Newspaper Columns from the New Britain City Journal

Entries in clutter (6)


Downsizing a home 

Dear Les Is More:

How can you become organized if your brain isn't?



Dear Maureen:

Our brain can be trained to be organized if you know the tools and tricks to do it. First, if you have a lot of worries that you think are cluttering your brain-then write them all down. Besides the worries, write down the ways you think you can stop them. If you worry about money, then do not spend as much and give to charity instead of shopping to you drop.

Then, take one step at a time. Want to organize your kitchen? Do it one drawer at a time. You did not just jump from the womb to walking-it took time. Allow yourself time to get organized and to not do it in one day.

Have an Organized Day!

Les Is More


Dear Les Is More:   What is a good way to start sorting through items when one is downsizing a home?

Thank you,



Dear Carol:  First, think of the new house and the day you are moving as survival and pack a survival kit.  This kit includes sheets for every bed and that will be slept in on moving night and enough kitchen items to make breakfast.  Pack these first and label them survival kit and have this the last thing you put on the truck and the first thing that gets un packed. Then, go through the furniture and pick out what you are keeping and what you are either selling or donating and put in one room.  This will be the room you are using as either donation or tag sale before the move room.

Then, as you pack belongings and decide what to keep and what to donate you just put it in the room.

Start with one room and finish that room before you move to the next room. Each person should have a survival kit of all their items they will need for the first week of living in the new house.

Remember, as you pack if you don’t LOVE it—donate it. This will be a perfect excuse to get rid of everything you don’t love and if anyone asks, “It must have been lost in the move.”

Have an organized day.


Tag sale survival tips

Did you ever look at photos in magazines and wonder where did d the homeowners put all of the books, china, exercise equipment---“the clutter” in the house? Everything might be hidden away in another room, or maybe the homeowners got organized and had a tag sale and now are celebrating being clutter-free.

If you live in a disorderly environment, your emotions can become unfocused and heavy.  However, if you take these important steps in three weeks you will be more organized, less cluttered, happier and a little richer. I promise you!

Three weeks before the sale:

Pick a date for your tag sale. Call your friends and family to tell them of the date and to get some needed assistance. Remember, do not have a tag sale over a three day weekend…everyone goes away.

Clean out a designated space to make room for the sale items.  Pick a room that will make it easy to bring items outside, or the day before the sale.  (I always go for the garage)

Start amassing your inventory for the sale. Stand in each room in your house and look at every possession your own.  What don’t you love? What have you kept because it was a gift, but you no longer want, need or life?  Move these items to the designated storage space and do not re-think your choice, or you will never be able to get rid of anything.

You may want to get each family member involved with this process, but if you have a “pack-rat” be careful of the “but I may need it someday” mantra.  Someday is today and you won’t need it.  Move-on to the next room while imagining your home clutter-free.

Two  weeks before the sale:

Call your newspaper for information on placing a tag sale ad most newspapers now offers both print and online editions.  Also, do an Internet search for other ad placement options.  Make your ad enticing with a list of your best items.  These items are going to bring in your customers.  Make large signs to distribute them throughout your neighborhood. (Be sure to remove them after the tag sale.)

Take photos of the large and heavy items you are selling and tack these to a bulletin board or screen.  This is an easy way to show your tag sale clients your inventory without having to move the heavy pieces outdoors.  Interested clients can then accompany a friend or family member into the house for a personal viewing.  If no one buys these items you can put them on craigslist after the sale.

If you are selling a lot of pierced earrings, attach them to a board or put them in individual plastic bags. (You can buy these at any arts and crafts store)

One week before the sale:

Continue collecting items.

Make sure your ad will be in the newspaper.

Go to an office supply store and pick up price tags or design them on your computer.  It makes a tag sale look more professional and you do not have to be asked a hundred times, “How much is this?”

With all of your items for the tag sale in one place, you will have to price them.  If you do not want to do individual prices for each item—then have tables for 1, 5, 10 dollars and even one table for .50 or 25. Cents.   People will want to negotiate for the lowest possible price.  Familiarize yourself with the market through on line auctions such as eBay.

Remember, to be flexible—you want to make money but you also want to get rid of everything.

The Week of:

A clean item is worth more than the dirty one, so clean, clean, and clean. Wash the glasses, polish the silver and dust the pocketbooks. Never skip this step. If you have an original box for anything you are selling—use it.

Group all of your like items together.  If you are like me, you have amassed quite a few of exercise videos and equipment. I use my exercise equipment everyday—they make sure my clothes are no one the floor.  Give yourself a break and sell what you don’t use, and invest in a good pair of sneakers for walking—they take up less space.

The Day Before:

Arrange table in an attractive display which will promote easy circulation for your customers.  Use tablecloths or sheets to make your tables look neat and tidy.

Park your cars off your street to allow more parking for your customers.

Your customers are the most important people of the day, so get them to browse and buy. Hire a babysitter for your young children (under 10) and hired the older ones to help you.   Have them make a lemonade stand and donate the proceeds to charity.  Have one person in charge of the money, including the cash box, another person to run errands, such as brining customers to see the furniture and a third to help load the items into the customers’ car.

The Day of the sale:

Get up early the day of the sale.  There will always be “early birds.” Even if your ad says no to the early birds there will be some.

Make sure you have plenty of cash on hand in singles and change.

Have grocery bags, tape, bubble wrap and boxes to wrap the items for your customers.

If you are selling anything electric, have an extension cord to test the items.

Put out coffee for your customers.  It will allow them time to linger and may keep them from leaving empty handed.

Dress comfortably and let the joy of the tag sales begin.  At the end of the day, enjoy the comfort of a less cluttered house and the beginning of a new more relaxed life. 


keeping purses and cars clutter free

  • Dear Les is More: How do you organize the stuff in your car?

Thanks, Trey

Dear Trey:

Every night I want you to take out that day’s trash. The McDonald wrappers and the Dunkin Donuts coffee cups get tossed away—but do not stop there—when you have a moment (and it really only takes a few of these moments) decide what you want from your car—is it a home office or a mode of transportation. If it’s your home office then go to Staples and buy any one of the Peter Walsh organizers to help you (I do like the small receipt binder with the pockets, and notepad) get organized. If you spend 1 minute a day being organized in your car it will not look like a reactor accident when you need it to be nice on a date. Have an Organized Day! 

Dear LesIsMore: My hang bag is a mess. There are never enough zippers or spaces for everything I need—what can I do?

Sincerely, CeCe

Dear CeCe:

Do you clean it out nightly? What about cleaning it weekly?  That is the first step to an organized handbag. Get rid of the trash.  Stand over your trash can and purge, purge, purge. Now you are ready to put only the essentials in your handbag. 

Now for people who think their handbag is an extension of their car and need to shoulder 30 pounds of stuff in it—there are extra pockets you can buy to put in the middle of the handbag.  These are called “Purse Organizers” and there are quite a few of them.  My favorites are the “pouchee” ( and Plaid Doctrine ( –Now you can change your handbag and be organized in seconds. Each one has many many pockets and you can use the extra space to find your cell phone, keys and wallet in a second instead of hunting through your bag—you can see everything-because everything is in a separate pocket.  Genius- Have an Organized Day. Les Is More 


Organizing the home library; staying on top of it all

Dear Les Is More:

I love all my books but I can never find a way to keep them without collecting lots of dust and forming an eyesore in my home? How would you suggest clearing out my piles without losing my loved reads?



Dear Sandy:

Every book you read you feel close too, however Sandy, you have to be strong and only keep the ones you love and the ones you know you will read again. But, I have a better idea.  How about buying a Kindle for 139 dollars through and buying ebooks for genres you like but don’t love. If you are a big murder mystery person, then buy the books from your favorite authors, but use the kindle to read books you know you will never want to own the paper copy. You could always buy what you know you will love, and then go to this place every city has called the library.

Dear Les Is More:How do I stay organized all the time in everything?

Thank you! Gen

Dear Gen:

That depends on you. If you want to be organized you will be.  You will find a home for everything you own and put it back when you are done. You will weed out everything that is unnecessary in your home and donate everything you do not love.  However, you need to want to do it. It’s just like losing weight. It takes work. Welcome to life.  


Spouse is unorganized; how to start with a remodeled kitchen

Dear Les Is More:

My wife does not put anything away at all. It is left where she left it—I am always cleaning up after her and I am at my wits end.



Dear John:

I’m so sorry about how you live. But I believe if you bought a label maker and made a home for everything in its place-maybe, just maybe you can help your wife get organized. Label what you can, and put baskets with labels were you can. This will alleviate at least 75 percent of the clutter.   Maybe she is so busy that she does not have time to put anything away…so every night before both of go to bed, go through the home and put things in their proper place. Good Luck.

Have an Organized Day

Les is More


Dear Les Is More:

I have a new remodeled kitchen, but where does one start?

Thanks, Dee


Dear Dee:

That is wonderful.  Put all of the items you do not use weekly, or even monthly at the top of the cabinets and label them so when you are opening them you can see the label-since you might not see the top of the item.

Put all of your dishes above or to the right of where the dishwasher is, and put your mugs, cups and all coffee/tea supplies above where you make your tea or coffee in the morning.

Most of all have fun with redecorating your new kitchen. Look at magazines and see what they have for inspiration and always have a drawer just for your chocolate stash.