The Stack, lessons learned about organizing

Staring at an untidy stack of things to-do has taught me a few things about organizing.

altered photo by Deborah P Harowitz
The Stack, a pile of papers and stuff to-do

The photo is a result of an exercise I did for an online class I’m taking called The Written Sketchbook by Lynn Krawczyk. Only one lesson in, I’m finding it to be quite illuminating, shall we say? But, more on that later. This post is about organizing and I’m going to share some of my favorite tips and resources.

my favorite tips – or the things that work best for me

  • Make sure every item has a permanent home
  • Put things away a soon as you are done using them, make this a habit!
  • Store like items together
  • Store things at their point of use
  • You don’t need multiples of everything (exceptions here)
  • You need multiple items when they are commonly used at different locations (scissors, etc.)
  • You can only use so much yarn (fabric, beads, etc.) in your lifetime. Designate a reasonable and realistic sized storage bin for it and when it is too full to add to it, do not create another, purge something old and out-of-date to make room.
  • Label all your drawers, bins and boxes (in detail)
  • Make it easy to put things away. Use drawers rather than tubs, if I have to unstack and re-stack to put things away, I won’t.
  • Routines and habits – they get things done!


The best one ever!  “Organizing from the Inside Out” by Julie Morgenstern Also on Time Management

A close second “Organizing For The Creative Person – Right-brain styles for conquering clutter, mastering time, and reaching your goals” by Dorothy Lehmkuhl & Delores Cotter Lamping

And I just bought this one; “Time Management for the Creative Person: Right-Brain Strategies for Stopping Procrastination, Getting Control of the Clock and Calendar, and Freeing Up Your Time and Your Life” by Lee Silber, we’ll see if it’s worth it

organizing resources (online)

Resources for information, tips, and worksheets to help you learn to get organized

Fly Lady is almost a household word but her routines work! Start here.

Another site that is very helpful if you have the patience to wade through it.

A recently found site

Good Articles

Setting Goals after all, how do you know where you are going without a goal?


A free online to-do list and task organizer. This one is my favorite of the online variety

A simpler online organizer

For Mac users, my favorite project planner for the brain storming phase, a Mind Map App for the Mac and iPad – and they sync!

A Mind Map app for the PC users

what I’ve learned

Things I’ve learned the hard way

Keep it simple!!! Do not micro manage your schedule or to-do list.

David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD) system is too complicated and anal retentive if you are a Creative (a big-picture thinker).

First and foremost; all the “how to organize” this, that and the other thing are useless without changing your habits. If you don’t make it a habit to put things away as soon as you are done with them nothing will ever change. Get the idea that I’ve found habit to be important?

what I still need to learn

Things I have not been able to learn – for whatever reason.

To keep it simple enough!

You don’t need a million duplicates of anything (or everything).

Multitasking is a farce. Being able to switch gears is far more valuable.

Focus on only three things at one time! When one is done, move on to the next thing that needs doing, then move on to the next thing – but never more than three things at once!

Earlier, I made a comment about how staring at a pile of papers and to-do items taught me something about organizing. Finding myself in the position of having to write about how it made me feel I had to explore it and found a surprise. The expected feeling of being nagged and a little of overwhelm were expected, but the surprise came when I realized I found it comforting. I think that having a stack of to-do’s staring at me all the time makes me feel validated somehow; I’m real, I have purpose, I’m not floundering. I guess I better get past that one!

So, what are your favorite tips and what have you found to be invaluable resources or tools?

Deb H


The Stack, lessons learned about organizing

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