A Place for Everything and Everything in its Place -an Organizing Mantra

“A place for everything and everything in its place” is part of a well used quote that is usually attributed to Benjamin Franklin.

In reality, The Oxford Book of Quotations states this quote is believed to have been coined as early as the 17th century. It’s a quote that speaks to the need for order. When I ask clients what they envision their space looking like after we work together most say; “A place for everything and everything in its place.”

It so succinctly states the desired outcome of organization for my client’s homes and offices.

I speak on this topic frequently. Today I have made the PowerPoint presentation available to you. The presentation is based on the 4 Organizing Principles I teach.

  1. Purge and Sort

  2. Location

  3. Containers and Labeling

  4. Maintenance

Click here for a slide show of the 4 Organizing Principles that will help you get organized.

A Place for Everything



Know Your Organizing Style Preference

Different strokes for different folks!

It’s a cliche that rings true in the area of organization.  There is no one-size-fits-all solution for your organizational needs.  It’s important to know your organizing style preference. Take, for example, dealing with the paper in your space.  There are three categories of clients when it comes to those who struggle with paper – The Pilot, the Crop Duster, and the Flight Attendant.



  • The Pilot: This person loves to “pile it” (that’s why I call them a pilot), leaving ‘Everything Out’ in the open. In their home or office you will find papers stacked vertically. They may be stacked neatly or haphazardly but they are piles nonetheless. These pilots will often say that they know exactly where everything is and they’re right… it’s in a pile! Are they really comfortable organizing this way? The answer is yes.
  • The Crop Duster: This person has it all spread out.  Just like a little crop duster, making sure to cover every nook and cranny. Every horizontal surface is covered with papers.  When the crop duster person begins to think about getting organized with file folders, they are instantly overwhelmed. Their brain tells them “out of sight is out of mind” so having everything visual is a comfort that allows them to feel more in control. They have an ‘Everything Out’ organizational style.
  • The Flight Attendant: Visualize the flight attendant on a plane – you walk onto a plane, they have everything neat as a pin and are smiling brightly. But they have a secret place, a closet of sorts. There, all of the tools for their job are hidden away – the beverage cart, coffee carafes, garbage bins, magazines, and the like.  A person who organizes like a flight attendant has neat and orderly files and likes everything put away in a file cabinet, out of sight. They are of the ‘Nothing Out’ style preference.

As a professional organizing coach, it’s critical to understand a client’s dominant organizational style preference. This is the basis from which to build systems that will not just address the client’s problem areas, but allow them to work within the bounds of their own style.

More Examples of Organizational Style Preferences:

Everything Out vs. Nothing Outclean desk

There was a case study presented in which a small business owner, who had a team of twenty salespeople, imposed his ‘Nothing Out’ style as a company mandate. Although he was clearly intending to be helpful, his solution was a one-size-fits-all – that really just fit him. He insisted that everyone have a clear desk by the end of the day. He believed that by doing so, this would eliminate visible mess, enhance sales, and increase the sales teams’ productivity because it would save time each morning, allowing them to get right to work. Unfortunately, his ‘Nothing Out’ solution did not take into account the needs of his ‘Everything Out’ employees. They, in turn, panicked when they had to stash everything away at night. Not only did it add stress, but these employees actually LOST time each morning by having to reset, look for items and re-establish their own workable systems.

If ‘Nothing Outs’ had to abide by a company mandate of ‘Everything Out’, it would diminish their productivity and  would experience the same loss-of-control issues if the situation was reversed

Minimalists vs. Savers

Minimalists like to feel streamlined while Savers like to, you guessed it, save. Those with a dominant Minimalist style preference love the challenge of purging because they don’t have as much sentiment invested in their belongings as Savers do. One of the key behaviors that differentiates a Saver from a Minimalist is found in how one assigns value to belongings, and this determines whether a person keeps or is willing to let go of items.

In another case study,  a Saver client, Doreen, was cleaning out a file cabinet when she came to the rear of the bottom drawer. She suddenly sat back and got quiet. Doreen then explained that those folders were related to a business that she had wanted to start a number of years ago and never followed through on. It was clear that these papers represented of a road not taken — one strewn with regrets and guilt. She needed to process those feelings before making decisions about those files.

Straighteners vs. No Rules

Straighteners and No Rules style preferences are very opposite. Appearance is often more important to Straighteners than function, which can be aggravating (and often even invisible) to No Rules personalities who can seem oblivious to how things look.

In this case study, a mother, Mandy, and her 14 year old son, Zak, constantly argued about the way their house was managed. Mandy was a Straightener and needed things to look orderly and Zak…, well he was No Rules all the way (and a teenager after all).  A great compromise in this situation needed to take place. It’s important for individuals to believe that they have some control over their personal/private space. In this case Zak’s bedroom was his personal space. A compromise was reached and Zak agreed to clean his room once a week but kept his door closed so that he could express his style preference the rest of the week. They also agreed to keep the rest of house maintained at a certain level of cleanliness and order so that Mandy could feel confident comfortable, in control, and have peace of mind.

To find out your style preferences, go to: https://iw119.isrefer.com/go/tssi/OrganizedHabits/


evaluates your time style preferences and how you manage priorities, attend to details, and take action. By learning your dominant and strong style preferences, you can learn to make the most of your time and choose to take actions that increase natural flow in your life which in turn will help you successfully manage yourself, and your decisions about time. I invite you to take the TSSI and let’s talk about your next action steps, based on your unique results!

Share What Works For You In The Comments!

  • What about these style preferences resonates for you?
  • Do you have any examples, tricks or techniques to share of your own?

The First Habit You Need

Organization requires habits.  You can organize things any time but to KEEP it organized, what is really needed is organized habits.  I am one who always says to take baby steps and the same is true of habits.  To  begin to change your habits and become more organized, check out this video to learn the first habit.


So what do you think?  Are you rolling your eyes?  Well, this is the first small step – start doing this and stay tuned.  More organized habits will be revealed via video this year!  Leave me a comment below and let me know if you have in fact already mastered this habit.


Life CAN Be Easier!

Do you often think to yourself, “How much easier would my life be if I could just focus and get organized?”
Your life would be easier… A lot easier! This question can be the start of you doing something to improve your life.

Becoming more focused and organized will give you:

  • greater clarity
  • help you see how to achieve your life’s goals
  • more time
  • less stress
  • more money
  • and better lifelong habits
Once you are focused and organized, other will benefit too. The effect is like an ocean wave coming to shore; each ripple, each wave creates another and another.  You can influence those around you when they see the results of your focused efforts.
Hubby sorting photos
Recently, a client of mine, who successfully completed her coaching, sent me a message and was ecstatic about her results.  She also shared that towards the end of our work together she came home to find her husband purging things in the garage.  Then she sent me a photo of him organizing family photos! Now, this is not a guarantee that your loved ones will do all of this but like I said the waves will cause a ripple effect.
I don’t need to tell you what chaotic and fast paced lives we lead. I understand you want to slow down, be more calm and efficient on a daily basis. I am here to support you; to come alongside you and mentor you will you strive to become more focused and organized.
Together we will work at this, creating according to what you need.
What you need…..
right now.

12 Things I’ve Realized About Decluttering

After participating in a 30 day Declutter Challenge recently, participants had this to say about what they learned:

12 Things Realized About Decluttering

1. Making your bed every day is not so much about the bed as it is about the habit.
2. Clutter is delayed decisions.
3. Take large tasks and break them down into smaller tasks that can be handled in short time periods; you don’t need to work like a Trojan in order to accomplish your decluttering goals.papierschiff-389016_640
4. You don’t have to keep as many papers (or things) as you thought you did.
5. Ask the question – “Does this item bring joy to my life?”
6. Take things step by step and don’t give up. It’s worth it in the end.
7. It takes a positive attitude to start decluttering.
8. Make a plan and commit to doing it, even if just for 15 minutes a day. You can get things done even when life is chaotic or distracting.
9. New phases in our lives require us to organize differently. Organize for where you’re at in life now.
10. Perfection is over rated! Progress is a good thing and a little each day can make a big difference.
11. You are able to help others by donating items you don’t use or need.
12. The maintenance part of decluttering is very important.
Decluttering , organizing, straightening up – or whatever you want to call it – is about so much more than things looking nice and pretty. In fact, nice and pretty weren’t used in any of the 12 statements above. Over the next 12 months, we will dig deeper into each of these statements. If you want to be motivated to make changes that will become habits in 2015, then stay tuned. There will be plenty to comment about as there will be guest bloggers weighing in on these topics too.


In the meantime, which statement already resonates with you? We’d love to have you leave a comment and tell us!

What is a Body Double?

In a recent class, I talked about using a body double to help you when organizing. Body doubling is not so much a new concept but a new “catch phrase”.  A synonym for the phrase body doubling might be providing support. It is a useful tool in helping you to stay focused on the organizing project at hand.  Watch this 5 minute video for a full explanation on body doubling.

In the video, I talk about having the right questions to ask when making a decision about what to keep or purge.

Here are those list of questions (copy them and post where you can see them and share with your body double).

  • When was the last time I used/needed this?

  • Does it add value/beauty to my life?

  • Is there something I need to do with this?

  • Does it require action on my part?

  • Do I have more than one of these?

  • Do I need more than one?

  • If I let go of this, can I get another one in the future?

  • What’s the worst thing that would happen if I did not have this?

  • Does this belong to someone else?

  • Does this need to be kept for legal or tax purposes?


How to Plan Your Travel Wardrobe

Most of us love to travel, few love to pack.  If we take the time to plan our travel wardrobe, we can travel with less.  In fact, when we carefully select how much to bring, packing is not so difficult after all.  I recently taught a class in my Declutter Your Life group that explained how to travel with less.    There is a basic formula to use in planning what to take. I call this a Packing Calculator.
packing travelThis is an easy guide to use, based on the number of days you travel.  In most cases when traveling more than one week, don’t bring more clothes; expect that you will do some laundry.  I recently discovered soap sheets that you can take when traveling to wash your clothes in a sink.  It’s a pretty handy product!

The list shown above is for the basics of a wardrobe.  Add-on items may be needed due to weather (coats, thermals, etc.) or your destination and activities (golf shoes, bathing suits, etc.)  When choosing the items of clothing, be sure to stick to one main color theme and bring in some accent colors.  If you struggle with putting together wardrobe color combinations, then I recommend going over to the Vivienne Files. This blogger can mix and match wardrobe components like no other! The link takes you to a page where she works miracles with the main color of beige (beige?!! – I know, right? Trust me, it’s amazing!).

Here’s a few more travel tips:

1.  Pack lighter, with room to spare, so you can come home a little heavier.

2. If flying, pack a flattened mailing box in the bottom of your luggage to ship things home in.

3. Bring a travel compression bag or two to fit more in your luggage. (see video below)

Getting Life in Order – Financially Speaking

A dear friend of mine lost her husband unexpectedly 3 days before Christmas.  It was devastating, of course.  After taking care of the arrangements and getting through his service, my friend was faced with the realization that she knew nothing of their lives, financially speaking.  She told me that her husband (a CPA) had always told her that she would be financially stable if something were to ever happen to him. She was relieved to know this….. BUT

Now she was in that place and realized that while those words had always been a comfort to her, she had no idea what they really meant.

She did not know the log-in and passwords to her online banking.organize finances money paper

She did not know where to find the life insurance policy.

She did not know how much liquid cash was available to her.

She did not know which accounts were being paid online and which were being paid by check.


Bottom line – You don’t know what you don’t know! Life is busy, I get it; but we must get our financial lives in order AND we must tell others how it is set up. Here are 3 things to do immediately:

  1. Make a list.  Make a list of all your bank accounts, household bills, investment accounts, life insurance policies, and anything else financially related.  Next to the name of each account, put the account number, website, agent and applicable phone numbers. Update this list every year.  I recommend you put the list in your Household Binder or in a red folder in the front of your filing cabinet.  Tell family members (especially your spouse) where it can be found in the event it is needed.

  2. Have all your passwords in one location. Please do not use the same password for all of your websites!  It’s not safe and is an all around bad idea.  You may want to make a list of your passwords and keep them in your home’s safe. I highly recommend LastPass.com. It’s in the cloud, has bank level security, and is very easy to use. LastPass is free. It is the only password you ever need to remember because all the rest of your passwords and user ID’s are stored there.  Make your spouse, or significant other, aware of your LastPass account and how they can access it in an emergency.
  3. Have up to date Advanced Directives/Power of Attorneys in place.  Advance directives are legal documents that allow you to spell out your decisions about end-of-life care ahead of time. Seek the advice of your estate attorney to set up these important documents or you can draw them up yourself and have them notarized.  I found a website that lets you download the Advance Directive forms based on the state in which you live.  You may also want a durable Power of Attorney for your finances.  Be sure to name an alternate in these documents in case the person you have selected pre-deceases you.  Put a copy of these documents in the same red folder that holds your account list.  Also provide copies to those named in your documents and to your doctors.

Organize Your Files and Keep Them That Way

3 File Types


Confused about how to organize your files?  You are not alone.  The first step to organizing your files lies in knowing what types of files you are dealing with. The graphic above shows the 3 types of file categories all our paperwork falls into.  The pie chart depicts the quantity of files in each category.
Reference is the biggest category and it contains those items you receive on a yearly or semi-yearly basis, such as insurance policies and service records on your autos.  These files need to be purges once a year in order to keep them from becoming huge paper monsters that contain information of zero relevance. (I know you know what I mean.)
Archive files are important yet, rarely do we need to reference them.  These include birth certificates, real estate documents, and such. Once something goes into the archive category, it usually stays there.  The exception to this, however, is your tax returns.  I purge my tax returns so that I only have the last 7 years’ worth.  Ask your CPA or accountant how long to keep your tax returns.
Action files are those files that we use weekly or monthly.  They are relatively few files compared to the other categories but these files are important.  The action files help us to keep our life in order. I have talked about these files in previous posts and even created a video to demonstrate how action files are used. Purge your action files everyo ther month so that you sare working out of files that are up-to-date and only contain what they absolutely need to.
Have you categorized your files yet?  I highly recommend it if you want to get your papers organized and be able to use what is needed when you need it.