Tag Archive for: how do I get started organizing

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!








Top 5 Clutter Questions Answered

clutter questions


Many of us face the same clutter challenges.  Questions like what to keep, how to keep it and how to get started organizing are some of the most frequently asked questions.  These solutions can be simple ways to start decluttering and organizing your space.  Check out these clutter questions and see if there is an answer for you here.


I don’t know where to start organizing.

You see clutter in many different spots in your home. You may wonder what’s the best place to start organizing.   I suggest starting in one of these two ways.

  • Start with what’s most frustrating.  When you are frustrated, you are ready to make change happen.  You are ready to let go of items and donate them.   What’s most frustrating is most motivating.
  • Start with a small space. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by organizing. By starting in small space,  you are see the change you are creating. You can finish a project quickly because it takes only an hour or two to complete.

Any space you start in is a great space! Start with just 15 minutes at a time and you will be amazed at how much you accomplish.


I never have enough time to organize.

Our lives are busy and full. It’s not always a top priority to organize and other activities take priority.  There will seldom be a time we are truly ready to organize or have the time we want to do it all.

  • Make an appointment with yourself (and those helping you) to organize.  It can be as compelling as any appointment you make with a doctor, dentist or any professional. Your appointment will prevent other activities from being scheduled at the same time. Write in your calendar the time you will work.
  • Work in baby steps.  We often think organizing will take longer than we think. It fuels our procrastination.  By working in 15 minute increments, with a timer, you can make a lot of progress.

Make organizing a higher priority by thinking about your benefits. When you think about how your home or office will feel when you are organized, you will be more likely to get started organizing.


It’s not my clutter.

We’re not always partnered with those who view clutter the same way we do.   However, we know that all relationships work best with respect and communication.  Share and listen.  Your family will want to make their home a serene environment. Set up small ways that organizing can happen on a regular basis.  Most importantly, start with your own stuff first.  When you model organizing, your family will follow your lead.


What about “just in case?”

We live in a world of vulnerability and unpredictability. It’s in our natural to want to keep more than we need as a result.  There are a few antidotes to this thinking.

  • The Minimalist share their theory of 20/20.  Anything you can replace for 20 dollars or go out of your way 20 minutes to get can be eliminated.
  • Anything you have not used in a certain number of years can be eliminated.  You set that number of years.  You may have to use it in the next 6 months, but it is worthy of storing as a result?  You be the judge of which is more valuable to you.  A little inconvenience or more added space.
  • Share your story of why you are keeping an item. Does it make sense as you tell someone else?

Just in case keeps us paralyzed.  Check in with new perspectives to see if you are ready to let it go.


It’s a gift from someone special.

Unused wedding gifts, sweaters from sister’s that are too small, or a collection from a deceased family member can have a strong hold on us.  Sentimental clutter is hard to let go of.  Decide if it is something you love first.  If not, let it go and let others be blessed by it.  If it is, then here are more options.  Is it an item that you can take a picture of to remember it, instead of keeping the item? Write a journal or blog post about why it’s special.  Keep a few of the most precious items and sell the remainder.  There are many ways to move forward with special gifts that have lost value for us.


There are lots of decisions to make in organizing. There are lots of resources to use to help you. Check out my pinterest boards to find answers to your organizing questions.   Join my monthly newsletter for more answers too.