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Simple steps to declutter your home, office and mind

Sometimes it can feel like life is all over the place. Work is a mess, home is a mess and your life just needs a good old-fashioned overhaul. From keeping your space neater at work to getting those darn dinners cooked, we've culled some of our favorite tips from over the years and put them all together in one quick and easy cheat sheet. You don't have to tackle everything at once, but sometimes it helps to see the top list of solutions listed in one place.

Controlling cyber clutter

Start using Dropbox. This fantastic Web-based storage system is the most effortless solution we know of. Dropbox saves all your files in "the cloud," which means you can access them from any computer using your user name and password. Download the app, make Dropbox your main virtual filing cabinet, and you never think about backing up again. The program will automatically sync files between the cloud and your computer whenever it's online. We've used it for years, love it and have never lost a file.

Adopt a systematic file-naming convention. The No. 1 virtual time-waster? Hunting for files. Pick a simple naming convention that you use on every file you create, from spreadsheets to Word documents. A format we love: "date created — file name." No matter the system, keep it consistent.

Schedule regular digital clean-outs. Whether it's five minutes on Fridays or 20 minutes a month, delete folders and files that are past their prime. If you haven't opened it in a year, you don't need to keep it.

Keeping your desk clutter-free

Use a pen and notebook. This is the simplest and neatest way to keep track of to-dos, to-calls and other notes. We especially love the built-in delegation component to our Do&Delegate.list ($8.95) at

Keep paper filing basic. You must be able to put your hands on the files you need quickly. Keep it simple, and use stacking files. They are great for file people and pile people. Pick one day a week to file papers that are taking up valuable desk space. If you come across a paper that doesn't fit in an existing file, keep it in a general folder for a week. Once a month, take 15 minutes to clean out your folders.

Establish a cleanup routine. Do one or two things to organize your office on a regular basis so you avoid the big ordeal of having to dig out from under a massive mess.

Making weeknight meals

Fine-tune your knife skills. Find a community college, culinary school or even a local restaurant where you can sharpen your skills. Knowing how to wield a knife and properly chop can shave minutes off your prep time in the kitchen.

Have some "Get Out of Cooking Free" dishes in the freezer. Whether the meeting ran late, you don't feel well or you simply don't want to break out the saute pan, there are going to be days that you won't be able to cook. Plan ahead and make double portions of dishes like lasagna that freeze well.

Putting yourself on your to-do list

Make it a guilt-free zone. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that you need lofty goals in order to set aside time for yourself. Relax.

Schedule it. Whether it's one hour a week or an afternoon on the weekends, make sure that you build it into your schedule.

Build your support system. Don't be afraid to ask others for help, whether it is watching the kids or lending an ear.

Simple steps to declutter your home, office and mind 09/17/11 [Last modified: Friday, September 16, 2011 2:16pm]
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