Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Magic of Thought Logic Program Highlights

We had a great presentation from Sangita Patel on November 1st about getting your thoughts focused so that you can declutter your life forever. Sangita Patel is a local Organizer and Coach based in West Windsor who serves as the treasurer of the New Jersey Chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) and is a member of the International Coach Academy and Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD) Her company Kalakar Interiors has a website at

I have read several books that touch of the very thing that Sagita talked about. It is important to do some self-analysis to find out why you hang on to things that clutter your life and learn to let go of those thoughts and actions to clear your house and your life which will allow you to do things that you really want to do. Part of this process is goal setting - imagine your life and what you could accomplish for yourself if you were not bogged down by the minutiae of everyday life. You need to set a goal for yourself that is more appealing and more promising than the idea of wallowing in your memorabilia or worrying about where to file your bank statements.

Sangita stressed the need to take care of yourself by clearing the cluttering thoughts in your mind and creating a clean and clear environment where you can learn to "fall in love with yourself."

Sangita suggests the following: "1) Make a list for day-to-day, weekly, monthly and yearly goals and prioritize them; 2) For your daily to-do list: Start with a 3" by 3" sticky note and jot down what is most important just for today. Take one thing at a time and stay focused until it is complete." Using a small piece of paper insures that your list will not be unmanageable to complete in one day. "3) Take frequent breaks in between work/activities and do some stretches or meditation. 4) Thank yourself, Reward yourself and Appreciate your efforts. 5) Focus on your accomplishments, not on what you have not done." Sangita suggests that you should use the SMART method of setting goals - make them Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time Based. You can read more about setting SMART goals at and other sites that discuss good management and leadership skills.

"De-cluttering and letting go helps you to trust yourself and others" and realize that you can make sound decisions that benefit you. Learn to delegate what can be delegated and choose the things you want to do yourself that will satisfy you and give you happiness.

Don't forget to come to the library on Thursday, December 1st for the De-Clutter Club's next monthly meeting. Clear out your pantries and bring your unwanted food to donate to the South Brunswick Food Pantry. We will have some refreshments to celebrate our accomplishments this year and discuss realistic resolutions for next year.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Here is the first list of donations we will be collecting at the December De-Clutter Club Meeting, December 1, 2011, Program Room 1A/1B

Clear out your pantry and your cupboards for The South Brunswick Food Pantry. This is their list of items they need for the holidays:

•Jelly or Jam
•Parmalot Milk
•Canned Meats (Chili, Beef Stew, Canned Chicken, etc.)
•Snack Foods (granola bars, crackers, cookies, snack packs, etc.)
•canned tomatoes
•canned beans
•canned vegetables
•boxed macaroni and cheese
•cereal/oatmeal/pancake mix and syrup
•boxed potatoes and boxed rice
•canned yams
•canned chicken broth
•Super Market Gift Cards

The Food Pantry collects food all year long, so they will take any other canned or boxed items from your pantry that you may want to move along to others.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Upcoming Events

Since we have a program about De-Cluttering on Tuesday, November 1, 2011, I have decided that having our regular Thursday evening De-Clutter Club meeting might be too much in one week. I have cancelled the Thursday night meeting in November but will address the group that attends on Tuesday meeting about our December meeting and beyond. Members and those who are interested in joining this group are encouraged to attend the presentation to learn about us and give us your input.

As a holiday project to help us clear out some stuff from our lives and at the same time help others, I am compiling a list of things that the South Brunswick Food Pantry and other local social assistance organizations need that we might have just “lying around” our houses. I know that most of these places want new and nearly new items, but if you are anything like me, you have a few of those new and nearly new items lying around as well as your well loved and over used “stuff.”

I will make the list available and have boxes and bags at our December meeting to gather the items and then arrange to get them delivered before the holidays.

If any of you have a contact with a charity that you know that needs “stuff,” contact me and let me know if you would be willing to deliver those designated donations after the meeting. I will let you know as soon as I can what items are needed that we might be able to contribute.

Also, at the December meeting, we can discuss our successes this year, start to set reasonable resolutions for 2012 and discuss ways to have a stress-free holiday season by letting go of the clutter in your life and mind. We can make it an early holiday celebration! I will have coffee and cookies and maybe some other surprises.
Please come to the presentation on Tuesday, November 1 with Sangita Patel of Kalakar Interiors on The Magic of Thought Logic: Clearing and Connecting Your Mind-Space and Home-Space and then join us as we wrap up 2011 on December 1 in the other side of the room in which we usually meet; we are sharing the space that evening with a Girl Scout Troop.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

More from a Therapist and Organizer

I wrote about Cindy Glovinsky's One Thing at a Time a few weeks ago. I visited her website and saw that she has written several other books which I acquired through an Interlibrary Loan. These books are a complimentary pair. Both her second book, Making Peace with the Things in Your Life (New York: St. Martin's Griffen, 2002) and her third book, Making Peace with Your Office Life (New York: St. Martin's Griffen, 2010) are owned by the South River Public Library. According to the biographies in her books, Cindy Glovinsky is a licensed psychotherapist and an expert on organizing and mental health. Her books are more than de-clutter books; these are really self-help books based on psychotheraputic research and observations. Like several others we have discussed, these books are definitely designed to get the the root of the mental conditions that result in living a cluttered, disorganized life. If we can get to the root issues, it is hoped that the task of de-cluttering won't be so overwhelming and the sufferer will achieve that peaceful, ordered life that seems to always be just beyond reach. That is, of course, if we believe in being helped by psychotherapy.

She starts Making Peace with the Things in Your Life with this famous couplet by Robert Louis Stevenson from A Child's Garden of Verses, "The world is so full of a number of things, I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings." We all know that things don't make us (or kings) necessarily happy! Most of the de-clutter books preach that the only way to truly be happy is to break our attachment with things so that we can truly be free to do what we want and to enjoy life. This is the premise of these two books.

Making Peace with the Things of Your Life covers subjects like Rethinking Things, Taking Inventory, Why Things Keep Overwhelming You and What to Do About Things, which are the headings for each of the four parts of the book. Part I is a kind of overview of the psychology of possessions and material objects. Part II starts to personalize the issue, giving you ways to access your thoughts and actions that have brought you to this point. Part III looks at particularly how you think about these issues and what your relationship is with the objects in your life and the power they hold over you. The last part is where the psychotherapy comes into play in getting you to confront these thoughts and try to rethink where you have been and where you are heading in life. There is a certain amount of practical information contained in these pages, but primarily, it is a plan to help you clear your thinking about things so that you can take control of your life.

The second book, Making Peace with Your Office Life is, I believe, the first whole book I have encountered that is dedicated to organizing your work life and improving your happiness at work. I find this to be the one that I am drawn to first since most of us spend far more of our waking day in an office of some kind. It would be interesting to know if the behaviors that incline us to gather things is universally brought to the workplace. Does anyone know of someone who lives a cluttered home life but has an ordered work space? Of vise versa? Because your work life is more than the things on and around your desk, this book gets much more into the task of decluttering and organizing your thoughts, actions and relationships at work.

I would say that these are both books that you would need to sit down with in some quiet place over a period of time to truly absorb the message that Cindy Glovinsky is imparting and remember, psychotherapy is not a short term process but for some, it can be life changing.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Missed Tonight's Meeting?

I missed seeing everyone this evening for our De-Clutter Club. I had hoped to get a volunteer to run the meeting on October 6, but since no one attended tonight's meeting, I have decided to cancel the meeting on October 6 so that I can attend the Library's Author Dinner.

I had hoped to hear some summer success stories and to give you some information out of a book I found today, Throw Out Fifty Things: Clear the Clutter, Find Your Life by Gail Blanke (New York: Springboard Press, 2009.) This book presents a slightly different message than other de-clutter books. It is far more instructive and encouraging and simplifies the entire process down to four steps: 1) If the item you are considering (or the belief, conviction, memory, thought, friend, job - whatever) weighs you down or make you feel bad about yourself - throw it out, give it away, sell it, let go and move on! 2) If it just sits there taking up space and contributes nothing positive to your life - throw it out, give it away, sell it, let go and move on! If you are not moving forward, you are moving backward. Getting rid of the negative helps you focus on the positive. 3) Don't make the decision about keeping versus getting rid of something a difficult one. If you have to delibrate too long on something - throw it out! and finally 4) Don't be afraid. You have only one life and you should be living this life to the fullest. You don't have the time, energy or room for physical or psychic waste.

Like the title says, Throw Away Fifty Things and you will be well on your way to making a clutter free life a habit - forever!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Our first De-Clutter Club meeting of the fall will be on Thursday night September 1, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. in Program Room 1A. I hope you all had enjoyable and productive summers and that you managed to conquer some clutter or that you have had enough time to rest so that you can dive into a few projects this fall.

We have another de-clutter expert coming to the library this fall to talk to us about de-cluttering our lives and maintaining a clutter free life once we have succeeded. The presenter’s name is Sangita Patel and she will be here on Tuesday evening, November 1 at 7:00 in the large meeting room. Sangita Patel calls herself the Chief Value Creator of her business, Kalakar Interiors, LLC based in West Windsor. She is the Treasurer of the Northern New Jersey chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers ( and a member of the National Institute for Challenging Disorganization ( She calls herself a “facilitator of self-awareness” and ends her emails with this statement: “Organize, Plan and Decorate with Awareness by Inspiring your Inner Explorer.” The presentation will be about “Thoughts – ‘The Magic of Thought Logic’ - Clearing and Connecting Mind space and Home space and for self awareness - how to regain inner calmness and to inspire in awakening our inner wisdom.” You can read more about her mission and her services on her website at

I have contacted some other organizers whose names I got from some of our club members and from the referral service on the NAPO website. I don’t have any other dates set, but I will be looking for some time in the upcoming library schedule. We can talk about the availability of our club members at our first meeting and see if our current meeting date and time are still convenient to our members.

The night of our second meeting in the fall, October 6, is the date for the annual Library Foundation Author Dinner at Sir John’s Restaurant in North Brunswick. This event is always a lot of fun and this year’s author, Chris Grabenstein, mystery writer and former improve comedian looks to be very interesting and entertaining. I would like to discuss changing the date for our October meeting or asking if anyone in the club would be able to run the meeting on that evening.

Let me know your thoughts on these topics and let me know your availability if you are unable to attend our meetings on the first Thursday evening of each month. I look forward to seeing you all, and some new faces, on September 1. Be safe in the storm. I will write again before the first meeting about packing light to save money on checked luggage.

Have a clutter free day!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Another Expert Heard From

I picked up another book titled: One Thing at a Time: 100 Simple Ways to Live Clutter-Free Every Day by Cindy Glovinsky, M.S.W., A.C.S.W. The cover says that she is the author of Making Peace with the Things of Your Life. With the author having a social work background, these books are more like one we discussed earlier on the psychology of disorganization and how to get over the attachments we have to our stuff to make room for the life we want to lead. I don't know how many times we can hear this message before it sinks in; it may be a matter of the approach taken by each author that will lead you to eventually find one that "speaks" to you.

This book, One Thing at a Time is unlike others that we have looked at. This book is full text - no pictures, no diagrams, no graphics. The one thing it does have is an extensive and descriptive Table of Contents where you could browse to find the topic that you feel like dealing with, rather than slog through the entire 100 chapters. There are chapters like: Things Don't Move Themselves; Make a List of Mini-Tasks; Throw Away Coupons; Don't Pile, Containerize; Leave it Neater than you Found It; and my personal favorite, Stop Perfecting, Start Bettering.

There is also a nice bibliography of other works that the author used to write this book and a short chapter called "Resources for Help with Organizing." The author's own website is listed: and lists two organizations that give referrals for professional organizers. The first we have looked at before: National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) in Georgia ( and the second, which refers professionals specializing in chronic disorganization: National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization in California ( A quick look at these three sites told me that Cindy Glovinsky no longer has the Fresh Start Organizing site - that is a dead link and the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization now calls themselves the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD) and the link above relocates you to and they have relocated to St. Louis, MO. They have a link labeled "Clutter Hoarding Scale" which is a downloadable assessment measurement tool used to diagnose conditions that challenge someone's health and safety.

Cindy Glovinsky has a new site ( that describes her practice which seems to concentrate on those diagnosed with A.D.D. Other books and articles I have read have equated a cluttered lifestyle with A.D.D.; it would be useful to see if there are people who have trouble with clutter who do not have A.D.D.!

More from these sources at a later date!

Keep chipping away at the piles!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Ask the Expert

Many of you have asked for the library to offer talks from other Organizing Professionals so that you may learn some new techniques or perhaps find an organizer that you think you might want to work with one-on-one to solve your organizational issues. As I said earlier, I looked at the websites for the National Association of Professional Organizers and at the Institute for Challenging Disorganization and did a search on finding an organizer in this area - within 25 miles of 08852.
The list was quite extensive on both sites about help available in the South Brunswick area. This means that you are not alone in feeling like you could use help with getting your life in order. I have contacted a few of those listed that live in the immediate area and I'm working with them to try to schedule some presentations this fall. We are concerned, however, that we cover some topics that we haven't covered so well in the past. I have one organizer that focuses on clearing your mind to clear your home so that you can achieve inner calm. Another that I have spoken with can talk about maintaining your de-cluttered space once you have achieved your goals or she has offered to do an "Ask the Expert" Q&A session to answer any questions you may have that pertain to a particular area or type of clutter.

I would like your feedback about what kind of presentation you would like us to provide. I will bring up this discussion at our first De-Clutter Club meeting of the fall on September 1st at 7:00 p.m., but if you could let me know ahead of time what you would like to learn from an expert in the field, I can get some presentations scheduled before the calendar is entirely booked.

You can email your suggestions to me at or you can reply to this posting. I hope you are all having a great and productive summer de-clutting your environment. I have seen a lot of garage sales starting to pop up around town - these must be people who spent some of those super-hot days indoors, sorting through their "stuff." Let me know what your issues are and we can see if we can find some answers or find the "perfect" professional to help you get closer to a clutter-free life!

Friday, August 5, 2011

More Clutter Control Help at the Library

There is a Guide to Organizing Your Life by Donald Laskowski that is included in the colorful, easy-to-use Dorling Kindersley (DK) K.I.S.S. - Keep It Simple Series. I am a big fan of books published by DK for both kids and adults. They seem to have their finger on the pulse of people in the 21st Century by including illustrative color photographs to break up long paragraphs of text. We are all used to getting our information in short “bites” and crawls. In order to mimic the methods we are familiar with, DK breaks up pages of text with tips and related information in call out boxes including trivia, definitions, Internet links and visual examples of any written forms or lists they are suggesting as a solution. There are also graphic “characters” used to interject “Very Important Points” and ideas that are “Getting Technical” to remind you to pay particular attention. They also call out “Complete No-Nos” and the “Inside Scoop.” However, the topic of “Organizing Your Life” may be more complex than even DK can make palatable to swallow. They have a “magic formula” to help you “change your life” and it is only 20 steps!

The book is divided into four color-coded sections – Section One is an introduction to the concepts of prioritization - “balance and control” in your life. Section Two deals with crises management and procrastination. Part Three gives more detail about the how-to of the organizing tasks of maximizing your time, keeping your work area clear to maximize your productivity and using tools to achieve your goals. The fourth section is all about controlling or managing your time to avoid interruptions and more tools to create systems which you can work within to maintain your new organized life. A lot of the information is geared toward conquering this process at work, and the transfer of these skills to your perhaps more complicated home life is described toward the end. The Table of Contents for this book is 12 pages long and there is an Appendix and an Index, so you could easily work through the book in a way that may make more sense to you. Even just a skim through can be useful to absorb some useful tips and insights. I am sorry that a newer version of this book has not yet been published. The one that I looked at has a copyright date if 2001, so very few electronic tools are discussed. There is a Complete Idiot’s Guide to Organizing Your Life (5th Edition) that was published in 2010 that most likely would cover newer technologies but only the Kennedy Branch of the Piscataway Library owns a copy. You can place a hold on that copy and request to pick it up at the South Brunswick Public Library.

Although the list of self-help books on our “favorite” topic of Clutter Control is long, this is a slightly different approach than many I have seen and may be the one that will “speak” to you. Books on organizing and clutter control can be found in several sections of a Dewey Decimal sorted library. All are found in the 600s which is the section for Technology and Applied Sciences. There are basic overview books in 640, the Home Economics and Family Living section, books in 648 which is the housekeeping section where the how-to books on storage solutions and clutter control are found and there are books like this one that can be found at 646.7 which is the number for life-style management issues. If you just want to browse to see what kind of help is available, it is worth looking in all three sections in both the regular stacks and in the new book section.

Hope you are all having a clutter-free summer!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

More Timely Tips

To cure yourself of impulse buying, the Editors of FC&A Publishing, in their book 1001 Timely Tips for Clutter Control, suggest to ask yourself these three questions before you buy anything: 1) Do I really need it? 2) Will I really use it in the next week or the next month? and 3) Do I have a place to put it right now? If you answer "no" to any of these questions, then walk away from the purchase. The authors say, "If you only buy items that meet these three criteria, your home will stay clean and uncluttered." That is of course once you get it uncluttered in the first place!

Organize your refrigerator? Yes, why not. Like with all clutter-control projects, group like items together and designate a place where they will be kept. This will save you from purchasing a duplicate of something you already have and will help, in your refrigerator at least, make sure that some unknown item doesn't go bad in the corner of a drawer.

When you dust (during TV commercials if you read yesterday's blog), carry a plastic trash bag with you for collecting trash or items that are "out of place." The authors of the book say, "With just one trip around the house, you can get everything dusted and put away." Sounds good, doesn't it? Let the group know if this works for you.

When traveling by car, the authors suggest to hang your clothes in garment bags (or even just an old plastic bag you got from the laundry) and lay them down on the back seat or trunk. Packing them in suitcases makes them wrinkled and in need of an iron. They also note that laid down takes up less space than bulky suitcases. I would say that this would depend on the number of stops you will make on the trip where you have to carry the clothes in and out and on the number of other items you have to stow in the car like coolers, backpack, gift and souvenirs. Garments in plastic bags are slippery and unless they are laid absolutely flat, they are apt to slip off the hanger into a heap and be more wrinkled than if packed properly in a suitcase. An alternative suggestion they make in another tip, to reduce wrinkles, is to put clothes on hangers together in a plastic bag from the laundry and then fold the whole bunch once or twice to fit the top of your suitcase. That seems more practical to me than having the clothes loose in a bag in the trunk.

There is a section of the book that gives some suggestions for creating an inexpensive closet organizing system using furniture and containers you may already own. A small dresser or set of bookshelves put into a closet work well for folded items and accessories; milk crates on their sides stack well and can be used to hold purses and scarves; woven baskets look good on shelves to hold belts, t-shirts and socks; and an extra shower ring on the clothes rod can hold handbags and belts.

The last tip sounds more like a Hint from Heloise. They say that tea makes a good remover for old polish, dirt and grime on your wooden furniture. Add two teabags per quart of water, boil and steep until you get a color you like because the tea will stain the wood! Cool before using and test on a part of the furniture that is not too visible in case you are unhappy with the results.

More from this book and others soon.

Some tips from 1001 Timely Tips

Below are some of the 1001 Tips from the back cover of 1001 Timely Tips for Clutter Control by the Editors of FC&A Publishing.

Keep your car clean for little cost. Keep a bag in your car to gather trash into and throw the trash out daily. Also keep a container of baby wipes (or other wipes that don’t contain oil) to keep the dashboard and steering wheel clean and to wipe up sticky hands.

Instead of sitting around watching television commercials, use the time to do short house cleaning tasks – dusting, vacuuming and picking up the mess.

If you do these five things before you go to bed each night, you will have a much calmer morning: 1) recycle the newspapers 2) go through the mail and recycle the junk 3) load the dishwasher and turn it on – electricity costs less in the wee hours of the night 4) put dirty clothes in the hamper and 5) lay out your clothes for the next day.

When you go through the mail, stand by a trash can or recycle bin. Throw away the junk mail as soon as you recognize it. File the rest of the mail in an accordion envelope or into a stand-up file of hanging folders under bills (which you can file by date), to-do items, pending items, items to send or pass along and items to file. Make sure you review these folders at least once a week. We have heard from Jamie Novak a good way to handle these files and she would say not to have a folder labeled to file because that means you have to handle the material twice. Evaluate the material you want to file and see if it really needs to be saved. Realize that most information you will need can be found quickly using the Internet.

Garage sale tips include: 1) organize and plan early including getting your manpower invited and trained before the day of the sale 2) advertise wisely to make sure there will be a steady stream of customers 3) price competitively by researching what items are selling for in your area and 4) sell sensibly by being willing to negotiate and “Don’t be greedy. You’re better off selling something cheap than being stuck with it at the end of the day.” Having a box or two where items are set aside for a future garage sale is a good de-cluttering tool.

Shop for gifts and cards throughout the year. Have a list of upcoming weddings, graduations, etc. and buy an appropriate gift and or card when it is on sale. After Christmas sales are particularly a good time to stock up on gifts. Check the item off your list and store them in a bin, drawer or closet where you are able to retrieve them when they are needed.

More tips coming soon.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

We have a new clutter control book that came in June 2011! It is called "1001 Timely Tips for Clutter Control: Knowing What to Keep, When to Toss and How to Store Your Stuff." It is by the editors of FC&A Publishing, "a family-owned and family-friendly company that strives to provide information and products that improve your life." The company is based in Georgia and the book is copyrighted 2007 but it was just added to our collection. It looks to be a fairly comprehensive book but I think that much of the info is tips we have already discussed.

The information, like other books, is organized by location: Kitchen, Family Room, Dining Room, Home Office, Bedroom, etc. The final chapters go outside the house to the Attic or Basement, Garage and the Car and then to Shopping, Time Management, Relocating (which is differet than other books), Holidays and Entertaining and Traveling. Each chapter has a small introduction and then arranges the information into 4 steps that you can take to: 1) Cut the Clutter 2) Increase Storage, 3) Get Organized and 4) Keep it Clean. Each of these steps are followed by a section called Super Tips, which must be where they get the title claim of 1001 tips. There is also the obligatory first chapter called "Before you begin" that tells you how to get started. One of the nice features of this book is for each section they give you a "permission list" called "Toss Without a Thought." This comes as straight advice - no explanation or excuse necessary - just toss. These lists include things like: in the kitchen - old food which is a no brainer; but also chipped or damaged dishes, glasses or mugs; broken appliances; burnt, rusty or damaged pots, pans and bakeware amd broken utensils and gadgets and in the Home Office - articles or brochures you haven't needed in years; old grocery receipts; junk mail and advertisments; expired insurance policies or related papers; expired coupons; and warranties for items you no longer own.

Every chapter has graphics of sticky-notes to remind you of basic de-clutter rules. There is one that says, "Remember...make a wish list, be realistic, set priorities, identify your clutter problems, label your zones, and set a timeline. There is another "sticky" that says, "Keep in Mind...make a decision to keep, toss, donate, sell or pass on and to follow purging rules to decide quickly, handle items once, set limits, pass the "keep" test and recognize garbage. These are the activites that are described in the first chapter and are added to each chapter as a reminder...maybe making actual sticky notes to put up nearby would be a useful activity but make sure you throw them away and don't let them become clutter.

I will give you some of the tips in my next post which I hope to get up in the next week or so - the back cover gives a teaser for what sounds like a bunch of really useful tips. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Clutter-Free Evening with Jamie Novak

We had a fantastic turn-out at the South Brunswick Public Library on Tuesday evening, May 17, for our Get Organized Today event with celebrity organizer Jamie Novak.

Jamie was a very exciting speaker; not only did she provide many bits of useful information about organizing your home, office, car, and life but she was also engaging and entertaining. While book-signing, she generously answered every person's questions in detail, neither hurried nor judgmental.

During the workshop, the world's most relatable organizer focused on her "3 steps for peace of mind." She advised the clutter-challenged to first: set a timer for 18 minutes, confront a pile of clutter and pick one thing in it. Second: Make a decision about the chosen item or unfinished project and follow through immediately! Third (and most important): keep it that way! Tackling a pile 18 minutes at a time, she says, makes the job effective but not overwhelming.

In reference to paper piles, her advice is instead of doing the "scoop and dump" before guests arrive, use a desktop box for hanging files or an expandable file folder. Keep it in a public area, she advised, such as the kitchen, to ensure you maintain the contents as their usefulness expires.

Certainly, every one of the 60 or so clutter-free wannabes in the audience went away with some encouragement and new-found skills. My personal favorite was to have a "lost and found" box in my home.

As attendees said their good-byes, she pleaded with them to go straight home and attack even just one bit of their clutter and disorganization that very night. Big clutter problems go away "one bite at a time!" She seemed confident we would succeed once and for all as she wished each of us to "have a clutter-free life!"

Jamie brought copies of her latest book Stop Throwing Away Money which she autographed for those who purchased a copy. You can find Jamie Novak on her website at where you can register to get her newsletters, as well as on Martha Stewart's Whole Living website: go to the Community tab, select "experts' blog" from the dropdown menu and then click "organization" in the left-hand column.

Don't miss her weekly Bite Size Radio Show on Wednesdays at noon on BlogTalkRadio. In addition to the radio, she has been found in television shows on HGTV and QVC.

This Library event was generously sponsored by the Friends of the South Brunswick Public Library. Thank you to everyone who helps support our Friends!

If you missed Jamie's workshop don't despair. The Library has many free resources to help you de-clutter and organize your life.

After her first visit with us more than a year ago, the Library formed its De-Clutter Club. It is an open group for individuals to meet informally and brainstorm de-clutter ideas. They meet at the Library the first Thursday of every month at 7 p.m. in Program Room 1A/1B. Members all have tried to clear away the clutter and to organize their lives and the members share their challenges and successes.

The next meeting of the De-Clutter Club is on June 2. We will determine at that meeting if we will continue to meet during the summer or decide to take July and August off and resume meetings again in the fall. Check the library's event calendar on our website at for updates and to read the library's De-Clutter blog.

The Library also has numerous books and magazines to borrow on the topic, including Real Simple, Martha Stewart's Living and Whole Living.

By the way, if you are purging important files there is free help in South Brunswick from Middlesex County on June 4. (Jamie suggests a seven-year life for some documents, but check her website for more details.) County residents can recycle their old documents and confidential files safely and securely on Saturday, June 4, from 9 a.m. to noon for free at the South Brunswick Senior Center, next door to the Municipal Building on Ridge Road. Please do not bring books, magazines, newspapers, or plastics. For more information, pick up a flyer at the Library or contact the County Division of Solid Waste Management at 732-745-4170,

As Jamie says, "have a clutter-free life!"

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Spring Cleaning Tips

March is practically here – how are your New Year’s resolutions going? Is it time for spring cleaning? Well, we are in luck if we need more fuel for our motivational fire. The March issue of O – The Oprah Magazine is all about De-Cluttering Your Life and getting organized – this month we can say that the O stands for Organization!

She has articles by Nate Berkus, Suze Orman and Peter Walsh to name a few. The main content section titled, “Our Stuff, Ourselves” starts on page 154 leading off with Nate Burkus’ article, “The House Whisperer” that “tells about his design for living.” This is followed by a feature article about New York designer Peri Wolfman’s well organized loft showing some of her organization solutions; an article about turning your photo clutter into wall art; an article by Peter Walsh about “cleaning out the ultimate junk drawer” - the Garage; an article about the psychology of clutter and how to let go of “heavies” that “weigh on your heart” and a few pages of short ideas on where to donate items that still have some use called, “Who Wants My…?”

A few donation sites that we have not talked about yet are mentioned in this last article. Of course, the Vietnam Veterans of America will take clothing, but did you know you don’t have to wait for the bags to show up in your mailbox - you can schedule a pick-up at your home at An organization called SAFE ( donates gently used stuffed animals to homeless shelters, hospitals and emergency aid workers; wood planks and construction materials can be donated for eco-friendly construction projects through; Brides Against Breast Cancer sells new and used wedding gowns to help fund the wishes of breast cancer patients (; Clean the World ( sends your unwanted toiletries, including the thousands of hotel shampoos and soaps you have collected, to areas around the world where hand-washing will help stop the spread of disease; and you can Google “Creative Reuse Centers” and find places that will take art materials or as O says – “things you never knew were art materials.” The following are some other useful sites for organizations who will connect your unwanted goods with deserving recipients: will take children’s DVDs you no longer want; Habitat for Humanity will turn your unwanted vehicle (or practically anything with a motor) into cash for building materials and sends you a receipt for tax deduction purposes ( or 877-277-4344); will take any old “technotrash” such as old PC Cables, CD-ROMS, computer devices, CDs, DVDs, VHS and cassette tapes, and other such items; will help connect you with schools in your area that could really use your old office supplies; will take gently used children’s and young adult books (as will the library); will take shoes; and you can send old blue jeans that are finally too old to wear to who will transform old denim into cutting-edge eco-friendly insulation for communities in need like those still recovering from Katrina.

There are several other ideas that are good to know that we can discuss at our next meeting. I will bring this issue to our upcoming De-Clutter Club meeting on March 3, 2011 in our new craft room – Program Room 1A/1B to the right past the Check-Out desk in the South Brunswick Public Library. Hope to see you all there and don’t forget to save the date of Tuesday, May 17, 2011 to see Jamie Novak and hear all of her latest advice on “Bite-Sized Living.”

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Happy New Year

It was nice seeing some new faces at the De-clutter Club on January 6. It is a new year and we all have new resolutions to keep! At the meeting I announced that Jamie Novak will be coming back to the library to give us another boost in our efforts to live an organized life. You should not miss this presentation on Tuesday evening, May 17 at 7:00 p.m. Jamie Novak, the world’s most Relatable Organizer, is the author of four bestselling books on organizing and de-cluttering, the latest of which is "Stop Throwing Money Away: Turn Clutter to Cash, Trash to Treasure and Save the Panel While You are at it." Jamie has been seen on HGTV and QVC and has written many articles in magazines such as Real Simple and Everyday with Rachel Ray. Her latest venture, as the founder of Bite Sized Living, is featured on a weekly Internet radio program on BlogTalkRadio and a monthly call-in “Bookclub by Phone.” You can read more about Jamie at where you can register to receive her Bite Sized Newsletter or read her Blog.

I have a colleague who brings me the magazines that she is done with if they include an article about de-cluttering or organizing, and as we have discussed, clutter is such a universal issue with people that it is one of the most popular ways to tempt people to buy magazines other than "see the latest hairstyles" or "look better in a bathing suit." Right now I have three magazines in front of me with teasers like "Organizing Made Easy: 5 Questions that make clutter disappear" or "Quick and Easy Organizing Ideas" or just the plain imperative, "Get Organized." These are undoubtedly popular because they make it seem like there are really only 5 questions or three simple rules that will solve all of your organization problems. If only…

We have talked about one piece of advice that we all agree with - get a handle on what you have to store before you run out and buy anything new to store it in! As George Carlin might have said, "Don’t stuff your house with stuff designed to handle the stuff until you know if you need the stuff." Just about every one of these magazine articles ignores that basic rule and tries to tempt you with the latest and the greatest organizing solution – after all, magazines are all about advertising aren’t they? However, there are a few things that I have seen that are unique and might be helpful. In the February 2011 issue of Family Circle magazine in an article titled "30 Quick and Inexpensive Ideas" they describe a product called a Cable Box. This box is large enough to hold a surge protector and all of the excess cable that is lying in a heap below your computer. There is a slot at either end where the cables emerge and is a lot easier than bundling with some of the other products. It really is just a matter of reducing visual clutter, but it looks pretty neat and they have a whole range of fun colors. ( A few other items are listed on websites that are known for useful organizing items. There is an adjustable shower caddy at, where you can also find other well designed household tools and gadgets; some fun “crunchable” hampers with handles at my favorite store and website; some stackable canisters recommended by HGTV’s Sabrina Soto at; and thin, velvet covered “Huggable Hangars” that keep your closet orderly from that are also available at Lowe’s for a lot less.

In the same magazine, there are some useful websites to reduce paperwork coming into the house: a finance and bill paying program that is independent of your bank at; a way to get rid of your unwanted catalogs at; a place to register to get off mailing lists for credit cards, insurance offers, etc. at; and for about 70 cents per month will keep you and your family member’s names off of consumer mailing lists for the next 5 years.