An Organizing Lesson From The White Stripes

One of the things I say a lot is limitations breed freedom. I’ve written several posts that demonstrate the value of this paradox , but here’s an example you might not expect: The White Stripes.


Organizing D.I.Y Not

Look, I don’t pretend that getting organized is the hardest thing in the world. It ain’t rocket surgery. But if you’re not good at organizing, going the DIY route can be a bit like cutting your own hair. Yes, you CAN do it, but don’t be surprised if you don’t like the results.

Are Vampires Lurking in Your Closet?

Last week a woman was giving me a tour of all the organizing challenges in her home and when we came to a closet upstairs, I asked her, “can I see what’s in here?” She said “Oh, I don’t want to show you that. It’s a DISASTER!” After explaining to her that I was in the disaster business, she let me have a look.


Quantity Dictates Systems

One of the questions I get asked most frequently, before starting an organizing project is “What should I buy?” I have a very simple answer: nothing. This is especially true for the big projects we tend to get this time of year, like garages, basements, attics. The reason comes down to this very simple organizing rule: “quantity dictates systems.”


Do You Have “Dishes in the Sink”?

As I’ve so often stated, my central organizing philosophy is circulation prevents accumulation, but what exactly do I mean by this? Effective organizing solutions must be built on movement. There must be a reliable advancement from one manageable stage to the next. If this circulation is blocked by an unmanageable stage, the whole process starts to fall apart and an accumulation of clutter is inevitable.

When is it OK NOT to be Organized?

The other day a friend asked, when is it OK NOT to be organized. I was stumped by the question, but I’ve been giving the matter a lot of thought, ever since.

When Spring Cleaning is Spring CLEARING

Let’s face it, spring cleaning usually has a lot to do with spring cleaRing. Some annual rituals are obvious– store the boots and bring out the sandals, bring the lawn furniture out of storage, put the holiday decorations away– but there are some additional practices that will make it easier to stay organized, year-round.

Are You Allowing Your Clutter to Take Up Residence?

You may hate the way the clutter accumulates in your home or office, but it’s possible you may be making some simple structural choices that cause it. A truly effective organizing system is built on movement. Some choices prevent movement and allow clutter to take up residence.


Strawberry, Chocolate, or Manila?

Today I want to boldly confront one of the most controversial issues of our time: file folder color choice. I know there is a school of thought, that says if your file folders are a variety of stimulating colors, they will encourage more use, but I want to make a case for the classic manila folder. There are reasons why it works.


Inbox or Invitation to Disaster?

Beware the inbox. On the face of it, an inbox makes sense. It provides a single collection place for your unsorted items. The problem is that you gain a false sense of organization, because while there is an easy plan for entrance, there is no easy plan for exit. The best solution may be no inbox at all.


The Secret to Why You Still Can’t Stay Organized

Being organized requires a balance of three limited resources. The first two are time and space. Much has been written about how to work within the limits of time and space, but there is a third resource that attracts less attention. That resource is energy.

It is possible to clear your space, organize your time, and establish sensible systems for both and still not be able to stay organized, because you lack the energy to maintain those systems.

Gray Away

So what does hair coloring and organizing have to do with each other? Organizing is never as simple as black or white, keep or toss. There is a lot of gray that must stay, but must be stored away.

We’ve all been there. We can’t take that cluttered room anymore, so we go in with a trash bag and start tossing the old periodicals, the empty component boxes, but then we get stuck on a half finished craft project, the old documents, the expensive gift we never liked,

Action Feeds on Clarity

Just as a doctor asks several key questions before making a diagnosis, so does a professional organizer. In a home office, one of those questions is “where is your trash?” If the client proudly points to a decorative little bin that is overflowing with paper, then I know we are looking at some easy structural solutions and some larger conceptual challenges.

At the Moment of Need

If you find yourself not having the right item for the right need at the most critical times. Here are my top three recommendations:
1. Edit
2. Edit
3. Edit
If everything is important than nothing is important. The less you have to remember, the more likely you are to remember it.


The Absolute Worst Way to Get Organized

There must be thousands of resources out there offering the “easiest way to get organized,” (including mine) so I thought I would offer up some advice on the absolute worst ways to get organized. Here are seven surefire tips!

Donation Depot

In 2013 every household should have a donation depot. The global
economy and online shopping has made it cheaper and easier than
ever to buy goods. We need a system to make it as easy as possible
to purge excess items as fast as they accumulate. This requires an
adequate dedicated zone, so that it is almost as easy to donate clothes and other unwanted items as it is to recycle.