Vanessa Hayes

Let me just get this out of the way.

Dan and Vanessa Hayes of Simple Life Together are my kind of people.

They come at life in an authentic, vulnerable, candid, and generous way. And if Keith Ferrazzi writes a third book (fingers crossed), they would be a perfect case study in the philosophy Keith shares in Never Eat Alone and Who's Got Your Back.

Vanessa and I started interacting after she left a comment on my Professional Organizers article and offered to help get me featured on Lifehacker (like she has been). Well, it turns out that both she and Dan listen to Smart and Simple Matters (SASM) and this set the stage for one of my coolest experiences at New Media Expo (NMX).

I was chatting with some folks at NMX when I heard a voice from behind me ask, “Joel?” I turned around to see a guy who I didn't recognize, but he had a warm smile on his face.

“Hey, I'm Dan Hayes”, he said and still it didn't click. “You know, Vanessa Hayes' husband”, he continued. Click. The light bulb went off and the connection was made. Dan didn't recognize my bald head from behind and think, “I bet that's Joel.” He recognized my voice from listening to SASM. I gotta say, that was pretty cool!

I knew I wanted to have Dan and Vanessa on the show after chatting with him for about fifteen minutes. Their story was so good, their mission was so persuasive, and their attitudes were so cheery that it seemed impossible to not have a good time and generate a ton of value on SASM.

The podcasting set up they have for their show made it really easy to record my first episode of SASM with two guests. When it comes to a dynamic duo that knows a ton about simplifying and organizing, you'll want to turn to them for help.

So it's time for you to discover more about and from this cool couple. If you like creating order and simplifying – not to mention laughing and great storytelling – then this is the one for you.

What You'll Learn

Spreadsheets are no joke, but joking about spreadsheets is fun. You'll learn much more than original spreadsheet jokes in this show.

I wasn't sure what they [spreadsheets] were. I took the linen out of the closet and laid it around the bed. I called that spreadsheets. – Dan Hayes

In this episode you'll learn about:

  • How many hundreds of thousands of items the average American household has …
  • … And what this says about our relationship with “stuff.”
  • Ways other than 162 items on your fridge to honor what's important.
  • Why most people need to organize and simplify their physical space before they tackle their digital landscape.
  • How getting into “listen mode” leads to less resistance and better results (in Professional Organizing and life).
  • How the OODA loop helps with your clutter and chaos issues.
  • Why digital file organization should be taught in school.
  • The problems of being overly-orderly and simple ways to combat it.
  • How to be the catalyst for starting your own community and movement.
  • Who's the “Director of Common Sense” and why you need one.
  • Why I got reprimanded for not talking about spreadsheets and curating.

Resources and Items Mentioned in This Episode Include:


  • [03:43] How growing up in a military family and moving all the time shapes you
  • [10:26] The origins and impact of the Edit & Forget It Challenge
  • [19:05] How Vanessa tackles digital and physical clutter
  • [26:03] How crazy is Joel about the words “clutter” and “chaos”
  • [33:26] Dan's digital tagging system with keyword rich titles
  • [40:31] Dan and Vanessa talk about their partner charities: Kiva and Charity:Water

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