Frequently Asked Organizing Questions and Professional Answers (FAQs for Organizing)

In over 20 years of organizing, I get asked a LOT of organizing questions. Most of these questions focus on organizing homes, organizing papers and being productive at home and at work. It’s always a pleasure to be an expert and share my ideas and answers, especially questions from people with ADHD.

 

Q: I am completely overwhelmed in my home and there is a lot of clutter. I want to get organized and want to know where do I start?

A: Start small

If you are overwhelmed, you are paralyzed. It appears that everywhere needs organizing and everything is equally important to organize. I recommend starting small. A small start can be in a small space, such as a drawer, the floor of your closet, or your medicine cabinet. When you start with a small space, there is a defined boundary for organizing. You conquer this space and you feel more confident to challenge a bigger space. You can also start with just a bag to declutter. Take a bag and place it where you can drop items to donate as you feel the urge to declutter. That can be a bag in your closet where you drop clothes you no longer love or wear. A donate bag can be placed in your laundry room to drop items throughout the house as you let go of toys or household items. By editing as you go, you are starting to get organized.

 

Q: I have a lot of paperwork. I hate filing and I don’t know what to keep. What is the best way to file papers?

A: Keep it simple sweetie

There is no perfect filing system and there are no perfect filing methods. Filing can be simplified to make it easier.

  • The best reference for what to keep is the ABCs of Important Papers. This comprehensive list guides you through what’s most important. Remember that the most important documents to keep are related to your finances.
  • Simple filing starts with broad categories and big slots to file. The simplest system is a box for the current year. The next simplest is categorizing by home/auto, financial and personal. The financial category includes anything to do with money. The personal category includes anything to do with the living things in your home. Move to hanging file folders with this system.
  • Keep a basket for To Be Filed papers. Decide how big your basket should be depending on how often you want to file and how many papers fit into the basket. Once that basket is full, it is time to file.
  • Really hate filing? Begin with scanning and going paperless.

 

Q: What do I do with my kids’ artwork, my mom’s cards from her funeral and fortune cookie saying I love?

A: Honor and respect your precious keepsakes

It is especially hard to edit these items so I recommending that you create a keepsake box for each of your family. That box holds ticket stubs, handwritten notes, and any other small items. The box size depends on creating a place for the keepsakes as well as a boundary for how much you keep. Some of my clients have a kiddo box for keepsakes, a box for art, and a box for photos. The boxes can be stored in the top of each person’s closet. Gather all these up in your To Be Filed paper area. A precious keepsake belongs in a space of honor and respect.

 

Q: Why do I need to ask for help? Why can’t I get started on my own to organize?

A: Team up

There’s two topics here to think about. Asking for help is a good thing! If you needed help with your computer or a clogged drain, you would call a professional. Make organizing a team effort and take a team approach. Body doubling is having another person in your space to help you stay focused and create momentum. In any task, having someone else tether you to the task helps you get started and finished, makes decision making easier and adds fun. Your team can be your family, a trusted friend, a professional organizer or any one who is a good listener. Set a date with that person and get started.

 

Q: I need a routine. I don’t do anything consistently including getting up in the morning, going to bed or working on paper management. How can I get started?

A: Build from your strengths

Everyone of us has organizing strengths, even if you think not. Most of us are highly visual so we need visual reminders of our plan. In this case, create a routine that has a visual list. Write that list and post it where you see it first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Some of us are highly auditory so bells and chimes remind us of our routine. Set reminders on your devices or create a routine with your Alexa or Google home. Whatever you start, start small with a short list to build momentum. Choose the most important, most impactful start for your routine so you can immediately feel the success.

 

Have an organizing or productivity question? Send me your question here or by social media!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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4 replies
  1. Seana Turner
    Seana Turner says:

    These really are very common questions. Great idea to write them up in a post, and to give such great advice. I do find that paper and filing tends to be a common issue for people. Sorting paper is slow. Just spent time on this with a client yesterday. The thing is, I can see how it is going to look when we are done, so I am MOTIVATED! Once the system is set up, the folder “to file” and a few minutes a week gets the job done without much hassle.

  2. Linda Samuels
    Linda Samuels says:

    These questions are so familiar, especially the first one about overwhelm. That is the number one reason that clients call me because they are so overwhelmed. It’s always fascinating to what overwhelm looks like for people. There is such a range. But no matter where they are, that’s where we begin. And as you said, we start small. I also look for ways to start with the easy things first so that we can get some movement going. Once that happens, the overwhelm starts to dissipate.

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