Organizing, is a rather big concept and it evokes a range of different emotions and images depending on who you talk to. If you had a look on this website before, you know that after many years of thinking, working and writing. I like to use many images, frameworks and charts to show the many levels of organizing and allow for a visual representation of where a particular organizing topic fits in the scheme of things because organizing is a big topic which impacts us on a variety of levels (physical, emotional, psychological to name a few).

When actually do you organize? 

There is sometimes a bit of confusion about what organizing really consists out of, where it starts and where it ends, so here is a rundown of what I perceive to be the different parts.

A simple way of looking at organization is by breaking the concept down as follows:

  • Declutter
  • Clean
  • Organize 

At the stage where you organize, you will place items in groupings and find homes for all items you own (with the use of pretty boxes if you like). 

Organize: to find homes for all items you own

Once you have done this, it is time to create a system to maintain your beautifully organized spaces.

Creating a system can be done with:

  • Creating a system
  • Habits
  • Routines
  • Regular maintenance

Let’s have a look at all these different parts:


The most well-known task an organizer does is declutter. There is a misconception that decluttering is all that an organizer does, which is mainly created by sensationalized programs on TV. In reality decluttering is however only a small area of organizing.  To be an organized person, it is not sufficient to only do some decluttering from time to time (aka throw a few items out).


Another misconception is that there is no difference between someone that cleans and someone that organizes. There is however, a vast difference, yes, there is a bit of cleaning involved when you declutter and organize new areas and spaces, but this is again a small part of the overall job. 

To illustrate; you can have a very clean house say a cleaner comes by every week. This however, does not mean that your belongings and/or your life are, organized. 


Although there is no one definition for what organizing is, this one works for me: 

One could be considered organized, when you can find your belongings. When there is a system in the way you work in your house and your work spaces. A system, which supports you in daily living, as well as help you to achieve your larger overall goals in life. 

Creating systems

Once belongings have been decluttered and cleaned, it is time to create a logical system your space. This is the part of the process, where boxes, files and other wonderful organizing tools come out to play. Each situation and each individual is different in what they do and how they work. Therefor the creation of good systems that saves you time, money and frustration is a creative and challenging part of the job, this is what a good Professional Organizer should be able to help you with.

Creating habits

Habits are regular actions that are done without realizing them, they differ from routines in that routines are more elaborate and sometimes a string of small habits. I sometimes find when teaching students about decluttering that their first priority is establishing a new habit. A frequent example is cleaning up dishes in the kitchen. This is a habit and if it is an established habit you will feel funny not doing it. Similarly if your habit is leaving dishes throughout the house or on the kitchen bench to break this habit we need to consciously work on this. Habits is a place were we often move into some internal factors as well, a place were we have to ask ourselves some hard questions on why we do what we do if we don’t like the result.

Habits can be changed but generally take 28 days to take hold. If you have habits that don’t serve you well like; leaving dishes or dropping your clothes next to your bed. It will take a bit of work and determination to for 28 days wash dishes and to put clothes in the laundry box. Once the habit is established it is easy and you feel funny doing it another way. 

Good habits are always present in organized people’s homes, vice versa if you are or feel very disorganized there is a good chance you are repeating habits that are not supporting your aim of being organized.

Creating Routines

Routines are a bit more complex than habits and need a particular time allocated. Whereas habits are part of the task we are doing, like; eating food of a plate (- then clean the dishes) or getting dressed in other attire (- then put our clothes in the laundry).

Organized people will have a combination of routines and habits for things like: their cleaning, washing, folding and paperwork. Routines and habits work also with; organization, cleaning and office systems, they are foundation blocks, to make everything in your life flow!

Once you become really good at them, you can use them at home, at work and for any goal or task you want to or need to achieve.


The last, but still a very important part of when you are organizing your life, is maintenance. This means that live is constantly evolving, it is fast, it is changing and in order to have current systems. To have habits that serve us well and to follow useful routines, regular maintenance is required. That is why you will find that any organizer will still regularly declutter items in their own house. They will also tweak systems as they, their family and circumstances changes over time.

Organizing is like a fabric we can weave into life, it is not something we do and then forget about. Daily practice is best and easiest in the long run.

Want to learn more?

 Why not check out our 3 steps to organizing or our 7 tips to organize.

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