What are you organizing for?

posted by Aby Garvey on July 24, 2013 35 Comments

This morning, I woke up at 6 AM to get my daughter ready for cross country. I pulled open the curtains above the kitchen sink and caught a glance of the thermometer sitting on my window sill. It displayed a chilly-for-July 62 degrees. “It’s the perfect morning for a run,” I thought.

As soon as Kailea left, I got myself dressed, put on my running shoes and hit the concrete. As I started on my run, it struck me how different my current approach to running is than it was just a year ago. Today, I look for excuses to run. I see that the weather is perfect and I simply can’t help myself. I want to get out there and run.

running shoes

Everything changed for me when my running had a purpose—such as training for a race or hitting an aggressive mileage goal. Having a bigger purpose behind my running made me want to do it, as opposed to feeling like I should. This has been a huge momentum shifter.

If you’re losing steam on your organizing  journey, or you’re getting worn out by what feels like a never ending battle to keep your home organized, step back for a moment and consider your bigger purpose. What are you organizing for? What will you be able to do easier, faster or at all, when you’re more organized?

Write down your answers to these questions and keep digging until you find an answer that really excites you. Maybe you’ll picture yourself throwing a party for friends, feeling happy and relaxed because you’re so comfortable in your home. Or maybe you’ll see yourself kicking-back and relaxing with your kiddos, completely guilt-free.

When your reasons for organizing are compelling to you, you’ll see your motivation shift. And as crazy as this may sound right now…you just may start looking for excuses to do a little bit of decluttering and organizing, instead of looking for reasons not to.

So what are you organizing for? Let me know in the comments. 

Happy organizing,


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Aby Garvey is a creative organizing expert and simplify 101’s founder. She has created 14 online organizing classes, which she has been teaching since 2007, helping thousands of people around the world get organized. Aby loves to help people create positive change in their lives through her online classes and coaching program

Latest posts by Aby Garvey (see all)

  • July 24, 2013 at 11:20 am

    I’m organizing and decluttering to prepare to sell our house in the next year or so and I’m encouraging my mother-in-law to do the same so that when my in-laws move off the family farm we are ready. Thanks for all your good ideas Aby!

    • July 24, 2013 at 12:16 pm

      I started writing a blog and that got me motivated to get organized. My home office was a mess and the blog got me to think about how I work in there. I used many Target bins and Martha Stewart labels and now I can find my art supplies and I have a great space to work. Check out my blog:


      • July 24, 2013 at 12:26 pm

        Trying to get organized and decluttered because, despite what my space looks like, clutter really drives me crazy! Looking forward to using your tips to get on the road to comfort and happiness!

        • July 24, 2013 at 12:50 pm

          Oh Aby– You are a GENIUS!! My son and his wife are arriving in less than a month. The last time they were here (2011), my scrap room was a MESS! It’s still a mess– I just couldn’t get motivated to clean up. But I did want to scrap and make cards. I’d just push the stuff over and make a little space for me to work :-(
          So I don’t want my scrap room to look like that when the kids come. I want it to be totally organized and look inviting. So I’m definitely going to try to use this as my motivation.
          Okay, there’s no time like NOW to get started. Thanks for your post!

          • July 24, 2013 at 12:53 pm

            I’m in a constant state of trying to decide between about five different desires: read, write, play with the kids, cook nutritious meals, or craft something lovely… And the realities of being a working mother in a two-income household. With organization in place for my paperwork and crafting areas (in particular), I could more easily make use of smaller blocks of time instead of needing a HUGE chunk just to do something simple like have the boys make a card for their great grandparents.

            • July 24, 2013 at 12:54 pm

              I’m organizing for myself. It feels so rewarding doing one project that I want to do more and more!

              • July 24, 2013 at 2:15 pm

                I am organizing to set an example. My husband started a business after working for others & not needing tools. Now he has so many things in his van, workshop & in certain areas of the yard. He doesn’t seem to want to get organized at all.

                So I keep the rest of the house as neat, clean & organized as I can hoping he will notice the benefits & do something about these areas where he keeps his belongings. I does feel better to focus on why I am doing what I do. Thanks for a great article & to those that commented on it.

                • July 24, 2013 at 2:17 pm

                  Aby – Thanks for another great post. I find the emails come at just the right time to keep me motivated and moving forward on my organizing projects.
                  What you said realated to “purpose” really hit home. Peter Walsh talks about that in his series of books — “It’s all too much”. That jarred me into taking some action on my home and I’d recommend his book to anyone looking for more inspiration.

                  • July 24, 2013 at 3:09 pm

                    My sanity! I feel way more peaceful when there isn’t a pile of laundry or a floor in desperate need of sweeping; when my books are in nice rows on the shelves and my counters are clutter free. I feel my home is a sort of illustration of how I appreciate order and peace in my mind and how much I love myself.

                    • July 24, 2013 at 3:32 pm

                      Great answers everyone! Thanks for commenting! Keep them coming. :)

                      • July 24, 2013 at 5:03 pm

                        I’m organising to make my life simpler -quicker and easier to find things, quicker and easier to keep things clean leaving me more time to spend with my kids and create

                        • July 24, 2013 at 5:17 pm

                          I’m began organizing properly about a month ago, to keep things in a dedicated spot so that I can find them, and to free space. My boyfriend is moving in by the end of the month, and I want him to have his own space. He’s also a very organized person, and I just want him to feel welcome and at peace in my house – which I must admit has been quite disorganized lately. The bonus is that I feel much calmer and at peace myself – I think I have missed having an organized office, for instance, and a bookshelf in my living room that is decorative instead of busy. Now I have a clutter free office desk that allows me to think and my papers are getting into order. You’ve got to love these kind of projects!

                          • July 24, 2013 at 8:54 pm

                            Canning season will soon be over, I agree with so many others.

                            So now it is my turn to start by getting on my de cluttering shoes and get to work.
                            First will be the office area, then the sewing room, my two bad rooms. Then onto
                            improving the rest house. Goal to finish before Thanksgiving…………I’m going to be a busy busy beaver!!!!!

                            The reason —”like others have commented,” I want to be able to find things, quicker and easier, making my life simpler . By keep things clean and neat will give me more time to spend doing projects I want.

                            “AND NOT HAVE THAT NAGGING FEELING, I SHOULD BE DOING………………….”

                            • July 25, 2013 at 12:27 am

                              You are so inspiring. I need to organize my files so that I can be efficient in my home and work, as well as write the book that I have started. I love the freshness that you bring to the subject of organizing.

                              July 25, 2013 at 2:08 pm

                              Thanks so much Nikki! :) Good luck with your book – what an exciting goal!

                              • July 25, 2013 at 8:44 am

                                I’m organizing so I can find things when I need them, so I can feel a sense of calm in my home and so I don’t panic when someone is coming to visit!

                                • July 25, 2013 at 8:50 am

                                  My purpose in organizing is to be a better person!!!

                                  * No more mental battles between “ought to” and “want to.”
                                  * No more misplacing things.
                                  * No more “shutting down” because I feel overwhelmed!
                                  * More space, physically, mentally, and emotionally, to be creative.
                                  * More calm to be a better parent, employee, and friend.

                                  Thank you for helping me to realize this!

                                  July 25, 2013 at 10:41 am

                                  I loved your reasons!

                                  July 25, 2013 at 2:09 pm

                                  You’re welcome! I hope realizing it gives you even more motivation! Thanks for sharing your answers with us. :)

                                  • July 25, 2013 at 10:40 am

                                    I really loved this post. I started typing the reasons why I want to be more organized in my ‘simplemind app’ which happens to be a visual mind organizing app. For the past month or so, I have been compelled to get a handle on my cluttered areas in my life and keep on coming across so many inspiring women that have been helping me along the way with this journey. A few of the reasons why I want to be more organized are to be more prioritized, to feel relaxed, less stress, in control, more responsible, accomplished and to teach my son now at his young age of 8 so that it will eventually become natural for him to stay oranized.

                                    July 25, 2013 at 1:18 pm

                                    You and I sound like kindred spirits, Ashley! I have an 11-year-old son whom I am “retraining by example.” I’m rooting for you!!!

                                    • July 25, 2013 at 2:10 pm

                                      What inspiring reasons you all have! Keep ‘em coming. :)

                                      • July 26, 2013 at 11:59 am

                                        I answered already but another reason is it saves money to be organized. My son wanted an ice chest the other day & I had one & could get it & with ease. So not buying things we already have saves money.

                                        I went to go look at new refrigerators & one place I went to is a warehouse store. I don’t have a membership but they just sent a coupon for a free membership & I knew that all coupson are in order so I just went right to it.

                                        My husband needed a tow truck & we don’t have triple A but I was able to grab my auto insurance policy to see if we are reimbursed for towing.

                                        I don’t go to the closet & not see what I have. There is space between my clothes so I don’t need to press what is in there & can take out what I want. I can also tell someone where to find something because blouses are with blouses, sweater & jackets in their own area, etc.

                                        I work at home & have a chart to show where each thing is supposed to be on my desk. I don’t have central air any more so I have window units. If I want to work in a different area of my house I grap my work book & look at the chart I have & can set up my work station no matter what part of the house I am in. It’s nice to sit down & get to work & know I have a clock there & my extra glasses, specific markets, blank paper, etc. It helps me stay focused on my work.

                                        The flow works better when I am in the kitchen & can grab the scissors & put them right back & know where they are. It’s easier to cut things with scissors than it is to rip things open.

                                        I enjoy life being able to find everything cause it’s in it’s place. I even have a “Where to find it book” I have an index & if my son would come over & I wasn’t here he could look up “deck of cards” oh, they are in the kitchen drawer next to the match & cake candles. It’s all in that book. So I feel better as if I did something I always wanted to do & now if anything would ever happen it would be easy for any visitors.

                                        July 28, 2013 at 2:27 am

                                        what great reasons everyone has offered. One secret wish I have just discovered: I want Lynne for my friend – can you come over & help me???? Jan in Ohio

                                        • July 27, 2013 at 8:43 am

                                          The reasons everyone has mentioned are fantastic, and some I feel are right up my ally to add to my own list. My #1 reason RiGhT NoW would be to feel relaxed when I get up, maybe sit with a cup of tea, and not feel like ahhhhhhh… Still working on it, one day soon I’ll have achieved my goal.

                                          • July 28, 2013 at 3:31 am

                                            Thanks JanL. I have actually driven to Ohio before when my sister-in-law got married. I am in Maryland.

                                            I thought of another really important reason I organize. It is so much easier to keep the house clean. So if a neighbor stops by or someone calls & says they want to visit, I am not going to feel stressed out about the way my house looks.

                                            I even organize my cleaning. Monday-clean living room & dining room. Tues-Kitchen Wednesday- bedrooms Thursday- office Friday- floors, window surfaces & bathrooms. I also have a chart for everyday of the month with something that can be done with things I miss on my weekly chart.

                                            • July 28, 2013 at 1:47 pm

                                              I find when I AM organized, I experience more joy and peace! Otherwise I tend to feel uptight. Reason #2 – I am making ABC albums for our six grandchildren…four are started but I find I am not having time to finish them because – I’m always trying to catch up with what is in front of me. Therefore they are not getting finished and I feel so defeated with myself as my precious ones are getting older. They know I am doing this and are waiting on grandma as each page relives precious memories of things we did together – all with a specific letter of the alphabet. I need structure! Thank you for your tips for each of us…..now to apply them!

                                              July 28, 2013 at 7:46 pm

                                              Cordelia, I don’t know if this would help but I would act as if I had an appointment. If you are a person who keeps appointment or would make sure you attended a class that was on every Thursday night at 7 then act as if you have that appointment & prepare for it & with that time set aside you can know you will get what you want done…Lynne Oh, also depending on when your do this you might want to make sure you have a special meal or music all set up so you are really focused at this time.

                                              • October 20, 2013 at 6:05 pm

                                                I don’t have a reason that excites me. I guess that’s why my place stays a wreck. I know I would feel slightly better. But that slightly better feeling is not enough to motivate me.

                                                October 20, 2013 at 7:20 pm

                                                Karen, you will have to clean up whether you want to or not. Once you do your life will change & you will have a reason to want to clean up. When someone lives in clutter or doesn’t have the clean house they feel depressed & it is a vicious cycle. No one can make you do this but if you do it you will see it feels good. People have to do this sometimes with exercise, diet, all kinds of things..Lynne

                                                • October 21, 2013 at 9:27 am

                                                  So how does one get out of the depression enough to start when all they want to do is sleep? I don’t really HAVE to clean up… Some people live this way until they die… I’m just too overwhelmed to even start. Every time I reach out to someone who lives close by and actually could help, they don’t. I’m feeling super bummed. And no, I don’t want to take anti depressant drugs. They cost $ plus I don’t feel they are healthy to take. I know, wallowing in depression isn’t healthy either…. I’m stuck.

                                                  October 22, 2013 at 9:32 am

                                                  Hi, Karen,

                                                  I’m very sorry to hear that you are depressed. Helping with that is really beyond my expertise. But I would really like to encourage you to reach out to a medical expert who can help you. It is an investment for sure, but it is an investment in yourself. You are worth it.

                                                  Sending you hugs and well wishes,


                                                  October 22, 2013 at 1:43 pm

                                                  Karen, I’ve been where you are. I didn’t want to take anti-depressants, either, at first, BUT … If your body didn’t make enough insulin or thyroid hormone, you’d take something for that right? Well, to fight clinical depression, your body needs more seratonin. In addition to the anti-depressants that help with that, there are others that also raise dopamine levels, which helps reduce anxiety and increase motivation. (And keep in mind that you won’t necessarily have to take them forever.)

                                                  Studies show that a combination of medication and therapy is the most effective, so please find a professional you can talk to! Many have sliding fee scales, if you don’t have insurance to help with the costs.

                                                  Your friends probably feel as overwhelmed as you are, and don’t really know what to say or do to help you. It has to start with you, Karen, and you are stronger than you think! To get out of the funk, you are going to have to force yourself at first. Make your objective as small as possible: One drawer. One shelf. One load of clothes folded. Make your bed. Doing just one small thing a day is still progress, and that progress WILL help you find your footing again.

                                                  We feel as if, because it’s our “mind” and not some other body part, it’s a personal failing. Well, it isn’t! It’s chemical, and the need for some new tools in your life toolkit. I am rooting for you and wishing you success!

                                                  October 23, 2013 at 7:18 am

                                                  Linda W.

                                                  Thank you so much for your reply to Karen. You are very kind to share your story and your encouragement. It sounds like you are doing really well. I’m so happy to hear that.


                                                  • October 23, 2013 at 7:52 am

                                                    That’s so nice of you & Jay also wrote me out of appreciation. I appreciate the appreciation. I have been so busy I didn’t get back but I know she knows she can just start where she is & keep going & she will be better, Lynne