SLT 009: Our Edit & Forget It Challenge and The Power of Saying No


Our Edit & Forget It Challenge and The Power of Saying No

Happy New Year!

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Special Announcement: Especially for listeners in and around San Antonio/Austin, TX

Our friend and colleague Karen Meade of Let’s Get Organizing will be hosting her annual Organize and Energize workshop. It’s on Saturday, January 19th, 2013 from 9:30 Am to 12:30 PM at TriPoint on North St Mary’s, in San Antonio, Texas. There’s a great lineup of speakers talking about organization, meal planning, health and fitness and Dan will be there talking about tech. For more information check out or Hope to see you there!

Main Topics  

Dan’s Topic: Introducing the Edit & Forget It Challenge! 2013 Fewer Things in 2013 

We’re kicking things up a notch right off the bat this year and really stretch our commitment to simplifying our lives. We’re challenging ourselves with what we call Edit & Forget It, 2013 Fewer Things in 2013. We’d love it if you’d consider joining us!

  • We know this is a lofty goal and certainly won’t be for everyone
  • Our true focus is eliminating many things we truly don’t need any longer and reach a point where we have what we need, appreciate it, and be able to enjoy some margin in our lives
  • We don’t really have “clutter” in our home since Vanessa is a Professional Organizer, so eliminating 2013 things will be a real challenge!

It’s good to have an accountability buddy when challenging yourself…and all of you that listen to the show will be our accountability buddies to keep us on track!

  • We’d like to be your accountability buddies, too!
  • If you’d like to join us for the challenge, just sign up on our Edit & Forget It List. Here’s a direct link to that list on
  • Those who sign up will will get emails from us from time to time as a little bit of encouragement along the way
  • No, you won’t get a trophy at the end of the Challenge, but in the end you’ll probably have a place to put one if you did!

Some Background:

  • We were amazed when we heard it quoted in a presentation that the average American home has around 300K things in it!
  • In raw numbers, 2013 things is just under 1% of that! That doesn’t sound like much of a challenge does it?
  • Truth be told, we think that figure counts each and every item
    • So if you had a 250 piece Lego set it counts as 250 pieces
    • That doesn’t seem too realistic to us and kinda makes getting rid of 2013 things no challenge whatsoever
    • So we established some simple guidelines for ourselves
  • To eliminate 2013 things from our home in 2013 the numbers work out, rounded up, anyways, like this:
    • About 6 things per day
    • About 40 things per week
    • About 170 per month
  • We’re also including going paperless because that is a great way to eliminate paper clutter from your home.
    • So, you may want to re-listen to Episode 6 and our interview with Brooks Duncan of DocumentSnap.
    • We’ll put some links in the show notes for the scanner we use and the one Brooks recommends.

Edit & Forget It Guidelines: Note: We may have to come up with some additional guidelines for ourselves along the way based on any new discoveries or unanswered questions we run into. But we’re starting with these:

  • Things that normally go together or that you originally purchased together count as one, e.g. a pair of shoes counts as one (not 2), a deck of cards counts as one (not 52) a puzzle counts as one (not 150).
  • Donated packaged food counts, thrown out food does not.
  • Scanned documents count as one original if disposed of. A document is a document whether it is a single page by itself or a ten page document. Each scanned document counts as one item.
  • Things that we don’t ordinarily keep in our home (like junk mail, catalogs, etc) don’t count for us as we recycle those immediately upon receipt.
    • If you typically keep them in your home, then you should count them!
  • We made some spreadsheets and we’re going to track our progress along the way. We’re tracking:
    • What we sell (and logging the actual sale amount)
    • What we donate (and logging the market value)
    • What we give away
    • What we discard
    • And what we digitize!
  • So, these are our guidelines. We’d love it if you’d join us! Feel free to use our guidelines “as is” or adapt them for your needs.
  • That covers the Challenge itself, but besides the additional margin it brings us we also hope it helps us refine our process of simplifying so we can make it sustainable and repeatable and be able to pass it on to folks like you! So, we’re hoping it reveals some inspiration for future shows.

So again, if you’d like to join us, just click on the Edit & Forget It box on the left side of website or follow this direct link: Edit & Forget It Signup

  • I’ve made some no-frills Google Docs spreadsheets that you can use if you’d like to track your items and I’ll email you those links after you sign up.

That’s it…Edit & Forget it! 2013 Fewer Things in 2013!

Vanessa’s Topic: The Power of Saying No

Our “Edit and Forget It. Challenge” is a perfect lead in to the Power of Saying No…we’re essentially going to be saying “no” to allowing things and clutter to dominate our lives.

The Power of Saying No will be helpful with your New Year’s Resolutions. I talked last week about how to make your resolutions a success and I think this topic piggy-backs on that….it’s simply another tool to help you along the way in accomplishing your goals and sticking to your priorities.

So….why is it so hard to say NO? It seems as we get older, we somehow adopt this notion that we have to say YES to everything and everyone. Why is that? Maybe we fear being politically incorrect or being labeled a non-team player. Maybe we don’t like to disappoint. Maybe we feel guilty or obligated to help others. Maybe we seek constant approval from co-workers, friends, family and even strangers. Maybe we’re afraid of “perceived” outcomes….getting fired, losing friends, upsetting someone, or missing out on a great opportunity. Or perhaps we feel that in order to attain the status of SUPERMAN, SUPERHUMAN or SUPERMOM we have to say YES to everything and everyone.

Well, I challenge you to think a little differently about this. NO is a little, two-letter, one-syllable word that all by itself can be a complete sentence. It’s a pretty powerful word…and at times, even more powerful than the word YES.

Saying NO can have a profound impact on your life.

Here are some benefits of learning to say NO at the right times in your life:

  • It allows you to be honest with yourself and with others. When you say YES to do something or merely agree with what someone said, even when its contradictory to how you feel, you are in a sense lying to that person and to yourself.
  • It helps you keep your priorities in check. If your priority is spending time with family…don’t volunteer for something that takes time away from them. If your priority is saving money…don’t spend it needlessly on consumer products. If your priority is losing weight…don’t give in to that greasy burger and fries.
  • It let’s people know you’re in charge of your time…and no one else.
  • It can be very empowering. You’re doing what you want and not being controlled by other peoples’ agendas. If you let people interrupt or you take on tasks practically every time someone asks you to…then folks will think its ok do do that to you all the time!
  • It prevents you from having feelings of resentment caused by doing things you’d rather not be doing.
  • It keeps you from doing or saying things you’ll regret. Peer pressure comes to mind here…
  • It helps you avoid needless stress and procrastination. When you say YES to do something you really don’t want to do, you end up pushing it off and avoiding it until you absolutely have to do it, causing you unnecessary stress and anxiety.
  • It helps you earn self-respect and respect from others. By saying no, you’re respecting your time, your priorities and your life. Folks are drawn to confidence and when you are confident about saying no…people will inevitable respect that.

Now, I know you can’t say NO to everything and everyone and I’m certainly not suggesting you be a jerk about it. There is the notion of “tact.” You still need to be tactful and respectful when saying no. I also suggest you start to change your mindset about saying NO and start to view it in a more positive light.

So, here are a few tips and ideas to think about to help make saying NO a little bit easier:

  • Stop worrying about other people’s feelings as your first priority. Sure, you should be aware and sensitive to feelings…but don’t allow their feelings to trump your priorities if your priorities are that important.
  • A big area to start saying NO is in extended family and friend obligations (not your spouse and kids). Although acquaintances, family and friends are wonderful and you may love helping them, sometimes they can be the biggest culprit to taking advantage of your time.
  • Another area can start saying no to is over-volunteering. You don’t have to be the homeroom mom, den mother, PTA member, HOA member all at once!
  • Re-frame your words. Instead of saying, “I’ll get back to you” or “I can’t” say, “Let me think about it”, “That doesn’t fit into my schedule”, “I won’t” or “I’ve decided not to.”
  • Be cognizant of your response and body language. Look the person in the eye, be brief in your response, use eye contact, have a calm yet firm voice, don’t use closed-off body language (hands on hips, crossed arms, rolling your eyes), don’t invade their personal space and don’t use inappropriate facial expressions (serious but not angry).

There. Not too difficult, huh? Ok, it’s a lot easier said than done but with a little practice you’ll feel a lot more comfortable with the idea of saying NO. Again, you don’t have to say NO to everything, but I’d highly consider saying it a little more often, especially if you’re feeling overextended and stressed out.

So, give it a try yourself and see just how empowering it can be. I bet you’ll start to feel a little less stressed and finally in control of your time…your priorities…and your life.

The “Thing” Segment:

Dan:  Begin with Changing Yourself

As I was reading through my daily blog feeds I came across this simple post from Dan Miller at Dan’s post sparked my memory of my short time in the UK and also gave me some inspiration as I had the Edit & Forget It Challenge on my mind when I read his post. So, Dan wrote:

When we talk about change, here’s a good starting point: This is an inscription on the tomb of an Anglican Bishop that reads:

“When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world.

As I grew older and wiser I discovered the world would not change –

So I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country, but it too seemed immovable.

As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me,

But alas, they would have none of it.

And now I realize as I lie on my deathbed, if I had only changed myself first,

Then by example I might have changed my family,

From their inspiration and encouragement I would then have been able to better my country,

And who knows, I might have even changed the world.”

I think that can hit home with many of us. So, while we can talk about how we’re frustrated with the consumer-focused society we all live in, working on our simple life together and starting the change with ourselves is probably a lot more productive and impactful.

        Vanessa: I LOVE Google Calendars!

Just yesterday I was on the phone with a colleague of mine…we do a lot of work projects together from managing big residential moves to small business organizing. Anyhoos…she’s in Portland on vacation, I’m here in San Antonio and we’re working with a client that’s moving from Kansas City to San Antonio…and we’ll be responsible for unpacking and getting the client’s family set up in an 11,000sq ft home!

Well, I love my google calendar because as I was talking to my colleague I was able to look at the calendar she and I share as well as my husbands calendar, my kids’ calendars, and my personal calendar to make sure there weren’t any conflicts. It was beautiful! I love having multiple calendars that I can share and that automatically sync to my iPhone and iPad. Yay!


We received a very nice comment on the website from Farnoosh Brock from Farnoosh wrote: You guys, I am just blown away by what you are doing here. The content is TOP NOTCH, bar none! I love it. I have just started listening to your podcast and love the both of you and how you interact. Keep it up and I’ll be sure to review it on iTunes. Wishing you both a very happy new year.

Well thanks Farnoosh and Happy New Year to you too! Folks, you should check out Farnoosh’s site over at…she has tons of great info and her Daily Interaction Podcast is fantastic, too. You’ll be glad you did!

Closing Thoughts:

Once again, Happy 2013 and we hope this year is a great year for simplifying your life. If you haven’t started yet or have just been thinking about it, now is a great time to start. We’re blessed to be able to share some ideas and some of our experiences as we journey toward a simpler life in the modern world and we’d like to hear some of your experiences, too.

It sure would help if you you took just 2 minutes to review the show in iTunes. The more positive reviews we get, the higher the show is in the listings and that’s how people find us.

If you like the show, please subscribe and consider giving us a good review in iTunes. It takes less than 2 minutes to review the show in iTunes and that’s the best way for people to find us.

  • In iTunes just search for Simple Life Together
  • Click on the green “Simple Life Together” picture…
  • Scroll down to Customer Reviews where you’ll see “Write a Review”
  • Click on”Write a Review”
  • Write your review…
  • Click “Submit”! It’s as easy as that and it really helps to get the word out about the the show.  Thanks for doing that.  

If you know someone else who might enjoy the journey too, send them a link to

Connect with us on Twitter, I’m @DanielHayes and Vanessa is @GetSimplifized. You can find links to our Twitter and Google Plus profiles on the left side of the home page.

Be sure to leave comments below, send us a voicemail from the little microphone icon on the right side of the page, or you can go “old school” and email us!  Comments, questions, thoughts, ideas, suggestions…they’re all welcome and we’d love to hear from you!

So, here are other links we mentioned in the show:

Karen Meade of LetsGetOrganizing

Dan Miller’s Post

Farnoosh Brock at Prolific Living

Brooks Duncan at DocumentSnap

GetSimplifized Links:

The Power of Saying No

Google Calendars

Other Google Programs

Be sure to subscribe in iTunes and leave a review in the iTunes store! It helps others find the show! Thank you!

Please note: We reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

9 thoughts on “SLT 009: Our Edit & Forget It Challenge and The Power of Saying No

  1. Every once in a while, I run into a new podcast that I wish was an old one so I could keep on listening to archived episodes every day for the next couple of months. Yours is one! Hurry up and get the next one out, lol! 😉

    Last spring, we gave away over 40 boxes and bags of items to a local charity, and sold 10 boxes of books to Half Price Books. When all is said and done, by the end of this year we will have sold or given away 15 or 20 boxes/bags more stuff. I didn’t count the individual items, but there may have been/will be a total of around 2000.

    So, can I have a gold star?

    • Emily- Why of course you can have a Gold Star! It sounds like you have made amazing progress editing your possessions and I’ll bet it feels incredibly liberating. Considering how much others benefitted from your donation even sweetens the experience doesn’t it? So, really, you should get 2 Gold Stars!

      We’re so glad you enjoy the show, Emily! I know the feeling you’re talking about…when you find a show that just “clicks” with you it seems like you can’t get enough. There will be an episode out on Thursday…and hopefully, every Thursday after that, too!

  2. Vanessa & Daniel,
    I came to know of your podcast through Beyond the to do list episode just last week.I have subscribed to your podcast.You are an awesome duo !! and thanks to you both for sharing a lot of life navigational tips!.
    Since I am quite late for the 2013 Edit and Forget It challenge,would like to know whether there is a 2014 Edit and Forget It Challenge.
    I came here from India in 2006,I came here with 2 suitcases,you will not believe the junk that I have gathered in the past 7 years.I used to lead a simple life and I desperately want to shed!!


    • Hi Annie! So glad you found us through Erik’s show! Yes, we’ll be doing a whole new version of the Edit & Forget It Challenge for the coming year. Don’t worry…we all find ourselves a bit overwhelmed with “stuff” but as soon as you begin to pare down it really becomes easier and easier. Better yet, the effect is compounded because the act of editing also builds in us the resolve to “not let this happen again.” So, be sure to listen for details about the new Edit & Forget It Challenge for 2014 and beyond!

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