By Janet Groene, F47166
If you ever have heard professional organizer Debbie Williams on radio or television, you know she takes a commonsense approach to eliminating clutter. Now she has organized many of her best ideas into a compact book, Common Sense Organizing ($13.95, Champion Press). This is not the kind of book that you read just once and send to the bookshelf. You’ll want to keep it handy for everyday ideas in the constant war against motorhome mess.
Here are just a few of Ms. Williams’ cures and caveats that have special application to full-timers:
- It’s important to realize that you’re part of a team. Unless you live alone, enlist your partner(s) in the battle. When Ms. Williams finds things in disarray, she calls a family meeting and comes up with a chore list. Even if there are only two of you, it’s simply a matter of planning, communicating without nagging, and consistently keeping to the rules.
- Half-read newspapers and magazines are a chief source of clutter, so one full-timing couple, who subscribe to many magazines, simply initial the cover after they have read an issue. When the spouse finishes it, he or she knows it can be discarded. If someone wishes to keep an item from the publication, a note such as “Save Page 7 for Janet” is written clearly on the front. Develop the habit of reading with a pencil, pen, or highlighter at hand.
- To help copilots wade through printed material, Ms. Williams suggests, “Keep a folder handy in the front seat and catch up on your reading during traffic jams.” Attractive, sturdy folders are sold in the stationery and school supplies aisle for about $1.
- Designate a place in the motorhome to serve as your mail station, even if it’s only a small drawer or pigeonhole. When a batch of mail comes in, immediately sort it into files that are labeled “Pay,” “File Later,” or “Follow-up.” Junk mail shouldn’t make it into the motorhome at all. It can be discarded at the post office, the campground office, or wherever mail catches up with you.
- In the book, Ms. Williams describes what inventive members of the Shakers religious group called the “tween” rack. It’s simply a clothes peg or hook where you can park a slightly dirty garment that is too clean to put in the hamper but should not go back in a closet or drawer. With a designated, out-of-the-way spot for these items, you aren’t tempted to drape them just anywhere.
- Perhaps you can find room on the back of a door for your tweens rack. My husband and I hang our items on hooks that are attached to the rail for the curtain that closes off the cockpit. Soiled garments go in the laundry; those to be worn the next day are put on these hooks. When we open the curtain the next morning, the empty hooks self-stow behind the curtain.
- To restore order in a clothes closet or linen closet, Ms. Williams suggests starting with bags or boxes labeled “Keep,” “Trash,” “Sell/Give Away,” or “Undecided.” Don’t put anything back in the closet until it has been placed into one of these categories.
- Ms. Williams suggests using corrugated wine boxes for sorting. One wine crate can hold six pairs of women’s shoes. A box that held six 1.75-liter bottles can hold three pairs of men’s shoes. When placed on their sides, the boxes can be stacked.
- Always keep an addressed envelope on hand for anyone to whom you regularly send mail. When you dash off a note, cut out a cartoon, or find a photograph you want to send that person, stick it in the envelope immediately. Once the envelope is filled, it can be sent. Bundling things together also cuts down on postage costs. Wait until you get an ounce or two.
- Eliminate all but five plastic grocery bags in the motorhome. Discard or recycle the rest and never again let the collection get higher than five.
- Keep an envelope in your purse or in your motorhome’s cockpit for all credit card receipts. When the monthly bill comes, reconcile the receipts and charges, then file the receipts as necessary for guarantees, business deductions, rebates, etc. This is especially useful for full-timers whose mail is late. You always know your credit card balance and can avoid late fees by paying on time even if you didn’t receive a bill. (Credit card companies have different procedures for doing this. Ask about yours.)
- Buy or make a bed caddy to hold the remote controls, a paperback, a notebook, and a pencil. Sold in specialty catalogs, such caddies have a “tail” that tucks under the mattress and allows the contents of the bag to hang down at the side of the bed.
Common Sense Organizing is available in bookstores, through online booksellers, or from the publisher by visiting www.championpress.com or calling (877) 250-3354.
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Full-timer warranties, continued
A number of people have contacted me about several major motorhome manufacturers whose warranties contain clauses that void or reduce a coach’s warranty if the vehicle is used for full-timing. The wording in the warranty usually sounds something like this: “This unit was not meant to be used as a full-time residence or home, and doing so may affect your warranty rights.”
I urge full-timers to read the warranty that came with their motorhome and look for any live-aboard disclaimer that is included in the owners manual. Write or e-mail me (contact information can be found at the end of the column) should you find such wording. Have you spoken to a manufacturer or salesperson about this? Have you ever made a warranty claim that was not honored because you are a full-timer? Have you ever bought a different coach than you had planned because you learned that a warranty would be voided or reduced if you went full-timing?