Getting Organized Once And For All

Organized For Life

So… what does “Getting Organized For Life” really mean, anyway?

Consider these three meanings:
1. Getting organized so your life will be easier, less stressful, more balanced, and ultimately more satisfying; so you can find your things when you need them, and get stuff done; so you can spend less time doing what you have to do, and more time doing what you want to do! So you can live your life by design, not by default. Less clutter. More life.
2. Getting organized…once and for all.
3. Getting, as in hiring, Organized For Life to come help you!

Let's face it: getting organized once and for all is like getting the laundry done once and for all. Share on X

Getting Organized Once And For All

As much as I love pointing out the benefits of getting organized (#1), and the value in hiring me to help you do it (#3), I want to focus today on meaning #2: Getting organized…once and for all.

Let’s face it: getting organized once and for all is like getting the laundry done once and for all.

Disappointing, perhaps, but true, and the sooner you accept it the better.

You don’t expect your laundry to stay done, or your teeth to stay brushed, or your hair (or lawn) to stay cut (or mowed)…do you? That’s why we schedule things like haircuts, and routine auto maintenance, and health check-ups.

Then why do you expect your beautifully organized office, closet, pantry, and schedule, to magically stay that way? And why do you feel bad when they don’t? Staying organized requires regular maintenance and check-ups too!

Life happens! You need a system for the flow of things that continuously come into your home in the form of purchases, mail, gifts…it never ends. And you need a system for the flow of paper that needs to be discarded, sorted into an action file, paid attention to, or filed. Gifts often take the form of unexpected new categories of stuff that either need to be purged or found homes for. New tasks or activities, should you accept them, need a home on your calendar, and old ones may need to be dumped or delegated. Being organized isn’t easy, but it’s easier than the alternative!

The point is, whatever system you are using to stay organized, you must USE IT for it to work! Use Julie Morgenstern’s S.P.A.C.E. formula; don’t let your containers overflow; part ways with things (and activities) that don’t spark joy. Whatever works for you. Follow whatever set of rules govern YOUR systems and, as with ANY system, review them periodically to see if they are still working for you, and tweak them as necessary.

Just because you have a mystery pile of clutter on the counter doesn’t mean your system  doesn’t work. Be honest… have you been working your system? Does it need tweaking? Are you decluttering for a few minutes every day? Or, are you letting your hot spots slide for a week… or a month… at a time until they become overwhelming…again…?

Wait, what? You don’t have systems for staying organized? Well…OK, then…see #3!

Which of your systems needs to established or tweaked?

What organizing maintenance tips can you share with us?

Please share in the comments below!

(This article originally appeared in Org4life News in 2009. Most recent update 2016.)

Copyright 2009 – 2016 by Hazel Thornton, Organized For Life.
Social media links directly to this page are encouraged!
Please contact me for other types of reprint permission.


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  1. Jamie Steele on March 14, 2016 at 7:02 pm

    Great advice Hazel. I schedule maintenance on my calendar to remind me to maintain my closets. Greater thing is when I keep up with my reminders I can usually work through each closet in about 15 minutes. Just some quick rearranging if necessary.

    • Hazel Thornton on March 14, 2016 at 7:46 pm

      Yes, every organizing system has a time management component. Paper or electronic calendar reminders can help one establish new daily or weekly habits, or serve as reminders of things that only need doing quarterly or annually. Thanks, Jamie!

  2. jill bromberg on March 15, 2016 at 7:27 pm

    Another great post…I love your writing Hazel. Great laundry, tooth-brushing analogy . 🙂

    • Hazel Thornton on March 16, 2016 at 1:02 pm

      Thanks, Jill! 🙂

  3. Janet Barclay on March 21, 2016 at 10:34 am

    As an organizer, I used to give a talk called “Getting Organized… once and for all!” When I read your post I felt badly that I’d been misleading until I remembered that I always talked about the importance of maintenance.

    • Hazel Thornton on March 23, 2016 at 7:58 am

      I’m sure you didn’t mislead them! If only everyone would realize how important maintenance is, and not consider it a separate, unpleasant part of being organized.

  4. Seana Turner on March 26, 2016 at 5:55 am

    No one’s house is perfect at every moment unless you aren’t living there! I so agree, Hazel. It’s about being able to put things away… having a space and systems to maintain order over time.

  5. Jill Robson on March 26, 2016 at 7:50 am

    Great post Hazel, attaching organizing to what people do on a regular basis for maintenance is clever, makes it sound more realistic and doable.

  6. Janet Barclay on March 26, 2016 at 8:16 am

    And now in response to your question: my best maintenance tip is to walk around your home once a day (split it into two times if you have a big home and a busy scheduled, or assign rooms to family members) – no more than five minutes per room – picking things up, putting them away, or returning them to the correct room. It makes all the difference in the world)

  7. Sabrina Quairoli on March 26, 2016 at 9:27 am

    Great post, Hazel. The area I have to revise is my time management for my business. I need to spend less time on tasks that are not taking me closer to my goals. Little by little, I am getting better. I just painted and installed a large dry erase board to help me plan out some larger projects. It’s starting to help me see the big picture. Thanks for sharing your tips.

  8. Linda Samuels on March 26, 2016 at 11:41 am

    Love this post, Hazel! Organizing systems are great, but only if you use them. And “using” them involves maintenance.

    Best tip for maintaining systems is to make sure that the organizing system is the right system for how you think. If it can work with your strengths and current habits, the system (and you) have an even better chance of success.

  9. Sarah Soboleski on March 26, 2016 at 6:56 pm

    Love that laundry analogy! And I’m a big fan of Julie’s SPACE method and teach it to many of my clients.

  10. Elana Kleinman on March 27, 2016 at 4:03 pm

    I like the idea of trying to get organized once and for all. Houses aren’t perfect but if everything has a home and part of your daily routine is to pick up and put away whatever is out of its “home”, the systems should work. A walk through your home, once or twice a day, for just a few moments, should help with long-term maintenance.

  11. Andi Willis on March 27, 2016 at 7:38 pm

    Maintenance is probably the most overlooked and underrated part of the organizing process. Even the most organized people have to tweak the system from time to time. I just redid my closet which didn’t seem disorganized until I really got into it. I love where it is right now.

  12. Ellen Delap on March 29, 2016 at 6:32 pm

    Love this post! It’s a great way for our clients to learn that organizing is “a journey, not a destination.

    • Hazel Thornton on April 1, 2016 at 11:29 am

      Exactly! The way I say it on my website is this: “My ideal clients understand that getting organized is a process, not an event.” But “organizing is a journey, not a destination” is good too! How ’bout “being organized is a way of life, not a chore”…?

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