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By June 18, 2015 11 Comments

I was recently asked in a radio interview, “So, do you really do all this organizing stuff or do you just talk about it?! What does your garage look like?” I responded with a smile by saying, “Yes, I really do all this organizing stuff!” I only had time for a short answer, so I mentioned I had purged and sorted my stuff to fit into neat rows of plastic bins along the back of my garage. But I wanted to say more! Once you get a taste of the refreshing benefits, like being less frustrated and more efficient, you realize that you are doing yourself a great big favor by becoming more organized. But being organized (whatever that means to you) is not really the end goal. The true goal of organizing is to be able to use your time and energy for what matters most in your life, not just waste time and energy every day being controlled by the clutter of your life. I want to share with you some of the organizing actions that help me each day that I didn’t have time to talk about during the radio interview. I would love to hear about what actions help you!



I first realized the importance of morning routines about 10 years ago when I read the book Sink Reflections by Marla Cilley. My morning routine involves getting up at a consistent time every day, making my bed, taking dirty clothes from the hamper to the laundry room and starting a load of laundry, taking a shower, getting completely dressed, and doing my makeup and hair.  Then the clothes are ready to be put into the dryer. Next, I eat my usual breakfast of oats with almond milk and walnuts, toast with peanut butter and jam, and a cup of herbal tea. I like to read from the Bible and write Bible verses in a journal while I enjoy my breakfast. When finished, I rinse off the breakfast dishes and fold, hang up, and put away the clothes from the dryer. I am ready to jump into my day! Find what routine or mix of activities works for you. The benefit is that once you make the decision what your morning routine will be, you do not use up much mental energy actually doing it. That leaves extra mental energy for the more important activities of your day.

In much the same way, I have an evening routine. I always sit in a comfy chair and read for at least one hour every night. I even have an alarm set on my phone labeled “Read & Relax” to make sure I don’t get too involved in something else and lose track of time. I take about 15 minutes to quickly pick up and put away random items and check that my sink is shiny and empty! Then I go to bed at a consistent time every night.



At the beginning of the year, I made a decision to reduce the amount of stuff in my house. I now have less books, clothes, shoes, jewelry, dishes, coffee mugs, glasses, cookware, utensils, office supplies, and decorative items. And I am enjoying the extra space! It is easier to create a special place for things, to find them when needed, and then to put them away.

I always put my keys on a designated hook close to the garage door. I sort and process my mail daily. I even have days when I receive no mail, because I have taken advantage of opt-out services, such as dmachoice.org, optoutprescreen.com, and catalogchoice.org. I keep my kitchen sink shiny and empty during the day. (Thank you, FlyLady!) I keep my kitchen table and counters clear. I make sure the living room chairs and couch are empty and ready to be used. I only put a few carefully selected items on the end table. There are no piles on the floor—only feet and furniture!



I have a dedicated space for my office. I use vertical files, hanging folders, binders/notebooks, and project boxes to organize my business information. I keep my professional books together on two shelves. I use one calendar to record all my personal and business activities. I coordinate my tasks with my most productive times of the day. I designate one task as the most important for the day and try to always do that first. It works out great when I follow that strategy; I usually regret it when I don’t!



I like my car to be neat and tidy! I take out trash items whenever I leave the car. I store maps, coupons, and first aid items in handy zippered pencil pouches. I keep reusable bags and emergency supplies in my trunk. And I wash my car once a month at my favorite local car wash that uses hot water—18 minutes for $5!!



I always use one carry-on size suitcase for all my trips, whether by air or car. It has wheels, but it is also light for me to carry up any steps. I take less clothes than I think I will need, roll clothes to take up less space, and wear items more than once. I keep my small personal supply pouch fully stocked and ready to go by always replenishing the supplies after each trip. I always take the same small travel bag to limit my supply of books, magazines, tablet, chargers, etc. Of course, I need a special Grammy bag with the appropriate books and goodies for my granddaughter!  When I travel by car, I have one small tote that is the perfect size for an audio book, wallet, sunglasses, and travel snacks. My goal is to be able to carry all my stuff at one time or I have too much!



I wanted you to know that I still have areas in my life that aren’t quite the way I would like just yet.

  1. Getting my inbox to empty every single day!
  2. Sorting digital photos!
  3. Reducing the amount of travel brochures I tend to accumulate!
  4. Putting a reasonable limit on the  amount of used books I buy!
  5. Giving more clutter-free gifts!
  6. Reducing my paper trail!

As you can see, none of these activities are particularly hard. But they bring amazing results when they are consistently done over a period of time. In fact, eventually they become habits that work to your benefit.

What activities help you to have an organized day? Please comment below!!


Photo credit: yvestown / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Olive Wagar

Author Olive Wagar

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Join the discussion 11 Comments

  • Carol says:

    Thanks Olive for the brilliant reminder of the benefits in designing a family routine. I’m taking these easy summer days to clear some clutter and establish some new routines that will bless the family when fall rolls around. Always enjoy reading your posts!

  • Mev McCurdy says:

    Excellent and inspiring thoughts! I wish I had some blinding insights to add. One thing that helps me is to send myself an email if I need a reminder to do something. It limits bits of paper here and there and is something I will see whether I am at my computer or am away from it and just have my phone along.

  • Olive Wagar says:

    Thank you for your kind words, Carol! Each little thing we do today makes for a better tomorrow!

  • Olive Wagar says:

    What a good idea, Mev! I like sharing what works with each other. 🙂

  • Seana Turner says:

    I’ve really embraced the clutter free gifts… especially of my parents, who really don’t need one more object in their home. I think it is funny that you were asked if you “really” organized this stuff… that’s so funny!

  • Rhonda says:

    Olive you are inspiring! After your presentation last night at the library, I decided this morning to begin organizing my kitchen. I thought I would start by cleaning one drawer (only one because it’s summer and I have better things to do. lol) After cleaning one, I cleaned out the next. Within 20 minutes I had the set of 4 drawers cleaned, and probably eliminated 25 items. Thank you Olive. I think I’ll continue my quest tomorrow!!

  • Olive Wagar says:

    That is just great, Rhonda!! Those small victories really make a difference. Thanks for coming to the “Confidently Conquer Clutter” program!

  • Thanks for your honesty. I too love that organizing stuff, but life gets busy and sometimes my systems get messy and need a reset. My closet got a reset this morning, because we have been running in, changing and heading out the door to the next activity for several weeks. My shoes went back on the shelves and three pairs left for the Goodwill. I feel much calmer looking in there now.

  • Olive Wagar says:

    Thanks for sharing, Melanie! Your term “reset” is a great action term. And isn’t it amazing that donating items also is such a refreshing experience. 🙂

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