Barbara McDonell's Tips for Organizing and Saving Time

Barbara McDonell is a professional organizer based in British Columbia. The following tips have been reproduced, with permission, from her July Clutter Queen Newsletter.

5 Simple Secrets to Organizing

  1. Release what you don’t use or love. Label boxes as Recycle, Sell, Donate or Garbage. Pick up an item and make a decision about its future. Think you’ll need it “someday”? How many years has it been gathering dust? Let it go.
  2. Eliminate items from the room you’re uncluttering if they more logically belong elsewhere. For now, place those items in a box marked Move Elsewhere so you don’t disrupt the job.
  3. Sort like item with like—i.e., store all sports equipment, gardening tools or Christmas ornaments together. Use large plastic or rubber totes and label them well.
  4. Compartmentalize. Use boxes or containers as much as possible to keep similar things together and prevent them from roaming. Inexpensive Dollar Store boxes are excellent in kitchen/office/workshop/craft areas (even shoeboxes work well). For smaller items, utilize smaller boxes inside in order to keep things together like packaged soups, pasta or paper clips. Store elastic bands and twist ties in an empty spice bottle.
  5. Label storage boxes so you find items easily.

The average person spends 1 hour a day looking for stuff.

Tips to Save Time and Energy

  1. As soon as you’ve finished using something, put it back where it belongs.
  2. Designate a home where keys/glasses and wallets/purses live. The most practical spot might be near your entrance (just make sure the items are not visible to a stranger from outside), but also might be your kitchen counter or bedroom dresser. A small attractive box or basket is ideal.
  3. Have a 5-minute nightly tidy-up session with your kids before bedtime, putting toys/games into their cupboard or toy box homes. Or if your kids are grown, have a tidy-up session yourself!
  4. Keep a permanent Charity Box handy and make sure every family member is familiar with it. When the box is full, pop it into your car and actually take it to a donation site.
  5. If something is broken but you intend to fix it (or have it repaired by someone else), put it in a box for that purpose. Mark the date on it and if you don’t get around to fixing it, recycle or toss it or post it on