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Home organizing comes after clutter control. I don't think clutter "should" be organized. I think clutter can be weeded out first and then we can organize what is left. Sign up for FREE monthly Clutter Clearing Tips newsletter to stay on top of this process.

Organizing Tips:

• Think like a professional organizer: Primary, secondary, and tertiary space and stuff. Primary stuff goes in primary space. Secondary stuff goes in secondary space...Clutter arises when our secondary and tertiary stuff clogs our primary space.
• Store items at the location where they are most frequently used. • Store items by function--letter writing, bill paying, gift wrapping...Be able to perform tasks like these without having to run all over your home to get what you need.
• Store "like items" together. Keep hats together, shoes together, hobby items together...
• Match the storage container to the stuff. Is this category of stuff going to expand? If this is such an obvious question, why are so many of us struggling to cram our stuff back into overflowing containers? Plan for grow room.
• Match the storage item to its user. Make sure the container will work for a small child--can they open and shut it, and manage the latch?

• Put storage containers in the right locations. If a container isn't in a logical place to make using it become a new habit, it will be a waste of money, effort, and space.

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Organized cooking? Simple? I can't cook.... That isn't quite true. I usually just don't like to cook. I am not a cooking expert. I try to find resources and techniques to simplify this task. Since meal planning, preparation, and clean-up take a significant amount of time, energy, and resources, it is obvious that any simplifying here can have a significant life impact. Simple cookbooks come in several major categories helpful to recognize:
  • Few-ingredient books for recipes that don't require a lot of ingredients.
  • Cook-it-fast books for recipes that prepare and cook quickly.
  • Crock-pot books to start dinner in the morning and come home to at night.
  • Make-Ahead or Freezer books to have frozen dinners on hand when time is short.
  • Make-A-Mix books to save money and time.
  • Cooking technique books to learn cooking techniques to apply to whatever ingredients you happen to have on hand. Other cooking thoughts:
  • Take a "try before you buy" approach with cookbooks. Check out a book from the library. Use it for awhile. See if you like the food and make sure the author's pantry matches your own pantry before you are stuck with more cookbook or pantry clutter.
  • Get rid of the "all or nothing" attitude. Recognize there are many options between a made-from-scratch meal and a restaurant meal--fast food brought home and eaten with fruits or vegetables, frozen dinners or pizza take-out supplemented with at-home beverages or side dishes...

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ORGANIZING PRODUCTS, even organizing containers, will NOT reduce your clutter, organize you, or simplify your life. In fact, a product (i.e. more stuff) can actually increase your clutter--even if it is a great storage idea, cleaning tool, or whatever. CHOOSE CAREFULLY. Think before you buy: Will I use it? Can I make this part of my cleaning, clutter control, or home organizing routine?

The "Mommy Tool"is a must-have: This is simply a small functional pocket knife. I don't mean to leave dads out. A pocket knife, generally found at a hardware store or in the sporting goods section of a discount store, is an excellent parenting tool to simplify a parent's life. It trims a loose thread, pulls out a sliver at the park, or opens a package that just arrived in the mail.

Family Manager Planner--I call mine my "mommy notebook." I changed the organizing tabs to fit my life, so I have categories like "Books to read," "Places to go when I have a sitter," "Movies to rent," "Wish list for me," and wish lists for other family members.

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CLUTTER CLEARING & ORGANIZING BOOKS:

 So many books and so little time. Sometimes I go to the library and "shop." It doesn't cost any money but it does cost time. I consider it time well spent.
  • Find a few favorite clutter control, organizing, and simple living books, and reread them every year or two to get motivated.
  • Own reference books. Borrow entertaining and inspirational books.
Here are some of my favorite books organized by "life area." Scroll down to the categories that interest you and "shop" there:

HOME ORGANIZING & CLUTTER CONTROL
  • Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, Karen Kingston, New York: Broadway Books, 1999.
  • Confessions of an Organized Housewife, Deniece Schofield, Cincinnati, OH: Writer’s Digest Books, 1982.
  • Not for Packrats Only, Don Aslett, New York: Plume, 1991.
  • Pick Up Your Socks, And Other Skills Growing Children Need! A Practical Guide to Raising Responsible Children, Crary, Elizabeth, & Casebolt, Pati (Parenting Pr., Inc., 1990).
  • Getting Organized, Stephanie Winston, New York: Warner Books, 1991.
  • Get Your Act Together, Pam Young & Peggy Jones, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1993.
  • The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Organizing Your Life, Georgene Lockwood, New York: Alpha Books, 1996.
  • Use What You Have Decorating, Lauri Ward, New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1998.

COOKING/FOOD
  • Once-A-Month Cooking, Mimi Wilson & Mary Beth Lagerborg, Colorado Springs, Colorado: Word Books, 1992.
  • Frozen Assets: How to cook for a day and eat for a month, Deborah Taylor-Hough, Beverly Hills, CA: Champion Press, 1999.
  • Recipes 1-2-3: Fabulous food using only three ingredients, Rozanne Gold, NY: Viking, 1996.
  • Make-A-Mix, Karine Eliason, Nevada Harward, Madeline Wetover, Tuscon, AZ: Fisher Books, 1995.
  • Desperation Dinners, Beverly Mills & Alicia Ross, New York: Workman Publishing, 1997.

LAUNDRY AND WARDROBE
  • A Woman’s Guide to a Simpler Life, Andrea VanSteenhouse w/Doris A. Fuller, NY: Harmony Books, 1996.
  • Looking Good-A comprehensive guide to wardrobe planning, color & personal style..., Nancy Nix-Rice,Palmer Pb. 1996.

HOME CLEANING

  • Is There Life After Housework?, Don Aslett, Cincinnati, OH: Writer’s Digest Books, 1981, 1992.
  • Speed Cleaning, Jeff Cambell & The Clean Team, New York: Dell Pub. Co., 1987.
  • How to Avoid Housework, Paula Jhung, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995.

MONEY

  • Your Money or Your Life, Joe Dominguez & Vicki Robin, New York: Viking, 1992.
  • The Tightward Gazette I, II, & III, Amy Dacyczyn, a.k.a. The Frugal Zealot, New York: Villard Books, 1996.
  • Shattering the Two-Income Myth, Andy Dappan, Brier, Washington: Brier Books, 1997.
  • Mi$erly Moms, Jonni McCoy, Elkton, MD: Full Quart Press, 1996. Two Incomes And Still Broke? Linda Kelly, New York: Random House, 1996

TIME AND PAPER MANAGEMENT

  • Slowing Down in a Speeded Up World, Adair Lara, Emeryville, CA: Conari Press, 1994.
  • How to be Organized Inspite of Yourself, Sunny Schlenger, New York: Penguin Books, 1989.
  • The Overwhelmed Person’s Guide to Time Management, Ronni Eisenberg w/Kate Kelly, New York: PLUME, 1997.
  • How To Get Control of Your Time and Your Life, Alan Lakein, New York: Peter H. Wyden, Inc., 1973.
  • Time Management For Dummies, Jeffrey J. Mayer, Foster City, CA: IDG Books, 1995.
  • Time Shifting--Creating More Time to Enjoy Your Life Stephan Rechtschaffen, M.D., New York: Doubleday, 1996.
  • File Don’t Pile, Pat Dorff, New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1986. Taming the Paper Tiger, Barbara Hemphill, Washington, D.C.: Kiplinger Books, 1992

LIFESTYLE & PHILOSOPHIES OF SIMPLE LIVING

  • Creating A Charmed Life--Sensible, Spiritual Secrets Every Busy Woman Should Know, Victoria Moran.
  • Voluntary Simplicity: Toward A Way of Life that is Outwardly Simply & Inwardly Rich, Duane Elgin, New York: Quill, 1993. Living The Simple Life, Elaine St. James, New York: Hyperion, 1996.
  • How to Get Off the Fast Track and Live a Life Money Can’t Buy, M.M. Kirsch, Los Angeles, CA: 1991.
  • Balancing Act, Mary Ellen Ashcroft, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996.
  • The Simple Living Guide, Janet Luhrs, New York: Broadway Books, 1997.
  • The Circle of Simplicity, Cecile Andrews, New York: HarperCollins, 1997.
  • Simple Living, Frank Levering and Wanda Urbanska, New York: Viking, 1992.
  • Plain & Simple, Sue Bender, San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1989.
  • Gift From The Sea, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, New York: Pantheon Books, 1975.
  • The Woman’s Comfort Book, Jennifer Louden, SanFrancisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco, 1992.