Top 10 Ways to Make Organizing (Even) More Fun!

posted by Aby Garvey 16 Comments

Around here our motto is “more fun, more done.” While you might debate whether the fun should come before the done, you’ll probably agree that the more fun something is, the more likely you are to do it. If you want to get more organized, but find yourself resisting getting started, look for ways to make getting organized more fun (or if you’re like me, even more fun than it already is!).

decluttering container

1. Turn decluttering into a game of beat the clock.

In my online workshops, I advocate using a timer and decluttering for (at least) 15 minutes a day. The timer helps you stay focused on the task at hand, plus it’s a terrific opportunity to turn decluttering into a game. See how many items you can drop into your decluttering basket before the timer dings and keep track of your record. Then, challenge yourself to beat your record each time you declutter.

2. Organize with friends.

Everything in life is more fun with a friend along for the ride. This may be one of the reasons that our college years hold a special place in so many people’s hearts. Nearly every activity I did in a typical college day—from eating breakfast to brushing my teeth before bed—was done with a friend within earshot. Everything is more fun when you have a friend to share your experience, whether you’re cramming for final exams or un-cramming your overstuffed closet. So, ask a friend to be your decluttering buddy. Or join a simplify 101 workshop where you’ll find all sorts of friends who understand firsthand the trials and triumphs of the organizing journey.

3. Play happy music.

Get into the happy zone when you organize by turning on some uplifting music. Put together an organizing mix for your iPod or MP3 player and fill it with you favorite upbeat songs. Then, crank the tunes every time you declutter. You may even find yourself dancing as you pluck items and drop them in your decluttering container. Now that sounds like fun, right?

4. Track your progress.

The most fun spaces to organize are the ones where you can see visual evidence of your efforts right away. But what about really big projects or paper-organizing projects where progress is slower going and harder to see? Develop a visual way to track your progress and sustain your motivation. Keep a tally of the number of grocery bags of shredded paper and black garbage bags of stuff you clear from your home this year. Or, do as author Gail Blanke recommends in her book Throw Out Fifty Things, and make it your goal to get rid of 50 different items in the months ahead. For example, 10 books counts as one type of item (books). Or make it a goal to declutter for a certain amount of time each day and track your progress on a year-at-a-glance calendar, marking an X each day you hit your target.

5. Connect with the end result.

Create a list of all the benefits you’ll achieve by being more organized, and then anytime you start to feel your enthusiasm waning, picture yourself enjoying these benefits. Some of the most common benefits of getting organized include being able to spend more time relaxing with family and friends, eliminating stress, locating things right when you need them, entertaining and having people over for casual get-togethers, and saving money. (And I’m just scratching the surface!) The important thing is to figure out what’s in it for you. What will you be able to do easier, better, more often or at all because your home is organized? Create a list and then picture yourself enjoying those benefits as you organize.

organizing goals board

6. Schedule fun-filled micro-breaks.

Anytime you organize for a longer period of time, be sure to schedule fun, midstream breaks. Take a few minutes to enjoy a favorite healthy snack or spend a few minutes browsing on Pinterest for organizing inspiration. Go for a brisk walk around the block or just lie down for 10 minutes and visualize your project’s end result. If you give yourself permission to stop and catch your breath, you’ll be more energized and get more done—which is always a lot more fun.

7. Give yourself permission to experiment and play.

There’s nothing that takes the fun out of a task quite like expecting perfection—especially if it’s a task you don’t do often or don’t enjoy doing in the first place. Instead of trying to get your organizing projects perfect the first time around, give yourself the freedom to experiment, play and try things on for size. You’ll eliminate a lot of pressure and give your creativity the chance to run wild. In the process, you’ll have a lot more fun, too.

8. Celebrate your achievements.

Celebrate your organizing milestones—big and small—each step of the way. When you finish organizing a room or declutter for 15 minutes a day for two weeks straight, treat yourself to something fun like a bubble bath, a massage or time spent on a favorite hobby. (Just make sure your organizing carrot doesn’t involve bringing new stuff into your home!)

9. Use fun containers.

Containers are like the icing on the organizing cake. They can give your organizing project that extra dose of style and color, and make your organizing efforts all the sweeter. When it comes time to select containers for your organizing projects, choose something you really love. Not only will it make the process of getting organized more fun, if you love how your space looks when you’re done, you’ll be more motivated to keep it that way.

10. Add a dose of creativity and personality to your projects.

Creating customized organizing solutions for your projects is a terrific way to make the organizing process more enjoyable. For example, in Organize Your Paper Clutter, I show you how to create customized file folders using scrapbook paper. This means you can create paper-organizing systems that are pleasing to your eye, and you’ll get to exercise your creative muscles in the process. If you don’t enjoy crafty projects, look for office supplies and storage solutions that reflect your personality and add a bright spot to your home.

colorful file folders

Once you try these tips and gain some confidence, organizing will be fun all on its own! Have you ever noticed that you tend to avoid tasks you don’t feel you’re very skilled at, instead gravitating to the activities you know you do well? This is perfectly natural. We’re hardwired to stay in our comfort zone, which is one of the reasons it can be difficult to get started on the organizing journey if you haven’t organized for a while. The only way to get better at anything is to do it, and as you do you gain confidence, which makes doing the task more and more fun. Keep this in mind as you begin your organizing journey – the more you do it, the more you’ll like it!

make organizing fun

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  • January 26, 2013 at 8:22 pm

    I have seen many organizing tips and ideas websites, you pretty much say I am obsessed with organizing but ironically i’m also procrastinater. I start the job and then when i’m unable to finish it not because I don’t know how but because I don’t have the tools (such as shelves, containers, or even money) to do I wait until I do and by then the clutter has escaladed again. So what I started saying is I have seen many organizing websites, and by far this is the best one. Ruby Barcenas

    February 4, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    Thanks so much for your comment Ruby! Let me know if there’s anything we can do to help you get your projects finished. :) Sometimes temporary containers can help you live with a system, even if it isn’t perfect, so you can enjoy the benefits of the order you’ve created. Then you can add permanent containers later.

    Thanks for stopping by!


    July 4, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    If you don’t have the money to buy organizing bins, use what you have in your recycling bin. My boys are young and need to use overnight diapers because they have frequent accidents. We buy them in bulk, and the boxes made perfect cubbies for their toys in their room. If you have clear packing tape or even electrical or duct tape, get them taped together. Remove all the box flaps on the side you opened, or remove the two short flaps to create doors. If you don’t want the bins to advertise, cover them individually with pretty papers before taping them together. It’s free and you can customize them to your decor and space!

    July 5, 2013 at 7:31 am

    Thanks for the idea Nicole!

    February 5, 2014 at 8:33 pm

    I still use empty shoe boxes and cardboard boxes for organization, they work great. If you don’t like the way they look, you can drape them with either gift wrapping paper or decorative contact paper, and voila- they look fancy! A cheap alternative to pricey organizing boxes, and chances are, you already have some at home.

    May 15, 2014 at 7:39 pm

    sounds just like me. I start and can’t seem to finish due to time, money, ideas, etc
    when I get back at it oh yuk its twice as big as before. then i feel defeated.

    May 16, 2014 at 8:01 am

    Thanks for your comment Sharon. One thing to keep in mind is that organizing makes a bigger mess. So instead of feeling defeated about the bigger mess, try to look at it as a sign of progress. If it looks worse midstream, chances are, you’re headed in the right direction. :)

    • February 16, 2013 at 9:43 pm

      I totally agree that when it comes to containers “cute” helps. I thought it was crazy because I’ve always been one for function over form, but I’ve found that when its something you want to use, it actually “functions” better.

      February 17, 2013 at 3:31 pm

      Well put Shanon! :)

      • April 23, 2013 at 1:04 pm

        Fun is always good. Love the ideas you shared to put the “fun factor” into the organizing process. Some of my clients respond really well if we listen to certain types of music while we work. Could be R&B or Broadway show tunes. Often we also like to sing along as we work…maybe even break into a bit of dancing too. It lightens the mood and reduces decision-fatigue.

        April 23, 2013 at 3:44 pm

        Great tips, Linda! Thanks for commenting. It was so nice to meet you in person last week. :)

        • April 23, 2013 at 3:56 pm

          Loved meeting you in person too, Aby. When you’re used to seeing someone’s face 1″x1″, it sure is great to connect the image with the actual person.

          • September 1, 2013 at 12:41 am

            I want to get organized and can’t seem to get started.can you help, PLEASE!

            September 2, 2013 at 2:48 pm

            Hi, Suzanne,

            Thanks so much for reaching out. The first step really is wanting to get organized – so that’s a great place to be. It sounds like you’re feeling overwhelmed. I’m sorry to hear that. There are a number of ways that simplify 101 can help.

            I have a mini guide called Help! I Don’t Know Where to Begin which will help you overcome inertia and get started decluttering. You can get started with this guide right away. Here is a link:

            On September 5 my expert guided class The FUNdamentals of Getting Organized begins. This is an 8 week class that will teach you all of the ins and outs of getting started and navigating your way through your organizing projects. Plus, I will be there for 8 weeks to answer your questions and help you get started and keep moving forward.

            The other way that I can help is via my one-on-one coaching program. I have a few different packages to choose from. With coaching we can put together a customized plan for your goals and help you quickly move past overwhelmed feelings and begin taking action. Here’s a link to my coaching packages:

            Let me know if you have any questions. You can contact me via the contact link on our site.

            Thank you!


            • September 29, 2013 at 5:37 pm

              Oh fun! I already do the music thing. For items needing to go into the larger storage boxes, I have discovered clear works best for me. One of the reasons I chose the boxes I did is because they have purple latches to keep the lids shut. As a bonus they were on the cheaper side and and frequently go on sale at Target. I bought a faux crocodile skin box with a latched lid and a carrying handle to keeping my artist quality drawing and coloring tools. In it’s former life it was a casset tape holder. The insert which held the tapes came out easily. I got it at a thrift store for 50¢, on a half price day. I have fun recycling and repurposing things. They continue to bring me happiness when I’m using them. Thrift stores are great places to get unique items to repaint or use as is for organization. Yes, it takes time to refinish things, but the fun and joy that results is priceless! I’m thinking about getting some of those big popcorn tins and painting them to use for storage. I think it would be fun to see them stacked up and used as decor and storage.

              I am going to use a few of your ideas to get and hopefully maintain motivation. I especially like the idea to reward myself for organizing for x number of days.

              • January 21, 2014 at 10:37 pm

                Numbers 1, 3, and 4 are my favorite!! I often combine 1 and 3 together to see how much I can get done before the song ends. The clock is a lot shorter than 15 minutes, but chances are once I’m up and moving I will keep going until the job is compete.