simplify 101
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April 27, 2008

To Garage Sale or Not to Garage Sale?

That is the question. Or at least that's one of the questions I received recently after my garage organizing post. Here's the question:

“I have a question about garages, and I hope you can help - I'm at my wit's end. LOL.  My husband and I moved into our condo in October, and needless to say, we have more stuff than room. We've been weeding out ruthlessly and now our garage is getting taken over by "garage sale" boxes. We've planned a sale for June.... I was wondering, do you ever advise your clients to just donate stuff rather than messing with a sale? We had a sale last year and made $400, but it was a ton of work. I'm getting so frustrated every time I open the garage door and see all the boxes, plus, the garage has a whole bunch of boxes that haven't even been opened.  Like Peter Walsh's's all too much!!! I'm thinking about ditching the boxes (and the guilt), but I'm having second thoughts. Ever run into this before?”

What a timely question! Around here, garage sale season is just starting up again. I saw several signs this weekend for the first round of garage sale frenzy. So here’s where I weigh in on garage sales. First, here's the advice I gave in last month's newsletter:

If you're deep in the midst of spring cleaning, a.k.a. doing the spring fling, you may be tempted to have a garage sale to make a few extra dollars off those items you no longer use, need or love. I say, hats off to you for lightening your load, and then, encourage you to draw a line in the sand in terms of your sale. Here's what the line looks like: you set a date, you conduct your sale on that date, you make a few dollars, and then, anything and everything that didn't go in the sale gets donated and leaves your premises for good!

While a sale can be a huge motivator for getting rid of things you no longer use, need, or love, be careful not to let the lure of the sale get in the way of your organizing progress. You go through the tough job of deciding to part with your belongings...only to end with them stuck in your midst until the day of the sale. And if that sale is some arbitrary day someday in the've done the work without a benefit any time in the foreseeable future. By drawing a line in the sand and setting a date for your sale, you have the best of both worlds. You have a non-negotiable deadline for getting it all done, which can be a huge motivator for going through your home with a fine tooth comb. Plus, you have a bright light at the end of the tunnel...that moment in time when your unwanted items are no longer in your midst.

For myself and the clients I work with one on one, I usually don’t recommend having a sale. I make continual runs to Goodwill throughout the year, get receipts for my donations and keep track of what I donate so I can get a tax break. I use a free, on-line service called "It's Deductible" to keep track of what I’m donating. While the process of entering all my donations on-line takes time, it’s nothing compared to the effort of holding a garage sale. I’ve had two garage sales in my life…and made very little money for a whole lot of time and effort. From sorting to staging to advertising to pricing to sitting in my garage for eight hours! I just didn’t find it to be worth it…but I have to be fair and point out that I really do get rid of things all the time. So my garage sale was quite puny and not super exciting to would-be bargain hunters. Which is another thing...the people who come to garage sales want deals!   

So, to sum up an answer for my frustrated reader, you really have to balance your time and effort with the anticipated payoff of a sale. It’s really a personal choice. If stuff lingering in your garage is driving you nuts, you could consider moving up the sale date to early May instead of waiting until June. Simply sell what you have ready by that point in time, and donate the rest for a tax write-off. This could be the best of both worlds for you.

OK readers, where do you weigh-in on garage sales? Do you love ‘em or hate ‘em? Do you have garage sales to offload your stuff? Do you make good money? I’d love to hear your ideas for holding a *profitable* garage sale…or any good excuses you can think of to skip it altogether. ;) Can’t wait to your thoughts on this juicy organizing topic.

April 25, 2008

happy birthday to...



Yes, today is Jay's birthday! Happy birthday sweetie (because I know at some point you'll read this...right?)

So if you don't know Jay...well, he is my husband, the amazing father to our two children, my business partner, the guy who holds down the fort while I'm out of town---both in terms of keeping our family going and in terms of keeping the business going. He is the brain child behind a really fun and exciting "new thing" we're adding to our website. (More on that soon!)

Jay is truly amazing and by no stretch of the imagination does he get the credit he deserves for all of his contributions to simplify 101, our family, and to the overall happiness of my life.

So...if you know Jay because he's your friend or you've meet him through our business and now he's your friend then will you help me surprise him? (Perhaps you bought something from our store and were happy with the service or packaging which was all Jay, by the way. He won't let me ship because I'm not "properly trained.") He's on a field trip right now with our daughter...and I would love to have him come home to an in-box filled with birthday wishes. If you know his email address would you send him a birthday wish? Or if you don't know his email address would you post him a birthday wish right here in the comments? Thank you!!

Jay didn't want a this will be like a virtual birthday party (free from goodie bags which is a very good kind of party ;) and a fun little surprise for him.)

OK...back to the garage article! Have a great day. :)

April 24, 2008

the organized garage

If I'm being honest...the thought of organizing the garage (my own) doesn't make my heart sing, unless of course, two conditions are met:

condition #1: the weather is great. If it's a beautiful day, sunny and warmish with a nice breeze, then not only do I get to do one of my favorite things in the world (organize) I get to do it in the midst of a beautiful day. That my friends, is a good day.

condition #2:  there are buckets involved. Yep, you knew I'd work in the buckets, somehow, someway! It always comes back to the buckets, doesn't it? So here are the latest additions to my bucket list:

sidewalk chalk


gardening gloves


Balls (hey, who mixed that tennis ball in with the baseballs?)


sports "equipment" like rackets, golf "clubs" and bug nets


See, even the garage is more fun with buckets!

If your garage is in need of an organizational do-over, I'll be sharing even more garage organizing ideas (and it won't just be about buckets!) in my upcoming newsletter. Sign up here to be added to my list (newsletter list...not bucket list) and get in on all the garage organizing fun.

I will say this. While my garage is truly not at the top of my list of all time favorite spaces to organize in my home (scrapbook space anyone?) I have found my freshly organized garage to be a surprising source of happiness. ;)

April 20, 2008

the *real* bucket list

So when I did my bucket list post last week...I had not yet seen the movie "The Bucket List". I had heard of it but hadn't yet watched it.

Last night...I did.

Oh my heavens, have you seen it? I realize I'm not on the cutting edge of movie watching or recommending...but if you haven't seen it and you're up for a great movie, add this to the top of your list (movie's to watch list, that is.)

Any movie that reminds us to "find the joy in your life"—well that's my kind of movie.

Here's a trailer from YouTube. (Still "showing off" my new YouTube skills...hee hee.)

So how about you...have you seen the movie? Do you have a bucket list? Are you finding the joy in your life?

Here's to finding the joy in life! Have a happy Sunday!

April 18, 2008

my world rocked

And I mean that literally. Last night at 4:30ish AM, we had an earthquake! An earthquake.

I'm sure you've heard by now...but I just have to share anyway because it was the craziest thing to happen to me in a long time. Seriously. We're laying there sound a sleep when suddenly we're wide awake...and things are rattling..and the bed is shaking...and the dresser is clattering...and we're looking at each other like "what in the heck is going on?" Both kids woke up and came running into our room. The world shook enough to wake my entire family from the depths of sleep. It was crazy. So we decided that, yes, indeed it was an earthquake, no one was hurt, and so all four of us went back to bed (together in the same bed...because that's what you do after the world rocks.)

We were so happy that this earthquake happened while we were safe at home and not while crossing the Mississippi River via a bridge. (Jay said that out loud. I thought it but kept it to myself since I was going to have to do that very thing about four hours later. Drove real fast over that bridge...and I'm back home now. Whew.)

Wow...really makes me want to actually get prepared for an emergency instead of just thinking about what a good idea it would be. Guess I'll add that to my to do list.

In the category of other things that have rocked my world lately. Here's another one. (World rocking in a completely different kind of way...but I seriously thought this was just so fun.) Hat's off the the NAPO LA Chapter for putting together such a wonderful event for the organizing industry. It's a cause near and dear to my I just loved this! Hope you enjoy it, too.

It's Friday. It's rainy. The world has stopped quaking. (And I figured out how to put a YouTube video on my blog!) I'm looking ahead to a weekend of soccer, basketball, baseball, and spring organizing. Here's wishing you a happy weekend filled with the things you love and time spent on nothing by solid ground. ;)

April 13, 2008

the bucket list

After starting a second round of bucket frenzy, I got a few requests for ideas on using these fine (and fun) vessels. So, I thought I'd make my very own "bucket list". ;) This (scarily enough when you see the list) is how I am at this very moment, in my home, using buckets to organize stuff. Ready? OK, here's my bucket list:

1. Kid's art supplies. This handy little bucket usually sits on a shelf of the work desk in my office / scrapbook room (and can be seen on page 95 of my book, making this my most famous bucket.)


And here are some less famous crafting buckets:


2. Bath supplies.


3. Cleaning supplies.


The cleaning supplies bucket is way up on the top right corner of the photo. This was my very first bucket, by the way, because I know you are wondering how this bucket-frenzy started. I bought this lovely, yellow bucket from Martha Stewart way back when she used to sell things through her magazine (like before the era of on-line shopping. Yep...this bucket issue of mine runs long and deep.) This yellow beauty was a ridiculous $30 or more (before shipping...and that rascal is heavy.) But it just goes to show...when you buy something you really, really'll love it for a very long time. (It might show some other things, too, but lets not go there right now. It's late.)

4. Remote controls and video game controllers.


(Bucket above is from Good Pails to Have.)

5. Matches.


For lighting candles, not cigarettes...just in case you were wondering.

6. Note pads.


7. Craft punches.


8. Kitchen snacks and seasoning mix envelopes.


9. Score-keeping supplies (in the game cabinet.)


10. Cough drops.


11. Pens and pencils. I also have a little bucket of pens and pencils that sits on top of the fridge. I'm guessing at this can use your imagination on what that looks like.

12. Comings and goings bucket. This bucket sits on a shelf right by the back door. It holds things we might want to grab on our way sunscreen and sunglasses in the summer (when the sun actually shines around here.) Right now, it's loaded up with hand-sanitizer and tissues.


OK...I have to stop hunting for buckets around my house now. I'm starting to think I have a sickness. ;)

April 10, 2008

greetings from Reno much going on here lately! I think I've gotten all the mileage I can get out of that last bucket it's time I stopped in and said hello. Glad to see so many of you found the buckets, and as soon as I get back from Reno, I'll post with some more ideas on what to use them for. And while we're on the subject of Target, did any of you see the little red wire baskets? Got three of those...haven't a clue what I'll use them for but at $3 total investment, it was a must-have purchase.

So I'm at the Organizing Convention. Very exciting and fun stuff. Will share more as the days go by. My friend Janine has a nice little account of the show and some of the highlights. (Tell her hi if you stop by her blog.) last thing. Next Friday, I will be doing a program called Organizing Basics 101 at St. John's Mercy Women's Center in St. Louis. If you're in the St. Louis area, come join me for this fun and informative talk. If you can make it, I would LOVE to see you! Learn more (and sign up!) here.

OK...gotta' run. It's never a solid plan to show up late at a convention full of organizers...hard to find a good seat. ;) Have a great day!

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