52 Weeks: #2 Follow the organizing PROCESS + printable!

Are you new to 52 weeks of organizing?  Read introduction post here.

Tonight as I was working at my desk I started to twitch from the clutter around me.  I blinked and then looked again.  Where did this stuff come from I wondered?  What it did was creep up on me so slowly that I hadn’t even noticed until it got to the twitching stage.   I hate the twitching stage. 

Clutter, it’s sneaky like that.

Deep breath.


Follow the PROCESS steps.

Having a process to follow from beginning to end will help you keep those twitches from becoming full on seizures.

If you haven’t heard about this acronym I created it’s called PROCESS.  It’s a very simple way to help you conquer any space or system from start to finish without getting too overwhelmed by all there is to do.   It breaks down the steps of organizing for optimal success.

Plan your attack
Remove items from the space
Organize stuff into piles, sort & purge
Evaluate your plan
Solve and simplify
Smile, relax and enjoy your hard work

Please go read this post that explains each of those steps in more detail to give you a solid foundation for less chaos and clutter.  It really works!

Also I’ve got a special treat for you today.  I had Jessica from Kohler Created design a bookmark for me to go along with my new book and I want each of you to have one.  Just print it double sided onto card stock and cut it out.  It opens huge in pdf, just reduce the zoom to 100%.  The PROCESS steps I just spoke about are all right there on the bookmark as a visual reminder.  Keep it handy for those times you feel the twitches starting 🙂

Print a Clutter Rehab bookmark here

I can’t wait to hear what you’ve been working on.  We had a lot of discussion going on in the comments last week which was great.  I’ve also received many email organizing questions but unfortunately my email is pretty backlogged at the moment and it might take me awhile to get to it.  For faster response, please add your questions, struggles, victories, encouragement etc to the comments below.  Thanks!

Some questions to consider:

1.  What did you organize this past week?

2.  Did you have any difficulties with it?  Stumbling blocks?  Major breakthroughs?

3.  If you are reading my book, Clutter Rehab, were you able to put any of the organizing tips into practice this past week?

Also please feel free to link up to the linky below with any posts related to your 52 weeks of organizing journey or to a post of an organizing nature that you feel will help and encourage others in their quest to get organized.  Please remember to link back to here though so we can reach out to as many people as possible in need of some inspiration.  One other thing to consider:  by including your link below you, you are giving me permission to use parts of your post including pictures as a spotlight in future 52 Weeks of Organizing posts.  Proper credit and links will of course be provided.  If you are not okay with this please do not link up.  Thanks!

image credits: shutterstock

Filed under: 52 Weeks of Organizing, Organizing Basics


76 Responses to 52 Weeks: #2 Follow the organizing PROCESS + printable!

  1. 1
    Marcia Francois, Organising Queen says

    Laura, thank you for your Christmas card and lovely letter – I made a cup of tea so I could sit and savor reading a proper snail mail letter – LOVE IT!

    Your book hasn’t arrived yet thoug – just wanted to let you know.

    And about the twitching – have you read my mind? There was a pile of filing (3 months’ worth) next to me that I started attacking last night. Good thing I don’t keep much paper anyway otherwise it would have been sky-high 🙂

    • 1.1
      Laura says

      Ahh so glad you liked it!

  2. 2
    Gwenn says

    I just undertook the task of organizing my entire house this week. It’s a mall house (under 1000 sq ft) with 2 adults, 2 kids, and 3 dogs living it. We tend to get horrifically messy quickly. I read your book in 3 sittings and I’ll be going back through much slower this week.
    So far, I’ve purged the kids clothing drawers and containerized! I’ve gotten 2 out of 3 shelves in the medicine cabinet purged, cleaned and organized as well. My goal for today is to finish the medicine cabinet and attach the “dog cabinet” this weekend. By december, I hope to have been through every space in my house and purged, cleaned, and containerized. I’m blogging about it on my facebook page!

    • 2.1
      Laura says

      Woohoo! That is so so awesome, you are on a roll girl! Doesn’t it get addicting when you start to reap the rewards of all your hard work…so happy for you. Keep it up!

    • 2.2
      Enjoy Birth says

      Holy Smokes, you are on a roll! Great Job!

  3. 3
    Kelly says

    So thankful for your blog and for the awesome idea of 52 weeks of organizing! It’s been helping me to think on a smaller scale. I’m not as overwhelmed with everything that needs organized and purged in my house on top of all the daily housework.

    Last week all I did was move my spices out of the cupboard over my stove. I knew I shouldn’t be keeping them there anyway, but just never felt like I had time to move them. It felt great to just get that one thing done!

    This week I finished journaling my daughter’s gigantic scrapbook. Wow, that felt good! And it leads me on the path of finally getting my scrapbook supplies organized.

    Next week, I’ll attack my dreaded night stand drawer. Thanks for helping to make my unorganized life a little more manageable!

    • 3.1
      Laura says

      Way to go Kelly! Were you surprised that it took less time than you thought it would? That’s the one thing I hear most often.

      Every little bit helps!!

  4. 4
    AlexisAnne says

    Tackled my linen closet/ laundry room for this week, and next week I have some plans for the kitchen. I’m a tad late getting started, but working on my complete list of project right now 🙂

    • 4.1
      Laura says

      I love organizing linen closets…is that weird? 🙂 Kitchens are fun too as usually you can find all sorts of things to throw out. I LOVE purging!! 🙂

      Good luck with it!

  5. 5
    [email protected] says

    I just starting de-clutter my house last week. I am looking forward to using the PROCESS you created. Thanks so much for sharing!

    • 5.1
      Laura says

      I hope you find it helpful…it really helps to break a project down no matter how big or small!

  6. 6
    Frances says

    One of my new year’s resolutions is to get organized this year, because we are going to start a family and we live in a tiny apartment. I love the idea of planning it all in 52 weeks because it helps with the guilt. I really want to finish sooner though. This week I organized our kitchen cabinets, linen closet, kitchen drawers, bathroom cabinets, and sent a giant bag of “thanks but not us” presents to charity. Next week I plan to tackle our bedroom. There is no way I’m posting before pictures but I will post the after pics soon!

    • 6.1
      Laura says

      Oh I love hearing about all the organizing and purging going on, that’s just so awesome!

      More purging means less stuff to find a home for!

  7. 7
    Nicole says

    I have done some small organizing projects – overflowing craft and computer desk drawers, and my daughters dresser. My problem is that I have 2 young children and I often get interrupted. I will take everything out the space and be in the process of sorting and then not be able to finish. I realize that I need a different container than anticipated, etc. So the space is more of a disaster than when I started. If I only started a task when I knew I could finish it, I might never start.

    • 7.1
      Laura says

      Yes that’s exactly it. Small pockets of time are the way to do it. I know it can be hard with littles underfoot. Try giving them small sorting jobs to do for you. Kids LOVE sorting so maybe you can have them help in some small way.

  8. 8
    Janene says

    I am totally inspired by all the sites I visit. It really makes me want to get moving and get organized. I’m glad I have my list done so that I can pick one little thing to start on rather than be overwhelmed by trying to tackle everything all at once! 🙂

    I am feeling a push, though…I’m not sure what to do next because there are so many of my projects that could really benefit from immediate attention!

    • 8.1
      Laura says

      Only think about the next one. It’s so easy to get going on one and be distracted by another and then we end up with a whole pile of started but unfinished projects. That leads to feelings of defeat not feelings of woohoo! 🙂

    • 9.1
      Laura says

      Thank you.

  9. 10
    Janey says

    I’ve been cleaning out and organizing my sewing area. I love spring sewing with all those beautiful cotton prints, but I dread the idea of doing it in this out-of-control space. I’m almost there! Last night, I stayed up until 2 a.m. organizing and cleaning out patterns. I love patterns, and I have 17 patterns boxes of them. I have whittled it down to 7! That’s an accomplishment for a pattern hoarder!

    • 10.1
      Laura says

      Down to 7! Wow that’s impressive, you are on fire!

  10. 11
    Sally says

    Well I managed to get a good grip on my photos…before I had them all in Rubbermaid totes, 1 ex lg, 2 med, & 1 sm. which took up three quarters of the closet. Now I am down to 6 photo boxes, and 1 med. tote for the albums & loose 8×10’s & turn of the century family photos…My goal is to have all the 8×10 in scrapbooking pages and albums and then have the albums somewhere to be able to access easier…I am quite proud of my accomplishment! From there I am tackling the room they were in, which is the craft, computer, spare bedroom, storage area! Big job ahead with that!!

    • 11.1
      Hilary says

      That is exactly what I did this week! My photos were just in random “junk” drawers, but I whittled it down to one small photo box. I don’t think there’s anything more fun to organize than when you can revisit old family pics 😉 A few of mine made it to facebook, of course!

    • 11.2
      Laura says

      I’m proud of you for being proud of yourself 🙂 So many of us are to hard on ourselves. Let’s celebrate the achievements, big and small!

  11. 12
    Cherry says

    I don’t have a post about my organizing project this week, but will share here what I have done. Needing to make room for some things that a grown college-age son needs to store at our house for awhile, I knew I had to do some re-arranging in our storage room. I had a pile of boxes of things from my dear mother, left from several years ago, things that I have not gone through yet since she passed away. (Already have gone through many of her things; just have not finished yet.) I took this pile of her things and made a place for them in a basement guest room. That left room for me to move my son’s things into the storage area … and, putting my mother’s things in the guest room was a great move, as it will be easier to go through her things there (a future organizing project!).

    A question for another future organizing project … what is your favorite place to go to online to learn about which financial records to keep, and for how long to keep them? An accurate, trustworthy place? I have so many (too many) records from the past …

    • 13.1
      Laura says

      Yes for most busy moms it’s the best way to go for sure.

  12. 14
    Kristie says

    I am so glad I found you!!! I was preparing for a lesson I was asked to teach on-“Organizing your Home Rome by Room” and found your page!! I ordered your book and I can`t wait for it to come–I just copied the bookmark-Thank you!!! I love to organize my home–I love the feeling youget when you complete an area! You`re right it IS addicting-you want to just keep going. Our children are are raised-the oldest 5 married and our youngest is in Germany serving our country in the Army. So I am at the place where it`s alot easier to clean and organize my home. I love my home-my husband built it–plus we added on a larger diningroom (with 6 kids-it was a must!LOL!!) 5 years ago we added on a new kitchen–my delight!!! Thank you for your added enthusiam in my life–I look forward to your facebook entries!!! 🙂

    • 14.1
      Laura says

      Thanks for sharing your story Kristie, with six kids I’m sure you have a lot of organizing tips you can share with us 🙂

  13. 15
    CArol says

    Thanks for all the great inspiration! I enjoy looking at all the different sites and getting great ideas. See you next week.

    • 15.1
      Laura says

      Thanks Carol!

  14. 16
    Shannon says

    I am so LOVING this! Now I don’t have to feel guilty about doing SMALL projects!!!

    • 16.1
      Laura says

      No never…all those small projects add up to getting a lot done!

  15. 17
    Living the Balanced Life says

    I went thru my shoes this morning. I am preparing to go to the Blissdom blog conference and was having difficulty getting in the closet because all the shoes I actually wear were on the floor! I got rid of 17 pairs which was probably half! Now it will be so much easier to pack! I went tru my clothes a few months ago, but I will probably go thru them again soon. Now that I am not working outside the home, there are so many things I really don’t need. Less things makes it easier to organize!
    Talk to God and then listen

    • 17.1
      Laura says

      17 pairs, that’s inspiring! Sure wish I was going to Blissdom 🙁

  16. 18
    Aimee says

    Thanks for the printout! It will be so useful. I am trying to organize our little apartment and keep only those things that are important to us. We may be moving overseas at the end of the year and having a list of something to organize every week until the big move.

    It will also help me unpack our last box. We have lived in this apartment for almost 4 years. I still have one box to unpack. I dread that box. my goal is to unpack by our 4 year mark, if not it will have to be done by the time we move. 🙂

    • 18.1
      Laura says

      Okay now you’ve got me curious as to what could be in that box that you haven’t needed and have avoided for 4 years. Do tell!

      • Aimee says

        Right before our last move I finished my internship, got pregnant, got very sick, finished my licencing exams, still very sick and moved. In that order. About 3 months of internship paperwork and loose-end paperwork (the last of our utility bills from that apt, stray photographs, etc.) were filed by dumping into two boxes. My husband headed off to army duty and I lived at my parent’s house until our daughter was born. Everything went to the storage unit in a new state.
        We moved into our apartment when our daughter was 3 weeks old. I gradually unpacked every box but two. They have just sat in our hallway (yep, we’ve had to learn not to trip on them – I’m sure guest hate them). I did manage sort through one box before our second baby was born. But that still leaves me with the one box. I know 3/4ths of it or more will be tossed, but there are some really valuable charts/tools/papers for when I resume working as a dietitian. I just need to go through paper by paper and pull them out. After that is done, I am going through filing cabinet and doing a major de-junking. Who wants to move boxes of paperwork? Not me!!!

        Simple answer: That box is full of paperwork related to my field and a few other things. I haven’t worked as a dietitian since we moved so I haven’t needed it. But I dread sorting papers with a baby and a preschooler in a small apartment where I can’t spread out more than the kitchen cabinets without hands grabbing everything and I can’t leave it out if I don’t finish it in a day.

        I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

      • Aimee says

        Remember me? Ya, I just got that last box unpacked last week, just before our four year mark in this apartment. And one week before we started packing to move.
        Here is my blog post about it:


        Thanks for the inspiration to keep going!

  17. 19
    Wilson Family Adventures says

    I printed your P-R-O-C-E-S-S and will be using it this weeken while I tackle our basement and the pantry. It will definitely take me more than a weekend, but I’m very sure that a lot of things will get the heave-ho.


    • 19.1
      Laura says

      Basements can be overwhelming for sure. I’d love to know how you make out. Come back and let us know 🙂

      • Marilea Reinke says

        I was glad someone brought up basements! We do not have an attic so our basement is our storage. For many years I prided myself on having a well organized basement compared to many of my friends. WELL last fall after having open heart surgery by children came and painted my living room, dining room and kitchen after getting new counter top and the like. PROBLEM..every time some one would say “Mom, what should I do with this or that?” My response would be take it to the basement so now I have this huge mess that I don’t know how to tackle. So many of the items were expensive and I have a problem donating them to Goodwill or the like yet the work of a yard sale is over whelming for what you get out of it. Any suggestions on how I start. OH..my biggest problem is my husband he never wants to get rid of anything and I do mean anything…he is sure we’ll need it “some day’. Don’t others have husbands like this? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    • 19.2
      Wilson Family Adventures says

      I posted some items on Craigslist to start cleaning out the pantry and basement, but we got the most done by going through the master bedroom closet and thinning out our clothes and other misc items that woulnd up there.

      In 2 days we removed 135 items from our house. We should easily surpass 2,011 by the end of the year.

  18. 20
    Dianna says

    Thank you for posting all you do. Your blog has and continues to be a huge inspiration and resource for information. My house had gotten in to bad shape when I was working outside the home. Now that I am home again the task of setting the house back in order, getting some order in my life while dealing with my health issues was at first totally overwhelming. Thanks to you, and fellow posters to your blog, I am progressing and feeling accomplishments one area at a time. Thank you again.

    • 20.1
      Laura says

      Oh I so know what you mean and I’m so happy things are coming together for you now.

    • 21.1
      Laura says

      Quick question, do you use your charging station for charging at all anymore? Have you thought about moving it to your bedroom where you use it? Just an idea as that would free up some counter space for you.

      • Enjoy Birth says

        Great idea. My husband and I talked about that and we decided it would be a good place for our boys to charge the itouch they share. That way it stays out of their bedrooms (we have tight restrictions on it) and we can easily find it.

        I like having my cordless phone on it and like having the drawers for pens. But you are right if we weren’t using it as a charging station why have it! 🙂

  19. 22
    Char says

    I am working on reorganizing our house one area at a time this year. I can’t get it all done at once, obviously, but every little thing that gets done feels good!

    • 22.1
      Laura says

      Even just 5 or 10 minutes a day makes a huge difference!

  20. 23
    Martha (MM) says

    Love the PROCESS! I just got your book in the mail today, can’t wait to read it 🙂
    My post for this week is up – I organized my bakers rack and matching table this week, also answered your questions for the week in the post.
    Thanks for hosting this awesome challenge Laura!

  21. 24
    Dawn says

    I organized my pantry using a cardboard can rotating system. It looks great and now I know what foods I have plenty of and what I am low on.

    • 24.1
      Laura says

      That’s great Dawn!

  22. 25
    Corrie says

    I think I need “non celebrity organizing rehab” because well… I can relate to Aimee with the 4 year box. I had one too – and finally I promised my husband I’d unpack it (three years ago)… And I did – or at least I thought I did. I came across the box in mid-December while hunting for my Christmas decorations.

    My name is Corrie (aka Brennan’s Mom) and I’m disorganized.

    But I’m trying and I’m signed up for the 52 Week Challenge as I really, really need it. 🙂

    • 25.1
      Laura says

      I think we need an eliminate boxes intervention around here 🙂 You can do this!

      • Jill says

        Haha! Have you been peeking in my house?? In my bedroom I have 3 boxes of spring clothes the kids have outgrown that are waiting for our church consignment sale in March, 2 boxes of books that can’t be crammed onto the bookcase in same room, 2 large boxes from the last time I started to sort and purge and never finished -the “find a home for and keep box” and “go back through be ause these are maybes” box; 1box of stuff that never got sorted in that last sort & purge, a stack of 4 empty boxes for sorting stuff into, and 2 boxes of stuff that got pulled out of the disaster of a walk-in closet when we took out theChristmas stuff!

        • Jill says

          Oh- and 6 empty Precious Moments boxes because I’m afraid to throw them out in case my DD ever decides to sell them.

  23. 26
    Christy says

    I decluttered a cabinet with lots of binders. I put the remaining on a shelf in the closet. I used the cleared space for my old cheese boxes filled with craft supplies. It looks so neat and “on purpose”. I’ve spent the past 5 yrs decluttering. I’m finally at a state of peace. I’m using these 52 weeks to search out the hidden clutter and find more effective storage solutions. Thank you for the inspiration.

    • 26.1
      Laura says

      Oh there’s always hidden clutter isn’t there…I find it all the time!

  24. 27
    Sinea Pies says

    I cracked up when I read your “twiching stage” quote. Oh, how I understand. My writing schedule is so packed right now (it’s my third job…my day job and my family being the first two) that even my in-home office started to clutter up. Here I am WRITING about organizing while sitting in CLUTTER! Yikes! Your writing is so refreshing.

    Your reader might enjoy the series we’re doing on 31 Organizing Tips…we’ve done 7. I had to take a break, though, to clear the clutter! LOL. We’ll be back at it next week with #8.
    Having fun…sounds like you are too!

    • 27.1
      Laura says

      Thanks Sinea! Will definitely check out your site.

  25. 28
    Forgetfulone says

    I have organized a closet, my scrapbook paper, and my Christmas decorations (I guess not in that order, but in that reverse order). Im definitely participating in this!

    • 28.1
      Laura says

      Thata girl!

  26. 29
    Corrie says

    Ok… I have a question (about organizing and decluttering, of course)… I belong to a “free cycle” group where people post things (from broken record players to new calendars) that they no longer want or need and give them to wanting recipients (you can also ask for things you need).

    In the past four days, I’ve seen two “asks” for things I have that I have not used and am toying with getting rid of. One was a punch bowl – I’ve had it since I was 16 (so a LONG time) and I’ve used it twice – and on of those uses was a ‘borrow’ to my MIL… The other is a meat slicer I got as a hand-me-down but have never, ever used (it’s sat on the shelf for nearly seven years with no use).

    My question is this: How do I get rid of the stuff I don’t use but might need one day? I’d hate to have to buy something new again because I had one and gave it away!

    • 29.1
      Laura says

      This is where it comes down to organizing being all about decision making. If you’ve got the space to store these things, space you don’t need for something else, then you don’t have to worry about it.

      However if you don’t have the space or could be using this space more effectively for things that you do use regularly than you really have to question why you are hanging on to something you MAY use. Do you have areas/spaces in your life that stress you out due to lack of space? Weigh this stress with the stress of letting go of something. Is the stress worth it?

      Think about what would happen if you did get rid of something and should happen to need it. What’s the worst case scenario here? You might have to use a big bowl instead of a punch bowl? Will it be the end of the world? Can you make do? What wonderful things could you do with the space you free up? and so on.

      Those are just some of the things to consider when evaluating each item. Only you can make the final call. Hope that helps, let me know what you decide!

  27. 30
    Stacy says

    so my year started off really good…….

    my closet, dh’s closet,office/school/craft room

  28. 31
    Dawn R. Milford says

    Am having to move and will be organizing as I unpack, please keep me in your prayers as I will be needing a lot of help.

  29. 32
    Erica says

    Thank you, I was so over whelmed today i was in tears. I feel like i can never keep up with the house work. And today i had it. i feel like a horrible wife and mother. I want my family to be able to come home and enjoy (myself included) well anyway i was reading your sight tonight and it just made me feel better. thanks for the tips!

  30. 33
    Lainie says

    As I read through this blog site I find myself skimming, looking for something new and life altering. But, literally, it all makes my stomach turn. Organizing is not my gift in life- BUT I wish it was! I’m often lost, surrounded by piles of somewhat papers and forgotten or detoured projects. Not even 30 mg of Adderall has solved the problem, but I do get places in a more timely manner since coming to terms with my adult ADD. I am beginning to think it’s just not there for me. The lists, acronyms and all of that only make me feel like more of an alien mom that I already did! I hate it, I hate the way I am, but nothing- positive thinking and sincere prayer included- has changed my lacking in organization. It’s very discouraging. I suppose the gift I do bring to the world is humor in the face of failures, which- is something we have all encountered once or twice, even those of the lucky crowd of organized tea sippers. 🙂

    • 33.1
      Laura says

      Oh I’m so sorry for the pain I can read in your words. There really is no magic potion to organizing I’m afraid. It’s all about starting small, doing just a little bit at a time to avoid overwhelm. Please come back for Friday’s 52 weeks post where I’ll be sharing a testimonial from a reader on how this very process of doing a bit at a time has helped her tremendously. I hope it can be of help to you as well.


      • Lainie says

        I’ll give it a shot! Thanks for the kind reply.



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