iRAFT – Be FREE of Paper Pile Pain

Did you know you can handle all of your incoming paper in less than an hour a week?!

You heard us – less than an hour a week! We know paper comes at you from all directions and that you think it’s impossible to ever manage it all. Behold…  iRAFT©! We have created a system that simplifies all your interactions with the paper & information. Remember a SYSTEM – Saves You Stress, Time, Energy & Money! Let us introduce you to iRAFT.

EVERY piece of paper that comes into your life can be handled using the iRAFT© steps…

  • Incoming – every paper item that comes into your life
  • Read – magazines, articles, letters, cards
  • Act – requires you do something (make a call, pay a bill…)
  • File – file it quickly and be able to retrieve it easily
  • Toss – shred or recycle

Click for a printable of iRAFT. | or go to www.clearsimple.com/iRAFT for more

*Please note that we recommend implementing this system and starting in present time. Once you are familiar with it and have every step in place, then go to the piles, filing drawers, etc. to clear out and clean up. Paper is its own beast and is very overwhelming. If you desire the help of an organizer, please contact us.


iRAFT begins with INCOMING:

As we mentioned above, the information is coming from many places; the mail box is only one. Think about how much easier it is to start into your email because it is in your INBOX. So for the paper, choose a container that will hold a week’s worth of incoming paper and put everything there!  This includes mail, flyers, notes, etc… You also need a place for thoughts, conversations and such to land.  You might use an app on your smart phone, Evernote or a small spiral notebook.

Then once a week (or more often if needed) you will take all the incoming and sort it into four piles. You simply ask do I need to Read, take an Action, File or Toss. Then take the paper (or move the emails) into the each container or folder.


Choose a cool container for your reading that is staying at your desk, your reading chair and for on-the-go.


Every home and office needs an action container for those papers that need your attention such as bills to pay, errands to run and items to discuss with someone else. We suggest making your container vertical so that it is easy to find what you need and leave the other items organized. It is also nice to have it portable so it can move around your space.


We often ask our clients to describe how they feel about FILING. We hear words like yuck, overwhelming, impossible, always behind, drawers are full. And there is a constant theme of not know what to keep or for how long. So start with setting up a “to file” container and then schedule time once a week or once a month to file, depending on your volume. If you really hate filing then get someone else to do it.



Daily – plop all the incoming paper and information into the container.

Weekly – take 5 minutes to sort into 4 piles – Read, Action, File, Toss.  Then take each pile to it’s proper container.

Weekly – set your TimeTimer for 30 minutes and do the action papers that need to get done that week.

Monthly – take your To File pile and file into your FreedomFiler system.

Other – Enjoy your reading time.



TOP TEN TIPS for Letting Go Easily…

If letting go was easy the clutter wouldn’t be there.

The TOSS can be tough – we so get that! We shared in SORT First. TOSS Later. that sorting everything first, without trying to decide whether or not to keep the items, makes the toss step easier. When you can see exactly what you have and how much, you get clear about whether to keep or release things. Now we want to give you even more support for this challenging step in S.T.A.C.K.S. © (Sort, Toss, Assign, Keep it up, Simplify).

Here are our top ten tips to make letting go easier:

  1. Let go only when you are ready. To force the TOSS step is abusive whether we are doing it to ourselves or to someone else. If you let go of even 5% of your things you will free space for the new to come in. From Marla – I learned this from my meditation teacher Mary Nickel, of Time Out Associates, who helped me see that I couldn’t clear a lifetime’s worth of buildup in my body in a 2-hour session or even in 3 months. I have been meditating for 21 years and I still need a clean out every day.
  2. Let your vision support you. Ask the question, “Does this support my current vision?” If not, be willing to let it go. It is powerful to print your vision and put it on a wall so you can see it often!
  3. Find an Agency you care about supporting. Let go of the idea that you have to figure out where everything is going. Keep it simple and find one agency that is meaningful to you and donate your things to them. If you have unique, valuable items, trust that someone is willing to help you.
  4. Believe in win-win. Choose Trust over Fear. Look to the gift that you are passing on to others who will love what you no longer need or want. One of our favorite stories is about a client who kept getting stuck on this step because all of her items were so valuable. They represented thousands of dollars of her time, energy and money. But the stuff was paralyzing her. Finally, the day came when she had to let go. She called in sick, sat still, went deep inside, and called out for inspiration. Within minutes, she jumped up and started hauling all the stuff outside to the front yard. She took it all out along with a big sign that said FREE. Then she sat in her living room all day and spied on the people finding treasures. She let herself witness their joy and delight. It set her free. It was a beautiful way to honor the value of what she was letting go. She was then able to start a meaningful new chapter of her life.
  5. Trust your body to tell you. A simple exercise is to hold the object, close your eyes, take a deep breath and ask for a Yes or No. If your answer is yes, you will feel your body lift and expand. You will feel a YES. If your answer is NO, your body will sink or get heavy or tired. This tells you that the object is draining your life force. It is time to let it go. This works well with clutter clearing tasks also.
  6. One box, one pile, or one type of item at a time. This will support you in staying present and keep you free of distraction. Keep the other piles hidden in covered banker’s boxes.
  7. Ask the question “Does this serve me in the current chapter of my life?” Remember all of our clutter tells a story. Is this clutter from a past chapter that you are ready to close so you can get on with the new?
  8. Always do the TOSS step when you are fresh. Because this step takes so much energy, it is important to give yourself a chance of success by having as much energy as possible.
  9. Have a temporary staging area. If you can’t let it go and don’t want to keep it, give yourself permission to have a temporary staging box or area. Then choose how long. We suggest no longer than 3 months.
  10. Lastly, get help if you need it. We have other professional organizers come into our homes seasonally and support us in letting go of what builds up. Because it is our own stuff, it is very challenging for us. If you would like support from a professional organizer, check out NAPO and UPO.
Remember all choices boil down to FEAR or TRUST! You can trust to let go of what no longer supports you and that you will have what you need when you need it.

We want you to live free of clutter and replace it with meaning.
Marla, Kate & Team


The Magic MAP IT Question!

How do I want my space to look, feel and function?

The second step in The Clear & SIMPLE Way is MAP IT.©, which stands for Make a Plan for what you want. When we are confronted with all the stuff in our space, it can feel impossible to know what we really want. Marla Dee defines clutter as “delayed decision and/or holding onto the past.” The stuff seems to pile up because there are just too many decisions to be made. So we need a simple place to start.

Here you go!  Choose one room, area or project (like the living room, hall closet or kitchen counter).

The SEE IT. © Step question

How does my space currently look, feel and function? Let your answers be super simple. The point is to get it out of your body and your brain.

Then ask the Magic MAP IT. © question…

How do I want it to look, feel and function?

Here is an example for the living room.

SEE IT. © – Right now it looks ok but also cluttered. It feels like nobody takes care of it because there is stuff everywhere – on the couch, tables and now piles on the floor. It isn’t working because I can’t have anyone over – there is no place for people to sit and I would feel ashamed of the mess. And it is too dark (no wonder I don’t read in here).

MAP IT. © – I want it to look like I live here and everything has a place. I want it to feel warm and inviting. I want some new soft comfy blankets (scary how old mine are). I want there to be a clear area for sitting, reading & relaxing. And I want more light. Ok, now I am ready for the DO IT step.

Isn’t this easier to answer than “what am I going to do with the stuff?” So pick your project and let us know how it goes!

Marla, Kate & Team


Mr. Organized Meets Ms. Chaos

How to get along when we attract our opposite! Organization can help or hinder.

Why is it that “Mr. Organized” partners with “Ms. Chaos”? The universe is funny that way, always trying to balance things out. Think about how often you are at odds with someone in your life because of organization issues:

  • Not being able to find what your boss is looking for.
  • Arguing with your child about the way their room looks.
  • Being accused of throwing important things away.
  • Always being asked where something is.

As professional organizers we constantly witness the stress in our clients relationships over organization styles and decisions. Sometimes our work feels more like therapy, especially when it comes to couples. Too often those with the ability to organize do not understand when others cannot maintain their environment. Those that are organized need to keep in mind that our research shows only 10 – 15% of the population is naturally organized. Hence, the need to be able to communicate and get help when lack of organization gets in the way.

This barrier between those who naturally know how to organize and the other 90% who don’t is why our main focus is teaching people how. The foundation for any organizing project or communication is three simple steps outlined below.

SEE IT – take a look at where you’ve been

Begin by taking a realistic look at where a lack of organization is impacting your life and relationships. Choose just one area or issue. What’s working, what’s not and why? Keep it simple. Then look at it from both sides and try to see what is at the heart of the conflict. Often our relationships serve as mirrors to look at ourselves. Once you have clarity, why not share your truth with this person and ask them to share.

MAP IT – make a plan for where you want to go

Now that you have each shared your truth, each person can create a simple vision for what needs to change. Try asking – what is the single most important change that needs to happen? What is one action you can take? Let this be enough. It is imperative to the relationship that each person has a chance to share their vision and what is important to them.

DO IT – take the actions to make it happen

How you choose to implement your changes or DO IT will be very specific to the relationship. Some may come up with a way to do it together, while others might call in outside help, and still others will compromise on different levels.

Some examples of this are:

  • A family sets up a system for incoming mail and an active paper system together.
  • A mother and child call it fun time, put on music, and make a game of putting everything away.
  • A couple decides to hire a professional organizer because they would rather enjoy their time together hiking or taking dance lessons.
  • A boss and assistant set up a weekly 1 hour focused time to go through all the lists and questions.
  • Two friends or buddies get excited about helping each other one weekend a month with the clutter areas – We all have them you know.

We hope we have given you inspiration and guidance to bring more peace and joy into your relationships.

We would love to hear back from you – what happened? Please share your stories!!

Marla, Kate & Team


Clutter Clear Out Celebration!

We are FREE of stuff that was dragging us down and keeping us stuck!

We are deeply honored, humbled and inspired by everyone who joined our 30 Day Clutter Clear Out this year. Wow. Thank you for showing up, taking action and sharing your wonderful stories with us! We now want to share a little with you about how our lives were changed.

Marla’s story

Where does all the stuff come from?  How does it keep piling up?  Why do I still have that? These were some of my questions as I wandered around my home each day looking for something to release.  What surprised me was that I found old stuff in every room. I couldn’t believe it.  I have been practicing living simply for years now.

Yet, I still found stuff!  Stuff that was homeless, stuff from years ago still taking up space, stuff I had forgotten. It was little things and big things.  It was singular things that held deep meaning. The most loaded items for me were the ones that tied into my kid’s childhood.  I have been an empty nester for only 7 months now.  After 30 years of creating a home for my children and caring for their things, I am on my own. My daily life is different without my kids and their stuff. It is not simple or easy to trust this change.  It is a daily journey.  The 30 day group has been a big gift to me. I don’t want to do this alone.  Hearing others share about going through their drawers, magazines, emails and kids stuff was the strength I needed to go through mine.

Here wasClear & SIMPLE, Winnie the Pooh a story of mine from day 3. These awesome Pooh ABC foam puzzle pieces are from Jessica’s 1st birthday. She is now 20. My grandson used them but he just turned 10. Both my kids say let them go. Seems like it would be easy but I have such resistance.  I realize they came from a special friend that I miss.  Also, I want to make sure they go to someone who will really enjoy them.

I get to trust the Universe here. I get to practice what I preach.

To close, I am compelled to share that I saved the toughest stuff for the end – the digital and calendar clutter.  I am now seeing the light at the end of my email nightmare tunnel. Kate is teaching me how to use Wunderlist to handle all my to do’s and keep them organized in one place. And I have released giving time and energy to work that doesn’t serve my soul’s purpose. More coming on these insights…

Kate’s story

Since relocating to Los Angeles in June of 2013, my little family and I have been radically shifting our lives and home. What started as just wanting to greatly simplify turned into minimalism. For us that means having only things that we use and/or support us in living truly soul-inspired lives. We’ve discovered that we want to spend as much time as possible playing, loving, learning and adventuring…and we now know it is possible with less stuff taking up time, energy and money.

Through about 25 layers we have released somewhere around 75% of what we moved with. Our drawers, closets and cupboards are organized and everything has a home. Sure our day-to-day activities bring the stuff out and we end up with piles of things that sit, often longer than I would like (I even sometimes let the kitchen stay messy and play games instead of cleaning), but homeostasis is easily reinstated. It is the most liberating experience of my life. (more…)