The Queen of Clean Conquers Clutter

The Queen of Clean Conquers Clutter

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by Linda C. Cobb
     
 

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When it comes to freeing your home of clutter (let's face it — we all have it),

The Queen of Clean

really spells things out for you:

Question

Unpack

Evaluate

Eliminate

Neaten up!

It's a foolproof sorting system for even the

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Overview

When it comes to freeing your home of clutter (let's face it — we all have it),

The Queen of Clean

really spells things out for you:

Question

Unpack

Evaluate

Eliminate

Neaten up!

It's a foolproof sorting system for even the most devoted packrat: Question the best possible use of a room, a closet, a drawer...Unpack all of your clutter to get a sense of what you have (and what you need to do with it)...Evaluate each and every item you own...Eliminate unwanted possessions without guilt or regrets...and Neaten up your belongings in their newly decluttered space. You'll find your home and your life organized like never before as you conquer clutter in the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, attic, basement — even the garage!

The key, says the Queen, is to start small...and soon you'll be revved up and ready to straighten out every nook and cranny of your home. Her down-to-earth clutter-busting advice is built for speed; in a flash she sorts through and tidies up wallets, purses, drawers, closets, pantries, clothes, shoes, cosmetics, junk mail, linens, toys, books, videos, photos, collectibles, and much, much more!

The Queen makes even the most dreaded organizing tasks a breeze with hundreds of easy and practical tips! Find out how good it feels to be a savvy manager of all that threatens to invade your orderly domain with these simple and effective strategies from America's #1 housekeeping expert, the Queen of Clean®.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly
Clean-up diva and author Cobb (Talking Dirty with the Queen of Clean, etc.) here focuses on organizing a home and eliminating the unnecessary. Cobb begins by explaining that being a Peaceful Pauline is preferable to being a Harried Harriet. The latter is always running behind schedule, paying overdue video fines and having nothing to eat. "Conquering clutter really does pay off-you'll be pleasantly surprised to find how enjoyable conquering clutter and getting organized can be. You can relax in your own home, find things when you need them, enjoy your day-to-day activities, and feel in control of your life," says Cobb. The author takes the reader from room to room, discussing what can be immediately thrown out, cleaned and put elsewhere or re-configured. Some of the advice isn't original-such as leaving daily items near the door-but Cobb's spin is amusing and sometimes pretty clever. Family bulletin boards, for example, are helpful, but Cobb says not to use a chalk or pen board because the writing utensils inevitably disappear. The section on organizing the kitchen is helpful, particularly with the list of how long foods can safely be stored. Cobb's discussion of what items can and cannot be safely stored in attics and basements is also informative. People unwilling to face the clutter throughout their whole house can still benefit by skimming selected chapters. Readers willing to spend just an hour or two with this book will easily regain that time after they've followed Cobb's advice. (Dec.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781893048027
Publisher:
Phoenix Magazine
Publication date:
11/01/1998
Pages:
127

Read an Excerpt

Introduction

A place for everything and everything in its place. Who hasn't heard that phrase? And who hasn't thought of it as a fantasy? No one has clutter in their fantasy, but in reality, everyone does. Let's face it: No matter how big your home or how much storage space you have, clutter always seems to have a life of its own, abiding by that law of physics that says matter expands to fill the space available. If you have to stop to clear a work area every time you start to carry out a task like cleaning, cooking, or laundry; if you're constantly losing your keys and you have to wade through eighteen months of unread Reader's Digests to get to the TV Guide; then you have a clutter problem. But in case you think clutter is just an aggravation, consider this: Clutter is costly! Have you ever:

  • Paid late fees on a bill because you misplaced it until it was too late? Those credit card bills are high enough without tacking on late fees.

  • Bought duplicates of the same item without knowing it? Okay, it's nice to stock up on lightbulbs, but twelve boxes?

  • Forked over unnecessary fines at the library or video store? Sure, Caddyshack may have given you a lot of laughs, but forget to return the tape on time and that $8 fine will do a lot to wipe the smile off your face.

Mistakes happen, but habitual disorganization can lead to more than your fair share of unhappy consequences. Consider a good friend of mine who carefully arranged every detail of her wedding -- but forgot to bring the key to the reception hall for the caterers. While the food and supplies were being unloaded on the sidewalk, thefrantic bride had to dispatch a friend to her home for the missing key. The unlucky caterers had to hastily set up the wedding feast while the ceremony was taking place. Not an auspicious beginning to a lifetime union. Then there was the mother who baked and iced two dozen cupcakes for her son's class birthday party-and left them on the kitchen counter in a last-minute dash to get out the door on time. And what about the health care executive whose closet was so hopelessly disorganized that he once attended an important meeting wearing one black and one brown shoe! Do any of these stories sound familiar? Situations like these are upsetting and stressful, but you'll be happy to know they're also unnecessary -- a little less clutter and a little more organization is all it takes.

You know, the reasons for holding on to clutter are as many and varied as clutter itself. Often we are loath to get rid of a particular item because we think it might come in handy "sometime" or "somewhere." We hold on to broken goods, thinking that the day will come when we'll have the time or the know-how to repair them or scavenge the parts to repair something else. We keep possessions because they have sentimental value, or because they hold promises that we aren't willing to part with. I have a friend whose shelves are full of good intentions: Tae Bo™ tapes that were going to transform her into a feisty size 6, a French language course for a trip that never materialized, a basket full of wool that one day hopes to become a sweater. Is that you? It doesn't have to be.

We all have our favorite things that we don't want to part with. That's fine. Nobody but the most strident organizational fiend would suggest that you get rid of all your sentimental favorites in your clutter clear out. And yet, what happens when everything is a sentimental favorite, when you're so crowded by things from the past that you don't have room for the present? Memories are great -- until you have to dust them.

I'm going to let you in on a trade secret. You can get out from all that clutter. You can live a life that's more organized and, consequently, less stressful. And you don't have to spend money to do it. The key to getting out from under all that clutter and getting organized is not a matter of adding anything: it's the thoughtful elimination of time- and space-wasting things. In most cases, you don't need to buy a single new product to get yourself organized; you can use what you've already got to control the clutter monster in your life -- and keep it tamed.

You already have what it takes to conquer clutter and get organized. So let's work together to get it done. It's easier than you think!

Chapter 1: Twenty Questions

Enquiring minds want to know, right? I'm a Queen with a mission -- to help you find out what will work best to keep your life clutter-free and organized. Just go down this list and answer these twenty questions. And be honest. We don't give out demerits. This isn't about right and wrong. It's about identifying your strong points-knowing what you're good at, what you have a knack for -- as well as finding out where you need to improve your clutter-containing skills. Just remember: No matter how big your home, the biggest room is usually room for improvement!

1. Are you constantly running late?

· Never· Sometimes· Often

2. Do you have trouble letting go of objects that have long outlived their use?

· Never· Sometimes· Often

3. Are you using eyeliner and lipstick to write down messages because you can't seem to find a pencil or pen in your drawers?

· Never· Sometimes· Often

4. During the last six months, have you had to search for your car keys...

· Never· Sometimes· Often

5. Do you organize and reorganize, but always end up with the same amount of stuff?

· Never· Sometimes· Often

6. Have you ever run the baby's formula through the automatic coffee maker because the microwave is used for storage and you couldn't find a pan?

· Never· Sometimes· Often

7. Have you ever missed a doctor appointment or social engagement because you just plain "forgot" all about it?

· Never· Sometimes· Often

8. Is your closet filled to the rafters with clothing and shoes? Does it contain clothes of all sizes?

· Never· Sometimes· Often

9. How many times during the past year have you given unneeded items to charity?

· Never· Sometimes· Often

10. Have you ever tucked in a pile of clothes because there is so much stuff on the bed you can't tell if your child is in there or not?

· Never· Sometimes· Often

11. Have you ever found an item you needed -- after you'd purchased its replacement?

· Never· Sometimes· Often

12. Do the kids think that everybody turns their underwear inside out on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday to get an extra day's wear out of it?

· Never· Sometimes· Often

13. Are there papers on your desk that you haven't looked through for over a month?

· Never· Sometimes· Often

14. Do your neighbors come to your house first every time there is a scavenger hunt?

· Never· Sometimes· Often

15. When you start cleaning and organizing your house, do you tend to get sidetracked and start another project?

· Never· Sometimes· Often

16. Do you generally know what time it is, or do you usually need to consult your watch?

· Never· Sometimes· Often

17. Is your idea of clearing off the countertop sliding everything off it into the wastebasket or drawer?

· Never· Sometimes· Often

18. Does your car sit outside because you need your garage for storage?

· Never· Sometimes· Often

19. Are you able to shut all of your dresser drawers without clothes hanging out the sides?

· Never· Sometimes· Often

20. Do you have to remove dirty pots and pans from your oven before you can use it?

· Never· Sometimes· Often

Now it's time to check your responses. For each time you answered NEVER, give yourself 1 point. For each SOMETIMES answer, give yourself 2 points, and give yourself 3 points for each time you answered OFTEN. Now add up your score and let's see how you did.

If you scored 20 to 35 points, you are indeed a royal organizer. Good for you! Use this book to help you hone your best organizing instincts and make yourself the Queen of your own castle. You probably have a lot of the basics in use, so now's the time to pay attention to the small organizing details you may previously have overlooked. Fine-tune your storage systems and banish clutter once and for all, and make sure you are spending enough time on evaluating and eliminating.

If you scored 36 to 45 points, you fit into the largest group of clutter conquerors. Constantly trying to improve, you nevertheless feel like you are running on a treadmill as the clutter continues to grow...and grow....You're not part of the remedial organizing group (see the next paragraph), but you still have a ways to go to get your palace organized and clutter-free. Why don't you start with the chapters that pertain to your biggest problems? You'll make great strides if you really question and take stock of the areas you want to conquer -- find out what's not working before you come up with solutions. Take it in small stages and work through your clutter crisis area by area.

If you scored 46 to 60 points, then, yes, let's just say it -- you have a clutter problem. A BIG ONE! But we're not going to lock you in the dungeon and throw away the key (there probably wouldn't be room for you, anyway). Chances are you look at the clutter accumulating around you and feel defeated before you begin, and so haven't begun. Until now. Let me walk you through this book.Select a small area to start your clutter busting so that you can step back and appreciate your efforts almost immediately. Once you begin and get a feel for conquering clutter (even in the smallest way), you'll begin to believe in order again. Remember, it took time to collect all of that clutter, so it will take time to remove it. Read on to elevate your royal status in your home and eliminate some of the stress that you deal with every day. And don't get discouraged. Rome wasn't organized in a day!

Chapter 2: Getting Started

Are you a Harried Harriet? Harriet unlocks the front door with a heavy heart. It's past dinnertime already. An unexpected phone call and a long line at the supermarket have made her late -- again. Dodging a lone sock in the hallway (how did that get there?), she can hear the answering machine go off: "Mom! Pick up! I'm waiting for a ride at soccer practice!" Harriet slides her bags full of groceries onto the kitchen counter, where the movie the family watched last night still sits patiently waiting. Darn, she meant to return that to thevideo store. That's another $3 in fines. The dog has chewed a slipper again. His leash has been missing since yesterday, and no one has been able to take him for a much needed walk. Harriet is -- well, harried! She's tired, hungry, and frustrated. Dinner's not made, and the house is a mess. Does this sound like the end of your average workday?

Life is becoming increasingly complex. Spending time at home should be a relaxing, fun experience, not an exercise in frustration. There is an easier way to live than Harriet's daily routine. Wouldn't it be much nicer to comehome like Peaceful Pauline? Pauline opens the front door, placing her keys in the basket on the hall table and her handbag on a handy wall hook nearby -- right next to the dog's leash! Tonight's dinner is already cooked and ready tobe popped into the oven. Last week, Pauline cooked a double batch of spaghetti and froze the second half for another day. That leaves half an hour to change clothes and read and sort the mail before it's time to eat. After dinner, thekids can take the dog for a walk. This evening, the family will watch a video together, and Pauline might even have time to call her mother for a chat. No wonder Pauline is peaceful!

What's the difference between feeling like a Harried Harriet and a Peaceful Pauline? It comes down to this: clutter control and organization. Controlling clutter and organizing your life may seem like an impossible task, but just think of all the impossible tasks that you do every day. And think howmuch easier they would be if you weren't surrounded by clutter and chaos! Conquering clutter really does pay off -- in fact, conquering clutter has such terrific benefits that once you begin, you'll soon become hooked. If you've gotten used to living in clutter and chaos, you'll be pleasantly surprised tofind how enjoyable conquering clutter and getting organized can be. You can relax in your own home, find things when you need them, enjoy your day-to-day activities, and feel in control of your life. And, if you're like most of us in these days of instant gratification, take heart: conquering clutter pays off immediately!

I once had a fortune cookie that read: "Every journey, no matter how long, begins with a single step." What is the first step in getting organized? Having a system, of course. A workable solution for daily life that really gets results. And that's where I come in! I've worked up a little system so that you can take me with you from room to room, so you can let me -- the QUEEN -- be your guide! It's a little reminder to help you follow through with your clutter-busting intentions, to keep you from getting distracted or feeling defeated before you begin. Give it (me!) a try.

Question

Unpack

Evaluate

Eliminate

Neaten up!

Question. What is the purpose of this room, cupboard, drawer? What do I see that doesn't work here? How can I make better use of this space? Why am I keeping this article of clothing? What am I happy with? What works here and what doesn't? If the twins are teenagers, why do we still have two shelves of Dr. Seuss books on display? If the summer sun is shining, why do we have four mismatched mittens on the table in the hall?

Unpack. Get it all out in the open, one thing at a time. For example, if you're working in a closet, do only the shoes first. Sort through one shelf in the linen closet. Remove the contents of one drawer in the kitchen. Remember, only by taking things out will you really have a sense of what you have and what you need to do with it. You can't conquer clutter if you can't see it.

"A goal is nothing more than a dream with a time limit."

-- Joe Griffith

Evaluate. It's judgment day. Ask some questions: When was the last time I used this? Do I really need this? If so, is this where the item should be? Then prepare to stash it or trash it. Okay, I know, this is the hard part. If your heart is saying you need it and your mind says it hasn't been used since Nixon was president, sometimes it's hard to be impartial. Look at things as ifyou were helping a friend. If the things weren't your possessions, what would you do? Then do it.

Eliminate. One bag is for the neighbor, a charity, or the school fund-raiser. The other bag is headed straight for the trash. Every item that isn't destined to go back into that drawer, closet, or shelf belongs to one of these two bags. Get rid of the excuses for keeping things while you're at it. I've heard them all: I might need that someday. Aunt Margaret gave me that. Somebody might be able to make use of that, so I'll hang on to it. Eliminate your excuses as you eliminate your excess stuff. They're both clutter, and you'll live better without them.

Neaten Up. This is the fun part. Oh, how clever you'll feel as you admire your rows of neatly organized shoes, freshly straightened spices, or tidy stacks of towels. This is the time you get to put things where you want them and stand back and admire your work. Don't be afraid to be unconventional. If you like storing your underwear rolled in clear hanging racks on the back of the bedroom door, that's fine, as long as it works for you. Try things out, and change them if they don't work the way you hoped they would.

So, now that you have a system, what's the best way to use it? Start small. I'd like to suggest that you devote just 15 minutes at a time to this process -- that's all it takes to really get results. If you like, you can even use your kitchen timer to remind you -- or release you, if you're really resisting the idea. So often we feel discouraged because a task seems overwhelming. This simple 15-minute rule lets you off the hook. You don't have to eliminate your clutter all in one day. You can chip at it over time. Believe me, I've tried many ways to manage my day-to-day life, and this is the only one that works consistently. Don't be surprised if your 15 minutes slip away before you realize it! Then, if you like, you can reset the timer for another 15 minutes and tackle another drawer, shelf, closet, or box. It's up to you! You never realized organizing could actually be fun, did you? C'mon. Let's get started!

Copyright © 2002 by Linda Cobb

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