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Author Topic: Fall cleaning/ organization
BannaOj
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I am *always* struggling to get organized. (I'm not saying "stay" organized, because I'd acutally have to get there first.)

I recently hit A Point, Where Things Must Happen... or I go crazy.

I cleaned out the dog/laundry room, and have sorted and decluttered in there.

I have 3 "clutter spots" that I'm procrastinating dealing with right now.

1) The Dining Room Table.
- no eating occurs here, it has an assortment of tools and dog paperwork on it, and is simply a clutter magnet.

2) The "Catch all" bookshelf.

It's an old one in a nook by itself and cleaning supplies end up getting stashed there. I'm wondering if we pitched it if it would help or hurt.

3) The Tubs.
This is Steve's version of decluttering. All clutter goes into a plastic tub. The problem is, now have 4 of them to got through.

4) (did I say three... whoops)
The Office Bookshelf and desk.

I don't even really use either because there's so much junk on them....

I have been watching a show called "Neat" that's on Discovery home, and it has more practical ideas for me than anyone else. She talks about visual organization, organizing so that you can "see" where things are. She says that people who make piles (which I do) organize visually, and so your organization when you create "homes" for things must take this into account.

I've realized a lot of our stuff doesn't have "homes" a true specific spot where it always goes. I also have a bunch of craft stuff that needs to be organized better than it is, but at least it is in organized bins at the moment...

I've also been reading Real Simple. More out of envy, than anything but maybe I'll get to their organization level eone day.
http://www.realsimple.com/realsimple/channel/organize

Any ideas?

AJ

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landybraine
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I can't give you any ideas, because I'm in the SAME situation. I feel like I've been like this forever, and that SOMETHING HAS TO CHANGE feeling...yeah, we're best friends now. I'm just as interested in the responses you get as you are I think. Thanks for starting this topic.
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BannaOj
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Our house is also a fixer-upper. The kitchen/dining area is in need of a major rennovation, but we don't have the money for it.

I promised Steve that while he was studying for his PE (professional engineer) exam, I wouldn't start any big projects. Now he's taken the test and passed. I've been debating about taking mine, because it doesn't mean quite as much in my field.

But I've been thinking that we could overhaul the dog/laundry room (which is a long converted carport) on a budget, and we wouldn't be doing a lot of things that would need to be changed later when the major kitchen rework takes place.

We will also have more cash on hand at the beginning of next year because our cars will be paid off. But, if I don't get the worst of the clutter organized, there's no way that a project could start in that room, and the rest of the place will fall apart even worse...

AJ

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BannaOj
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Here's a link to the "Neat" show.
http://www.neattv.com/home.html

and here's some information on the "visual learner" organization stuff
http://www.neattv.com/season1/tips.html

...it's supposed to be tips(11) but hatrack won't let the parens be in the html tag...

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TomDavidson
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I'm pretty good at organizing clutter and would be glad to help, AJ -- but my first question is: what is the clutter made of?

That's the hardest part of any decluttering: identifying what you're cluttering up your area with, and thus (often in the same process) deciding what should be done with it.

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MattP
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We have the same problem - piles of stuff. We got rid of our most prominent pile - papers on the kitchen counter - by putting up a mail/literature sorter on the wall just next to the counter with slots for every category of stuff that originally constituted the counter pile.
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aspectre
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Rent a public storage unit. Shove everything you own into it.
Bring back what ya need to use when ya need to use it.
Hold garage sale for everything that's still in storage when the rental period is over.
What doesn't sell, throw into dumpster.

Actually, that isn't advice for you. It's what I should be doing.

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BannaOj
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Tom, I find that I'm very good at dealing with "other people's" clutter, but when it comes to my own I freeze up.

The things that clutter my house

1) paper.
It's weird, because most of our bills and stuff are paperless and I pay online. Yet paper still ends up everywhere.

We purged recently and the Very Important Papers (house ownership/insurance, birth certificates pasports etc) canine registration blue slips, are now locked in a fire safe

Of the Not quite as Important Papers

The meaningful sub categories are
a) canine paperwork (show pictures, club articles etc) This is probably 1/2 of the paperwork. I create mini piles but then never merge them back into a single location

b) retirement/financial stuff... I know I *should* send in those stupid proxy voting things but I never get around to it.

c) personal corespondence.... some of which I don't read such as Grandma Letters-tm (they've started up again, because she's in better health but I haven't read any of them)


2) dog grooming paraphenalia.... In theory this stuff should stay in the dog room, and it mostly does, but then I start losing brushes and leashes under layers of other clutter. Of all of the clutter this stuff actually has "homes" where I can put it... and right now isn't too bad.

3) Random crap. Generally semi-home improvement, but stuff we use often enough that hiking out to our garage to get it is less than practical. Screwdrivers, duct tape, assorted cleaning supplies, candles, paperclips, batteries and Who Knows What.

4) Craft Stuff. It's somewhat contained, but I don't like the overall arrangement right now. It isn't easily accessible, and gets shoved in closets.

We do have an abundance of closets that can hold stuff, and in theory most of the stuff should even *fit* in the closets... but even after installing some closet organization systems they don't really seem to work for us.

My bedroom closet should work. I've purged the majority of clothes I never wear. But it doesn't. It is half empty, and the majority of the laundry is in the clean clothes pile in the living room known as Mt. Washmore. I do actually fold the clean clothes, but they never get put away... instead they sit in (mostly) neat piles on top of the dresser. They are easier to get to that way, and you don't have to dig to the bottom of a drawer to find the shirt you want. (The laundry is really the least of my major clutter concerns... if it was the only problem I'd be doing good)

In doing my latest cleaning of the dog room, I bought a wire shelving dealy for paper.(Kinda like this though I didn't pay anywhere near as much) http://www.charnstrom.com/itemdetail.php?sku=W472&=

We have lots of organizing tubs and bins. like these
http://www.target.com/Sterilite-Wide-3-Drawer-Cart-White/dp/B000MPQ2S2/ref=br_1_1/601-4849329-0674568?ie=UTF8&frombrowse=1

http://www.target.com/Sterilite-70-qt-Ultra-Latch-Storage/dp/B000AVMU3O/ref=br_1_1/601-4849329-0674568?ie=UTF8&frombrowse=1

http://www.target.com/Iris-Set-Stor-All-Containers/dp/B000KA6SMY/ref=br_1_6/601-4849329-0674568?ie=UTF8&frombrowse=1

but I don't seem to be able to use them efficiently, in many cases.

AJ

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BannaOj
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This isn't meant to be a one-sided thread... what are your "clutter areas"? Are there clutter places in your house that accumulate stuff and then overflow and spread to other areas?
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anti_maven
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Oh my giddy aunt! That Really Simple site is full of wonderful tips. Maybe I should put them into practice.

Our garage is slowly being purged, with lots of stuff being taken to the recycling depot.

Surprisingly, the only "tidy" part of the garage is my workshop area, and that's because I dedicate the last half an hour of any job to putting back the tools where they belong. It's all part of the therapy of being in the workshop.

Ikea has been a lifesaver in terms of cheap storage. They have boxes of all sizes and my various piles of society reports, match programs and diverse music etc, have all been neatified. What doesn't fit goes to the bin...

One day I wil applly the same strategy to my study, but I fear hell will have frozen over before that happens!

Good luck with the tidy up tho'.

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dkw
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The only area we have managed to keep consistently organized is the nursery. I think that is because we started almost from scratch and started with an organizing system. Even with that every couple of weeks I pull everything out of the dresser or closet or toy baskets and get it back into order. Right now the kitchen, dining room, and living room aren't too bad, since we got them all straightened up for the B-day party, but the "butler's room" has stacks of everything we gathered up at the last minute. And our room is an avalanche waiting to happen.
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BannaOj
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We did a major garage purge this spring, and it really isn't in too bad of shape. there was some stuff this weekend, that got carted out to the garage, as an intermediate solution, and I'm not sure where it will end up in the end.

There's also quite a bit of just plain trash that needs to be hauled out tomorrow night.

AJ

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Farmgirl
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quote:
1) The Dining Room Table.
- no eating occurs here, it has an assortment of tools and dog paperwork on it, and is simply a clutter magnet.

That describes mine exactly.

That and the top of the piano.

Both items are right as you come in the door. When your hands are full, they are easiest target to just set things on (which may never get addressed again).

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ketchupqueen
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Our clutter areas consist of... Every room in our apartment. *hangs head*
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Javert Hugo
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My clutter space is the stack on top of the file cabinet and my desk, sometimes.
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pH
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My entire house is cluttered. I occasionally go on crazy cleaning/organizing sprees and get things fairly neat, but the dog ate my broom, and a whole lot of the clutter in the front room is just stuff that I need to sweep up and toss out. I've partly solved some clutter problems by getting plastic drawers/dressers. And wicker baskets. I have fifty thousand wicker baskets that I just throw stuff in when I simply cannot stand the clutter anymore and don't have time to organize. Then I put the baskets in a closet. My house is really small though, so it's tricky to organize.

And the dog definitely doesn't help.

-pH

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BannaOj
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One of the things that was getting to me lately, is that all of the clutter just smacked you in the face when you walked in the door. (The door we tend to walk in, is the one connected to the laundry/dog room.)

I realized that if I could just get that area better I wouldn't be so depressed the instant I walked in the door. And it's definitely helped.

But I know that the decluttering that occured in that area isn't a "permanent" solution. The "Neat" lady talks extensively about things having "homes". And a lot of the cluttery stuff really doesn't have "homes" at this point. I'm trying to start thinking of it from that perspective to figure out what to do next, but it isn't easy.

AJ

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Uprooted
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I have no ideas for you. But

quote:
have been watching a show called "Neat" that's on Discovery home, and it has more practical ideas for me than anyone else. She talks about visual organization, organizing so that you can "see" where things are. She says that people who make piles (which I do) organize visually, and so your organization when you create "homes" for things must take this into account.
I think I've got to watch this show. Years ago I was with a group of friends and I jokingly called myself a slob. I think my roomie was embarrassed by me putting myself down like that, and she leaped to my defense with an impromptu explanation: "Kristina's not a slob. She just likes to have her things out where she can see them." It cracked me up at the time (because honestly, out where I could see them was all over my bedroom floor), but as the years have gone by, I've realized that she's right. Somehow there's this thing in my mind where if it's hidden away in a drawer or in a file, it's inaccessible (or just forgotten).

But I've never heard it defined like that before. I've already figured out that I need to incorporate that into any system I use, but I'd like to hear ideas from someone who's actually successful at it!

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Javert Hugo
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The place that is cluttered is our entryway. I want to fix it up a bit, but I keep finding other places to spend money.

The main problem is 1) it is the mail sorting area and four people live in the house, so there are lots of little piles, and 2) there is a small trashcan for the junk mail.

I loved it when there was a trashcan outside near the mailboxes like at my old place, but there isn't here so all the junk mail gets tossed into the entryway can. It's too small, though, so it overflows quickly and that means when you walk in you are greeted with a pile of paper.

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BannaOj
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http://www.neattv.com/season1/episode1.html

If you go to the side and look for the "Messy Maria" episode, and the tips, that may help you find the "visual" tips to get around the objectionable html parentheses. Watching the Messy Maria epsiode really impacted me.

While a math and science tutor we were taught to tutor to different kinds of learning styles. But the concept of taking those same sorts of learning styles and turning around and applying them to home organization was completely new to me.

AJ

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BannaOj
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Here's the actual quote... again I can't give a direct link citation because of the html.
quote:

ORGANIZING FOR VISUAL LEARNERS

A Visual Learner is a person who recalls things visually and is afraid that if it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind. It's common for this type of person to have their things scattered about a room (because they want everything in plain view) leaving them with underutilized or forgotten storage space.

If the visual learner uses dressers, they have to be easy to open. Dressers that don't glide well won't get used. A closet has to be easy to access – we suggest curtains that glide easily to the side to provide a broad view of the closet’s contents. Cubbies are ideal but the baskets that fit into the cubbies have to be low in height so that the visual learner can see inside without pulling them all the way out. Think: easy to use and easy to see. If you can use colour coding, that’s even better. For example, bras in the red bin and undies in the blue bin. Use no more than 5 different colours though, because it's hard to remember more than that.

Tips

Use over- the- door hooks behind a bedroom door to keep outfits ready for the next day. Open wall shelves for media would also be useful, perhaps in the living room area.

Visual learners are note-takers but it is common for them to be inconsistent about writing their "to do's". They have a habit of starting their lists on several different note pads or scraps of paper. Instead of using stickies, loose pads and notes that get lost and scattered about, visual learners should consolidate their "to do's in a specifically designated spiral notebook.

When sorting, visual learners will do better with coloured bins or bags. For a sorting strategy, the more metaphorical ‘Past, Present, Future’ , ‘Friends, Strangers and Acquaintances’ or “Love It, Like It, Leave It”– methods will be more effective than the traditional ‘Keep, Toss and Giveaway’.



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BannaOj
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When it comes to garbage cans, I have an Aunt, who made an impact on me. She gave up on washing dishes and fed her family on paper plates (dunno about the environmental impacts but it's what she did)

She had a very long counter in her kitchen, and they had benches pulled up to it and that was where they ate. At either end of this counter were large garbage cans. To clean up they swept half the garbage towards one can, and the other half towards the other can.

I realized that part of the reason actual *trash* doesn't get thrown away is because the trash cans aren't visible or convienent enough. To this end we have good sized trash cans strategically placed in every room of the house. While it doesn't always help with the "paper" clutter, it has drastically increased the amount of true trash that does get thrown away.

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BannaOj
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Another tip from Episode 12 of "Neat"
quote:
FILING SYSTEM FOR PEOPLE WHO PILE

If you’re surrounded by piles of papers on your desk, floor and any other flat surface in your office, chances are you’re a piler, not a filer. Don’t fight your instincts, work with them. For example, instead of adapting to a traditional lateral filing cabinet, go horizontal with a literature sorter that can be placed on a desk or installed on the wall above it. Label each slot in the sorter with the categories you use most, like ‘file’ and 'act'. It will be easier to adapt to filing papers when you don't have to change your piling habit.

Suggested Filing Categories:

Pay
Read
Act
File
Data To Enter
Photocopy
Call


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maui babe
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My daughter left for college about a month ago, and I have a whole new room to clutter up... or so it appears. I spent Labor Day weekend moving my sewing machine, serger and a large shelf full of craft supplies (mostly yarn, but some fabric and sundry things as well) out of my bedroom and into the newly vacated room (I did leave her bed and a couple of bookcases in there, so she does have a place to stay when she visits). I pooped out before I got everything organized as well as I liked (despite buying some nifty plastic bins). So now it's all but impossible to walk into the room. [Frown]

Maybe if I had another long weekend? At least I'll keep believing that.

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Mrs.M
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We don't have much clutter just because I'm very compulsive. Most of what we do have is Andrew's and the rest is from moving and it should all be gone in our community yard sale this weekend.

I don't know that I have any tips, per se - I wouldn't encourage anyone to develop OCD (I'm trying to keep mine from Aerin with mixed results), but it does keep things neat in the Marx household.

If you don't want your dining room table cluttered, set it. Set it with your nicest tablecloth, china, and flatware (or whatever you prefer). In fact, I find that Andrew leaves all my "staged" areas alone.

Maybe instead of storage in closets, get or build a large wall unit. They have ones that are very attractive and won't take away from the style of the room. That way you can have your things out in the open, but still have an attractive, organized room.

My fall housekeeping woes all come from the outside of my house. Now that we're homeowners, we have to deal with our exterior ourselves. The problem is that Andrew grew up in a NYC apartment with a super and I grew up with uncles and cousins who took care of all that. We're going to have to hire people, but I have no idea what the pricing should be.

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ElJay
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AJ, you should definitely have an indoor toolbox/spot for things that are used too often to make sense to store in the garage. I've found that under the kitchen sink is a good place, if you've got room there, but an open basket on a shelf in a closet works too. Put in a screwdriver, adjustable wrench, light hammer and a small assortment of nails, duct tape, and flashlight. Then those things will have a "home" inside, instead of the kitchen table.

I was going to suggest something very similar to what you actually bought for the dog paperwork. If you set that up in the dog room and begin using it, your table problem will practically be solved. [Smile]

Good luck!

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theCrowsWife
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quote:
Originally posted by Mrs.M:
If you don't want your dining room table cluttered, set it. Set it with your nicest tablecloth, china, and flatware (or whatever you prefer). In fact, I find that Andrew leaves all my "staged" areas alone.

That's a good idea. I think I'll try it on my table. These are also good tips regarding visual learning. I'm definitely a pile-maker.

With the help of Flylady, I had actually gotten my house in Arizona pretty much under control. Now we have a house that is simultaneously larger and more poorly designed, and I haven't managed to come up with routines that work here. This house has really driven home to me that no amount of extra space will make up for inefficient design of that space. For example, the kitchen is a square room with doorways on three of the walls, and a large window on the fourth. There's nowhere to put counters, and we can't even fit our refrigerator in there!

--Mel

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sweetbaboo
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I've used Fly Lady over the years. I've never gotten really on top of things as I would like but I have appreciated her because "you can do anything if it's only for 15 minutes" and because she tells me via email (when I'm signed up) that I am never behind, just jump in. I got really good for about a year and then got out of the good habits...considering my mounting frustration at the crap that is all around here, I should sign up again (free--yahoo!).
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sweetbaboo
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Just found The House Fairy o_O Dunno how I feel about it...could be good in a creepy sort of way? (I only watched her introduction video after clicking on kids...) Interesting that she apparently works for Santa!
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Tstorm
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Through long, arduous work, I've decluttered myself. It involved changing quite a few habits. For example, my habit of throwing everything on the table has nearly halted. I now throw paper where it belongs - in the bills stack, in the shred stack (which gets recycled), or in the recycle stack. I pay all my bills at the same time, each month. The bill stubs file away neatly in the file cabinet.

If it's not a bill, I pitch it. No, I don't receive a lot of mail. [Smile]

I've got a couple piles of magazines to sort through, one box of papers, and one folder of miscellaneous papers.

Oh, there's also a vat of computer parts, but that's officially "organized". I've inventoried the vat and it's neat inside. [Smile]

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BannaOj
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I tried flylady, but I couldn't deal with all of the e-mails. It made it worse not better, because I'd just feel guilty in spite of the pep talks....

AJ

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theCrowsWife
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The emails are a bit much, which is why I set up a filter to label them all as Flylady and remove them from the inbox. That way they don't hide non-flylady messages, and I can go look at them when I want. I also ruthlessly delete any reminders that are older than the current day. If I didn't get to them, it doesn't matter anymore because it's a new day. I used to read all of the testimonials, but now I only read the ones that look interesting, and delete the rest.

--Mel

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theCrowsWife
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Oh, also I found that the Control Journal just turned into clutter for me, because there was no place I could set it without it getting covered in other stuff. So I now use Remember the Milk to store my routines and to-do lists, since I spend a lot of time at my computer anyway.

--Mel

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sweetbaboo
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The overabundance of emails made me crazy too so I opted out somehow. I would never work in my shoes either because I was so irritated at her telling me I HAD to wear them. It worked for me though after I got over the irritation...and got rid of the emails. [Smile]
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BannaOj
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I had plans last night to do some paperwork de-cluttering. It didn't happen. You see I've had tendonitis in my foot, and they put me on oral steroids, and yesterday I was really, really lethargic as a result.

Today I go back to the doc for a re-check, so maybe after that point I'll be able to work on paperwork tonight.... or maybe not...

AJ

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ClaudiaTherese
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AJ, great links.

I've had success with running links through TinyURL when the Hatrack software wonked out on them. I will try to do this for you here.

------

quote:
and here's some information on the "visual learner" organization stuff

link here

---

Edited to add: I decluttered by moving to another country and having to pay to ship everything. We got down to very little. Now that we have moved into a larger place, anything we initally brought or have added since was put first in the garage, and we only bring in what we can carry in our hands -- no boxes allowed.

So far, the space is pretty sparse. We'll see how long that lasts.

[ October 03, 2007, 05:02 PM: Message edited by: ClaudiaTherese ]

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