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Getting Organized (where to start!)

You guys!  I can’t thank you all enough for taking a minute to answer the questions I asked on my recent survey!  I have so enjoyed reading all of your responses.  Every single one of them!  If you haven’t taken the survey yet and are a regular reader here I’d love to hear from you!  You can find my survey here.

One question I asked on my survey was what you are all struggling with specifically when it comes to organizing.  WOW!  You all have given me enough blog content for three straight years!  Ha!  So many of the same things were repeated over and over and they are a lot of the same things I’ve struggled with too!  I’ll share some survey responses with you soon, but for today I wanted to quickly address a few words I heard over and over.

“I don’t know where to start!”

You guys!  I have been there so many times!  When we have a lot of clutter and spaces that are a mess we just don’t know where to even begin.  It’s overwhelming to say the least!  To get rid of this feeling, I do the same thing every January.  Time to make a plan of attack!  It helps me so much with that overwhelmed feeling of “where do I start!?”  If you feel overwhelmed by everything you want/need to organize this year and don’t know where to begin do this:

Grab a notepad and a pen and take a walk through your house.  Write down every single space that needs to be organized.  I know.. this might be a LONG list. :)  Be as specific as you can!  Break each room down.  After I’ve done this I take my messy hand written notes and type them so they are easier to read.  This is an example of what my “to-organize” list looked like a couple of years ago:

– pantry (snack drawer, lunch making station)
– drawers the kids can access
– silverware drawer
– junk drawers
– dish cupboards
– cooking utensil drawer

–  toy closet
– pullout drawers
– create a better system for DVD’s

– space/system for scrapbooking
– gift wrapping station
– kids’ cupboard
– homework system
– organize files
– organize kids’ school work
– organize greeting cards
– place to store camera equipment
– small office supplies
– organize magazines and kids’ workbooks

– bin for too small clothes
– make things more accessible for them
– books/toys out
– bins/baskets for extras

– hair bows/headbands
– drawers
– bath toys

One year I broke my rooms/spaces down by month so that I had a deadline!  Here is an example of what that list might look like:


-Holiday decorations/ski clothes-Donate old toys and organize playroom closet and pull-out drawers (labels)


– Under stair closet (organize cleaning supplies)

– Luggage closet

– 3 Mudroom lockers/drawers by bench


– pantry (finish w/ labels)

– butler’s pantry drawers/cupboards

– garbage sack drawer

– medicine cupboard

– plates/cups/bowls

– junk drawers

– baking sheet cupboard


– pull out drawers

– scrapbook supplies

– kids’ projects/work-in-progress

– upper cupboards

– FILES (my papers/kids’ papers/magazine inspiration)

– desk drawers

– greeting cards


– organize outdoor/pool toys


– batteries/flashlights

– church stuff


– organize built-in bookshelf cupboards


– go through all 3 closets (donate old clothes/organize)

– girls’ nightstands/desk drawers/bookshelves

– bathroom drawers

– girls’ linen cabinet


– donate old clothes/organize hanging clothes

– cupboards and drawers in closet and bathroom

– organize jewelry


– organize towels/sheets/blankets


– purge!


– ENJOY a clean, organized house decked for Christmas.  :)

This year I’ve made my annual “to-organize list” and instead of giving certain spaces a month, I just numbered them in the order I want to organize them.  Here is a short example of what this looks like:

1 – Attic: Christmas decorations

2 – Girls’ Bathroom: Drawers/linen closet

3 – Playroom: Toy shelf/drawers

4 – Kitchen: Spices

5 – Office: Pull out drawers/Kole’s workbooks/file folders

This isn’t my whole list, but I am encouraged by the fact that my list is finally a lot shorter this year.  Plus a lot of the spaces I listed I’ve already organized and they just need a touch-up.  (#progress)  Definitely include those spaces that just need a touch-up on your list too!

If you aren’t sure how to number your list, think about your life right now and what space is driving you CRAZY.  What is the space that is a constant eye sore or continues to slow you down because it isn’t organized effectively?  That space should be your Number 1!  Number 2 is the space that is a close second when it comes to driving you crazy.  And so on.  Maybe we should re-name this list the “driving me crazy” list. ;)

Making this list is important for several reasons.  First, it gets the jumbled, overwhelming swirl of to-do’s out of your head and on paper.  Whew!  You can breathe now right?  Second, it gives you a clear plan.  Now you don’t have to ask “where do I start!?”  You start with the first space on your list!  If you’ve broken each room down into smaller projects you can start with something easy and small like one kitchen drawer.  When you finish that drawer, check it off of your list!  It will give you such a good feeling and motivate you to tackle more spaces.  Have you all seen the movie “What About Bob?”  One of my favorites that we just showed our girls a couple of weeks ago.  It keeps coming to mind.. BABY STEPS!  We can do this. ;)

I know if you’ve been reading my blog for years you’ve heard this before, but I can’t tell you enough how much this process helps me every year.  If you’re overwhelmed with where to start, try it!  Then we can tackle our lists together this year.

I’ll be back soon with one space I’m happy to have checked off of my 2017 “to organize list.”


xoxo, Erin
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16 thoughts on “Getting Organized (where to start!)

  1. Thanks so much, Erin! I have to get over the hump of being overwhelmed when I get the list going. I end up doing a lot of yes, this needs doing, but before that, this needs to be done. It’s a lot of “but firsts” and that begins to completely overwhelm me to the point of saying why bother and feeling paralyzed. ! I need to get over that. This brain dump is certainly worth a shot and if you’ve been there and gotten through it, I can, too……..right???? Hugs!!

    1. YES Jeanne! You can do it! I have that same problem! I often feel like I can’t do anything before my kitchen is clean. But the kitchen ALWAYS needs to be clean.. ha! So I have to get over that too and prioritize. We’ll tackle our lists together! :) xo

  2. Great tips, Erin! Makes me excited to tackle all the organizing projects I want to accomplish…is that sick? LOL! Thanks for always being so relatable, inspirational and sweet! xxoo

    1. Ha ha.. you know that’s exactly how I feel too Pam! We’ll be giddy tackling our lists together. ;) Thank YOU for being so sweet! xo

  3. Its as if you were writing directly to me!!! Thanks for taking the time to share all your tips with us.
    Can’t wait to see what you will be sharing with us this year!

  4. Love these ideas!!! I live alone and my kids are grown, although my youngest (24) comes by every day once or three or four times sometimes. Dad walked out after we were married for 21 years. Still hurts sometimes even though we split almost 10 years ago. Oldest is married and they come to visit the first weekend of Feb. Eeeek! I better get ready and start these lists.

    Even though it’s just me and Rascal (my furbaby) I still let things get out of control, especially now that I work full time again. Trying to work full time and run my baking business on the side leaves me exhausted and my house pays the price. I can say the yard, front and back looks beautiful as i make sure I mow and keep everything trimmed first before the inside of the house. From the outside you would think someone organized must live inside the door. HA!!!

    Sorry for the LONG post again, I’m going to start working on the list and try each day to give a little time to it when I come home from work. Even if it’s 15 minutes I will do it.

    Love you beautiful and thanks for the great ideas!!!!

    1. Debora I loved your long comment! It helped me get to know you a bit more. :) I’m so sorry to hear that about kids’dad, but I’m so happy you have sweet kids who come by to see you often and visit. Having something like that coming up (a visit from family) is great motivation to get organized, isn’t it? I’m so impressed you run a baking business on the side of working full time! You are amazing! Wish I could come and organize for you while you do some baking for me. Ha! Win for both of us. ;) Thank you Debora! Good luck with your list! I’m working on mine too. We’ll tackle them together. :) xo

  5. Hi! We moved into our new house, and I am unpacking boxes. My world needs organization so I’m going to make my list, room by room, today. Thanks for the motivation, Erin!

  6. Hi! I hopped over here from 11 Magnolia Lane — beautiful home!!! Your office/playroom made me get up and show my husband the color — so far we have tried three different colors in our 1/2-bath downstairs and none have worked. . .that one was great! Unfortunately, he didn’t like the green-ish tint to it BUT it got him thinking about putting color on the wall (instead of a neutral like we had been trying) so that was something. I got three samples at Home Depot today :) I would go with wallpaper but for this decade, at least, that is banned. Yours in your powder room is gorgeous. It would be love at first sight for me too. What a beautiful, beautiful space you have. Can’t wait to get to know you better through this blog. Looks like I have a lot to learn from Sunny Side Up!

    1. What a sweet comment Jenni! Thank you! I’m so happy my post helped push your husband in the right direction with paint.. ha! Exciting! So nice to “meet” you! :) xo

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