One Thing at a Time: 100 Simple Ways to Live Clutter-Free Every Day


Simple, effective ways to put things in their place

Those piles of papers, clothes, and other things you thought you'd successfully de-cluttered have returned, and this time they brought friends. What's the use of trying to fight the clutter? Is there a better way?

This powerful and useful guide delivers solutions that work, no matter how overwhelmed you feel. The answer isn't an elaborate new system, or a solemn vow to start tomorrow. Instead,...

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One Thing At a Time: 100 Simple Ways to Live Clutter-Free Every Day

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Simple, effective ways to put things in their place

Those piles of papers, clothes, and other things you thought you'd successfully de-cluttered have returned, and this time they brought friends. What's the use of trying to fight the clutter? Is there a better way?

This powerful and useful guide delivers solutions that work, no matter how overwhelmed you feel. The answer isn't an elaborate new system, or a solemn vow to start tomorrow. Instead, psychotherapist and organizer Cindy Glovinsky shares 100 simple strategies for tackling the problem the way it grows--one thing at a time. Here's a sampling of the tips explained in the book:

*Declare a fix-it day

*Purge deep storage areas first

*Label it so you can read it

*Get a great letter opener

*Practice toy population planning

*Leave it neater than you found it

Written in short takes and with a supportive tone, this is an essential, refreshing book that helps turn a hopeless struggle into a manageable part of life, one thing at a time.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Praise for Making Peace with the Things in Your Life

"Glovinsky is a compassionate, talented organizer who understands the root causes of people's clutter woes. This is a really helpful book."
- Judith Kolberg, author of Conquering Chronic Disorganization and co-author of ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life

"Glovinsky asks readers to examine the underlying psychological issues that they have with things....She takes Julie Morgenstern's Organizing from the Inside Out to the next level."
- Library Journal

Judith Kolberg

Glovinsky is a compassionate, talented organizer who understands the root causes of people's clutter woes. This is a really helpful book.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312324865
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 7/1/2004
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 446,428
  • Product dimensions: 5.51 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.61 (d)

Meet the Author

Cindy Glovinsky

Cindy Glovinsky, M.S.W., A.C.S.W., is the author of Making Peace with the Things in Your Life. She is a licensed psychotherapist and professional organizer. A frequent lecturer and expert in the fields of chronic disorganization and attention deficit disorders, she is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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Read an Excerpt

One Thing At a Time

Do you have one of those brains that goes naturally in twenty-seven directions at once? If so, you may be great at multitasking but susceptible to getting overwhelmed in response to a mess. Instead of focusing on the vase you're about to put back on the shelf, you glance vacantly around at the scummy goldfish bowl, the papers piled on the desk, the kitty litter on the carpet, everywhere and anywhere except at the object in your hands. Because your brain does this, even a small amount of clutter can make you feel as helpless as the princess contemplating the enormous pile of straw that Rumpelstiltskin demanded she spin into gold. The result is paralysis.
This can go on for hours--unless a perceptive person walks over and touches your arm, directs your attention to the vase in your hands, and murmurs a single sentence: One Thing at a time. When this happens, your thoughts stop crisscrossing, your body shifts back into action, and progress resumes. The vase goes onto the mantelpiece, your hands reach for the next item, and soon the clutter has disappeared. These five magic little words have the power to release you from even the most profound state of lethargy, overwhelm, or confusion and get you moving again.
Are you too exhausted after a long day's work to deal with the mountain of mail on your counter? Is your basement crammed with items left behind by someone you horribly miss? Do you have absolutely no idea what to do with the stacks of magazines you never have time to read? Does the sight of your dirty dishes make you nauseous? Do you shuffle through papers three or four at a time but never seem to get anywhere with them? The solution to each of these problems is the same: One Thing at a time.
As a professional organizer, I've used these words to help clientsagain and again. Janine was feeling hopeless. She spent much of our first hour talking about how she would never be able to deal with the enormous piles of wrinkled clothes in her bedroom, the sight of which caused her to feel even more depressed. With my encouragement, she finally set to work, but every now and then she would stop and commiserate. Each time she did this, I would repeat the same phrase: "One Thing at a time," and she would get moving again. Eventually her bedroom became clutter-free, which inspired her to go on to other projects.
Hal had problems staying focused. An entrepreneur whose brain was swimming with brilliant new ideas, he attempted to de-clutter his office by rushing around from one pile to another, shuffling through papers and throwing them back down without deciding what to do with any of them. As we continued to work together, Hal began to understand how fruitless this was. As a remedy, he gave me permission to say, "One Thing at a time" each time he started to go off track before completing a project. Eventually he began to say these words to himself. Although Janine and Hal had different problems, the solution for both of them was the same: One Thing at a time.
This solution is deceptively simple. The technique of repeating a certain, well-chosen phrase to calm the nerves and focus the mind has worked for millions of people throughout history. Practitioners of most of the world's great religions have used this "mantra" technique for centuries, and people in twelve-step groups find strength in the motto "One day at a time." Whatever clutter-reducing task you're attempting, One Thing at a time will help you to stay on track until the job is done.
Write the words on a Post-It or placard and display it wherever you need the reminder. More than any other words in this book, they merit this special status. Make One Thing at a time your motto on your journey toward clutter-free living and you'll be amply rewarded.
ONE THING AT A TIME. Copyright © 2004 by Cindy Glovinsky. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. For information, address St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xiii
Introduction 1
1. One Thing at a Time 7
2. Things Don't Move Themselves 9
3. Breathe, Don't Run 11
4. De-Clutter Your Body 13
5. Carry a Clipboard 15
6. Post Checklists of Routine Tasks 17
7. Roll Back Your Sleep Schedule by Half an Hour 20
8. Stop Perfecting, Start Bettering 22
9. Make Your Bed Every Day 24
10. Open the Windows 26
11. Make a List of Minitasks 27
12. Stem the Paper Inflow 30
13. Alphabetize 32
14. Speed Up Your Heart 34
15. Designate an Errand Day 36
16. That Was Then, This is Now 38
17. Get a Rolodex 40
18. Keep the Clothes Moving On 42
19. Throw Away Coupons 44
20. Make a Home for Instructions and Warranties 46
21. Look What I Just Did 47
22. Declare a Fix-It Day 49
23. Write It Down 52
24. Sweep and Vacuum at Least Once a Week 55
25. Choose While You're Still in the Store 57
26. Let the Phone Ring 59
27. Practice the Art of Systematic Scanning 61
28. Put Up Pictures Now 63
29. Do a Loose-Paper Hunt 64
30. Rate Your Memorabilia 65
31. Keep a Phone Log 67
32. Find a Clutter Mate 69
33. How Does It Feel to be Active? 71
34. Divide and Subdivide 73
35. Purge Deep Storage Areas First 74
36. Use Pleasures as Rewards, Not as Escapes 76
37. Make Use of the Snowball Effect 78
38. Is It Worth It? 80
39. Break the Clipping Habit 82
40. Get a Great Letter Opener 84
41. Move from Quantity to Quality 85
42. Keep the Dishes Moving on 87
43. Do a Trash Scan 89
44. Look Inside 91
45. Make a "To Sort" Basket 93
46. One Type of Thing, One Home 94
47. Assess Your Information Needs 96
48. Post Reminders 99
49. Plan Your Wardrobe 101
50. Break the Tactile Connection 104
51. Say Anything But "Yes" 105
52. Label It So You Can Read It 107
53. Tuck It In 109
54. Make a Share List 110
55. It's Just a Problem 112
56. Make a Container Stash 113
57. On Task or off Task? 115
58. Use Binders and Plastic Sleeves 116
59. Keep the Papers Moving on 118
60. Put Up a Pegboard 120
61. Put Things Back Even When you're Rushed 121
62. Clean-Up Time! 122
63. Plan a Dinner Party Three Months from Now 124
64. Store It where you use It 126
65. What Do I Really Need? 128
66. Do It the Easy Way 129
67. Keep the Books Moving on 131
68. Make a Home for Office Supplies 134
69. Use Bright Colors 135
70. Look Up 137
71. Keep the Magazines and Catalogs Moving on 138
72. Put a Trash Container in Every Room 140
73. Make A Pet-Care Place 142
74. Purge your Toiletries 143
75. Don't Pile, Containerize 145
76. Catch People Being Good 147
77. Square the Corners 149
78. Schedule a Regular Reading Time 150
79. Purge and Organize your Pharmaceuticals 152
80. Rethink your Photo Habits 154
81. Set Numerical Limits 156
82. Say what you want--the very Best way 158
83. Set a Timer 161
84. It's Just A Glitch 163
85. Everything has Its Price 165
86. When will I Start Again? 166
87. Practice Toy-Population Planning 167
88. Put Inactive Files in Storage 169
89. Take a Walk Around the Outside of your House 171
90. Do a Ready-to-go Scan 172
91. Piggyback your Habits 173
92. I Deserve the Best 174
93. Gather Supplies Ahead of Time 175
94. Leave It Neater than you Found It 177
95. Shed some Light on the Subject 178
96. Set Up Recycle Stations 179
97. Lay Things out the Night before 181
98. Am I Comfortable? 182
99. How much Noise do I Need? 184
100. Chart Your Progress at Living Clutter-Free 186
Resources for Help with Organizing 189
Bibliography 191
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