Every January we’re deluged with articles, posts, and interviews about how we all need to get organized.

Magazines and blogs feature photos of sparse, tidied closets and pantries like none of us own. Pinterest boards swell with ingenious ways to hide cables, hang scarves, store coupons, and label jars.

Enough already.

What we really need is a way to get organized about getting organized. Sounds complicated, but what I’m really saying is, “Let’s step back and look at the big picture.”  

There are only two reasons to organize your home:
  • Save time
  • Save space 
Both of which are important to people with a home on the market.

I’m almost embarrassed to admit that everything I learned about getting and staying organized I learned from a little paperback book that somehow fell into my hands years ago. Let’s just say that the name I wrote on the inside cover of this book was my name before I married Mr. Lucky, and we've been married almost 22 years. 

In a nutshell, Simply Organized, my bible for organization, stresses that getting organized is a two-step process:
  • Simplify
  • Systematize
We all know about methods to sort through our belongings and declutter our spaces. My home staging eBook gives you all the tips you need to do it effectively and efficiently.

The beauty of what Simply Organized recommends is – not surprisingly – its simplicity. It’s an idea you don’t see in all the colorful ads for clothes hangers, storage containers, labeling systems, and shelving units, but it has made all the difference to me in the way I look at organization.

The advice in this book has helped me stay on top of things, minimize frustration, save time, feel in control, and make routines that are easy to turn into habits. Isn’t that what we all want and need?

Being organized means you have the supplies and tools 
you need for an oft-repeated routine all in 
one place. When it's time for tea, I'm ready.    

In a nutshell, to systematize you need to think in terms of categories. You probably already have systems in place for some routines like setting the table, packing lunches, cleaning the car, and styling your hair. Ask yourself if these "kits" are complete and if they easy to get to and easy to put away again.

It's more important to locate your systems where they are easy to put away than it is to locate them where they are easy to get to. Think about it: when you are looking for your hot glue sticks, you're motivated to find them fast, but not so motivated to put them back where they belong.

Making stuff easy to return to your system makes it easy to stay organized. After all, what good is getting organized if you can't stay organized?

What makes this book special?

After reading Simply Organized, I started making systems for repetitive tasks. Over the years, my responsibilities and interests have evolved, but I haven't forgotten what I took from that book. I'm not by nature a compulsively organized individual, but I'm always looking for easy ways to be tidy and efficient.

These are some of the systems I set up and use regularly:
My picnic kit-in-a-shoebox sits in 
our coat closet.I can grab it, 
pack cold food in a cooler, 
and we are ready to go. 

A baking system that isolates all the ingredients I need for making bread, cakes, and cookies -- flours, cocoa powder, buttermilk powder, leavenings, extracts, sifter, measuring cups, mixing bowls. 

A sewing system that gathers all my fabrics, supplies, and equipment on one side of my studio. My jewelry making supplies live in a dresser against another wall.  

An exercise system that clusters in one corner of my bedroom everything (except workout wear) to help me keep fit and motivated, including my scale, journal, hand weights, yoga mat, and treadmill. 

A gift wrapping system that consolidates paper, ribbon, tape, tags and gift bags in one bin that fits in a closet.

A first aid system that holds most of what anyone needs for cuts, burns, splinters, and sprains. Another plastic shoe box holds remedies for aches, pains, cold and flu. 

A pet care system with all Misty needs in the way of medications and grooming essentials.

A mail system that makes dealing with the mail effortless. In addition I have a separate mailing system in a dresser drawer where I store bubble wrap, padded envelopes, a scale, marking pen, and packaging tape.

I've also built systems for flower arranging, shoe care, seed starting, bathroom cleaning, picture hanging, stain removal, and…well, you get the idea. Logical essentials grouped together that have a logical place to live.

If you keep party supplies all together, impromptu birthday 
celebrations are easy. If my home were on the market, 
I would use a covered box for a clean look.   

Some things are timeless 

The interesting thing is that Simply Organized was written in 1986, and you know what that means: pre-computer! Today we all have our favorite systems for record-keeping, but the book is still a valuable source of concise advice and encouragement for household management of the bulkier things – the cookware, food, clothing, sports equipment, toiletries, crafts, toys, tools, and the rest of it.

Although their focus is slightly outdated, the authors, Connie Cox and Chris  Evatt, will still help you get a grip on the stuff you need to either eliminate or organize when it’s time to sell your home. That’s why I’m telling you about it. I don't make money if you buy a copy. I just want you to stage and sell your home. (Update: I see that the book is available only second hand through Amazon.)   

I once read that a major indicator of intelligence is the ability to see the similarities and differences in a group of items. Think of those tests you took at various stages of your education, starting with Sesame Street, when you were asked to find “which of these things is not like the others.” So, yes, it takes intelligence to establish systems, but simplifying your life will make you work smarter and live smarter.