Are you interested or committed to the organizing process?

Organizing spectrum

If there were an organizing spectrum to measure your level of interest and commitment to the organizing process, how would you rate yourself?

Your answer would probably depend on your level of desire to have an organized life.  If you don’t mind the mess and the clutter around you, you might say you are just “Interested”.  But if order and neatness are a priority to you, you might label yourself as “Committed”.

But what if you’re in-between? How can you know what the difference between Interested and Committed really is?

Interested vs. Committed

Although the two words seem to be both positive and similar in tone, they are really quite different.

According to the dictionary, Interest is defined as the state of wanting to learn or know more about something or someone; Committed is described as feeling dedication and loyalty to a cause, activity, or job; wholeheartedly dedicated.

While those definitions help differentiate the two terms,  what we really want to know is – what do they each look like in a person’s life?

Here is a breakdown of what those who are just “Interested” in the organizing process may exemplify:

  • They make excuses: “I’m too busy to get organized right now” or “I’m not naturally organized so there’s no hope or point in me trying”.
  • The like the idea of being organized, but they are not necessarily willing to do the work that it requires.
  • They give up being organized if it gets too hard or if the system they set up didn’t work the first time.
  • They organize only when it’s convenient or comfortable, rather than on a regular basis.
  • They are ruled by their feelings (“I don’t feel like decluttering today”) and are, therefore, inconsistent with their organizing efforts.
  • They know they need to get organized, but they continue to battle with the decision in their head or talk the issue to death rather than take action.

Those who are committed to the organizing process, however, show a different set of characteristics:

  • The refuse to make excuses.
  • They are willing to make the investment in terms of time, effort, or even money if necessary.
  • They are willing to sacrifice personal comfort to bring order into their lives.
  • They are committed to the process, trying to find the right system or process that works for them, even if it gets hard.
  • They make having an organized lifestyle a priority in their lives and schedules.
  • They are not ruled by their feelings, but rather committed to the habits and discipline of being organized.
  • They continue to be organized even when they’ve lost the “warm, fuzzy feeling” for the task.
  • They don’t debate the point, they just do it because they know that’s what they should or need to do.

So why does it matter?

Now that you know the difference between “Interested” and “Committed”, does it really matter?

Actually, it does! It’s important to know where you fall on the organizing spectrum because by knowing you can either relieve yourself of any undue stress, or you can push yourself to take it to the next level.

Not everyone feels the need to have an orderly lifestyle, and that’s okay.  If you are only slightly interested in getting organized, then don’t allow guilt or outside pressure to entice you to do something you aren’t ready for.  You will only end up frustrated and find yourself fighting the process.

However, if you know that you are committed to bringing order to your life, then you can better understand what it will take for that to happen and better prepare yourself for the journey ahead.  Commitment to any undertaking will have its peaks and valleys, but dedication to the process is what will help you find the success you are looking for.

While you may not have considered that there could even be such a thing as an organizing spectrum, knowing where you fall can make all the difference in your organizing efforts.

Where do you fall on the organizing spectrum?

How does knowing the difference between “Interested” and “Committed” help you?

Leave a comment and let me know!

The ABC’s of an Organized Life

The ABC's of an Organized Life

Another school year has come to an end, and for many students it’s time for the rite of passage known as graduation; that special milestone in one’s life when you officially transition into a new world.

That’s why there are always inspirational speakers at graduation ceremonies. It’s their job to offer those who are celebrating this important accomplishment one last “Hoorah!” before they head out.

While there have been many famous Commencement speeches that have stood the test of time, I discovered one that I thought was not only inspiring, but creative as well (don’t worry, it’s only 2 minutes long):

Which got me thinking about what I would say if I were asked to give a Commencement speech….

My Commencement Speech: The ABC’s of an Organized Life

While I don’t have all the answers to life (I’m still learning as I go along), I do have a few things to say about organizing that I think might offer some encouragement. I’d call my speech “The ABC’s of an Organized Life” and it would go something like this:

Accept where you are and start from there.

Be true to yourself and your organizing personality (yes, you have one!).

Comparison is the thief of joy, so don’t compare your organizing journey to anyone else’s.

Don’t despise small beginnings, efforts or progress. Everything great started small.

Effort is a key ingredient to your organizing journey; whatever it is you hope for, be prepared to work for.

Forge ahead even when you get uncomfortable or don’t think you can keep going.

Give yourself permission to let go.

Have the courage to set boundaries with your stuff (time, space, & quantity); they are meant to help you, not to harm you.

It’s not about what you’re losing, it’s about what you’re gaining.

Just because you ask for help getting organized doesn’t mean you’re weak or incapable; it just means you want some company and support for the journey.

Know that you can be organized; it’s a skill anyone can learn!

Live with joy, not clutter.

Make decisions. Clutter is nothing more than postponed decisions (Barbara Hemphill).

Now is the best time to get started.

Organizing isn’t a one-time event, but a journey and a lifestyle.

Purge often and ruthlessly – it always makes you feel better!

Quit making excuses. You can have results or you can have excuses but you can’t have both.

Release what no longer serves you so you can make room for what does (Carrie Green).

Surround yourself with the things you love, not the things that weigh you down.

There’s blessing in subtraction.

Understand that Clutter is a thief. It only wants to rob you of your peace and joy.

View yourself in light of where you are and where you’re going. Life isn’t meant to be viewed through the rearview mirror.

Whether you think you can or you think you can’t you’re probably right! (Henry Ford)

Xcellence and completion are the goal, not perfection or perfectly organized.

Your identity is not found in your stuff but in who you are as a person.

Zealously pursue change. It’s usually the first step towards the life you want.


Although I may never be asked to address a group of graduates, I hope my words have inspired you for your organizing trek.  No matter where you may be on the organizing journey, each of these truths hold true.  What you choose to do with them now, is up to you.

Which of the ABC’s resonated with you most?

Leave a comment and let me know.

Summer Reading: 8 Books to Help You Let Go of the Clutter

With summer just around the corner, now is a great time to start making a list of all the books you want to read while you’re hanging out by the pool, relaxing on the beach, or waiting for your plane.

8 books to help you let go of the clutter

As an avid reader, I’m always on the lookout for new books.  Whatever the genre, I love curling up with a good book and passing the time. As I was checking out some of the new releases in a magazine I picked up at the library, I came across a book on decluttering.  It looked intriguing so I wondered what other good books might be out there on the topic.

There were quite a few so I decided to round them up and share them with you just in time for your summer vacation. I haven’t read any of them, but I’m definitely adding them to my summer reading list!

8 Books to Help You Let Go of the Clutter

While these are not specific how-to decluttering guides, they do offer insights into the lives of others as they faced what to do with all the stuff they had accumulated and how they finally were able to let go.  Ranging from memoirs to motivational books, these 8 books can inspire you to let go of the clutter that’s weighing you down.

  1.  Let It Go: Downsizing Your Way to a Richer, Happier Life by Peter Walsh.  Decluttering guru, Peter Walsh, shares his experience of downsizing his childhood home and parent’s possessions.  Using illustrations from his own journey,  Walsh helps readers turn decluttering and downsizing into a rejuvenating life change with practical takeaways and useful tips.
  2. Goodbye, Things by Fumio Sasaki. This is not the story of an organizing expert, but rather the tale of an ordinary guy who was so stressed out by his excess he decided to say goodbye to the things he didn’t absolutely need.  In return, he found freedom, focus and a sense of gratitude for everything around him.  While sharing of his journey towards a minimalist lifestyle, Sasaki offers specific tips to minimize the excess around you.
  3. Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin. Following the success of her Happiness Project, Rubin decided to turn the experiment towards her own home to see if she could create a calming and energizing place.  Giving herself one school year, Rubin dedicated herself to making her home an environment of simplicity, comfort, and love. Following her example, you can find more happiness and contentment in your own home and life.
  4. The Joy of Less by Francine Jay.  Simple Living pioneer, Francine Jay,  revises her popular book, The Joy of Less, with a newly redesigned edition.  Within this new update, Jay shares her steps to cultivate a minimalist mindset and form new habits, paving the way to lasting success.
  5. Unstuffed: Decluttering Your Home, Mind, and Soul by Ruth Soukup.  New York Times Bestselling Author, Ruth Soukup, shares personal stories and practical action plans to help you take back your life from all the stuff that’s weighing you down. She will inspire and empower you to finally declutter not only your home but your mind and soul as well.
  6. The Art of Discarding: How to Get Rid of Clutter and Find Joy by Nagisa Tatsumi. Fans of Marie Kondo will enjoy this book, the original inspiration for her best-selling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. With practical and inspiring insights, Tatsumi offers hands-on advice and easy-to-follow guidelines to get rid of your clutter and find the joy that’s been eluding you.
  7. The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own by Joshua Becker. In an attempt to minimalize his own life, Becker discovered that living with less and letting go of what you own you can, in fact, maximize your life.  With practical suggestions and encouragement, Becker will help you see how taking possessions out of your life actually gives it back to you.
  8. Everything That Remains, A Memoir by The Minimalists. What do you do when your mom dies and your marriage falls apart in the same month? You start looking for answers.  That’s exactly what Joshua Fields Millburn, one-half of the team known as The Minimalists, did.  In the process, he gave up a six-figure career and embraced a lifestyle of simplicity.  Everything That Remains is the touching and personal story of one man’s quest to let go of everything and start living more deliberately.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to dig into some of these books! Not only am I interested in how to live with less clutter, I’m curious about the personal journeys the authors went through to bring them to the point where they are now.  That’s because I know that getting organized isn’t just a process.  It’s a journey that can transform us in ways we’ve never imagined.

I hope you’ll check out some of these books this summer, as well as my other organizing book recommendations.  They are plenty of summer afternoons to get them all read!

Have you heard or read any of these books about letting go?

Do you have any other books you’d suggest adding to the list?

Leave a comment and let me know!

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Ask the Organizer: What’s the best way to organize recipes?

It’s been awhile, but “Ask the Organizer” is back!

organize recipes

This time our question comes from Lisa, who wants to know the best way to organize recipes:

“I have tons of cookbooks, magazines, and index cards filled with recipes.  I enjoy using different recipe ideas when cooking, but I can never find the one I want and I get frustrated! What do you think is the best way to organize recipes?”

Great question, Lisa!  While cooking is not my forte, I do enjoy organizing recipes.  Depending on your personal preference, there are many ways you can organize your favorite recipes so you can do what you love most – cooking!

Pre-organization steps

While it might be tempting to jump in and start organizing your recipes right away, there are a few steps you’ll want to take first:

1. Purge. Before you organize your recipes, you might want to start by purging –

  • Remove any recipes you’ve tried and didn’t like
  • Take out any recipes that have ingredients, processes, or time restrictions you may not want to follow or use
  • Remove any duplicate recipes
  • Discard any recipes you thought you might like to try but have since changed your mind
  • Let go of any cookbooks that no longer interest you
  • Tear or cut out any recipes from magazines that you do want and recycle the magazine itself.

2. Sort. The next step is to sort them into like groups or categories – appetizers, main dishes, casseroles, side dishes, desserts, etc.  While this may seem like a tedious process, it will help you know how many of each type of recipe you have so you can know the best way to store and organize them. Plus it will make finding a particular recipe much easier!

* You can reverse steps 1 & 2 if you prefer to sort then purge.  The important thing is that you do steps 1 & 2!

Options for organizing recipes

After you’ve sorted and purged your recipes, then you are ready to move into the next phase – determining the best way to organize and store them.  Honestly, this is a personal preference, so think about what would work best for you when considering these organizing options:

Digital

Growing in popularity, digital recipe organization is one option.  The benefits of using a digital recipe organizer include: having recipes and ingredients on hand wherever you are,  the ability to “clip” recipes from the Internet and add them to your collection, a variety of menu planning tools and help making grocery lists.  Not only that but freeing up cabinet space by not physically storing cookbooks or recipe holders is a plus!

Apps make digital recipe organization a breeze. Here are the more popular ones:

To add your recipe to one of these digital options you simply take a picture from your phone, or scan your recipe (from your phone or desktop), and add it to the app. You can also download recipes from their site or other popular cooking sites, such as Epicurious or AllRecipes, with the tap of a button.  While most of these apps are free, some do offer upgrade plans for more storage and versatility.

Paper

If technology scares you and you’d rather store and organize your recipes the traditional way, then you have options as well.

1. Binders. One popular way to organize all your recipes is to store each recipe category (appetizers, main dishes, desserts) its own 3-ring binder.  You can use sheet protectors to hold each individual recipe or add tabbed dividers to organize even more.  Here’s an example of a collection of recipe binders from CraftyStaci.com

Recipe binder organization from CraftyStaci.com

2. Photo albums.  While this is not as common an option, it is one that my grandmother did for me when I got married.  She purchased a simple photo album that holds 3 x 5 pictures and inserted 3 x 5 recipe index cards instead. It is something I still treasure to this day! You can find albums, similar to 3-ring binders, that hold 3 x 5, 4 x 6, or 5 x 7 cards/pieces of paper and that have space for refillable pages to be added.

recipe book
Grandma’s recipe album

As with most things organizing-related, there isn’t just one way to organize recipes! Hopefully, Lisa, I’ve given you a few options to consider so that you can find the recipes you need and want without the frustration.  Happy cooking!

How do you organize recipes? Have you tried any of these options?

Do you have another ideas or suggestions to add?

Leave a comment and let me know!