get closer to your desired answer – use words like cheap or new or small and add a tilde (~) directly in front of a word to have Google search for your word (cheap) and other words like it (affordable, inexpensive, etc.) or use the (Boolean) search term OR and suggest your own alternatives (the tilde “wild card” may not work in other search engines); 5) Exclude what you don’t want to include in your results by using a minus sign (-) directly in front of the word or use the word NOT. Because of this feature, using the word “not” in your search string as something you are looking for may backfire on you – for instance, searching for the title Death be Not Proud will exclude any websites that mention the word “proud” in your results. This is a perfect example of when to search the phrase using quotation marks.

There is so much information to share, I will continue with this topic in my next blog but in the meantime, Google (and I suspect other search engines) have a cheat sheet to their shortcuts posted right on their homepages albeit hidden in the small print. In Google, you can get a handy list of these tips under Advanced Search>Advanced Search Tips. I will be discussing ways that we have already started to use technology to assist us with organizing in tonight’s Declutter Club meeting, December 2, 2010 at the library. Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

More Help from New Books

I am continuing to read Douglas Merrill’s “Getting Organized in the Google Era.” (Random House, 2010). Compared to what I have read in other books and articles on this subject, Merrill offers a unique way to approach the problems we face in getting our lives together. A third of the book gives us insight into new ways to approach our life in the 21st century and challenges us to take a really good look at what we are doing that is out-of-date and no longer relevant. We need to consider what we can do to change those patterns and use new technologies to improve our lives and the lives of those around us. He continues numbering his principles of organization. His sixth principle I found to be particularly intriguing, being what I like to think of as an information professional. Douglas Merrill’s Organization Principle Number Six is: “Knowledge is not [or is no longer] power. The sharing of knowledge is power.” Merrill points out that we no longer succeed by hoarding knowledge to build ourselves into “unique” indispensable beings at the center of an organization but rather by sharing and combining our individual knowledge with others’ knowledge - by “building a team.” He points out that this is particularly advantageous when we share with others who are different than us in style, background and approach. Perhaps that is the secret of the combined knowledge of our De-clutter Club.

The next principle - Organizing Principle Number Seven - is “Organize around actual constraints, not assumed ones.” His point here is to encourage us to recognize what constraints or limitations we might personally have that hold us back from getting organized, or from doing anything else that we wish to do. This process will hopefully lead to finding ways to rethink the way we “have always done” things and eventually overcome those constraints by the logical use of technology. However, the principle reminds us to focus on actual constraints, not assumed constraints that may have been “based on past experience, history, what others have told you, or the structures of society” so that we don’t “waste time and energy on things we can’t really change.” In identifying our constraints, he tells us to apply Organizational Principle Number Eight, “Be completely honest – but never judgmental – with yourself.” Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses and get feedback (and agreement) from your family and friends – those that know you the best. The purpose of this exercise is to discover “patterns of behavior that cause you to ‘get in your own way.’”

Saturday, October 30, 2010

New Thinking About an Old Problem

Remember when I told you that the book "Clutter Busting" by Brooks Palmer was a great motivational book on getting around the mental obstacles that keep us from getting organized? Well, I have found another. I went to the 650 section (where many organizing and decluttering books are shelved in Dewey libraries) on the new non-fiction shelves and found a real gem. I often check this section to see what we have that is new on “our favorite” topic but have not found much that inspired me since “Clutter Busting.. This organization book comes at the problem from an entirely new direction. The book is called “Getting Organized in the Google Era” and it was written by Douglas Merrill, the former Chief Information Officer of Google. Talk about excellent qualifications! Did you know that Google’s mission is to “Organize the World’s Information?” What a claim! And this is the man who was hired to help them achieve that mission! But on a more human or realistic side, Douglas Merrill lets down his guard by admitting that he has dyslexia and despite this learning challenge, he earned a doctorate in cognitive science. In fact, he believes that having dyslexia and having to truly understand how his brain works is what led him to cognitive science and made him the perfect candidate for a job on organizing information. And because he had to overcome his issues, he is very empathic to others and gives very kind advice not only about letting go of the negative beliefs about clutter but affirming that our brains and our 21st century life styles do not really equip us to lead an organized life! In other words, it is not our fault that we are disorganized!

The book is divided into three parts. The first part is about us as thinking humans and how we are affected by our often out of date society. As “old school” thinking he questions the merits of memorizing multiplication tables and keeping 9-5 working hours that were devised for factory workers in the Industrial Age. In the second part, he shares the “tips, techniques and strategies [he’s] developed over the years for getting and staying organized.” Not surprisingly, many of these solutions involve computers and new technology and this part of the book was probably out-of-date before the book was even off the press. The third part of the book deals with how to roll with the changes and challenges that we face as we move forward. He promises that “I’ll show you how being organized can help you tap into the energy and brain power you’ll need to handle the unexpected when it comes – because is will come.” (Merrill, Getting Organized in the Google Era, Random House, 2010, pg. xiv) I have only just started reading this but I will share other tips and encouraging words that I find useful. I hope to see you all this Thursday evening at the South Brunswick Public Library at 7:00 for our monthly De-clutter Club meeting. The Quiet Study is in the middle of being renovated so we may not be able to meet there. I will put up signs if the location changes and let the staff at the Information Desk know where we are.

Keep on Clearing!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

One Hour Clutter Cutter - is that any way to treat your home?

Now that I have found the secret to the “If you only have one hour…” pearls of wisdom listed in the BHG “Storage” issue, I suppose that you want to hear what they are! The first was in an article about Kitchen Spaces – Solutions: Corner Storage that was all about using the “wasted space” in the corner of your kitchen counter and cabinets. They suggest that you buy “bins or baskets the width of the cabinet opening and place them on each shelf inside a corner cabinet. Fill each container with small items (utensils, dessert plates, dry goods) and pull out to access.” They go on to say, “While you do sacrifice some space in the back and side of the cabinet, you’re less likely to lose items.”

In my kitchen, I couldn’t afford to lose that valuable space in the back and side of the cabinet; the width of the door is very narrow compared to the size of the cabinet inside. In fact, the corner cabinets are some of the larger cabinets in my kitchen, particularly the lower cabinet. My lower corner cabinet came with a two-tier turntable that I use for pantry type items – taller oil and vinegar bottles, large coffee containers and bags of things like sweetener or flour that I use less often. Sometimes I might spin the contents around a time or two before I locate an item, but as far as I know, nothing has ever fallen off the back. This round object in a relatively square space allows me to store items in the back corners and just inside the door and still not block the free spinning of the turntable. I have tall items like a thermos in the back corners because I can see them when I need them and just inside the door I can fit some skinny bottles that might topple if they were placed on the Lazy Susan.

If your cabinet didn’t come with a turntable feature, you can purchase separate Lazy Susans for each fixed shelf in the cabinet or remove the shelf and purchase a double or triple-tiered turntable that can be found in many home stores. I have found an assortment of sizes at The Container Store or online at www. and there is even a website called that not only has graduated diameters but also space saving stackable kinds. Pay attention to the door of your corner cabinet. Some have a double-panel door that closes into a 90 degree angle but some, like mine, have a single door set at a 45 degree angle to the adjacent cabinets. The double door type cabinet needs a turntable that is notched to get maximum use of the available storage.

By the way, the turntable options are listed in the article itself on Corner Storage, but the Clutter Cutter box is where the idea of a basket just inside the door was suggested. I am not sure that in BHG’s haste to create quick fixes, that they are offering the best solution. It goes back to the idea that a quick fix is not the best fix…take your time and do it right! Number 2 coming tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Go on a Clutter Diet and Shed Pounds (of junk)

Judy, one of my fellow staff members, purchased the Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publication titled, “Storage: Get Organized Today” which has the enticing message on the front “Second Printing - Back by Popular Demand!” One of the items listed on the cover to be found inside, in fact the first item listed, is “One-Hour Clutter Cutters.” This was the reason that Judy purchased the magazine at the princely sum of $6.99. She combed the contents and thumbed through the magazine but never found an article on One-Hour Clutter Cutters so she gave it over to me for our de-clutter club. I too dug through the contents for some time trying to locate this holy grail of de-cluttering advice. Finally, I found it! In the very end of the letter from the Editor (who reads that?) I found the following message: “…we’re thrilled to share our quick tips for making storage your own. In particular, look for the ‘If you only have one hour…’ tip boxes throughout the issue.”

I went back through the issue and sure enough there were these little boxes, outlined with a dashed line, as if you might cut them out, hovering over a few of the pretty photos of clean, uncluttered interiors. But in another exhaustive search I found only four of these tip boxes with no more than two or three sentences each! Since I did not pay the seven dollars, I am not going to feel cheated, but it does go to show you what the editors of Better Homes and Gardens thought would best sell the magazine to consumers – the promise of cutting clutter in just one hour!

Now let’s be realistic. Just like losing weight, the pounds (and the junk) that we have accumulated took many years to add up. You are not going to shed any significant amount of weight (or clutter) with a quick-fix plan. These are useful tips included in these pages, but you are not going to solve your clutter problem without giving yourself permission to take it slowly, one step at a time. Remember the 20 minute rule of setting a timer for anywhere from 15 to 20 minute increments and stopping before you wear yourself out. If you enjoy the work and do it thoroughly and logically, it seems to me that you are more likely “to keep it off permanently.” But, as any good doctor or de-cluttering coach will tell you, you have to modify your behavior to not acquire the stuff in the first place, just like to have to be careful for your whole life what you put in your mouth.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I promised you more from the April 2010 Redbook article “Julie Morgenstern Sorts out all of your Stuff.” She has a great list of the “8 things you can toss without guilt – right now!” They are:

“1. Kitchen items you haven’t used in a year or longer.” She suggests donating the bulky items like a little or never used bread maker or panini press and “enjoy the extra space.” But don’t fill it up with other things you might never use!

“2. The entire contents of your junk drawer” or junk drawers if you have more than one! Are you afraid that you may throw away something you might need? Empty all of the junk (aptly named because it usually is) into a box. During the next month (or two if you are truly paranoid) put any item you use back into the drawer. At the end of the month, throw the remaining items away! This piece of advice can be applied to many things you think you may need (but actually don’t). Using this trial separation method of de-cluttering will go a long way to prove to yourself that you don’t need the items that you are keeping “for a rainy day.” Living with a few extra containers for a month or two is far better than keeping your house full of clutter “just in case.” And realizing that little or nothing from these containers will actually make it back into the drawer or closet will give you confidence next time you have doubts about just throwing something away. My suggestion about putting stuff back is not to just create another junk drawer by tossing it back in an empty drawer. Invest in one of those divided sorting trays that are available in many kitchen and office supply stores (or at my favorite de-clutter heaven Hold Everything or online at An organized drawer or closet is less likely to attract more junk. Julie Morgenstern suggests thinking about the drawer in a new way as your “newly functional drawer.”

“3. Clothes that no longer fit.” By the time they fit, they will be out of style…let someone else enjoy them while they are current.

“4. School Work from high school or college.” Like the clothes that no longer fit, the material is most likely out of date. Julie suggests to “save your favorite papers in an archival box” but the rest, including textbooks, should be trashed. Most of the places that take book donations don’t want old textbooks either.

“5. Baby Gear.” Julie reminds us that “safety standards change so quickly that car seats and cribs are generally outdated just a few years after they are manufactured.” If you already have the next baby on the way, these would obviously not be the items you should discard.

“6. Random Receipts.” After you check the totals against your statements, keep only what will be needed for taxes or expenses and then only for seven years.”

“7. Half-used bottles of shampoo, conditioner, or makeup you tried but did not like.” It wouldn’t be hanging around as clutter if you had liked it that much.

“8. Books that you have never read or books that you might read again. Donate them and save space on your shelves for the books that speak to your soul.” We in the library world, like to point out the we have more than enough reading material for you here and we keep them dusted and in order so that you can find what you want when you are ready to read it! Now that some money has been restored into the state library funding line items in Governor Christie’s budget, Interlibrary Lending has been saved! So if we don’t own it, we can generally get what you want within a week or so.

We all need to thank Julie Morgenstern for giving us the permission to toss this huge pile of junk! Go ahead and let it go!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Summer Success

The South Brunswick De-Clutter Club will be taking a few months off from meeting, but don’t take time off from freeing your life of the things that are holding you back! Take time this summer to start to whittle down the piles or clear the aisles! Start with whatever bugs you the most but go easy on yourself. Allow yourself 15-30 minutes a day and then relax the remainder of the time. Get rid of the guilt with the clutter. If you make a plan, and don’t over schedule yourself, and stick to the plan, you are half way to your goal!

I just got through reading yet another “Clear the Clutter” column that appears in every magazine at least once a year. This time, however, I actually read a few things that I had not heard before! I thought I would share some of those insights with you today.

In her article, “Julie Morgenstern Sorts out all of your Stuff,” found in the April 2010 issue of Redbook, Julie Morgenstern, author, professional organizer and columnist for many popular magazines, tells us that “most people only use 20% [or one fifth] of what they own in any category.” WOW! That means that you could throw away up to 80% of what you have in your home and never break with your standard routine!! Imagine that! You could downsize your house and your housing expenses by that same amount if only you really could (and would) clear away that much stuff! The reality is that there are things that you aren’t going to throw away. This would mean that if you had china and flatware for 10 (one category of stuff), you could throw away 8 of the 10 plates, cups, bowls, forks, etc. And if you live alone, the only furniture (another category of stuff) you would need would be one chair, one bed, one small table, and one lamp. Of course that doesn’t make sense because these items are bought and kept for the eventuality that you will need them when you entertain. I suppose there was a time in colonial days when people carried their own eating utensils and if they gathered to share food, everyone would come with their own implements, but we don’t live like that anymore. It is a sign of our wealth and prosperity that we have the luxury of having more of any one thing than we need at one time. But certainly, there are items where this is not applicable and there must be a point at which we say, “enough.” For instance, we don’t keep extra shoes so that we can share them with our guests and we certainly wouldn’t share our paperwork with others (although that would be one solution to decluttering.) So for the things that we have that are not kept for sharing, we can start to apply the 80% out rule!!

Julie suggests to look around a room and imagine that everything in that room was suddenly gone. Think about what items you would truly miss if this were to happen. She says that chances are there would only be a few items and she calls these “our treasures.” She suggests that you keep these items in mind as you begin to clear out the clutter – if it is not a “treasure” – let it go. If you lose sight of the goal, refer back to your “keep-or-toss test” results. And does 80% sound like an unachievable goal? Well, to paraphrase a popular quote: "Reach for the moon. Even if you don't reach your goal, you will land among the stars or be farther along than if you didn't reach at all."

I will share more of Julie Morgenstern’s advice in this blog next week. Until then, keep up the good work and enjoy your summer.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Email and Voice Mail Clutter Control

I am still basking in the glow of de-cluttering my office but I have found it to be impossible at home just yet. I have been working hard on completing a slew of things for a convention that I am attending this weekend and I am hoping that when I return from the convention, I will have the time and motivation to start in on my home office.

At work I have been successful at one thing that I intend to try at home. I have a spiral steno notebook at my desk that I have in front of me every time I take messages off my phone and it is at hand every time the phone rings so that I can record information from the caller if needed. When I return the call, or complete the requested task, I put a check mark next to the name in the book so that I know that I have completed that task. Many times I have had to contact someone that called me at some point and I have been able to find their contact information in my notebook. My dilemma is keeping track of my emails with the same ease. I monitor about 5 email accounts and invariably, the information came in on an email account on another computer. The problem, I know, is that I use Microsoft Outlook to retrieve my emails, which brings the emails onto my computer and erases them from the email server. If I left the emails on the server and used the server’s folders to sort and retain the messages, I could always access them from anywhere. The downside to this is that I monitor 5 emails, at least three that are current and active. If I used the email server, I would have to login to three separate servers to retrieve my email. I know that it is old school computer thinking to feel safer if I have my emails on my computer. I think this goes back to the days when email services used to tell you to clean off your email because they were running out of space and your account had a limited amount of storage space, but this system has been working for me for the most part.

Some of you are saying, consolidate your email addresses into one, but I have to have one for work on our intranet and I have two for home, the main one and a Gmail account that has been very handy for access to Goggle products such as the blogspot software and for entering into websites where I am afraid my email address will be sold for spamming. The other two accounts are the accounts that I had with the cable service I had before we moved to Monmouth County. The accounts are with Comcast, and although I can’t send through Comcast, I can still receive emails on those accounts. No matter how many times I tell people to change my email address in their address books, I still get about 5-10 personal emails at my old address and at my husband’s old address. Are you diligent about changing email accounts in your computer when you are notified of a change? I suspect that most people are not.

Is this familiar to any of you? How do you all monitor your emails? Have you ever successfully changed an email account and not lost touch with a percentage of your contacts? I would like to discuss this at our next meeting on May 6 at the library. I have some suggestions for giving some incentives to get our houses in order. Bring your successes to the meeting so that we can all feel good about someone’s progress and bring your questions and frustrations to see if others can offer solutions. I won’t be posting again until Tuesday May 4th, if I can find the time on that day. I hope to see a lot of you at the meeting on Thursday, May 6, at 7:00 in the Quiet Study and in the mean time,
happy clearing!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Don't Forget to De-clutter your Office too

I am sorry to say that my tendency to retain useless things affects me at work as well as at home. I only have a 30" x 60" desk and one 4 drawer vertical file to house my work information for all the hats I wear here in the library. I organized my drawers and even color coded the labels a few years ago but I proceeded to fill those drawers to bursting. I told you all how motivational I am finding the Clutter Busting book. Well, I tried out the author's theory - to throw away anything that you are no longer using - and the experience is indeed "freeing." I started yesterday after lunch (even a late lunch) and had the recycle bin and two garbage cans near my desk filled to overflowing! I finished the desk and file this morning filling the same three containers again. I feel so unencumbered! I can't wait until Sunday when I can get at some of the piles of papers I have at home as well! I even cleaned the places beneath the desk, but I haven't done what is on the top of the file yet, nor the stuff that has started to accumulate on and under the table in the office I share, but there is no more room in a trash can today!! Except for a few files that I use regularly for invoices and bills, the majority of what I threw away was put there over the past few years and never referenced again, so clearly, these were not things I needed to keep in the first place. I highly recommend this exercise. Go for is wonderful!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Spring Cleaning and Garage Sales

Spring is the time we open all the windows and clear out the winter accumulation of musty air and sweep out the dust and debris of our winter "hibernation." It is also a good time to have a garage sale, before the weather gets too hot (today not withstanding) and before the pools and beach clubs open for the season. Are you the kind of person that keeps a box or two of items at all times that you intend to sell one day at a garage sale? Or do you choose a date and start to advertise and then scramble getting stuff "ready" to sell. Either way, keep some things in mind. Price the items as you box them so that pricing is not another overwhelming task on the day of the sale. And pricing is the best way to prepare for a sale, particularly if you are the kind of person that is prone to clutter. Being overwhelmed by clutter might indicate that making snap decisions is not one of your strong suits, so having to decide on the price of something with a yard full of eager customers (hopefully) would be highly stress producing. You can buy pre-printed price tags in bright colors in the label section of your local warehouse stationers. These labels are easily removable so you will not be damaging your "valuables." Sort item with like items, particularly like in storage and display needs. Put smaller, breakable items together and make sure you have a sturdy table on which to display these items. Put all clothing together and try to borrow a coat/garment rack from someone if you don't have one. Put all items for children together since that is often a category that people shop for at garage sales. It is also a good idea to have smaller, more expensive items, on a single table near where the cash box will be kept so that there will always be someone nearby to keep an eye on these items. You may want to consider having a "sale" hour toward the end of the day and allow people to take whatever they can fit into a bag for a dollar or two - make sure you have a quantity of standard sized bags on hand and mark the bag as "sold" with a marker when it has been paid for. I have seen people go to their car, empty the bag and then bring the bag back and fill it again. No one should be putting anything into a bag that is marked sold or paid. Know ahead of time what you plan to do with the items that don't sell. Have an organization like Vietnam Vets or Good Will on stand-by to come the same day or the next day at the very latest. Don't move the stuff back into the house. Find out from the pick-up organization if they have any restrictions on the kinds of items they will take. Have a few large garbage cans/bags available to dispose of the things that are not taken. I will say again, don't move any of it back into the house. If you commit to a sale and an item is left over at the end, consider that it is unwanted and get rid of it. Consider going in on the sale with a neighbor or two. The pre-printed labels come in an assortment of different colors. Have your neighbor(s) use a different color label if you want to keep track of the sales or just decide that you will split the profit no matter whose stuff is sold. Having a crew that can spell you when you need to take a break is worth it in the long run. Happy selling (and happy de-cluttering)!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Fresh Motivation

At our meeting last Thursday, I passed around some new clutter control books that I have purchased and we agreed that one looked particularly interesting. “Clutter Busting” by Brooks Palmer looks to be a useful motivational book to help you get un-stuck from the fears and frustrations that may be keeping you from clutter clearing success. I began to read the first few chapters and I was ready to grab some garbage bags and start tossing things away. This is indeed, highly motivational. Palmer says to remind yourself repeatedly that, “Things will not make me happy.” His premise is that once you clear your life, house, car, office, etc. of the things that no longer meet your needs, you will free yourself to do what you want and to feel good about doing it. The subtitle to the book: “Letting go of what’s holding you back” is his premise in a nutshell. You have heard all of this a thousand times before and you think as a rational human being, you would not have to hear it again, but the message is presented such that perhaps this time, it may actually sink in and motivate you to finally get to the bottom of the clutter heap. Don’t resort and save – through it all away! Don’t hold on to something until you finally have a garage sale – get it completely out and away from of the house to ease your guilt and fears. Donate, recycle, trash it but just get it out and move on!

Good luck.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Surprise! I'm back

Sorry that I haven't posted anything in such a long time...too bad I can't use the fact that I was busy de-cluttering as an excuse because that would be a lie!

Do you remember that one of the tips I came across was that there is never any reason to save magazine articles about a particular subject because magazines always repeat the same subjects year after year? Well, someone brought me a February 2003 issue of Woman's Day that included a feature "68 Real-Life Organizing Tips." The article is titled "Order in the House" written by Pamela Kramer. Not only are the subjects repeated, but the same tips that you know...and that you read in every book on decluttering...are given. Step 1 - Set aside a block of time. Step 2 - Pull out the stuff that you want to organize and determine what you want to keep, donate or toss. Put items that belong in another part of your house back where they should be. Step 3 - Assign a place for each item. Group similar items together by function, and put the ones that are used most often within easy reach. Step 4 - Don't hesitate to rearrange or make changes if your having trouble finding what you need or keeping the area neat. Sound familiar? This particular article suggests pulling everything out but we have discussed how that might not be the best idea - you could get overwhelmed; you may not be able to finish such a monumental task; and then you may not be able to get back to it right away and you'll end up shoving it all back in without having made any progress. We have found many "experts" that suggest to break the task down into smaller bites and do only what you can handle in a 15 to 20 minute time slot that can be repeated as long as your interest and stamina hold out. That may mean doing only one drawer at a time or just the shelf in your closet. Now, doesn't that already sound more doable?

I have purchased Jamie Novak's new book Stop Throwing Money Away. She has departed from the question and answer format of her last two books and has written a complete guide to the "Clutter-Cash" connection with lots of insight into how to get out from below the piles of clutter and perhaps the mounds of debt! She has also included some great information about doing all of this in a "green" way to protect the planet while you are at it. I have been talking with Jamie about giving an encore presentation of the program she gave a year ago. I just need to find some money in my programming budget to see if we can afford to have her back soon!

I would like to put a plug here for your support of New Jersey public libraries. In the governor's latest budget proposal, funding for the state library services might be cut as much as 74% - more than any other state department. This will mean a lot of lost services at every public library in the state including interlibrary loan services, online database access and many other services supported by the state library. If the library is important to you, please visit and become a library champion and let the governor and your elected officials know how much you use the library. There is also a Save NJ Libraries page on Facebook. Thank you for your support. Don't forget to come to the next De-Clutter Club meeting on April 1, 2010 - no April Fool's!