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Advice Columns

Harriet offers helpful advice and tips through three different columns:

1. If you need help with storage solutions and deciding which type of organizing product(s) would be best for your current needs, contact Harriet through herAsk Our Organizer column at the Stacks and Stacks organizing products online catalog. 

2. Organized Outlook is an organizing tips column that Harriet wrote for sdhome, an award-winning magazine published by the San Diego Union-Tribune.

3. If you have a question about how to conquer clutter, manage your time or get organized, you can Ask The Miracle Worker (below).



Ask The Miracle Worker 

Q.What can be done about a messy husband?  He leaves papers, mail, books, etc. everywhere and it's driving me to distraction. I've tried boxes, files, baskets, hiding it--nothing has worked. Any ideas would be appreciated.

A. Here are suggestions for coping effectively with a messy husband:

1. The two of you must decide upon an area that he is allowed to keep as messy as he likes. Ideally, this would be a small room, perhaps his home office. But if a separate room is not an option, designate a corner of a room & use a folding screen to create a border. In our house, my husband--a.k.a. "the most disorganized man in the world"--has a room we call The Pit. It has been a real marriage-saver. For one thing, it gives me a place to put the stuff he leaves elsewhere (mail, paperwork, computer magazines, shoes, you name it). We've agreed that I will never throw out his stuff without his say-so, but I can--and do--move it into The Pit. Another rule we follow: the door to The Pit is always kept closed! 

2. Accept the fact that he is probably never going to change. All you can do is make it as easy as possible for you to clean up after him. (Having a "Pit" area is one way of doing this.) Here's an excerpt from my first book, "MORE TIME FOR SEX: The Organizing Guide for Busy Couples," which I think explains it best: "Early on in our marriage, I decided to accept that having a well-organized, neat, clean home was important to me--but not to Henry. What this means is that, since Henry doesn't really care how the inside of the house looks, it's completely unrealistic to expect him to. No amount of arguing, cajoling, pleading or threatening will ever effect more than a temporary change in his (or any mate's) behavior. But since he's extremely easygoing & good-natured and therefore very easy to live with overall, I decided that I'd rather pick up after him than harass him continuously..." (There's more, but you'll have to get the book.)

3. If possible--that is, if both of you agree it's a good idea--do his filing for him. It will probably make both of your lives easier in the long run. Of course, to make it fair, he should do tasks for you that you don't like to do. (Maybe he already does; if not, I'd recommend figuring out a more equitable arrangement.) Another resource you might be interested in is a book by Sandra Felton, "When You Live With a Messie."  
© 2013 by Harriet Schechter

For more clutter-control advice as well as helpful forms and checklists, read LET GO OF CLUTTER.


Do you have question about conquering clutter or chaos? E-mail it to The Miracle Worker using the address at the bottom of this page. Be sure to include: 1)  your name (which will be kept private);  2) your city & state (or country, if outside the U.S.); and 3) how you heard about this site.

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Or mail to: The Miracle Worker, PO Box 90922,  Santa Barbara, CA 93190-0922

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   Last updated: September 11, 2013