Clutter is a constant threat to sanity and comfort, creeping into our homes, offices, and vehicles with alarming certainty. Apps may not be able to clean the kitchen for you, but the right online assistance can get you back on track to a clutter-free life.
I love my dining room table, but I rarely get to see it. Pick a random day of the week and you’re likely to find it covered in things that definitely belong somewhere else. Unopened mail, phone chargers, books I swear I’m going to read, and my favorite, coats and scarves slung over the chair backs.
Although we most often complain about physical clutter in our homes and vehicles, mental and electronic clutter can be just as frustrating. A million unorganized bookmarks, hundreds of notes to yourself about articles you want to read or errands that need to be run. These are all what a good friend of mine calls “mental parachutes”–digital clutter that’s only slowing you down.
Even though it’s only February, it’s never too soon to think about spring cleaning, and the first step is releasing yourself from the clutter tentacles spread all throughout your life. Here are five tech tools, including mobile apps and online services, that can help you get organized and energized in time for Spring.
1. Swap ‘Till You Drop
My partner and I have this rule when we do really serious cleaning: if we haven’t used or appreciated something in the last 12 months, it’s out. The question is, where’s out? Donating is OK but impersonal, and the landfill is just downright wasteful for things that aren’t at the end of their life cycle. Enter the swapping service. Companies like yerdle exist to turn your “trash” into treasure. Their mobile app makes it possible to snap a picture and list items in a matter of seconds. Other local users can then “want” your item and a pickup arranged. Still seem like too much effort? Try Swap.com’s Valet Service. Simply box up all your unwanted goods, and ship them to the company. They’ll take care of photographing, storing, and listing the items on their vast website. You set the price and then decide whether to trade or sell.
2. Universal Chargers
There is nothing more frustrating than fighting with a tangle of charger wires when trying to stave off a low battery alert. The more gadgets we acquire, the more cords we add to the cluster. iGo’s Everywhere Universal Wall and Auto Charger offers a path out of the madness. This gadget features a five-foot retractable cord and can be fitting with a variety of interchangeable power tips that make it possible to juice up a laptop, smartphone, and e-reader all from the same charger.
I’m a reckless bookmarker. Spending at least six hours a day working on the internet, I come across (or am sent) links to dozens of articles I’d like to read. Or companies I’d like to check out. Or recipes I’d like to make. All of these are dumped unceremoniously in my “other bookmarks” folder, which is now so out of control, I’m afraid to open it. Developed by Marco Arment, who also helped create Tumblr, Instapaper is a clean, simple and straightforward way to save online articles to read later. Simply install the Instapaper app and download (and organize) your unread articles when you have Wi-Fi or 3G coverage, then you can read them anytime: on the train, on the bus, in an airplane, at the bank, or in your favorite chair.
4. Captio for Business Receipts
If you’re an entrepreneur or freelancer, you know that retaining proof of your business expenses is extremely important, still it can be hard to keep all those nondescript receipts and other bit of paper straight, especially when you’re working on the go. Available for Apple products, Androids and Blackberry, Captio lets you capture an image of your receipts wherever you are, using your smartphone. Pertinent information is then automatically stored for later analysis and can be used to generate expense claims.
5. Control Your Closet
Disorganized closets mean most of us only wear 20 percent of our wardrobe, sometimes re-buying things we already have! The Stylebook iPhone app offers more than 90 features to help you get the most out of your closet. Import images of your actual clothes, create magazine-style outfits, plan what to wear and track your style inspirations with this totally customizable app. Can be of immense help if you’re a fashionista who’s having a hard time deciding what should stay and what should go. If you uncover designer clothes, bags or accessories that haven’t been in the regular rotation for awhile, consider selling them to Rent the Runway, or Bag, Borrow or Steal.
Top Image: smashmedia