Tag Archive for: Organizing tips

Start Small Go Big

Start organizing small, then go big



How can SMALL and BIG be used together for organizing?  When we think of these opposites, can we use these together in getting organized?  Well here’s how!


Organizing and productivity are overwhelming. The most frequent question is how do I get started?  Whether your view is a cluttered desk or home, it’s not clear where, when or how to get started. And what about the next steps? Is that starting with the small of units, like organizing your paper clips or the shoes in your closet?  Or do you go big with the big stuff? Here’s answers to these 2 important questions.

Start small

I love the question, how do I eat an elephant? Its the analogy I use most often in presentations.  Of course the answer is one bite at a time!  It’s in getting start in a small way that gets you started at all.  It doesn’t matter if you take a nibble at the trunk or the foot, starting with a nibble gets you started. Your nibble in your home could be the junk drawer in your kitchen, the floor of a closet, the shelf in a linen closet or the papers in your kitchen.  Nibbling can be an amount of time, like only 15 minutes.  A nibble can be a number, like picking up 3 items to donate.  Your office nibbling can be your inbox, a bookcase, or a file drawer.  Decide what small looks and feels like to you then set a date on your calendar to commit.


Go big

Look around at your home or office.  What’s the big stuff in your way?  We organizers call it macro organizing.  Start with the big stuff when you keep on organizing.  It’s not the time to launch into complex sort ing of your stuff. It’s also not the time to go to that shoebox full of small random items.  Work on the big stuff first.   Big stuff open up space. That’s the space you see and feel.  It’s the big stuff that helps you break through being stuck and you feel the openness of your space.  Take a big picture with your papers too.  What are the big categories you can sort?  Broad categories make it easier to work through tedious papers.


Is this a new perspective for you?  Have you thought you needed hours to organize and never started?  Have you walked about from your papers after creating an overly complicated system?  Here’s a new way to make organizing happen for you.


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6 Organizing Survival Strategies

organizing survival strategies



Organizing can make the difference whether your survive or thrive.  You’ve lost your keys, you’ve lost a check and you have lost your mind!  The more you have going on, the more important organizing can be.  Organizing helps you feel and look put together.  Here are 6 baby steps for organizing to help you go from surviving to thriving.

  • Start with your own organizing first.  It’s easy to see where everyone around you is pulling you down.  It’s that old adage, “put your own oxygen mask on first.”  Your purse is a perfect first step to organizing.  Take stock of what is in there, declutter the junk, create categories with small clear zipper pouches for medicine, makeup, money and receipts.  Empty and refresh your purse weekly.   Apply this same process to your closet and your calendar. 


  • Have one spot where all the very important papers go.  The most important papers can be in a basket or box in the office, in an accordion file or in a file bin.  Whatever container your choose, you can group papers together in files or clear pockets.  No more worry about where important papers are and easy to access this way too!


  • Edit your closet to keep only what you would buy and wear today.  Items that are too big, too small, too scratchy, or not your style, need to be dropped off at a donation spot or consignment.  If you can go into your closet and choose an item to wear right away,  you will save time and energy.


  • Declutter your calendar.  If you are running between activities, don’t have time to put away groceries or other purchases, arrive late at most meetings or church, it’s time to prioritize your commitments.  Take one thing off your plate for 6 months and assess at the end of that time how you felt and how you operated.


  • Routines make the difference for daily life.  Set routines for doing the laundry, getting dinner done and heading to the grocery store.  When you have assigned times to these basic tasks, life runs smoother.


  • Gather a team to help.  We can’t do it all and we can’t do all of it all the time.  Gather resources to help you get things done.  You know it’s time to use your resources when things get really stressful for you. Use your partners and team members to delegate and make things happen.


  • BONUS! Plan your perfectionism.  What holds you back most and creates procrastination is that feeling of having to “do it all perfectly or not at all.”   Create a new mantra of “good enough for now” to push past and get started on your organizing.

Not enough tips still? Check out these habits of organized people.


You don’t have to apply all these tips all at once. Just start with one way to make your life more organized.


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How I do it! 10 Organizing Tips by Janice Simon, MA, CPO

 I love the concept of sharing our inside secrets as organizers. Throughout the month of May I have asked my colleagues to share what works for them.  I know you will enjoy this post from Janice Simon, in house organizer at M.D.Anderson.


Janice Marie Simon

I work as an in-house organizer at a Houston area hospital, and I also have a home I’m trying to renovate. Here are a few of the ways I organize myself.

  • Go digital whenever possible. I use Dropbox to house my documents and photos, Evernote to capture my ideas and things that catch my eye, Wunderlist keeps my action list handy, and the calendar with my email lets me know where I’m supposed to be. At work, I use a scanner to create PDF’s of anything that didn’t come to me electronically, and I’m starting the same process at home.
  • Write Stuff Down (WSD). I stumbled across this concept from a couple of bloggers, and it’s brilliant. I don’t keep things in my head, and I will readily admit that my head is not the best organizing tool. I write down everything I need to do or to buy on my calendar or action list. It doesn’t stay in my head, swirling around to wake me up at 3 a.m.
  • I have to be in love. If I don’t love something any longer or don’t use it, I donate it or give it to a friend who admired it. If something brings up bad feelings and bad mojo, it goes away.
  • Establish boundaries. I’ve learned to say no over the years, and I’ve set strong boundaries. When I go on vacation, I don’t look at work email. It can wait.
  • Take time off. And speaking of vacations, I take them. Since I work for a company, I practice what I preach to my colleagues. I don’t lose vacation time at the end of the fiscal year because I didn’t take enough time off.
  • Remember birthdays. Because I have 14 nieces, nephews, godchildren and other small fries who call me Auntie Janice, I keep all of their birthdays on my digital calendar. Since all but two live outside of Houston, I set the reminder to remind me a week ahead.
  • Everything in the closet must fit. If clothing doesn’t fit or I don’t like it or wear it, it goes. I only keep the items that I actually wear. I have a box in my closet where donated items go. Anything that is stained, torn, faded or otherwise unwearable goes in the trash. Charities spend millions of dollars sorting out trashed items in their donations, and I don’t want to be part of the problem.
  • Repurpose, reuse or recycle. I recycle all that I can recycle. If something can repurposed or reused in another manner, I’ll do that. It may take a little imagination, spray paint and creativity, but it’s nice to save money when you can reuse something.
  • The New Year Purge. The end of December is a great time to go through things at home to clear out anything I no longer love. I also go through digital and paper documents as well. At work, I clean out things at the end of the fiscal year and again at the end of the calendar year.
  • Pay bills online or automatically. All of my bills are either automatically withdrawn or paid online by going to their individual websites. I don’t go through my bank itself to do their bill pay, and this is because I don’t want to do it through them. Not that I’m bitter after the way they treated most of us during the recession. At least not much.
  • (BONUS TIP!) Reward yourself! When I make progress on a project, I reward myself with little things, such as dark chocolate or a pedicure. It’s important to remind yourself to take care of yourself and get plenty of rest.

  Janice Marie Simon, MA, CPO, is an in-house professional organizer at a Houston hospital and is  The Clutter Princess at www.theclutterprincess.com.