30 Oct 2017

The Secrets of Organization!

I’ll admit it – growing up with a mom who was very organized, and myself being what my friends often referred to as a “neat freak” I kind of took it for granted that everyone is as organized as I am. As a professional organizer my goal is to coach my clients to become better organizers. What I do isn’t rocket science – and truth be known while I do have my tips and tricks, there really isn’t a “secret formula”. To be better organized has nothing to do with natural ability – it’s about discipline and commitment.

Most of my clients admit that they have finally sought professional organizing help because they are too overwhelmed to tackle what they thought they could do themselves.

People who opt not to work with a professional often set out with the best of intentions. They dive into a project after seeing an idea on Facebook, in the latest magazine or on Pinterest (I’ve saved hundreds of ideas on Pinterest- and have executed very few. They head to the store seeking the latest and greatest gadget or gizmo to help them be better organized (most often having no idea of their needs or what the product is really suited to accomplish. They arrive home, ready to take on the challenge, only to have it quickly deteriorate into an overwhelming situation which leaves them once again discouraged.

If this sounds familiar here are some quick tips I’ve gleaned from other organizing pros!

Have a vision before you begin!

I can’t stress this point enough (which is why I often mention it in my blogs.) You won’t know where you are going if you don’t have a plan. If you don’t have a vision of what you want to accomplish how will you identify the steps to get you there? Set achievable goals. Be realistic.

Create your vision first, then organize. Visioning is a bit like planning. It’s when you take the time to think things through before you begin doing the work.

Plan what you want the space to be before you start. If you aren’t sure what your vision is then spend some time thinking of the space and ask yourself questions that will help solidify your vision.


For example, let’s look at organizing a closet. Here are the type of questions you would use to help you create that vision:

  • How do I want to use this space in my closet?
  • Will I store just this season’s clothes here, or just those that fit me currently? Or will I use half for clothing and half for memorabilia storage?
  • How’s the lighting?
  • Do I need a step stool to reach the shelves?
  • Do I want to keep my hamper in the closet or move it to the bathroom?

Once you have answered these questions (and I encourage you to take the time to write these questions and answers down as you will see the beginnings of your vision.) It’s not like you are writing a novel – so it doesn’t have to be complicated. After you have done this several times you will have it mastered and my find yourself applying this skill to other things in your life. Once you have your vision and have written it down, the next step is one of those “secrets” of the professionals – Share it with someone and ask them to help!

Human behavior studies show that when two people (rather than one) are working on a project it gets done faster — not just because of the extra pair of hands, but because of the synergy between the two people. You’ve heard the expression the sum is greater than the individual parts – this is exactly what happens. Having a helper is a catalyst for motivation.


Don’t get caught up in the gadgets and gizmos

Professional organizers know that getting organized doesn’t necessarily mean having custom shelves built to clear the over-cluttered corners. Nine times out of ten my clients have everything they need to be organized – it’s just that they lack a vision. I’m not saying you won’t benefit by having some fancy closet organizer built and perhaps having something stylish and nice will help motivate you – but before you go spend hundreds of dollars unnecessarily look for practical solutions first. It’s not necessary to answer the organizing dilemma with an expensive or time-consuming project.

Keep it simple

It’s called the “subtraction method.” You’ve heard of dividing your stuff into keep, sell, and giveaway bins or piles, but when the clutter seems overwhelming, I start with an easier approach – the this goes somewhere else or doesn’t belong here bin.

With your intention set toward subtracting items from a particular room, starting in one spot simply work your way through the room removing the items that you recognize as not belonging. Doing this as a first step really helps reduce clutter and make things seem less overwhelming. This is the point at which I often encourage clients to break things down into a series of smaller tasks that can be completed in 30 minutes or less. It’s a great way to begin organizing a specific area. You can set aside the box and return those items to the areas they belong once you’ve completed your primary tasks.

A place for everything…

I’m sure everyone has heard this expression and it’s VERY true in successful organization. It also makes it easier for you to establish routines or processes that help you maintain the order once you’ve created it! This is where the discipline, commitment and CONSISTENCY come into play.

Getting organized isn’t just about cleaning, sorting and labeling. The biggest takeaway here is that it’s about creating habits and routines that support you. If one of your biggest challenges maintaining order in a busy household is everything seems to land everywhere establish a system that will place them in the proper locations instead. Kids leave coats, shoes, toys, homework everywhere – there is no sense of order. How much time is wasted when an item is misplaced or can’t be found. The solution is simple – create homes for items and enforce routines. In my household when myself or my significant other arrive home we have a drop zone that we place things – from there the items are moved to where they belong. Things aren’t just randomly placed and dropped. Every member of your household should have his or her own drop zone. This is the technique I use for people who commonly misplace items (such as car keys.) The idea is to get them in the habit of putting their keys in the same place, so they are easily located when needed. Having drop zones keeps clutter from migrating all over the house. Give it a try! You’ll be surprised how easy it is! You can apply this tactic at home, work, your car, your briefcase, etc.

Distractions need to be eliminated

It’s a proven fact that multi-tasking is a myth – human beings aren’t designed to multi task – those who think they are expert multitaskers are only kidding themselves. Disorganization and the chaos it brings thrive on distractions. My role as a professional organizer is to help my clients stay focused. Clients typically tell me that having a professional help provides accountability and helps them to move forward. If you can learn to eliminate or ignore distractions, you are well on your way to making your organizing projects a much more enjoyable experience. Here are some basics to consider:

  • Ignore interruptions. Put your cell phone on silent or leave it in the other room. Ignore the dings and rings that alert you to text or voicemail messages. If necessary, close a door, alert staff you aren’t taking calls or won’t be checking email for a few hours.
  • Avoid diversions. This is a biggie – as you start sorting and discarding you are going to come across items that trigger memories, don’t get stuck on memory lane. Remind yourself what your purpose is and stick with it!
  • Discipline, Discipline, Discipline establish routines and stick with them.

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