When You Don’t Know Where to Start

When you don't know where to start with getting your house and life organized

Ahh the first week of December, is anyone feeling it?  The crunch, the pinch, the deadlines, oh my.  The other night I was feeling a little frazzled as I tend to get when things get a little chaotic.  I know some who thrive on chaos, I am not one of them.  I literally shut down.  So knowing this I tend to avoid chaos wherever possible.  It’s why I choose to maintain an organized home, have my kids participate with chores, limit outside activities among many more things I do to save my sanity and ultimately keep the peace in my family.  It works for me.

However at this time of the year, there just ends up being more things that need tending to above and beyond the norm and more activities and places to go.  No matter how much you scale back during the season there will still be extra stuff requiring our attention in what is often a busy schedule to begin with.

The biggest signs for me that I’m letting the chaos get the better of me comes in one of two forms.  One is that I stop doing anything at all.  I find myself watching more TV just to zone out and not think about it which as a result leads to more stress and things piling up around me.  Or I may find myself discombobulated doing a whole pile of things half way but with nothing getting fully accomplished.  Either way chaos rules the roost.

That’s when I stop and ask myself:

“What is frustrating me the most in all this chaos and how can I spend the next 15 minutes making it better?”

When I really thought about it, the one space that was making me crazy and affecting so many other areas was my office.  My office is the catchall to everything in this house.  As I shopped and bought Christmas presents I would throw them in, as product reviews would come in I’d throw them in, Christmas card supplies piled up, gifts to be mailed took over the floor.  It got to the point that everything was a big jumbled mess overlapping with one another and I couldn’t tell one project from another.  This is what was making me crazy the most.  Not the fact that there were multiple projects needing to be done, but just that their was no organization to any of it.  It’s a small space as you can see here and it really is the hub of my home.

Too much chaos though leads to lack of focus and organization.  Lack of focus leads to a scattered inability to function.  Have you been there?  I’m pretty sure it happens to all of us in some way or another. Scattered and unfocused organizing is not the way to go.

So I committed 15 minutes of undivided attention to my office space.  Doesn’t sound like a lot of time and all the projects I had on the go wouldn’t be accomplished in that amount of time for sure however what I could do was make some sense of it all in that time frame.

So I just started.

In 15 minutes I’d consolidated and combined projects.  I put together a Christmas card basket, all gifts to be mailed when into boxes, I created a bigger home for all the upcoming product reviews and giveaways.  I cleared my desk of paper which drives me batty most of all.  It’s amazing what can be done in a short amount of time.  And by then I was into it.  As what almost always happens when I choose to just start, I got on a roll.

The success of what I’d accomplished in a short amount of time is what motivated me to continue.

And then when I had the chaos under control, I felt my breath return as the weight lifted from my shoulders.  I LOVE that feeling.  It makes me high with delight! 🙂

But sometimes we forget how great it feels or the mess and chaos become more than we think we can manage or bear and we lose focus.  We become scattered and overwhelmed.

Just get started.

For you it may be a cluttered kitchen counter, a calendar without it’s dates and appointments, projects on the go, decorations half done, boxes everywhere, laundry piling up.   Drill it down and pinpoint one area that bothers you the most, start there.

For 15 minutes.



I’d love to hear what you accomplished!

For further step by step guidance on organizing any space, follow my PROCESS steps.

Filed under: Organizing Basics


21 Responses to When You Don’t Know Where to Start

  1. 1
    Talia says

    I was actually just rewarding myself for working on organizing things when I read your post.. I felt overwhelmed by dishes on the counter, my daughter’s preschool papers on the buffet table, her toys on the floor, and my desk having piles everywhere. I started simply by putting dishes in the dishwasher. Then I picked up the toys, sorted the papers on my desk (trash or to be dealt with), and picked up the toys. It’s amazing how just 15-20 minutes can make a big difference. Now I actually feel like I can tackle the to-do pile and enjoy sitting on the floor with my kiddo.

    • 1.1
      Laura says

      So awesome!! Way to go!!

  2. 2
    Melanie Wilson says

    How true! That’s what I’ve been finding lately too. I just gathered up my kids and we started cleaning ten minutes a floor. We got more done in 30 minutes than we have in months. I plan to share this excellent post. Thanks so much.

    • 3.1
      Laura says

      Yes I remember that! Blessings to you as well!

  3. 4
    Angela Prince says

    My dishwasher is broke and we are waiting for the part to fix it arrive. The kitchen sink was full but I got it done 🙂

    • 4.1
      Laura says

      Wonderful, way to go!!

  4. 5
    Kim @ Homesteader's Heart says

    It’s like you walked into my house and then tip toed around in my brain and wrote this blog post. I’m not even kidding. I was so at the end of my rope today. I felt so cluttered in my thinking and then I took a look at my office and realized IT was the culprit. It’s getting it done tomorrow morning. Can you come hold me accountable? LOL! I’ll make coffee?
    Have a wonderful night!

  5. 6
    Jill Robson says

    Laura you and i must have been on the same wavelength today. I was just thinking about how i would explain to others what i do when i feel overwhelmed.
    We schedule our family along the same lines as yours,so when holiday season rolls around i have to get used to working outside my comfort zone.I take a deep breath and pick just ONE thing to complete, start to finish, it’s amazing how just that one completed task makes me able to cope witht the rest. Great post!

  6. 7
    Tracy @ usingtimewisely.com says

    My go-to solution is a legal pad. With so many projects going, I just need to clear my head, so I write everything down. With the list in hand, I start with my nemesis. Whatever is bothering me the most gets done first. If it all bothers me, then I start with task that requires the most energy. As I get going, I will get tired, so I want the biggest task completed. Great post, Laura! Keep on making progress.

  7. 8
    Kathryn says

    Love this, it’s amazing what you can achieve in a short space of time and the satisfaction is always worth it. I ALWAYS feel better once I’ve had a good sort out!

  8. 9
    Sharon says

    What a great reminder! You can do anything for 15 minutes. I’m off with timer in hand to tackle the pile of clean clothes mounded on the chair in the master bedroom……ready…..set……go!!!

  9. 10
    Elizabeth says

    I thought you were much more “born organized” than that!LOL! I am always sidetracked and 15 minutes has helped me stay focused. You are so right it is amazing what you can do in 15 minutes!
    My major thing this year was having too much clutter in my storage area where the Christmas decorations are kept! I had WAY too many boxes and bins of stuff that has not been used in the past 2,3 or even 4 Christmases…So, I started purging away and before long, I had a nice box full of décor and Christmas items to be hauled off to a thrift store in my hometown. I said to myself..”.LOVE IT? Keep it”, otherwise into the give-away bin it went! I had at least 3 bins “half-full of stuff” and paired it all down to just 1 bin, so I donated the bin with the décor clear to the top!
    I even took it today and they were so excited for the Christmas items! I was glad and I felt the Christmas spirit!!!! Now I can do my indoor decorating with the stuff I love!
    Yesterday I had cleaned out space in my closet for new clothes I had purchased for the Holiday. I couldn’t believe how much I had to give away!! It was so freeing! My closet is holding my new outfits and I can just grab them for the holiday outings that are planned! My closet isn’t perfect, but with just the little I did, my shelves look so much better and I know where stuff is!
    Thanks for your encouragement and ideas!!

  10. 11
    Amanda says

    Going. Right now. Thanks for the motivation!

  11. 12
    Angel says

    I needed to clean out my milk crate teacher guide book section for homeschooling and my end table with magazine rack under it(they are right next to each other so it was making the whole area look terrible). Both things were full of items that didn’t belong but I had been putting off cleaning it out. 15 minutes later for each item and I can look over to the space and smile. It is amazing how little 15 minutes actually is but how much better an area can look just focusing on it. Now onto a kitchen counter section that has become a “catch all” over the last month.

  12. 13
    Jackie says

    This is exactly how I am, so fantastic advice for me. Especially since it makes it seem like a possibility that I might be able to get on top of this. Thanks!!

  13. 14
    Penny says

    I had no idea where to start, so I decided 1 room at a time. Took an empty box and just loaded it with all the stuff that did not belong there and dumped the box in the guest room/office. I have worked through 3 rooms so far and have 2 more to go. Next weekend is just for the guest room, so armed with trash bags and boxes, I will be conquering all the clutter and crap that we collected.

  14. 15
    Lee says

    I need all the help I can get to organize


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