Home » Organization Basics: Where to Start

Organization Basics: Where to Start

Organization BasicsIf you’re looking to get organized, today’s post is for you, and we’re going to start the series with today’s post about Organization Basics. Sometimes when one is looking to get organized, it’s difficult to know where to start. I think the best place to start is defining your organization roadblocks. An unorganized home, office or life could be attributed to one or more of a few different problems, such as:



-there’s too much stuff in your space

-the things in your home/office don’t have a space

-there’s not a routine for keeping stuff in its space

The first step to organization is to determine which of these organization problems applies to you and your situation.  One, two or all three of the organization challenges listed above could apply to your situation, but until you sit down and determine which of these issues apply, you won’t be able to properly put the measures in place to fix those issues.

In The Frugal Farmer home, on some level, all three issues apply.  Luckily for me, the PF blogging world has been abounding lately with posts on organization, so I’ve gleaned lots of wisdom from wise PF blogging friends.

Go through everything, room by room, and give away, sell or throw away what you don’t need.  If you haven’t used it in a certain amount of time, if it’s broken, no longer fits, or whatever, get rid of it.

Get rid of duplicate items.  Do you really need 10 serving spoons and 7 pairs of black dress socks?

Dump the paper.  Create a file system for statements and other papers that you need to keep, and get rid of all of those printed out recipes by adding them to your hand-written recipe book:

Another organization problem could be that the things in your home don’t have a space.  One of the most valuable organization lessons I learned from this book: Organizing from the Inside Out, Second Edition: The Foolproof System For Organizing Your Home, Your Office and Your Life is to put things in the place where it makes the most sense for your lifestyle. 

For instance, if you like to pay the bills at the kitchen table, create a place in the kitchen for your bill paying supplies.  Don’t put them in the office where you have to drag them to the kitchen every time you pay bills.   Start taking account of where things can have a place in your home or office that makes sense for your style of using those things, even if it doesn’t make sense for somebody else.  In Fruclassity world, this goes along with Commandment #4: Don’t Worry About What Others Think.  Your style of organizing your home and office has to include doing what works best for you or it simply won’t work.

A third organization problem could be that you have a place for everything, but that your stuff just doesn’t ever seem to make it to its proper place.  If that’s your obstacle, you need a plan for making sure everything gets in its proper place.

Our friend Liz, from Budgeting for More, gives a great tip for solving this problem with her recent post entitled How to Keep a Clean House.  Liz’s simple yet effective tip can go a long way in helping to solve this particular organization challenge.

So, my organizationally challenged friends, if you’re looking to get more “organized” into your life, you can start here.  For our next post, we’ll share specific tips on how to handle these three organizing problems and much, much more.  🙂 Until then, keep safe, and get organized. 😉

Does your home suffer from any of these three organization problems?  What are your tips for solving these three organization problems?

*this post contains affiliate links



  1. Good tips Laurie! We’re definitely struggling with #1 & #3 in our house. We have a #4 as well…not taking the time to change it. 🙂 We’re working on getting rid of the stuff…err…crap that is causing us issues with #1, though it can be a bit overwhelming so we’re working on going room to room to give us small victories.

    • Laurie says:

      That’s very similar to what we’re doing, John. I figure if we can take care of one space at a time, eventually we’ll get there. 😉

  2. Kara says:

    Love the tips! I’m in Kay’s challenge as well 🙂 I find it’s super important for to always put things back in their place. Otherwise before I know it, it’s out of control again!

  3. Iforonwy says:

    Do you think I deserve a cheer??? This week I thought a lot about your up-coming challenge and jumped right in.

    On Monday afternoon, very rainy so had time indoors, I took ALL the books off the bookcases in the hallway and sorted and dusted them. Then I filled a large box with books to go the the charity shop, a bag of gardening and bridge playing related books to go to a neighbour and her partner who run gardening and bridge clubs. The library books now have their own space and will not mean an APB looking for them when they need to go back to the library.

    Then I telephoned a lady who advertises in our local freepaper for items for her to sell on at car-boot sales. We have dealt with her before and so she arranged to call around today. I had emptied and tidied the 2 largest cupboards in the kitchen and this afternoon she took away 4 large boxes (the flat ones that fruit comes in to the supermarkets). I just wanted rid of the stuff and so all I got money wise was £5 but I’m happy.

    Now I am exhausted so I am off to brew a cuppa!Watch out wardrobes (closets to you that side of the pond) here I come…………….!!

    • Laurie says:

      Amazing, Iforonwy!!!!! You are an inspiration. 🙂 We’re moving forward on things, but not to that super awesome degree. Time for me to step it up. You definitely earned that cuppa this week. 🙂

      • Iforonwy says:

        Thanks for that Laurie.

        I really do need to tackle the clothes around here though.

        I did also add some good but slightly worn bedding to the box of books that went to the charity shop. This weekend I hope to list some evening wear on e-bay ready for the festive season.

        • Laurie says:

          Good idea! We put a lot of stuff in the throw away/give away piles yesterday. If we can keep on being motivated to do more until we’re finished, I’ll be a happy camper. 🙂

  4. We suffer from the ‘getting stuff out but not putting it back in the designated space’. Ugh! The kitchen counter gets out of control quickly. I make piles for each family member to put away. Wouldn’t it be so much easier to put that empty can in the recycle basket under the sink than to leave it on the counter for someone else to take care of?! Lol!

    • Laurie says:

      LOL, yes, a far-fetched dream, but a worthy one, nonetheless. 🙂 With us, it’s dishes. We never seem to get the dishwasher emptied in time to put the dishes right in after the next meal. 🙂

  5. Not too long ago I did a huge paper dump since they were doing a mash shredding in my neighborhood. Let me tell you how awesome that felt. Now that I rolled over my old 401k I can’t wait to go through and get rid of all that old 401k paperwork next!

  6. Fortunately when we moved we got rid of a lot of things that we either didn’t use or that we didn’t need (had duplicates). There’s probably a lot more we can get rid of though. As for paper stuff…mainly financial stuff that sometimes I’m unsure about throwing away, I think I can move to a more paperless system by scanning them into the computer so I’ll have it just in case but it won’t take up a lot of space.

    • Laurie says:

      Moving is always awesome that way, isn’t it? Smart idea about the paperless system. We’ve switched a lot of our bills to paperless statements, and I sure don’t miss the paperwork. 🙂

  7. When we lived in a previous apartment, we definitely suffered from not having the appropriate space for what we needed. It’s one of the many things I love about my home now. Having a place for everything helps you keep yourself organized so much easier. Before we used to have piles of everything all over the place and in closets. Now we can easily organize and find what we need again.

  8. I am definitely guilty of all 3. I think my biggest problem is I don’t pick up after myself, so to speak. If I did a better job of tidying up every day, it would be so much better. And I have a lot of clutter that I just need to go through too, especially my closets. Those are getting ugly! Thanks for the tips!

    • Laurie says:

      I went through my closet this week and although there wasn’t a ton to get rid of, it felt good to get rid of what I did. Now onto other spaces. 🙂

  9. Michelle says:

    When I was a teacher, I was much more organized at school then I ever was at home. Now that I am working from home, I am trying to dedicate some time everyday to just organize.

  10. Liz says:

    Thanks for the mention Laurie! Just reading this motivates me to clean and organize. I think every closet in our house is in need of a good cleaning.

  11. These are great ideas! During the Thanksgiving holiday I plan on re-organizing all my paperwork. I get so many papers (still) and need to toss, and organize them. I did recently purge some books and CDs to make some money too! I think decluttering is so great financially and emotionally.

    • Laurie says:

      We’re pretty good at the duplicate thing, although that bit me in the rear one time when someone wanted another serving spoon to use at a gathering and we didn’t have another one. She looked at me as if I had two heads and as if everyone should have sixteen serving spoons. 🙂

  12. Great tips! I’m an organization fiend. I love it with all my frugal heart. I’m kind of failing right now though because the basement is getting unruly due to kitchen overflow–we need a better system for storing kitchen implements that we use on a weekly, but not daily, basis. But, I’m a huge fan of optimizing space and having a mostly uncluttered look going on. I just need to spend a day sorting out the basement storage situation!

    • Laurie says:

      I love our china hutch for those rarely used kitchen implements. They’re out of the way but still within reach. Mrs. FW, you are an inspiration to all of us with your frugal and tidy ways. Thank you. 🙂

  13. Alexis says:

    I love doing organizational cleaning and de-cluttering during winter and spring time. I find it to be the most motivational of times because it is the start of the season and I get a lot done bi-yearly.

    • Laurie says:

      I agree, Alexis! There is something about the change in seasons that breeds organization temptations, isn’t there! Thanks for the comment! 🙂

  14. KIm says:

    I think it helps to do a little at a time. I get overwhelmed if I try to think about the whole house at once. I think we keep the most important things organized pretty well. It’s the stuff we don’t use all the time that gets cluttered up and shoved in the back of the closet.

  15. Cool tip about putting things in the spot where they’re needed. I think I want to keep some basic tools in the house, rather in the detached garage. Every time I need a screwdriver, I have to go outside…

    • Ha – I have this exact same problem, and literally 5 minutes ago just went out to get the screwdriver to replace some batteries in one of my daughters toys! Problem is, I moved it inside a while back, then when I didn’t use it for a while I couldn’t remember where is was – because surely it should be in the garage!

      In general I love to clean things out and simplify, but still struggle a little with getting rid of clothes. I wear about 5 or 6 things 95% of the time, but I keep much of the rest, rationalising by saying ‘I might wear that gardening, or painting, or if I need to crawl around in the attic, or….’. But really, one or two extra items would do the job, and worst case – throw it all out, and go buy a $1 T-shirt if I desperately need it one day!

      • Laurie says:

        Oh my gosh, Jason! That is SO my husband!!! He just won’t get rid of those other clothes, though! I guess there are worse faults he could have, though, so we’ll let him have this one. 🙂

  16. Steve says:

    When we finally got a cabinet up and running, it changed everything in terms of all the important documents and papers sitting around the home. I can’t recommend enough getting a cabinet to organize all important documents and papers!

    • Laurie says:

      Smart idea, Steve! We have a nice file box that works perfectly for storing official paperwork. Now I just have to get a plan for the kids’ stuff. We’re using large three ring binders with plastic sheeting, I think.

  17. Petrish @ Debt Free Martini says:

    Awesome tips. Organization has never been one of my close friends and I wish it was different. For the past two months I have started purging slowly everything that is toxic in my life including my emotions and thoughts. Keep the good advice coming.

    Great Post.

  18. Items #2 and #3 are my problems – both at home and at work. First, I’ll have to figure out a place for everything. I kind of cringe because this might involve buying things to put things in, and that goes against my debt-reduction goals. Hmmmm…. Hard to balance out competing goals!

    • Laurie says:

      LOL, yeah, I hear you there. We are working to make sure that if we buy any organization tools that they are a wise and valuable tool that makes a lot of sense for our home. At least we’re trying to do that. It’s difficult sometimes to walk through the organization sections of the store and not come out with hundreds of dollars in cute storage containers. 🙂

Comments are closed.