Logo-214x300. here are some tips that you might find helpful for getting and staying organized.

This past weekend I helped launch the North East Regional Conference for Professional Organizers (NERCPO). I got to meet and share with more than 50 professional organizers from all over the region. We had a great time, and I enjoyed learning from colleagues and experts alike. Since attending an organizing conference may not be at the top of your “to do” list, here are some tips that you might find helpful for getting and staying organized.

Getting Started

Getting Started…

When approaching a project, tell yourself, “Yes, I can do this! No voice influences us more than our own, so use that inner voice to help you succeed.

When you are first beginning an organizing project, be sure to work in an area where you can enjoy a quick payoff. Success breed confidence, which helps us keep going.

Remember that motivation (wanting) is different from activation (beginning). If you are having trouble getting started, be sure to focus on fixing the right problem.

How To Organize

“How To” Organize…

Your home should be a source of joy and refreshment. Showcase what you love and get rid of the rest.

Define what should live in a space, and then label it. Let the size of this space provide a natural limitation on how many/how much of an item you can keep.

Remember to consider what might be missing from you space… something that is relevant to the tasks you perform in this area, but which you may be inconveniently keeping somewhere else.

Organizing is a skill. To some it comes naturally, and to others, it is learned. Anyone can become more organized by practicing new strategies.

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Staying On Track…

Don’t be an “Italian road builder,” who builds a road that winds and twists around every mountain. It may seem easier in the moment to quickly stash an item in the nearest location, but in the long run you are likely to waste time and effort straightening out a twisted mess.

Always have a notepad (paper or electronic) nearby where you can “park” important items that pop into your head. Quickly record them so you can return to the task at hand. If you struggle with insomnia, keep one by the bed as well.

If you are easily sidetracked, consider putting on some soothing background music. This may help to occupy the part of your brain that otherwise would be distracted by nearby stimuli.

Stay hydrated. Even a 1% drop in body fluids can significantly impact your productivity.


Overcoming Discouragement…

If organizing a whole room seems overwhelming, put “blinders” on and focus on one specific area, such as a cabinet or a drawer. You don’t have to fix the whole room at once.

Stick to your strengths. We all do some things well and need help with others. Sometimes the best solution to a problem is to bring in someone with expertise. If finances are an issue, consider bartering your talents.

Changing your mindset can be powerful. Move away from the “I must do” and “I should do” and recast your vision to “I want to” and “I will do.”

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Organization breeds freedom, a benefit worth pursuing. Do any of these tips resonate with you?

38 thoughts on “Headlines…”

    1. I especially find the need to tell myself this when I am starting something new — when I’m not exactly sure how things are going to go. Funny the power of words to summon inner courage!

  1. It was a wonderful time. The people who work in this profession care deeply about improving the lives of their clients. A true privilege to be with them:) Glad you enjoyed the tips, Laurie. Happy week!

  2. Seana, I think shifting your mindset is a major key to getting and staying organized. Looks like you had a great time at NERCPO, as I can attest to, being in a room full of other organizers is inspiring.

    1. We would love to have a kindred spirit! I always feel I’m with “my people” when I hang out with other professional organizers. Couldn’t meet a nicer group.

    1. Yep, pretty much a dream to be with other organizing-obsessed people:) I once had a terrible cold and I was at the mall with my sister, and we were getting a Cinnabon (I mean, yum!) She made me sit there and drink this ENORMOUS cup of water, telling me it would make me feel better. And you know what? It DID! Now I drink water like a fish.

    1. Wish you were up here in the North East and could have joined us, Ellen. We had a lot of fun. This profession brings together the best people. Thanks to YOU for working so hard at the national level:)

  3. I’ll bet you had fun at the conference. I go to one or two blogging conferences per year and I always have a marvelous time. The problem is that I get myself all revved up and want to go all out and revamp every single thing about my blog. I need to learn how to take just one or two really good tips and then be organized about how I implement them instead of trying to eat the whole elephant at once!
    adrian recently posted…Peter Walsh on Thanksgiving CleanupMy Profile

    1. I totally identify, Adrian! I have to try and find one or two things myself. In fact, whenever I give a presentation I offer this advice up front, so no one goes away feeling overwhelmed. Great fun, though….

    1. To be honest, the local group I work with got together and threw this conference. We wanted something nearby, so we just started making calls and got it done. Good luck! Having community is really terrific.

  4. You’re amazing, Seana! Not only did you run the conference, but you were also managed to absorb all these great takeaways. It was a fabulous conference! Congratulations to you and the NAPO-CT team for putting together such a wonderful event.

    There were two things I noticed that seemed connected. Judith Ann Kirk said, “…the power of solving problems is the heart of our organizing business.” In the “paper clip” networking activity, when we shared what our pre-organizing careers were, a large percentage of us had design, art, and creative backgrounds. Solving problems is also at the heart of creativity. While organizing is different than creating art, I find the organizing very creative because of the problem solving aspect.
    Linda Samuels recently posted…How to Unlock Gigantic Gifts in What Makes You SadMy Profile

    1. Thank you so much for coming to NERCPO and supporting us throughout the process. I felt so energized by the whole event! I couldn’t agree more about that creative element of what we do. Each time I show up at a new client’s location, and “take that breath” that Judith mentioned, I feel the creative juices start flowing. I often feel like I’m completing a giant puzzle where, but not one that has been pre-determined, one where I can to design the layout of the pieces. Constantly facing new challenges is one of the characteristics of this job that keep it fresh and exciting!

  5. Great tips. I love to have a notebook nearby. I tend to remember tasks or think of things that need to be done while I am cleaning so I carry around my cellphone or a notepad to write stuff down. I also have a notepad in my car so when my daughter tells me something while in the car, she can write it down for me. I prefer not to drive and have to memorize tasks to do later. =)
    Sabrina Q. recently posted…A Great Gift Idea For MenMy Profile

    1. And the great ideas often come when we are doing something else- like driving or cleaning up. Happens to me as well, often when I am out on walking. Great minds think alike:)

  6. Seana,

    This post is so valuable, as it represents the collective wisdom of so many seasoned, and talented professional organizers. I concur with everything that was said…I find the “putting on blinders” technique particularly useful, both with overwhelmed clients and for myself when I’m facing an overwhelming task. Bravo for curating these nuggets of gold!
    Natalie Gallagher recently posted…My Home Refresh: Working with Annie Sloan Chalk PaintMy Profile

    1. Love getting that feedback on “putting on blinders,” especially from an expert in organizing. Just because we can’t complete a huge task or space all at once doesn’t mean that we are in any way a failure. Making concrete progress in one area can be so energizing and rewarding, and give us the motivation to focus in on another spot.

    1. Totally agree, Andi. Just looking at that one drawer can give you the motivation you need to try another space… especially if you keep it organized. So empowering!

  7. Great tips! I am currently decluttering and organizing my home to refresh it after living here over 17 years and paying special attention to my thoughts and processes to see how I am implement them into my work with my own clients. We can always use a refresher!

    1. Going through an experience ourselves is a great way to get in touch with how our clients feel. I learned a lot about being an organizer as well, but I thought for blog purposes, I would focus on things I learned that would benefit my readers:)

  8. Congratulations on a wonderful event! I love what you set about changing your mindset from I must do to I should do. That has really helped me with my own day to day life. I can easily get overwhelmed with all of the things I think I MUST do. So I have stopped thinking that way. Now only a few things go on that list and the rest go on the I SHOULD do list. 🙂 Thanks for your insight Seana!
    Autumn Leopold recently posted…5 Professional Organizing Bloggers I Think You Should Know About: Week 2My Profile

    1. Not everything can be top priority, right Autumn? There was a lot of learning for those of us serving as professional organizers as well, but I thought for my blog readers I would post things that they could implement in their own lives.

  9. NERCPO was awesome! You did a great job summing up the highlights! I had never heard the reference to the Italian road builder, but I live it. I have a few folks that fit the description and will share this with them.

  10. Very concise and well explained! Especially like the recommendation of being hydrated. Since out body is 75% water we need to keep hydrated. A drop in water intake can put much stress and strain on your body as well as your mind.

    1. So true, Regina. I was surprised by what a big difference hydration can make. We can easily forget this. The speaker who talked about hydration mentioned that it is a good idea for us to model this when working with clients… “I’m feeling like it is time for some water. How about you?”

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