52 Weeks: #11 Consolidate & Conquer

If you are new to 52 Weeks of Organizing, catch up here!

I’ll tell you what makes me happy.  Each week, as I tour the 52 Weeks links and read the comments, what is standing out to me and what makes me so proud is how many of you are NOT beating yourself up about what you haven’t accomplished.  Because let me tell you, beating yourself up about what you haven’t accomplished, accomplishes nothing.  I am seeing confidences growing as you complete each task, big and small.  Doing something, even if all you can fit in is a small task, is still better than doing nothing at all.  So way to go gang!

Today I want to talk a little bit about consolidating and I’m going to use paper clutter as my example because this one can be especially overwhelming.  Paper is a huge stress for so many of us because we never get a break from it, it never stops, especially if you have kids.  Gosh it can be daunting can’t it?  And it’s even worse when we’ve got little piles of it all over the place.  Finding something you need can be extremely difficult and only adds to the stress.  It’s time to consolidate!

paper pile

image credit: jenica26

Consolidate means:

  1. to bring together (separate parts) into a single or unified whole; unite; combine: They consolidated their three companies.
  2. to discard the unused or unwanted items of and organize the remaining: She consolidated her home library.

Such a great word!

So if paper clutter is taking over your life, it’s time to get some control over it in a way that reduces your feelings of overwhelm rather than add to it.  Here is what I recommend.  Grab a cardboard box or basket and walk around your house, gathering all those papers up and putting them in the box.  We’re going to go from multiple, scattered, I don’t know where anything is, piles to one big ole pile instead.  School notes, mail, invitations, schedules, planning pages, clippings, you name it.  Consolidate it all into the box.

Now rent a movie.

Yep you heard me, trust me it will make the process so much easier!  Okay now it’s time to get down to business.  While watching that movie start sorting the contents of that box.  All similar items go together. Bills, school papers, schedules, to read, to file, etc.  Depending on how much you’ve got it might take you a whole movie and it might not. Make sure you have a garbage bag beside you as well (or a shredder) and use it generously!

Consolidate and conquer!

Once you’ve got a handle on what you’ve got then you can go about finding storage solutions for it all.  This can easily be done in stages as well as you have the time.  And remember, there is no general consensus BEST way to do it.  I get that question all the time and I cringe because I really can’t tell you that because it’s different for everyone.  There are literally dozens of ways to organize any one thing and all are terrific for someone.  I can make suggestions but whatever works for you is the best way to do it and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise 🙂

So whether you utilize a filing cabinet, a desktop filing center, archive boxes or even some of my suggestions from last week, your ideal system will be one that is easily maintained by you.


image credit: shutterstock

This consolidate and conquer method can work for many things around your home.  Take a look right now and tell me if you see multiple piles of similar things.  Anything from craft supplies, magazines, school supplies, books, tools, projects in progress, whatever it is, take note of it and plan to conquer it this week!

What do you need to consolidate and conquer in your home (and for fun what movie are you going to watch while you do it)? 🙂

Please feel free to share your organizing journey and encourage one another in the comments. You are also invited to link up to the linky below with any posts related to your 52 weeks of organizing participation 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!

Filed under: 52 Weeks of Organizing, Organizing Basics


27 Responses to 52 Weeks: #11 Consolidate & Conquer

  1. 1
    Megan says

    Thanks for this awesome project. I’ve only been here three weeks and you should see the change around here!

    • 1.1
      Laura says

      That’s what I like to hear Megan!!

  2. 2
    Teri says

    I’ve been doing far too much consolidating and no culling. So this month I am in the dungeon that will soon be my hobby room going thru around 12 to 15 file boxes of “papers”. Scary huh? And that is not counting the many boxes of “things” I’ve been going thru too.

  3. 3
    [email protected] says

    I started doing this myself. Putting all my papers together then sorting through them. I’m now at the bottom of the piles but I am stuck with what to do with what’s left. But like you said, it never ends. I’ m really good at tossing things that I don’t need to keep when they come in but as for what I need to keep? that’s a bit harder! Working on it though. Keep inspiring me!

  4. 4
    MemeGRL says

    I’ve been waiting a week for this update…I’d…well…not quite fallen off the wagon, exactly, but really scaled back on the active organizing, working more on maintaining what I’d achieved already, tweaking and refining (does *this* item belong in the kitchen junk drawer? where else would I look for it) than big new projects…
    Until–ta-dah!–we got to the garage last week. Final tally:
    One large outdoor trash can full of trash
    One large plastic toy donated to the local tot lot
    Five items for the charity yard sale identified
    Two bags to the local family court with toys for the playroom
    One box of books to the local Head Start library (the toys and books were in there because my moms’ group does perpetual collection of these items until we have critical mass and then distribute…it was time to distribute!)
    Three bags to Goodwill
    Three large baby items (unexpired carseats, stroller, pack-n-play) to families who need them
    Three things mailed to intended recipients
    One lost library book returned
    And we recycled about 10 cardboard boxes.

    It was awesome. I twirled around our garage like Julie Andrews in the beginning of The Sound of Music.

    As to this week…collecting is the easy part for me. The conquering–not so much. Maybe I’ll work on that with other collections this weekend.

    Thanks for the inspirations!

    • 4.1
      Heidi says

      What a great post! Good work. And I totally feel the Julie Andrews moment! Love it.

    • 4.2
      Cherish says

      Love this post too! Great job – I love the feeling of an open, clutter-free space!

  5. 5
    Tracy O says

    I have that box and have gotten that far, although as I look around I think I need to get another box and have another go at all the piles! Finding the time to actually go through the box is another story…I know where everything is, but you should see the mess I make when I have to dig (or dump) that box to find something, yeah, not working! I love the movie idea…I have a bunch of Days of Our lives on the computer I want to catch up on…I am thinking next week is the time to eliminate the box!

    Thanks again for this series and the 52 week challenge!

  6. 6
    Mary Johanson says

    I’ve been doing this with my “put away” box I show in my link up today. All through the day a lot of stray papers that used to spread over the house are now all in the one basket. I just go through it once a day really quickly and have been so happy with the results. Still, I think I’m going to use inspiration from your post to consolidate my chdrens artwork and preschool papers. Thanks so much! I love your site!

  7. 7
    Toni Stevenson says

    Great tips, especially the movie part. It can be difficult to get organize and we dread it but bringing a movie into does help.

  8. 8
    Living the Balanced Life says

    Well, I have a family gathering at my house on Sunday, and I have let the kitchen table and desk disappear under piles of stuff while I busy finishing my ebook. Now the ebook is done, and with family coming, I have to clear these surfaces off! I am going to actually try to go thru, cull and organize istead of shoving in a box and putting it off!
    Eating for your sanity’s sake

  9. 9
    Cherish says

    Planning to do this tonight… I’m about to go through the house with an empty laundry basket, sit on the living room floor and sort sort sort (I’m lucky my husband and brother-in-law own a shredding company, so I don’t even have to do that)! Planning to rewatch some Private Practice on DVD with a big bowl of buttery popcorn. I’m surprisingly excited about it! ;o)

  10. 10
    Shannon says

    I love that paper was your example…because there are piles of paper scattered around our house. I’m hoping to get to some of them (and tame the laundry) this weekend…once again thank you for giving me a tool to keep myself motivated!

  11. 11
    Corrie says

    Thanks for the inspiration this week – it inspired me to tackle a project I’ve dreaded! My stacks of paper clutter are seemingly endless so I picked one and will sort through it Saturday night while we watch something… Likely Thomas the Tank Engine… So at least TroubleMaker (my son) will be busy!

  12. 12
    Lisa J says

    Thanks for the tips on the paper clutter. Sad thing is, i do go around my house and gather all paper items into grocery bags and then dump them in the office until i can’t find something. I do need to sit down with a movie and a shredder and go through my collections. I thinking for my movie “Letters to Juliet”. 😉 Time to tackle the paper clutter bags and the filing cabinet and get a system set up so that i have my to file, to shred, to keep. Looks like my project for the coming week. Thanks 🙂

  13. 13
    Becky L says

    This week I am going to downsize my coffee table. It’s a smaller project to work on right now as I’m limited on time these next few weeks. But I am working at maintaining work spaces, including my computer desk that always seems in a state of disaster!

  14. 14
    se7en says

    Hay, I think we may be winning – of course this may be part of the highs and lows of the chronic declutterer!!! But our major decluttering of rooms is actually done… Our surfaces are still clear and so much easier to keep clear because it is so nice to have them!!! So it is just little hot spots that need doing – and I am sure I have enough of those to keep us busy till the end of the year!!!

  15. 15
    Raven says

    I hope to eventually move a real filing system with folders and stuff, at least for the bills, but for now I’m using a couple of shelves with cheap white magazine holders. Each are labeled and contain, well, a pile (Bills, Kid1, Kid2, Kid3, Taxes, Warranties, etc). It’s neat but not organized “good enough” for me. However, it is “good enough” for now as it got everything in one place and now at least I just have to pull out the appropriate holder and go through it as opposed to a zillion piles of stuff like I was a few months ago.

    I have one tray above my desk for PileGroundZero to collect ‘(stuff from the mail, receipts, etc) just to keep my desk clear. . I also have 2 boxes where I keep all receipts and all coupons (seperately of course). Those get gone through frequently.

    I have a shoe storage unit from IKEA about 7 feet from my desk with 4 pull out compartments – one for each child and one for “the house”. I put all their returned school work, art work, report cards etc in each one. At the end of the school year we’ll go through them and save the important bits for their magazine file and toss the rest. I had to start keeping everything because some teachers were recording missing assignments, but they had come back to me complete and graded. It’s a really good idea to hold onto that stuff and doublecheck it. I use binder clips to sort by 6 weeks grading periods.

    My last and least efficient (but dang it, it’s pretty, I don’t want to let it go!) is a 3-file-hanging-sorter on the wall above my desk. It says “File”, “Bills”, and “Mail”. I’m trying to make it work though as Step 2 after “ground zero” – ie after the unimportant stuff and trash has been thrown away. The “bills” part has become useless though as we’re now paying bills the day they arrive and those goes straight into “File”. I guess I can just treat it as “PAID bills” in my head so they can go straight from there to the magazine holder when it’s full.

  16. 16
    specialist carpenters says

    What a challenging project. I do hope so that I could make this. Sometimes when I am in board I used to amuse by self by doing an organizational chart for me to get entertained.

  17. 17
    Shannon says

    Finally got around to blogging weeks 9, 10 and 11 🙂

  18. 18
    jonie says

    just wondering anyone has the hanging file index tab template to share? thanks.

  19. 19
    Jenni A. says

    This is my second week here. I cleared the kitchen counters last week and now I am planning to tackle the piles of school papers that need grading and filing. (I am a homeschool mom)I am gonna watch the Hallmark Hall of Fame Movie I recorded on Valentine’s Day and never had time to watch. LOL!


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