By Rose Colucci Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Donna Smallin's book "Clear the Clutter, Find Happiness" (Storey Publishing, $10.95) is practical. You can open to any page and find a quick tip that will help you get a handle on the things you own, and shouldn't.
A professional organizer since 1999, Ms. Smallin is the author of seven books on the subject, all of them filled with one-minute tips to getting out from under your belongings and organizing your life. These easy reads are perfect for people who want to get organized quickly.
Smallin believes that the less you own, the easier it is to maintain and the more you can enjoy what you have.
"It isn't about living like a minimalist," she said in a phone interview. "It is more about that William Morris said, 'Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.'"
As an example, she says every time she settles in a new place, she brings out her antique Japanese teapot for decoration.
Smallin says that organizing in small chunks can make a big difference. Her book shows how 10 minutes a day adds up to 60 hours in a year, and a lot can be accomplished in 60 hours.
"One of the easiest ways to tackle clutter is while watching TV," she said. "If you have boxes that you can organize, watch TV and work your way through the box."
She says a good question to keep in mind is: "What is the worst possible thing that could happen if I let this go?"
The author's mantra of living with less took on a whole new meaning when she and her husband, Mike Kuper, purchased an RV in the fall of 2012 with the intent of visiting family and friends from their home base in Michigan. Plans changed and now they live full-time in the 300-square-foot motor home.
"We finished downsizing in July of 2013 and took to the road full-time," she said.
The process of deciding what she needed forced her to evaluate everything. "You ask yourself, 'What can I not live without?' It is not a lot of stuff. We have everything we need. I feel abundant," Smallin said.
In fact, she says the RV has bright, beautiful things that fill their world. She works from the road, writing books and running her website, www.unclutter.com Her husband writes a blog about life on the road, www.flyingthekoop.com The process of selling her goods led her to update a previous book, "How to Declutter and Make Money Now." It was scheduled to be released in January.
"So much had changed since I released the original and did this," Smallin said. She's also updated her first book "Unclutter Your Home," and it has been re-released for Kindle. "A lot has changed since 1999."
Decluttering will leave you renewed, she believes. "When you make space in your life, you are refreshing your life and allowing yourself room to grow and express yourself instead of wasting so much energy, taking care of things," Smallin said.
She says that her Facebook page and online support group sees a lot more activity in January. "People want to start moving and making progress. The hardest part is getting started."