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Nathans artwork 2012 005How many times have you started an organizing project only to quit half-way through? Maybe you gave up before you finished sorting through everything when you realized just how long it was going to take. Maybe you finished sorting everything, but the Goodwill and consignment store bags are still sitting out in your garage, waiting for you to take them to their final destination. If you find yourself a great starter of organizing projects but not such a great finisher, here are some suggestions that will inspire you to finally complete that organizing project:

1. Find what motivates you. Why do you care to organize the space? Write down that motivator and keep it handy for when you get to that point where you ask yourself, “Why am I making myself do this now?” Your motivator may read something like, “I am organizing my kitchen so it will take less time to cook meals and less time to clean up. I want to feel good when I walk into my kitchen.” Post that motivator somewhere where it can’t be ignored, such as on the coffee maker or the microwave.

2. Troubleshoot your usual excuses ahead of time. What are your usual excuses for not finishing a project? Lack of time, money, childcare? Write down those excuses and brainstorm solutions BEFORE you start your project. Put those solutions into action when you try to talk yourself out of finishing your project. For example, you might write, “I know I am going to want to quit this project after the third day, because I think it will take too long. When my brain tries to convince me to quit, I will call up my most organized friend for help and inspiration.”

3. Tackle your organizing project only when you have the physical AND emotional energy. If you start the project drained, you won’t do your best work. At worst, you won’t be able to finish. If there is something emotionally draining going on in your life such as a seriously sick child or a pending divorce, consider postponing your organizing project until you have the time and energy to fully concentrate on it.

4. Figure out which time of day you are most productive and only work on your project then. For instance, many people find that trying to organize in the evening is doomed to fail, because they are more tired than they realize from the events of the day.

5. Make sure you have a plan when you are organizing a room. This means you have a vision for how you want the space to look and how you want to move and work within your space. A plan serves as a great motivator and it reminds you that this project has a definite ending. Without a plan, you are likely to feel overwhelmed and question why you are doing all of this hard work organizing in the first place.

Completing an organizing project is like finishing a marathon. You have to pace yourself, talk back to those negative voices in your head and remember why this project matters if you want to finish it. But also like a marathon, there is a great feeling of accomplishment when you can look back at how all of your hard work paid off. You will be glad you finished your organizing project.

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Here is how I keep track of To Do’s, appts

by respaced on September 24, 2015

I get asked a lot about how I keep track of my schedule, to-do’s and calendar. What system should I use? is a question just about all of my clients ask.

The first thing I tell them is, you don’t have to go digital! Digital is just one option out of many. I personally prefer pen/paper, because I like to see every single To-Do task and appointment for the week in one glance. A tiny screen on my phone or tablet can’t show that much detail all at once. So I use the Planner Pad (no, I’m not getting paid to promote their product. I genuinely use and love their Planner Pad.) The Planner Pad lets me keep track of To Do’s, schedule To Do’s and keep track of appointments for an ENTIRE week all on the SAME page! Woo hoo!

Here is what a typical blank week looks like in the Planner Pad:

Planner Pad blank

And here is what each section is for:

Planner Pad colored how to

Each week, I write my categories at the top. I use mine for my organizing business reSPACEd, so my categories are all business-related. Your categories will probably be different. I write my categories at the top and write all of my To-Do tasks for each of those categories in the columns below. At the very bottom of the page, I enter any appointments I have (I choose to highlight client appointments in pink, and mandatory, non-client appointments in green.) :

Planner Pad no directions

Here is the MOST IMPORTANT PART of getting your Planner Pad to work: After I write all of my To-Do tasks down, I ASSIGN a day to each task, so I can get them all done that week. I think we all know that writing down your To-Do tasks is easy — it’s finding the time to get your To-Do tasks DONE that is so hard! That’s why the Planner Pad is so brilliant.

So when I’m all done, my planner looks like this:

Planner Pad demo

Now, I can be super-productive (which is really important when you run a small business!) because I am getting essential tasks done each day in addition to seeing clients and attending to all my home life obligations. Needless to say, this is the planner used by many professional organizers.

Want to get your own Planner Pad? I order the Executive Size (8 1/2″ x 11″), which is about $35.

Whether you choose to use the Planner Pad system or not, I highly encourage you to use a system that allows you to write down AND schedule your To-Do tasks in the same place that you schedule your appointments. It really does make a difference in Getting Stuff Done. Happy Organizing!


Before After photoYou know what is a gigantic waste of time and money? Organizing things you may never use or look at again. Examples include:

  • Getting an expensive filing cabinet for documents you may never look at again
  • Buying expensive shelving to hold box after box of memorabilia out in the garage
  • Spending the time organizing hundreds of photos by year within a larger box of photos

A good rule of thumb is that 80% of your house should be filled with things you use frequently (at least once a year!) or love fiercely. The other 20% can be for things related to the past (e.g. yearbooks, old tax returns, etc.) or things intended for the future (e.g. emergency preparedness supplies, clothes for your kids to grow into, etc.)

Don’t make your household a monument to the past or a fortress against the future.

To make your house support the way you live NOW, fill it mostly with things you use NOW. And keep those things near where they get used in a place where you can reach them.


My 10 best tips for getting stuff done

September 1, 2015

A while ago, I asked you to submit your best tips for getting tasks done. I picked out my favorites, plus added my own. The result? Ten awesome ideas for getting boring, annoying, or overwhelming tasks done around your house:   Prepare Schedule weekly (home) office hours for yourself in order to get mail sorted, […]

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How to organize kids’ school supplies at home

August 20, 2015

In honor of Back To School (yes, that is a defined season, worthy of all caps), I thought it might be useful to share my best tips for organizing all those extra school supplies at home. You know, supplies like those extra 5 gluesticks, of which your kid only needed to take one to school […]

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One of THE biggest problems in most home offices is …

August 11, 2015

What is one of the biggest problems I see in my clients’ home offices? No recycling or shred bins! Sometimes no trash bins either. This is one of the main reasons paper piles are such horrible problems in many home offices: There is no convenient place to dump all of the unwanted paper. You can […]

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Oh boy. Time to start sorting the kiddos’ schoolwork

June 16, 2015

School is out for the summer, which means it’s time for my annual post on “how to organize kids’ schoolwork.” (Scroll to the bottom of this post to see what we did with the vast majority of my son’s schoolwork this year!) How to Organize Kids’ Schoolwork 1. When your children get home, ask them […]

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Finally! A solution for the kid who ALWAYS forgets something important at home

May 5, 2015

Do you have the kind of child who is always forgetting to pack certain things in their backpack? You know, a chronic homework-forgetter or lunch-leave-behinder? Well, I FINALLY solved that problem in our house! Only took me until the school year is nearly over to figure out … I got this chalkboard sign from our […]

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Here is an easy way to start your organizing project

April 13, 2015

I recently had a lot of fun reorganizing a linen closet for a client. I like talking about linen closets, because they are the perfect space to ease into organizing, if you are feeling overwhelmed by the thought of tackling an entire room in your house. Linen closets are easy places to start with because: […]

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Overwhelmed by your memorabilia? 5 tips to make it easier to organize

April 1, 2015

When it comes to home organizing, nothing is harder to organize than memorabilia. (Memorabilia are objects we keep because they remind us of past events in our lives.) It’s not the sorting and categorizing of memorabilia that is so hard; it’s making decisions about what to keep or toss that makes it feel so overwhelming. […]

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