5 Step Guide to Organizing

5 Step Guide to Organizing

In recognition of National Get Organized Week, I am pleased to offer this guest blog post written by my friend Lou Anne Dunn, Professional Organizer and owner of Neatly Dunn. Lou Anne shares her 5 Step Guide to Organizing.

I’ve heard people say that organizing isn’t rocket science. This is true, but for some people, is just as complicated. Some people are born with an innate ability to organize, while others are taught this skill as they develop. That leaves the next group, those who suffer from disorganization. Many people in this group struggle daily with basic organization that affects them both in their personal and professional lives. I want to encourage those in the last group to start today with a few simple steps to organize your life and home.

Organization CAN be learned! Like any new skill, it will take time and devotion but before you know it you will be living a more organized life. The following steps will be your guide as you work through every area of your home.

1. Breathe (repeat this step as necessary throughout the process)

The thought of organizing can be overwhelming for some. It is important to remember that the end product will be a good thing. It may not be quick but it will be worth it. Try to envision in your mind what you want the space to look like. If you are artistic you can sketch it out; if not, find a picture that you like and focus on it. When you begin to feel stressed take a break, breathe, and refocus. Begin again.

eraser 2. Start small

Pick an area to start. It doesn’t have to be an entire room. You can begin in a drawer, cabinet, or closet. It’s more important to begin the process and practice these steps. As you complete the first project you will feel empowered to start the next one. You can build in size with each completed project.

3. Like items together

This step is critical. It allows you to see how many of the same item you have and assess the condition of each item. It increases your productivity by allowing you the ability to quickly find items and it saves you money by not purchasing items you already own but can’t find. Having one location for the items eliminates the guesswork in your daily routine, which relieves stress.

4. Ask some basic questions

Once you’ve gathered your items all together you can begin to ask yourself the important questions about each category. You could ask any of the following questions about most items regardless of category. Does it work (i.e. not broken or torn), When did I last use or wear it (if ever), Is it a special use item (holiday or entertaining), Do I truly get enjoyment from the item when I see, use, or wear it?

Once you’ve answered those questions you can decide if you need to re-home (i.e. discard, donate, or repurpose) the item or if it is useful or important enough to remain in your home.

organized office paper clips 5. Store it where you use it

Just a couple examples, keep envelopes and stamps where you pay bills, keep keys, shoes and coats near the entry area. Set up your kitchen or office with the same principle. The items you use most often should be in easy reach as you work. The exact set up will be dependant upon how you work. You shouldn’t leave the area to get your most used items.

Revisit the list often so that you can commit these five steps to memory. If you find it is just too much to tackle on your own, don’t hesitate to reach out to a Professional Organizer. Either way you are on your way to a more organized life!


Lou Anne Dunn
Professional Organizer
Neatly Dunn
(252) 341-2437
Organizing your Life and Home, One project at a time!
Member ICD, NAPO
2015-16 Membership Director NAPO-NC

To find a Professional Organizer in your area, visit www.NAPO.net

An Organized Working Space

An Organized Working Space

Refresh your working space for the new year.

Working Wood Desk

Guest blogger Cyndy Ratcliffe, Certified Professional Organizer®, Organizing Solutions, Inc.

As Melanie invited me to be a guest blogger to share some organizing tips I was reminded of this quote “Don’t be too busy mopping the floor to turn off the faucet” unknown

So often we are running so fast that we continue running without stopping to evaluate what we might change to be more productive and less stressed. An organized working space is a great start! The number one question I hear when it comes to this type of project is “Where do I start?” To answer that question I’d like to share a 4-step process for getting your workspace organized.

  1. CLEAR – the old

The new year is a great time to clear off your desktop, old files, binders, books and supply closets. Statistics show that we only retrieve 20% of what we file so be aggressive. Set up a shred bin and large garbage can for the items you can get rid of, there will probably be many.  You may find information that is legal, tax or past client related which you need to hang on to should the need arise in the future. Create an archive box for these items and get them out of your current office space. You can retrieve them should the need arise in the future … it rarely does.

  1. CATEGORIZE – the physical items you are keeping

Sort the items you want to keep by category. Some examples might be working files, resources, and office supplies (mailing, printing, and writing). Just create an area to categorize them as you are sorting. The next step will help you with containing them.


This step is about finding the right containers for the items you have categorized.

Here are some recommendations:

  • Open bins within arm’s reach of your desk labeled “in”, “Action/working”, “pending” and “to read”.
  • A desktop file to store all your recurring work folders on your desktop.
  • Deep drawer dividers for your desk drawers to keep items organized.
  • A-Z guides for easy retrieval of your files.

Deep drawer dividers for your desk drawers help keep items organized.


4.  PLACE – the contained categories in an efficient location

Set up regularly used items to be within reach while you are sitting at your desk. If you are right handed items like office supplies, shredder printer and the desktop file may work most efficiently to your right. I have a bookshelf to the right of my desk for easy access to binders, mailing supplies, my printer, the recycle bin and my client preparation supplies. Everything at the ready!

So, schedule blocks of time in the next week to “turn off your faucet”. Start by clearing out the old. It doesn’t have to be done in a day. Commit 30 minutes each day until you feel like the faucet is off and your desktop and office space are working efficiently for you.