After the “After” Picture: 5 Ways a Busy Person Can Keep Things Organized

“Begin at the beginning,” the King said gravely, “and go till you come to the end; then stop.”

~Lewis Carroll (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland)

My husband, Tom, spent a hot summer afternoon yesterday organizing his side of our closet. He finally decided to donate those pants that have been a little bit too tight for several years, and put a bunch of worn-out clothes in the rag bag. He even labeled the edges of the shelves. His side of the closet is a work of art now! I think I’ll keep him around for a few more years.

Lewis Carroll was correct, to an extent. Staying the course with your plan to get an area of your life organized will, in time, lead you to having achieved your goal. You will be justified in being proud of yourself for continuing to sort, eliminate, and reorganize your things until you are, well, at the end of the project. Like Tom, you’ll stand back, admiring your handiwork, and take a picture of your newly-organized space. The snapshot will freeze that shining moment of organization in time, until…

…you get really busy at work, your kid gets sick, the holidays arrive, other activities need your attention, etc., etc. In other words, until LIFE HAPPENS.

But you can only take the King’s instructions to Alice in Wonderland so far. You can’t actually STOP organizing, because you really aren’t at the END. In truth, there really is no “end,” other than death. The “after” picture of your organized space is really a “during” picture. Life will go on, with its tendency toward disorder, unless you continue to take steps to maintain organization.

5 things a busy person can do to keep things organized:

  1. Be in the moment. Pay attention to where you are and what you’re doing right now to avoid mindlessly putting things where they don’t belong.
  2. Finish one thing before you start something else. Clutter accumulates when we don’t pick up after ourselves before we move on to another activity. So fold the laundry – and then put it in the drawers. Eat dinner – and then wash the dishes. Open the mail – and then put it in its designated places.
  3. Banish the phrase, “just for now” from your vocabulary. Misplaced items attract more misplaced items. Instead of tossing your coat over a chair “just for now,” go ahead and hang it up in the closet.
  4. Set a good example.The other people in your house are watching and learning from you. Teach them good organizational habits by your example.
  5. Schedule periodic reorganizing sessions. Even the most organized space will need an occasional tune-up. Block out times to revisit each previously organized area to eliminate no-longer-needed items and reorganize the remaining items.

Organization is a process and a lifestyle – not an event. Whether you are just contemplating getting organized or have “been there and done that” repeatedly, you may benefit from the assistance, advice, and non-judgmental approach of a qualified professional organizer. Call us for a no-obligation needs analysis: in the Baltimore area, call 410-329-3300; in the Atlanta area, call 770-733-1957, or e-mail us at