the difference between happy and not unhappy
7 secrets for a happier you

the best ways to organize your living space (and your life)

"Organizing is what you do before you do something
so that when you do it it's not all mixed up."

Winnie the Pooh
(created by A.A. Milne)

Hi, my name is Dani and I'm an organizing-aholic. Yep, I'll admit it. I have an addiction to being organized. I love color-coding. I could spend hours arranging my clothes by sleeve-length. And, yes, I'm a sucker for a quality, multi-purpose bin. I love when everything has a place and even better when everything is in its place. This makes a time like this, when I'm days away from moving into a new apartment, both completely unsettling and unbelievably exciting. Right now nothing in my apartment is where it should be since it's all packed in boxes. You can bet all your money on the fact that everything will be neatly in a new place by the end of the weekend because, if it wasn't clear from these first few sentences, I love to organize.

I love organizing so much that I used to do it as a kid. For fun. Yes, I know, that's completely odd, and what was even odder was the fact that I was so organized that my parents' friends would come to my room and look around in awe, as if I were some kind of prodigy, a mini-genius of organization. While their kids were throwing clothes on the floor and stacking school books haphazardly in a corner, I was color-coding, filing, alphabetizing, and keeping everything contained in neatly labeled boxes. I can remember looking at them looking around my room and thinking, "What's the big deal? If I didn't organize it all, it would just be a mess and then how would I find anything?"

Organizing was easy for me because it made perfect sense. It never occurred to me not to be organized, just as it probably never naturally occurs to a disorganized person to put everything in color-coordinated files with each color symbolizing a different area of life. But, natural organizer or not, it does make a lot of sense to keep things in order. Why? It saves time (no more looking for stray gloves or missing keys). It saves money (no more buying another one because you can't find the one you swore you bought). It saves sanity (no more screaming at other people to help you find your glasses). As you can see, organization can help you out a lot. A lot, a lot.

I know being organized doesn't come easily for everyone, but I'm a firm believer that the outside is a reflection of the inside. I hate to say it, but if your house or apartment is a cluttered disaster, chances are you're probably a cluttered disaster. Sounds harsh, yes, but in most cases it's true. (On the flip-side, however, being completely organized and having everything in its place does not mean you have your life together. After twenty-five years of external order and internal chaos, I can attest to that first hand!) No matter who you are, what you do, or where you live, being organized and living in a clean, orderly environment will make you happier. This is a fact. (Well, I'm pretty sure it's a fact. If it's not, it should be because I really believe it's true.) I know you're probably looking around at the stacks of paperwork on your desk or the clutter of toys around your work space and you're shaking your head thinking, "Organize? Me? I barely have time to sleep, let alone organize." But... If you remember one thing and one thing only from this post, remember this:

The more organized you are, the more time, money, and sanity you will have.

Don't you want to be have more time, money, and sanity? I'm pretty sure more of all of those things will make you happier. Yeah, yeah, I know, happiness comes from inside, happiness is a choice (I really, really do believe that with all my heart), but you'll be a lot more likely to choose happiness if the world around you is happily organized. Make sense? Okay, so let's get started. I can't say that I'm an official expert on organization, but I'm pretty darn good at it if I do say so myself. People have hired me to organize their homes. Every boss I've had has asked me to help him/her organize his/her office. Friends have asked me over and over again to help them organize their dorm rooms or apartments or homes. I might not have a degree in this field, but I'm pretty awesome at it. And, at the very least, I'm passionate about it and that has to count for something. So here we go... Dani's tips for organizing your living space (and your life!)...


10 Best Tips To Organize Your Living Space (and Your Life)

  1. Get rid of what you don't need. Immediately. This is something you have to take action on right away if you want to get anywhere in this whole organizing thing. Get. Rid. Of. It. You don't need it. Yeah, yeah, I know, you might need it someday. No, you won't. Trust me. I get rid of things all the time and do you know how many of those things I have later needed? None of them. Maybe I've wanted a few of them back, but never have I ever needed them back. Go through all of your stuff (and I do mean all of it) and get rid of the things you don't need or want. Give it away if you can. If you can't, throw it away. I know it's hard but you CAN do it. Don't waste another second. Do it now. Don't think about it. Don't weigh the pros and cons of keeping it or not. If you don't need it, don't use it, and don't love it (and, no, you do not love those beat up old boots of yours)...get rid of it. I'm serious, people. The only way to get organized is to get rid of all of the stuff you don't need. And don't you dare make excuses...especially excuses that involve the words "sentimental," "gift," or "special." No matter what you believe comes after this life, I'm pretty darn sure you can't take any of those special things with you so get rid of what you don't need. NOW.

  2. Take inventory of everything you own. Now that you've gotten rid of all of the stuff you no longer need or want (and you have gotten rid of it, right?), assess what it is you do have. Personally, I like to make lists. Once I made a list of all of my clothes (something I plan to do again post-move) and discovered that I had 32 bikinis. 32!!! Why in the world did I have so many? I have no idea. How many of them did I actually wear? Maybe 3... This was a problem, clearly. Once you do an inventory on what you own, you can see what you may or may not need in the future. If you have 15 pairs of jeans (like I do...yikes), you probably don't need more pairs of jeans. I find it really helpful to create some sort of list and to keep it with you whenever you are shopping. The process of creating a list can be a pain, but it really can help you out because it will prevent you from buying things you already have plenty of and it can help you to see how much stuff you already have (even after purging half of your home!). For most people, creating this inventory is a real eye-opener and can really help you curb your spending in your "problem" areas (which, for me, is apparently bikinis!).

  3. Invest in quality organizing tools (and use them).  Okay, this is not an excuse to go to The Container Store and go wild. (Oh, but how I love the thought of buying everything in that place!) Often when people get excited about organizing their stuff, they run right out and buy tons of boxes and bins and labels... and then come home and add those things to the ever-mounting piles of stuff they already have. Don't do this. Tempting as it might be to get excited about organizing your space (okay, maybe that's just me...), don't run right out and buy a ton of organizing things you don't need. First, assess the unique situation of your living space after you have taken an inventory. Then, look into the options online and get some ideas about what you might need. If you don't know where to start, check out #6 for some great ideas. Then, after carefully assessing everything and making a list of what you need, go into the store (IKEA, The Container Store, Wal-Mart, Target, whatever) and purchase only the things on your list. My advice would be to invest in high quality tools that will last a long time. Purchasing items of lower quality isn't usually a good idea because they're likely not to survive moves, children, pets, and any other destructive forces you may have in your life. Assess, then invest.

  4. Learn the benefits of color-coding. If you haven't noticed from reading my blog, I love color. Love it. And in addition to making my life a happier place, color also has some great benefits. It makes things easy to identify and helps you to keep things divided into specific categories. For example, let's take the example of a filing cabinet. If you use colorful files, you can use different colors for different areas (such as health, work, kids, car, etc.). The next time you're looking for information on your car, for example, you'll know to look for the blue folders. You can also do this with kids or family members, by allowing them to pick a color that they like. After everyone in the house has a color, you can use that color to label things, to put their paperwork in color-coded files, to use colorful bins to hold their things... Sounds a little crazy and it might not work for everyone, but at the very least color-coding files can be so, so helpful. Plus, all of the colors really can boost your mood!

  5. Keep your things in logical places. Seems obvious, right? Well, it should be, but it's not always. Take a look at your kitchen as an example. Do you have all of the things together that should be together? For example, is your coffee near the coffee pot? Is your tea near the teacups? Sometimes I find that things are not necessarily where they should be because we tend to group things by general categories (food, pots, pans, plates) rather than grouping them in ways that make sense for us. Don't worry about traditional conventions if you want to have an organized place. Think about the way you do things. Think about the way your family does things. Then figure out what makes the most sense for you. Keep the things you use where you use them. This can save you a lot of time and will make your household routines run more smoothly. The best way to put this point into action is to think about what you're doing while you're doing it. Stay in the moment when you're getting ready in the morning and ask yourself if your things are really in convenient places. Figure out the way you do things and arrange your things to suit you and the way you do things.

  6. Read up on organizational tips and tricks. This, not surprisingly, is one of my favorite things. I love to read about new organizing tips and tricks. I cannot tell you how many things I've learned from reading books, magazines, or websites that I've implemented in my own life. My very favorite site is Real Simple, but I would also recommend checking out Life Organizers and More Than Organized, two sites that also offer great organizing solutions. In many cases, you can get organizing tips sent right to your in-box, which will help you stay on track and will be helpful in suggesting new ideas for your new and improved organized life. I would highly recommend signing up for Real Simple email alerts (and subscribing to the magazine too if you don't already). I've gotten so many great ideas from both the site and the magazine and if you're at all interested in keeping up an organized life, this is definitely one of the best resources out there. (In fact, I love it so much that it's now become my secret dream to work for Real Simple...okay, not so secret anymore. Real Simple, I'm ready when you are!)

  7. Master the art of the to-do list. Alright, I know that for the less organized (sounds nicer than disorganized, right?) the mention of a to-do list pulls up an instant frown. To-do lists can really seem like a pain sometimes (especially if you're the type that's not likely to cross anything off of one), but they really, really do help you to stay organized. You can create daily to-do lists, weekly to-do lists, work to-do lists, home to-do lists...the possibilities are endless! And, really, honestly, they work. Not sure how to get started on your new to-do list adventure? Check out this great article, Building a Smarter To-Do List from 43folders. After reading that article, I was even more certain that a to-do list habit is a great one to start. Sometimes it feels like a pain in the you-know-what, but it really does make everything feel more organized when you write it down (or type it up) and then work through the various tasks one by one. Also, I find that writing down what I have to do frees up space in my mind so I can think about more important things.

  8. Put everything away right away. I cannot tell you how important this is. So, so, SO important. Once you've created a place for everything by getting rid of the things you don't need, assessing your space, and organizing it, you have to keep it up. If you organize everything but then don't put things in their new organized home, the whole organizational thing will be a waste of time. And no one wants to waste time, right? Right! So don't. If you make the effort to organize, make a point to upkeep all of your hard work. In addition to putting everything away right away (and, yes, I do mean right away...not two days later), make sure to assess whether or not the places you are putting your things are working for you. If you find that it's a pain to reach the bin of scarves on the top shelf in your closet so you never want to put your scarves away, find a way to move that bin so that it's more easily accessible. It's your life and those are your things so it's up to you to make them work for you. Make sure that it's easy for you (and your family/roommates) to put things away. The easier it is, the more likely you'll be to do it!

  9. Be creative with the things you already have.Real Simple has a great section in the magazine and online called New Uses for Old Things in which you can find tons of great ideas for taking things you already have but don't use (but this shouldn't really be the case if you got rid of everything in #1!) and making use of them. Real Simple has great ideas, but you may have some ideas of your own. Take a look around at all of the things in your living space. What can you use differently? What do you have stored away that you could use right now? For example, if you have a few vases stored in a closet for the next time you receive flowers, think about a way that you can bring those vases out and use them (to hold things? as decoration?). If you start working out those creative muscles of yours (yes, I know you have 'em!), you'd be surprised what you'll come up with. Just because something was designed for a specific purpose doesn't mean you have to use it for that purpose. Be creative! 
  10. Do not have a junk drawer/box/room. Ever. I've put this one last because I want this (and #1!) to stick with you. Do. Not. Have. A. Junk. Drawer. Ever, ever, ever! Create a place for everything -- a neat, organized place -- and if you do there will be no need for a junk drawer. Junk drawers (and rooms and closets...) are bottomless pits of disorganization. They encourage you to be disorganized by allowing you to have a place to put all of the things you don't know what to do with. If you come across something that doesn't have a place in your home, create a place for it. If you don't want to create a place for it, it's probably junk and you don't need it so throw it away. There is no need whatsoever to have a place where junk or bills or random things can gather. Everything should have a place and things that don't deserve a place should have a place in the garbage. Seriously, if you're committed to being organized, don't let yourself fall into the junk drawer trap. Even if it's just one drawer, it will bring you down. Avoid it at all costs!

As you can see, I'm pretty into this whole being organized thing. Not only do I find that it really helps me to live an uncluttered life, but it's actually a lot of fun for me. Whether you find organizing fun or not, I can pretty much guarantee you that you'll feel a lot better if your home is organized. There is something about clutter that makes people feel unsettled and, if you want to have happiness in your life, it's not going to help you if you look around you and see a big mess. I know color-coding isn't for everyone, but give the whole idea of organizing a shot. Tailor these tips to work for you. I really do believe that creating an uncluttered, organized space can help you feel better about your life so give it a try! Because I'm always looking for new ideas and am always happy to share my ideas with you, I want to know...

What do you do to stay organized? What tips do you have to share with us?
What organization trials have you been faced with lately?


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Excellent, excellent post! Most of these things I already do already, but there are a few new ones for me. Sadly I have many many junk drawers and boxes- will work on that one :). Am going to tweet your post- hope you get some more visitors! x


I feel like I'm getting advice on my apartment from my mom :). Good advice though, hehe. I have a roommate at my old apartment who sometimes lets things get cluttered. The other day he got so stressed from the clutter that he couldn't do any work. I told him that being organized also helps reduce your stress because a cluttered environment leads to a cluttered mind. Great post.

I'm not the world's most organised person but I've improved a hell of a lot over the years. And eventhough I could be more organised, I have become a little anal about clutter! I can't have it in my home anymore.

If my physical environment is chaotic I cannot relax in it. The energy of our homes definitely does impact on our personal energy. Great and very important advice here Dani!

RML - That's awesome that you already do many of these. Get rid of those junk drawers!! ;) Thanks so much for teweeing the post. I appreciate it!

Srinivas - And here I was thinking I didn't have a maternal bone in my body! :) I firmly believe that being organized helps to reduce stress which ultimately makes people more productive. Unfortunately sometimes the clutter gets so out of hand that it's hard for people to get it under control. Hopefully these tips will help people like your old roommate!

Hilda - It's great that you've improved. Clutter is bad news and that's really great that you've realized that and don't want it around you anymore. It's important to have a clutter-free environment in order to really relax and create a space for happiness.

Great tips! I also really love organisation, and right now I'm living in a temporary spot using things I won't have when I move so it's even harder to stay organise (and figure out how to be organised when I move). I never thought to do an inventory list - but it's not a bad idea at all! I started getting rid of a lot of things, mostly my wardrobe which I didn't like much and had too much of, and things that I could rent. Like movies and books. I went through my books and movies, and I've decided to read each book I've got and then donate it to the library, and I'm doing the same thing with my movies as I find they take up a lot of space. Same with CDs! I'd rather download them to an external harddrive, then ditch the CDs themselves (I can't part with my vinyl, though, I just can't!). :)

love the picture. and I am definitely going to get rid of my junk drawer tonight. you are so right. that is exactly where I put things that I have not idea where to put. And I really want to take an inventory of all the things I own. Great ideas! Thanks!

Dani -- First of all, I loved the post and the tips. While I love organization, in my case I keep falling off the wagon. Right now, I really like the tips about CLUTTER. That's my next goal is to get rid of all the junk I have that just sits in closets. I figure if it's been there for over a year and I haven't used it, then it should go.

I also liked # 9 about not having a junk drawer. I used to have a junk room and that was a nightmare. I'm proud to say that my boyfriend and I recently cleaned it up. It felt so good to actually see the floor again.

As always,thanks for these great tips, Dani:~)

I have to admit I'm not uber-organized. I used to be. Now I'm 'organized-enough'.


Because there are times when we use organizing and planning as a way to avoid 'doing'.

These are great tips! And now I totally want to put my books in order by color and make a rainbow! ha

All the best!

I was like that as a kid too. I loved to organize things, and I still do. I would be a complete wreck if I didn't have my house completely organized. Clutter makes me want xanax!! :)

Ia - Ooh, temporary spots are hard to organize sometimes, but it sounds like you're doing well with it for now. You should definitely take an inventory now and get rid of whatever you don't need before you move into a more permanant situation. Great idea about donating books/movies/CDs to the library. CDs especially are things we really don't need. I have a hard time letting go of books so I understand about the vinyls!

Becky - Me too! When I saw that picture I decided that I was going to do that with my books when I arrived at my new place so I packed all my books by color. Get rid of that junk drawer! :) You don't need it!

Sara - Thanks! Don't worry if you fall off of the organization wagon; you can hop right back on. First thing you need to do is get rid of all of your junk in closets. You don't need it and will feel a LOT better once it's out of your life. You've already gotten rid of a junk ROOM so you can handle the closets! Now, go get that junk and get rid of it!

Deb - Good point about how organizing/planning can be used as a way to avoid doing things. I've definitely found myself doing this before, but once everything is organized you can't really use organizing as an excuse any more. As I mentioned in an earlier comment, once I saw this picture a few weeks ago I decided that I'm definitely going to do that with my books and have already packed them all up in rainbow order!

Michelle - Nice to see that I'm not the only kid who loved organizing things! :) I definitely love to have everything in its place, which makes me a little on edge when it comes to moving. All of my things are in boxes right now! Organized boxes, yes, but still...Can't wait to get settled this weekend (otherwise I would definitely need a Xanax, haha)!

Do you hire out your organisation services? If so, and you're passing by my way anytime, consider taking me on as a client? I definitely need some help in that area!

Long time reader first time commenter...
I love organization, my closet is color coded, BUT 1,2, and 10 are my biggest issues. I hate to get rid of stuff everything has "sentimental value" for me, it drives my mom nuts, but my sister is the anti-clutter so I will ask her for some help. I have 70-80 pairs of shoes ,I don't the exact number because I got scared and stopped counting. I decided to put a ban on myself, I am not allowed to buy shoes again until Summer 2010. And finally I always start off with a little junk box that turns into a junk basket, and then a corner that starts to eat away at my life. Thanks for bringing these issues back to the front of my mind so I can work on conquering them right now !
P.S I love Real Simple, and Martha Stewart !!!

Nazim - Definitely spying on you! ;) That's great that you got organized. It's such a great feeling, isn't it? I can't wait to do the same in my new apartment!

Ian - Haha, I do, in fact. I don't have a business or anything, but I've definitely been hired to organize. Start with these tips and you'll be in good shape!

Zavi - Yay! Thanks for reading and thanks for commenting! :) Oh, you're not alone with the sentimental value thing. SO many people have a hard time getting rid of stuff for that reason. Just remember, you can't take it with you forever so you might as well let it go now. You should try the one in, one out method. Every time you buy one thing, something else has to go. It works wonders! Definitely get rid of that junk box/basket/corner. It's bad news!! Real Simple is the best and I actually just bought some great Martha Stewart Halloween decorations. She has great stuff!

Wow. Why did I not know about your blog before?! What a brillaint post! I love a good clear out. I like to sort out bags of stuff for eBay and for the charity shops- it just feels like a huge weight off of your shoulders doesn't it?
Thanks so much for posting this up, such great ideas and advice.

Dani, I love this! Will be referencing back when i need your guidance. Did you really actually say, No Junk Drawer! That'll definietly be a tough one!


p.s. can you come over next wk and help me?

Hey Dani,
{raises hand}
I'm a mini-disaster!

I am working on it, though. Some areas of my life are easier to keep organized than others. And your list...well, it helps! Am I ready to give up that junk drawer yet? Hmmm....I'll think about it...

Great reminders Dani, as much as I may not want to always admit it - organizing does have many benefits...

I love to organize and be organized and my kitchen is just perfect for me. I do not have a dresser so my clothing is either on the rack in the closet or in clear plastic bins in the attic. One plastic bin does not open correctly even after a year - so I am giving it away and getting a new one on pay day.

I hate dusting - truly hate I minimize that aspect and being organized helps so much.

Also as I make new changes in my life right now, I know how to get rid of what is part of the old life style quickly to assist the change.

When my kids were growing up and I saw how messy their rooms were, I would say - wow I now have access to your mind and thinking right now! They did not like it but it was so true.

If they waited too long to clean their rooms and put away, I did it for them. No rotting food and ants in bedrooms - or spiders thank you. They had to pay $5 for a pair of jeans, $1 for a favorite shirt and $3 for sports uniforms especially if I had to wash them too. Our dog took care of shoes and dirty undies left on the floor - this was not all he was good for - I will just say they had to buy new.

Great post, I am putting it on facebook and twitter Thank you for highlighting one of my favorite subjects.

I recently cleared out all my closets - so much easier to find things, and I feel less weighed down. Thanks for the post!

Ava-May - I'm so glad you found the blog! :) I definitely like to donate/sell things I don't need. It feels great and it helps me to get rid of all of the things I don't really need!

Eden - Thanks! Definitely come back and read the post again when you're organizing. And, yes, NO junk drawer! No, no, no! I know it's hard not to have one, but you can do it. Haha, I know you can do it without me. If you want to, you can!

Lance - Haha, I think there are a lot of mini-disasters out there, but not that many people are working on it so good for you! Organizing has a lot of benefits and it's worth the time it take to help everything find its place. For your first step, try getting rid of that junk drawer! :)

Patricia - Awesome! It's great that you like to organize just like me! :) I don't like cleaning all that much either, and being organized helps minimize the amount of things that need to be cleaned. Good for you for teaching your kids to keep things organized. I think it's hard for a lot of kids but it's an important lesson to learn early in life. Thanks for spreading the word about the post. I appreciate that!

Gail - It's a great feeling to clean everything out, isn't it? As much as I'm a bit unsettled by moving, I'm glad that I'm taking everything out of my closets/rooms/etc. and starting over in a new place. It's refreshing!

How timely and relevant. Thanks love!

Great advice. I must incorporate #1 & #10, because everything I don't need is currently in the garage (junk area). I don't even know where to start. {sigh}

Hi Dani,

Excellent post. I sure will try to apply these tips in my life since even I try, I am not that much good at organizing things especially in house. But, my brother, he is far better than rest of. I don't know how he does.

I would like to say something regarding getting rid of things you don't need. Thinking to keep my emails neat and clean in Gmail, about one years back, I deleted all emails which I think were not important then emptying the thrash folder as well. But, sometime back, I really needed one email deleted one year back. I can't express how much I needed that email. Something would have been changed from total darkness to sunny day if I have that email. But, I am helpless!

I think I'm doing everything on this list (yup I even have an inventory for important stuff in my room) except for the last one - I have a "just in case I need it" box. I think Junk Box is a more appropriate label. I throw everything I don't need at the moment into that box and it keeps growing and growing! The thing is I do repurpose a lot of things from my junk collection so I don't feel entirely bad having the box. I guess I need to edit the content a little - stuff I'm likely to reuse and then throw/give the rest away.

Periodically I sweep things. I let things go, then periodically I go whip things back into shape. This way I don't have a lot of overhead or death by a 1000 paper cuts. Instead, I batch and focus when I need to.

I'm a fan of having a place for things, and I like to compartmentalize problems. Organization has actually helped me get ahead in several areas of my life, especially when it comes to information organization.

Love your enthusiasm, Dani!

I do agree with you that our outer world reflects the inner, but neither supposed outer nor inner perfection is always the path to happiness. Allowing ourselves a junk drawer, for example, can be a loving reminder of our humanity, of the imperfection of life and our allowance and patience with ourselves.

I loved your Winnie the Pooh quote. May I share another of my favorites? This one from the Tao of Pooh.

There are things about ourselves that we need to get rid of; there are things we need to change. But at the same time, we do not need to be too desperate, too ruthless, too combative. Along the way to usefulness and happiness, many of those things will change themselves, and the others can be worked on as we go. The first thing we need to do is recognize and trust our own Inner Nature, and not lose sight of it. For within the Ugly Duckling is the Swan, inside the Bouncy Tigger is the Rescuer who knows the Way, and in each of us is something Special, and that we need to keep.

:) To a beautiful life.

Dani, last year i made a covenant with myself to oRgAnIzE my life and home. wOw.
THANKS for sharing your advice. i know EXACTLY where i'll save it - ha!

Hello Dani!

Wow! You are an organizing guru! Great ideas and examples here. While I think there is balance in all things, I do believe that how one keeps order in "outside" things reflects how one keeps order internally. That make sense? :-)


Mermaid - You're welcome! Hope this helps you out with that messy room. :)

Mrs. Smith - Ooh, #1 and #10 are the most important -- and they go hand-in-hand. You should get rid of all of the things you have no use for or don't need and then you'll have no need for a junk area. I know it can seem overwhelming but if you create a plan and tackle one area of the house at a time, you can do it! :)

LB - Good point about the emails. I think it's important to keep your email neat and organized the same way you would with a home. You should definitely get rid of most emails, but I do think long and hard before getting rid of some because, as you know, sometimes they are very important. Another way to deal with this would be to print out the very important emails and file them so you have a hard copy of them as well.

M - That's great that you've master most of the things on this list, but you gotta get rid of that junk box! ;) You should donate/sell all of the things in that box because if they don't have a place in your home you probably don't need them!

J.D. - Great point about information organization. That's another great way that organizing can really help you out in life. It sounds like you've seen the benefits of that first hand!

Melanee - Thanks! I'm really into organizing so I get pretty excited (and bossy) about it. :) Thank you so much for sharing that quote from the Tao of Pooh. I read that a long time ago and I've been meaning to re-read it. Thanks for the reminder! I agree that perfection (inner or outer) is not the way to happiness. Having order in your life can make you feel more at peace and it's also a good way to make sure you are not putting too much value on your possessions, but it's in no way a substitute for lasting, inner happiness. Great point!

Lisa - That's great that you're organizing your life and home. It really does help make life a LOT easier when you're organized. I hope my tips help you out!

Keith - Haha, yeah, I'm pretty into the whole organizing thing. I'm glad you liked the ideas in this post. I agree that organizing our homes can really help us feel more organized internally but as someone who was an emotional mess for a long, long time but who had a perfectly organized outside, I also realize that the two elements aren't always a good indication of one another.

i think the fall is the perfect time to get thyself reorganized :) it helps get rid of the unwanted excess and gets you to focus on what is necessary and wanted. kind of like what we should do in our lives! lovely post!

Hi Dani .. I too was very organised .. then I got married and thought I could delegate some .. & have never quite taken it back - yes at times I need to be ultra organised and I am .. but now I'm a bit chaotic .. living rather more lives than I need. I'd love to be straight and certainly it destresses - now I concentrate on what I need to do - while knowing in due time I'll only have me to worry about and then I can have a mega clear out - others first for now!

I love the book shelves .. thankfully books like people don't come in standard shapes or sizes!

Go well - Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Melita - I agree! It's definitely something we should do periodically and fall seems like a great time for change. Glad you liked the post!

Hilary - It's hard to be organized sometimes when you have a lot going on in your life, but the more you work on it, the more put together and uncluttered you'll feel. I love those book shelves too! Can't wait to do the same thing with mine when I move tomorrow. :)

Hi Dani,
Great post, I love the photo. I think most people have trouble being organized because they can't do tips #1. Most things we keep, we don't really need at all. I too believe that an unclutter space is a place for an unclutter mind.
I Love your 10 tips.
Giovanna Garcia
Imperfect Action is better than No Action

Funny you should write on this very subject Dani because this is what I have been doing lately...weeding stuff out and organizing! What a great feeling it has been too. Ahhh!

I loved all your site recommendations and more. Just what I needed to read at this point and time.

Thank you so much!



Darling...sweetie...I don't even know you...but please feel free to come over and organize my home ;-) You can start with the disaster my husband calls the garage and basement.

I recently discovered FlyLady - and her advice is saving my sanity right now...

Great post - and obviously something I needed to read today!

Great article! For the past couple of days I've been thinking I need to get rid of some old magazines and purses. It's actually been on my to-do list, but just haven't gotten to it yet. I too like living in a clutter free space. I have a sister-in-law whose house is such a mess that no one likes to go over there. They don't eat at the dining room table because it's piled with papers. Family members have cleaned stuff out and organized things but she just keeps junking it up again. We've given up. She is also someone who thinks she's too smart for a "to-do" list. She says she knows what needs to be done, but chooses not to do it. It's so bad that one of my brothers-in-law refuses to go to her house unless she cleans up. I guess she really doesn't want help. I agree, life is so much easier when your space is clean and organized. Some things that work for us: My clothes are arranged by color code and type, and in two different closets -- winter and summer. We have key hooks for our keys. We have "Bankers" boxes (they have compartments)for incoming mail, coupons, items of interest, and things to file. We have a 4 drawer filing cabinet to file bills, bank statements, etc. I have two books on organizing by professional organizer Peter Walsh "How to Organize Just About Everything," and "It's All Too Much." Peter has been on Oprah numerous times and he was on TLC's Clean Sweep. His website is

Dani - one more thing I'd like to add to my original comment: I like watching shows like Clean House and Clean Sweep. Not only do I enjoy watching them, I find them inspirational/motivational. There's a new show that I've just started watching called "Hoarders." Your readers may want to check out these shows to get them moving on becoming organized, or getting better organized.

Giovanna - Thank you! I agree that #1 is the most important thing when it comes to organizing and it's the one thing most people have a lot of trouble with. Once you can get rid of the things you don't need, everything else is a lot more easy to manage.

Dayne - Sounds like we're on the same wavelength! That's great that you've been working on organizing things. It's a really awesome feeling to weed out things you don't need and put the things you do need in order. Best of luck with organizing everything!

Peggy - Hahaha. You'd be surprised by what I could do if you had me organize! But I'm pretty harsh. I make people get rid of almost everything which can be really hard for a lot of people to do. Start with #1 -- get rid of those things you don't need! :) You can do it! I'm not familiar with FlyLady, but I'm going to check it out.

Anita - Wow, it sounds like your sister-in-law should be on Clean House! (I also love those shows but sometimes they make me crazy when people don't want to get rid of things!...I'll have to check out Hoarders since I haven't seen that one yet.) It sounds to me like your sister-in-law might be dealing with some other issues if she really doesn't want to clean up that badly and it's gotten to the point where people don't want to go over to her house. That's no good at all! It sounds like you're pretty organize though, which is great! Good for you! I've heard of Peter Walsh, but haven't been to his site before. I'm going to check it out. Thanks for the tip!

Thanks for this! Sometimes, I fancy myself an organized person (I loved buying stuff for home organizing) but man, can mess build up? :D


By the way, this is random but I thought I'd share.

I recently had my wisdom teeth pulled by an oral surgeon who had an INCREDIBLE office. It was impeccably organized and designed in and original and modern way.

When I woke up from anesthesia, I woke up next to a bookshelf filled with books that were organized according to color. I was really drugged up but all I could think about was "that's so very beautiful." before falling asleep again.

This reminded me of that. In a good way.

I love your tips on getting and stay organized. I love to be organized although I am not quite as fanatical about it as you, I do feel better when everything is in it's place.

Meream - I think a lot of people like to buy the organizing stuff, but they don't actually put it to use. If you have organizing stuff lying around, you should definitely use the tips above to make use of it. Messes definitely build up, but now's a great time to start tackling them!

Mermaid - Wow, I don't think I've ever to a doctor/dentist's office that I really loved the design of. That sounds like it was a pretty cool thing to wake up to. Hope you're recovering from having your wisdom teeth pulled!

Mark - Thanks! I'm not sure most normal people are as fanatical as I am, haha, but it's great to know that you enjoy being organized too and understand what I'm saying about how good it feels when everything is put away neatly.

Dani, I am SO with you on being organized. I love to organize too. My friends and family think I'm a freak. Not so freakish though when I know where my keys are and I'm waiting for them to find theirs!

Hi Dani,

We must be organizing sisters, as I also like to organize and have since I was a kid.

Since I started blogging I'm not organizing (in the house) as often as I used to, but I guess you could say now I'm organizing in blogosphere. Heehee!

I just got rid of lot of stuff from my office. I gave a lot of reprints of published papers from over the years to the library. I have thrown away old correspondence, etc. It feels cleansing.

I'm the same way. I LOVE to organize, although I've become a little more tame (and a lot less OCD) about it in recent years. Your tips are spot-on (so I'm going to tweet this post). Excellent, excellent, excellent! You should write a book about this.

P.S. One of my all-time favorite clients is a professional organizer. I edit her newsletters and she's a dream to work with.

A great post! As an organized obsessive I get it and think you have a great list for converting the unconverted! Love your site.

Sami - That's great that you like to organize too! :) Most people definitely think I'm a little over the top with my organizing, but I'm okay with that because, as you said, it usually becomes obvious to others that being organized saves time (and sanity!).

Barbara - Awesome! Organizing is great, isn't it? And, as you noted, there are so many ways to do it. You can even organize online through blogging!

Syd - It's a really nice feeling to get rid of things you no longer need, isn't it? I really enjoy donating things too. Awesome that you've donated to the library!

Melissa - I've definitely settled down a bit (OCD-wise) since I've gotten older. I used to be SUPER anal about my routines and the placement of things in my living space, but I'm a little more relaxed these days. Thanks for tweeting the post! I've actually started a book on this but haven't finished it yet. That's awesome that you get to work with a professional organizer. What fun!

M - Thank you! I'm so glad you like the site and the post. I hope that people who don't like to be organized will get something out of it because I think a lot of people could really benefit from being more organized!


great tips, wow you sure are organized, since you were a kid!

I was, I am much more relaxed, but yet clean freak (if that contradicts, that is gemini in me) :-) Since having 2 kiddos under 5, I have changed a little. I still cleaner things, just too tired. :-)


Dani - can you come over to my apartment and help me organize?! :) This is the area I continuously struggle with, mostly because I take on too much that I'm excited about. The organization suffers :( Since moving over a month ago, I still have all of my boxes of books unpacked - oh, the shame!

Zengirl - Thanks! I'm glad you liked the tips. I'm pretty sure it's a lot more difficult to be organized when you have little kids; I'm sure that makes even organized people relax a little bit. There are tons of great ways to get kids involved in organizing too and I'm sure that would help you out!

Laura - Haha, sure! I think most people struggle with being organized so you're not alone. You better unpack those books! :) I always figure if I haven't unpacked it, I don't need it so many you should donate 'em! :)

Dani - I have No issues throwing away things or giving them away. It's my husband! OMG - he's got his first ever stereo in the garage - the darn thing still works, so he's like "hec no! You can't toss that!" And to his credit, he does hold onto a good way...because I *was* his first girlfriend in 1980...and even though he dumped me when I was 17, he found me in 2006 and decided I was a keeper. So he's got his first stereo in the garage and his first "ever in his life" girlfriend (now wife) in his bed...

I'm pretty organized, relying heavily on my Franklin Covey planner! Less so when it comes to the house though... My biggest organizational challenge is my husband. He's always full of surpises, like where he put his keys THIS time, or where he might have thrown the mail! The least organized person I know but I love him anyway :-)

Such great advice - I am organizing this weekend so that all of the overwhelming things going on this semester don't feel so overwhelming! Thanks for blogging about it - reading this is so motivating!

"Often when people get excited about organizing their stuff, they run right out and buy tons of boxes and bins and labels... and then come home and add those things to the ever-mounting piles of stuff they already have." This.Is.Me...It's like I try to get more organized and create more clutter in the process. So it defeats the purpose. Thanks for writing this post! I think the 1st and last points are the best for me to remember also. I need to keep #1 in mind all the time. Sentimental, gift and special DO get in my way of throwing things out! It's so hard for me to part with things.

Peggy - You've gotta get that husband of yours to let things go! No need to have stuff around that he's not really using. If it's still working, he should donate it (or sell it!) to someone who will use it. That's so cute that he has his first stereo and first girlfriend though. Reading that made me smile!

Michelle - Covey's stuff is awesome. It sounds like disorganized husbands are a theme today. That's great that you're able to cope with someone who is different from you. Print out this post and give it to him... Maybe the tips will help!

Ash - That's awesome! I hope these tips really help you out with your organizing this weekend. I'm going to be organizing this weekend too. Just moved today and I have a lot of stuff to organize in my new place. Best of luck with your organizing!

Marci - Haha, I think a LOT of people do that, which is why I brought it up. Most people have the best intentions for organizing and they buy all of the right tools but never actually use them (creating, as you noted, even more clutter in their lives...) I definitely think #1 and #10 are really important and if you put your mind to it, you can do it! Just remember that you can't take it with you forever, so you might as well let go of it now!

i LOVE this picture! it's what inspired me to color code my own bookcases.. :) great advice! and merci beaucoup for all your tres sweet comments, love. means a lot to moi.

Carolyn - Me too! I saw it online awhile ago and knew I would find a way to use it at some point. Also, a great blogger, Book Line and Sinker, has this image has her Twitter icon and I just love it every time I see it on her tweets. My books are still in boxes since I just moved yesterday but I cannot wait to take them out and arrange them like the picture. It's beautiful! And you're welcome for the comments... I love checking out your site...It's fab! I especially loved that recent post about your therapist...excellent stuff!

Oh, Dani, YOU ARE SPEAKING TO THE CHOIR. When I was a kid I made lists of the television shows I liked to watch (in order of preference) and I also organized my book collection like a library. (Complete with card pockets and exterior labels!)

One thing that drives me nuts are people who INSIST that being messy is a sign of "intelligence" and that people who are organized have "small minds". I consider organization to be the height of efficiency and intelligent design.

Meanwhile, I can lay my hands on any piece of paper I own within 3 minutes of needing to find it.

One of my FAVOOOORITE websites is Unclutter (dot com) and they feature a series on multi-tasker items. Because of what I learned from them, I have tried to only buy items that have multiple uses - which is a HUGE help in the kitchen because I am a sucker for kitchen gadgets.

Even now you'll have to pry my avocado slicer from my cold dead fingers!

Wait, what was I saying? Oh, yes, I guess I still have room for improvement. :)

Hayden - So awesome to hear that you're a fellow organizer! I love that you organized your books like a library. I had the card pockets for lending books but never considered the exterior labels. Brilliant! :) I am in total agreement on people who think that being messy is a sign of intelligence. To me, messiness just creates mental clutter and makes it a lot harder to productive. I'll definitely have to check out Unclutter... Sounds like a great site! I also love the idea of purchasing items that have multiple uses. That's one of the best ways to be organized without adding unnecessary items to your home. Haha, you cracked me up with that avocado slicer comment!

Can I hire you???? PLeeeaase? :) Too late on # 3 - I want to be organized but it feels so overwhelming sometimes. I have saved your tips and will force myself to use them.
- I love Real Simple too!

Stephanie - Hahaha. It's definitely overwhelming for a lot of people to be organized so don't feel bad about that. I hope my tips are helpful and I'm sure you also get a lot out of Real Simple. Start with baby steps and build on them! :)

I do agree with you that our outer world reflects the inner, but neither supposed outer nor inner perfection is always the path to happiness. Allowing ourselves a junk drawer, for example, can be a loving reminder of our humanity, of the imperfection of life and our allowance and patience with ourselves.

"Put everything away right away"

I couldn't agree more.

A little discipline makes all the difference...

Nice post!

Axel - Thanks for your comment! I definitely feel great when I put everything away right away. In fact, I just got home from a few days away and it felt awesome to put all of my things where they belong. :)

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