Declutter your life and streamline your world

John Gushue
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You know your young and foolish years are far behind you when you realize you're spending your leisure time at the hardware store, checking out the latest in shelving. Or, consider a friend of mine, who says she gets positively giddy when the Ikea catalogue comes in the mail, so she can indulge her fantasies involving stackable bins.
There is, apparently, a booming business in the organization industry, and not just on the home front. This week, we'll look at sites that will help you bring order to the house, streamline your work and keep all your miscellaneous bits and pieces in places where you can actually find them, when you need them.
• Unclutterer
It makes perfect sense that a blog aiming to help you clean up your life is itself a model of clean lines and simple appeals. And, yes, the advice is appealing, too. I bumped this to the top of this week's list when I found myself cribbing some notes.
• askSam
Some years ago, when I was self-employed and trying to keep my home office from looking like an oversized wastebasket, I loaded askSam on my computer, on my friend Mike's advice. Like me, Mike is a journalist who can't help but hoard things in case he might need to read it some unknown time in the future. Years ago (and, yep, even now), we would just stuff clippings into file folders or desk drawers. With askSam, you do it digitally: drop web stories, e-mails, etc., into an open-ended database. Retrieval is a cinch, using simple search terms. I actually haven't updated my software in a while - my work demands have changed substantially over the years - but I'd certainly still suggest it.
• FlyLady
FlyLady comes highly recommended for sensible tips on personal organization, although here's something I find ironic: the site itself is now so busy, it needs a good cleanse of its own. Nonetheless, lots to read and think about.
• Dwell
A few years ago, I would not have expected that one of my favourite magazines would be about houses: not decorating them, but designing them and making them function better. My wife's cousin, an architect, had a full stack of them in his apartment, and I got hooked during a visit two years ago. I don't actually check out the website that often, but there's plenty here to appeal to home bodies, from how to customize your living space to using lighting to open up hidden corners. And yes, there's lots of house designs that may pop your eyes, if not your budget.
• Dealing with Clutter
From the University of Illinois Extension service, some common-sense advice on organization, from keeping bills and tax records in line to cleaning up a children's play area.
• Scrapbooking spaces
My wife passed this tip along: a collection of workspaces for people who are into scrapbooking or related crafts.
• TabUp
Every year, we buy a family organizer - one of those wide calendars that gets tacked on the kitchen bulletin board, and on which we keep track of dental appointments, piano lessons, birthday parties and the like. There are virtual options, too; TabUp allows the whole family (or any group, really, that gets along) to share information, ranging from weekly routines to funny photos. Registration is necessary.
• Stacks and Stacks
Let's face it: there is an element to organizing tools that's not far removed from the toy department. At least, that's the buzz many people get from little household gadgets - you know, like metallic cylinders you can magnetically fix in neat rows and columns on your wall. Stacks and Stacks is an online store for just that sort of shopper.
John Gushue is a news writer for in St. John's. E-mail: Read past Surf's Up columns and daily updates at his blog:

Organizations: Ikea, University of Illinois Extension

Geographic location: St. John's

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