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I specialize in personal productivity and achieving your significant results, not residential organizing. But I know that being surrounded by clutter in your personal space definitely has an affect on your productivity. For more on this, I called on my friend and certified professional organizer, Janice Russell to share some great ideas.

Organized Spaces, by Janice Russell

Organized spaces are not just about stuff and containers.

Whether you’re organizing a closet, pantry, home office, linen closet or some other space, it’s tempting to go get containers first. After all, you need containers for organizing, right? Yes and no. You will need containers, but that isn’t your first priority. A better approach is to start with the ideas below.Organized Spaces

Set real boundaries. In a home office, each piece of furniture is a defined boundary. If you have more books than fit into your bookshelf, you’ve exceeded your boundary. You can either delete (donate, sell, recycle) some books or buy another bookcase. The same principle is true for papers, office supplies, etc. Alternatively, you can set boundaries around purchases of a type of item. For instance, instead of purchasing a printer and a copier and a scanner, you can buy one machine that does all three functions.

Make smart choices. You can decide to honor the boundaries you’ve set-or not. You can choose to buy only one box of printer paper (since that’s all you have space for) rather than taking advantage of the buy one, get one free deal and then have to leave the second box of paper in a different room because there’s not space for it in the office.

Minimize inside clutter. You have little voices in your head that say things like:

  • “But I might need it one day.”
  • “I want to reread that book.”
  • “I may not be able to find one in the future.”
  • “But it’s such a good deal.”

Do you know what happens when you listen to these voices? Clutter! You can counteract this brain chatter in several ways. You might talk back to it, “I know this is a great deal, but I’m sure the deal will be available again when I actually need the item.” You could give yourself permission, “I give myself permission to donate these books. If I want to read them again I can check them out of the library or load them onto my ereader.”

Know your flow. The word “flow” implies movement. While people are really great at having stuff flow into their space, they often struggle to keep items flowing out of their space. When more flows in than flows out, you have…clutter! For instance, when you purchase a new book, one you already own needs to be deleted. While you may have one extra box of folders, you don’t need three. When you start the “reserve” box, you can buy a new one.

Select success tools. This is where we get to the containers! But containers aren’t the only tools. Some people find it easier to get or stay organized with the support of others. This might be a friend, coach or organizing professional. Other people find that they need to acquire new skills to help with the organizing process. One such skill is decision-making, which is crucial in the organizing process.

How should you start organizing a space? Pick a room. Decide what activities should take place in the room. Determine what furniture and storage support those activities. You now have some boundaries to help you decide exactly what supplies to keep in the space. Counteract the inside clutter that wants you to keep too much stuff and establish a system of flow.

Sound overwhelming? You don’t have to do everything in one day. Think of it as a project and break it down into small pieces. You also don’t have to do it by yourself. Call in family, friends or professional support.

You’ll feel so much better once you’ve got organized spaces that are also functional!

About Janice Russell:

Developer of the Flexible Structure Method™, Janice and her team at Minding Your Matters® has an impressive reputation for helping clients achieve “flow”. “Flow” as Janice calls it, is the blissful state of having an organizational process that supports your life and lifestyle.

A Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization, Janice is also a Certified Organizer Coach and the author of “Get Organized This Year!” Janice’s practical and caring approach to organizing is the basis of her high-content live workshops and webinars.  Janice is a Golden Circle Member of National Association of Professional Organizers and Program Mentor Coach for the Institute for Challenging Disorganization. She serves the organizational needs and challenges of both business and residential clients, as well as provides training intensives for fellow organizers nationwide. To enjoy meaningful tips and gain immediate access to all of Janice valuable resources, please visit her website at To schedule a consultation or request Janice to speak please call 919-467-7058.