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My Top 10 Organizing Tips: part one

Today I’m going to review my top 5 organizing tips. Next week, I’ll review the final 5 tips so that at the end of two weeks you’ll have my all-time favorite tips!

Have nothing in your home that you do not believe to be beautiful, use or love

This is my paraphrasing of a quote from William Morris – a late 19th century English craftsman and poet. The actual quote goes like this; “Have nothing in your house that you do not use or believe to be beautiful.” This quote is around everywhere! Recently, I have seen William Morris quoted by Gretchen Rubin in her book Outer Order Inner Calm and in Kate Varness’ book: Who Am I Now?  

 I added ‘love’ to my rendition of this quote. I think there are some things we may keep that are neither useful nor beautiful but that we love – for whatever reason. I have a few trinkets that my sons made me that I love and will keep forever but they are not useful or beautiful.

Clutter is anything without a home.

There are 4 different kinds of clutter: physical, paper, digital, and mental.

We all know what physical clutter is. Can you relate? Stuff that is not put away because we don’t know where to put it is clutter. Decide what to do with the stuff. Maybe it’s lurking around because you don’t need it!

Paper clutter:

paper can be put away in a file or a file drawer. If you don’t reference it then it’s taking up valuable real estate in your file cabinet and is clutter. Did you know that we never look at 80% of the paper we keep? Are there papers you can either recycle or shred in your file drawers?

Digital clutter:

Digital clutter is all those emails that are hanging out in your email inbox. And, the digital files that you no longer reference; similar to paper clutter and paper files. There are things you simply do not need to keep. The difference with digital clutter is that because you don’t see the bulk of it, it’s even easier to ignore.

Mental Clutter:

Mental clutter is all the things swirling around in your brain that you are working hard to remember. Things like the errands you want to do this week, projects you want to start, a trip you want to take some time in the future. I think you get the idea. Take these thoughts off your mind by writing them down.

The floor is not an option.

I first read this in one of Sheila McCurdy’s organizing books. I thought how smart! Of course, the floor is not a storage place, yet people drop things and leave them laying on the floor. Not an option! Find a place to put the thing you just want to drop on the floor.

Don’t put it down, put it away:

When you take something out to use it, put it back when you are finished with it. This way your belongings go back to where they live and you will know where to look for them next time you want that object, clothing or whatever.

Later and Someday are not times and days:

Quite often I hear people say: ‘I’ll file this later’ or ‘Someday, I want to read this book – that’s why I’m keeping it’. Later is not a time and Someday is not a day of the week. If you want to put something off to another day or time schedule it in your calendar.

These are favorite sayings of mine. They are the ones that clients tell me work the best for them and that they can repeat in their minds – like a mantra.

Which one of these is your favorite? Do you like them all? Maybe none of these particularly resonates with you. If that’s the case, wait for part two. Coming in a couple of weeks!

Diane N. Quintana is a Certified Professional Organizer, Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization, ICD Master Trainer and owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC based in Atlanta, Georgia. Diane teaches busy people how to become organized and provides them with strategies and solutions for maintaining order in their lives. She specializes in residential and home-office organizing and in working with people challenged by ADD, Hoarding, and Chronic Disorganization.


  • What excellent organizing tenants, Diane! In addition to the mental clutter that revolves around tasks, projects, and errands, it can also include negative self-talk. That can be trickier to counteract, but things such as writing in a journal, meditating, or focusing on positive thoughts can help. The “floor is not an option,” made me smile. Sometimes it’s a matter of being more mindful when we get ready to put something down. We might not be thinking about the “where.” Slowing down and being more intentional can help in addition to establishing specific homes or resting spots for our things. It made me think of the word “floordrobe,” defined as “an untidy heap of discarded clothing left on the floor of a room.

    I am looking forward to reading your next five tips!

    • Diane Quintana says:

      Thank you! Your point about negative self-talk is well taken. I make a point of journaling daily as it helps me remember all the lovely little things that happen each day.

  • I love all these, but “The floor is not an option” is my favorite. I have used several as mantra’s for different clients. They use them as guides to making decisions. Looking forward to reading your next post.

  • Seana Turner says:

    Wow, I love all of these Diane! I’m smiling about “The floor is not an option.” I was just talking with a client getting ready to list her home and was talking about how important it is to have clear floors, even the floors of closets (if possible). I also love you definition of clutter… anything without a home. That’s powerful!

  • These are wonderful tips! I say “Someday is not a day of the week” very often! I like how you break down clutter into 4 types. I think a big part of mental clutter is a cluttered schedule, that can be really overwhelming.