Secrets of Getting Organized

Grouping, labeling, sorting, removing, ordering and arranging our precious treasures, at home or work, is an ongoing process or an awful mess.

The reality of it's better to practice "staying" organized than "getting" organized, especially if you want to avoid that overwhelming feeling you get as you "step up" into your child's bedroom, spend 15 minutes trying to locate an operational pen from under the mountain of paperwork on your desk or lose 30 minutes trying to locate your car keys.

Staying organized requires a positive attitude, motivation and consistency and a few "quick tips" to achieve organizational success:


When sorting and organizing paper files and folders, the "old school" rule of thirds recommends throwing out one third of the paper that is probably too old to be valuable, archiving one third of the truly important papers, leaving one the third of the paper to be filed and organized. Not only will there be less to deal with, with the cost of file folders and filing cabinets, it will keep the costs associated with filing to a minimum.


When organizing clothes, put dresses with dresses, shirts with shirts, etc. and then arrange by color. This cuts down the chance of mismatching clothes while getting dressed early morning "in the dark" while making it much easier to pack for last-minute business trips.

When organizing paper, using color-coded labels or file folders can make it very simple to locate important papers. Most office supply stores offer file folders in various colors so people can store all insurance information in blue folders, banking information in green folders, car maintenance information in red folders, etc.


If you haven't worn that special blouse or favorite pants in over a year, swap, donate or discard it. Over the period of a year, you have accounted for seasonal changes and physical changes (height, weight) and if in good repair, you can swap or donate it. Use the recycling rules of "reduce, reuse and recycle" and cut the pants or old shirt into a useful rag for dusting or washing cars if it isn't suitable to donate or swap.

When purchasing something new, make a point to remove one old clothing item; and if the item you are replacing is too old or worn, discard it.


In many households, people find "small piles" becoming larger as family members leave items throughout the house. As the "left behind" magazines, newspapers, car keys, discarded clothing, briefcases and backpacks, papers and homework that really belong in the briefcases or backpacks pile higher and higher, the "small piles" become "mountain piles" that can overwhelm even the best organizational guru in the family.

Instead, make a habit of taking items when leaving a room. Leave the room in the same, preferably better, state that it was found in. Designate certain places in the home for items that travel both in and out of the home such as those car keys, briefcases and backpacks.


Everyone receives mail. Prioritize the most important pieces of mail; then, categorize the mail into more manageable groups. Like a postal worker, place items you need to attend to soonest in a "high priority" pile then categorize remaining items. Whether categories are subjects or just different levels of "priority," follow a plan that suits your needs AND keeps up with the incoming mail.

Instead of "getting" organized, stay organized with these quick tips and you'll find extra time each day for things besides looking for keys or a pen!