Write Things Down to Get Them Done

Write things downA button from my coat had been sitting on my bathroom counter for the past week – it was there to remind me to sew it back on my coat. Unfortunately, I only saw it when I was getting ready for work in the morning and getting ready for bed in the evening. I didn’t have the time or energy at either of those times to take on this straightforward task. So there sat my button, and there I was with my coat flapping in the wind where the button should have been. Recognizing that my “keep it out to remind me” system wasn’t working, I broke down and wrote “sew button” on my calendar.

 Although I counsel my clients to write their to-dos on a master list or right on their calendar, sewing on a button seemed too insignificant to warrant such a “formal” step. Yet as I plowed through my task list yesterday and came across my simple reminder, I marched up the stairs to my sewing supplies and sewed on that pesky button. There was something powerful about making a commitment to do it at a particular time – it represented a pledge to myself to get it done. I also saw the reminder when I had time and energy to act on it.

 I encourage you to move your intentions to commitment by writing them down on a task list or calendar. Get all those random thoughts out of your head and clean up those “reminder” piles by committing to paper or your electronic reminder system what you need to do and when you’ll do it. I’d love to hear what to-dos you’ve been carrying around in your head or tossing into a pile, and when you’re willing to commit to getting them done.

Best wishes,Signature_Sue

Labels Make it Easy to Find Things


Labeling is a frequently overlooked part of the organizing process. Clients often tell me they’ll remember where things go, so there’s no need to label storage areas or containers. But how many times have you put something where it doesn’t quite belong, plopping it any old place and vowing to put it away later? I had a client who used to hang her clothes in the first spot she could find in her closet. Once we labeled the various sections of the closet (using Closet Rod Organizers from The Container Store) she spent the extra 3 seconds it took to actually hang things where they belonged because seeing the labels wouldn’t permit her to do otherwise. Labels can serve not only as a reminder of where something goes, but also make it easy to find things when you need them. Let’s face it, labeling makes finding things and putting them away almost mindless.

I suggest you use a label maker (they’re widely available at office supply stores and general merchandise stores) or print labels from your computer. It makes a huge difference to have printed labels rather than handwritten ones – they look neater and are more “official.” But no matter what kinds of labels you choose, make sure they’re neat and legible and adhere securely. You can label what goes in a particular container, or label the spot where the container goes. For example, here’s a picture of a kitchen cabinet where I labeled the bins according to what goes in them.


Kitchen Cabinet1 

Alternatively, I could have labeled the shelves to indicate where things go.  

Not only is labeling useful, it’s also fun. Once you start, especially if you’re using a label maker, you’ll find excuses to label everything. And if you want to incent your kids to organize their rooms, the promise of being able to use the label maker will be a great incentive.

As you contemplate the benefits of labeling, be sure to watch this fun video:

Dymo Label Maker Commercial

Happy labeling,


Are You in a Period of Change or Transition?

Emerging monarchI’ve recently earned the Certificate of Study in Life Transitions  from the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization . Understanding the concept and process of transition is critical to the organizing process, so I’m passing along some information on that subject that may help you understand and overcome your organizing challenges.

In his book Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes, William Bridges differentiates change versus transition. “Change,” he says, “is situational.” Things like a move to a new city, the birth of a baby or the death of a parent constitute change. “Transition, on the other hand, is psychological. It is not those events, but rather the inner reorientation and self-redefinition that you have to go through in order to incorporate any of those changes in your life. Unless transition happens, the change won’t work, because it doesn’t take.”

The organizing process typically involves both of these elements – getting organized involves change, but staying organized requires transition. That’s because disorganization is a merely a symptom of something deeper (e.g., physical difficulties, family issues, ADD/ADHD), and unless that underlying root cause is uncovered, the physical changes brought on by getting organized won’t last for the long term. On the surface, there’s clutter, missed appointments, bills that are paid late, and general disarray. But something deeper is causing this chaos, and when I’m working with a client, it’s part of my job to find out what that is.

If you’re ready to make a change and get organized, be sure to dig deeper and uncover the root causes of your disorganization so you can not only change your environment, but actually make the transition to a life of organization. The National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization has a fact sheet that can help you identify some of the causes of your disorganization. Download this free information to help analyze the source of disorganization in your life. I’d love to hear what you discover about yourself.


Buy Needful Things

PAYThis week’s blog is from guest blogger Gretchen Rubin, a best-selling writer whose new book, The Happiness Project, is an account of the year she spent test-driving studies and theories about how to be happier.

“I’m an under-buyer (as opposed to an over-buyer). That means I have trouble prodding myself to buy things, even things I absolutely need, like contact-lens solution. When I do buy, I buy as little as possible (even though this means I have to buy again before long). I often procrastinate about buying essential seasonal items, like mittens, until late into the season. I use things for too long, past the point at which they’re used up or worn out. Sure, a pair of old khakis is nice, but at some point, I really do need a new toothbrush.

“As an under-buyer, I’ve developed some resolutions to help me buy, and the most important of these resolutions is ‘buy needful things.’ I force myself to stop at the drugstore to pick up the supplies I need. I prod myself to buy three tubes of toothpaste, not just one. I ask myself if we have an emergency supply of cereal and light bulbs. I ask myself, ‘Do I need this?’ and if I do, I buy it (or at least I’m supposed to buy it) without saying, ‘I’ll pick this up another time.’

“As Samuel Johnson wrote, ‘To live in perpetual want of little things is a state, not indeed of torture, but of constant vexation.’ It’s no fun to be in a household that’s constantly running out of toilet paper.

“Over-buyers, of course, have the opposite problem. They spend too much time and money buying things that they don’t really need. ‘We can use that. This might come in handy. That would make a good gift…for someone.’

“For over-buyers, the resolution to ‘Buy needful things’ is also useful, because it reminds them to ask, ‘Do I really need this? Right now? Or do I just think I might need it?’

“To find out if you’re an under-buyer or an over-buyer, take this quiz.”

Hi – Sue here. I’m a “just right” buyer. I value my time, so I’ll buy multiple bottles of contact lens solution and other things I know I’ll use. As someone who doesn’t like to shop, my challenge is dragging someone to go clothes shopping with me to help me stay motivated. I’d love to hear how you did on the quiz and what buying challenges you face.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you,