• December 16, 2008

Desperately Seeking Organization

Organization expert Dawn Sutterby teaches me how to conquer my addiction to clutter

Interviews, Organization

organization1912 Bungalow’s shamefully cluttered home office

To say that the organization gene doesn’t run in my family is too kind. I come from a long line of hoarders and pack rats. I have never stumbled upon a pile of papers, stack of books, or box of magazines that I didn’t want to keep, just in case.

The first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem. With this in mind, I contacted organization expert Dawn Sutterby to help cure my clutter addiction.

1912 Bungalow: Everyone wants an organized home. Why don’t we all have one?

Dawn Sutterby: I believe organization is a habit we either take on or discard, early in life. As a child, I loved helping my Mom keep the house clean and organized. Oh, to fold those soft, warm towels or to dust the precious knick-knacks in the living room. Both chores completely lost their luster when Mom yelled at me for folding towels the ‘wrong’ way. Did you know you could dust the ‘wrong’ way too? You can, and I did. This childhood disillusionment can lead to a life of clutter.

As an adult, one of the biggest obstacles to having an organized home is feeling too overwhelmed to start de-cluttering. The key is, get started! Then you can form better habits like getting into a ‘clean routine’, so you’re not overwhelmed again. 

1912 Bungalow: Once you’ve made the decision to clear the clutter, how do you get started?

Dawn Sutterby: 

1. Get ready.

What’s your goal? Cleaning out an office/attic/basement/closet/garage?

When can you start? Set aside some un-interrupted time when you can make progress on your project. Notice I said make progress, not necessarily finish the project. Real-life example: I’m going to cleanout & organize my bedroom closet, next Sunday afternoon!  

2. Get Set.

What’s your plan? Whatever you are tackling, break it into small groups of tasks.  This makes the project much less overwhelming! 

Real-life example: Cleaning the closet can be broken into: Floor, Overhead Shelf and Hanging Racks.

Each section can be done at separate times, yet completing each provides a sense of accomplishment and some motivation to finish the entire closet!

• Are you really ready?

• Do you have enough hangers, trash bags and storage boxes?

 Are you moving some items into another room or closet? Is that space ready?

3. Go!

When it’s GO TIME, turn on some music and stay focused on your immediate set of tasks.

Real-life example:  Do use the standard “Keep”, “Trash”, “Donate”, “Mend/Clean” piles to keep your focus. Don’t get side-tracked by that box of old love-letters on the floor, under a pile of sweaters; set it aside for later & clear that floor!  


Celebrate your success. You can see the closet floor? Hooray!  

1912 Bungalow: How do you keep from feeling overwhelmed?

Dawn Sutterby: Focus on a small area of your project or small set of tasks. Clearing off a desk-top, the floor, or the stairs does wonders for your motivation. When you see you’re making progress, you’ll want to keep going!

By the way, I still fold my towels the ‘wrong’ way.

1912 Bungalow: Thanks Dawn! These tips should help me to conquer the clutter in my home office. Stay tuned…

I will be talking with Dawn in the future about tackling day-to-day clutter and organizing old family “treasures.”

Comments { 4 }
  1. Peter

    You should see my house, your house is squeaky clean compared to mine.

  2. Jennifer

    This looks exactly like my home office! I have been in the process of organizing it ever since we moved in two years ago…

  3. Deborah Diesen

    What a neat blog! I just spent quite a while browsing through it.

    On the topic of clutter — if you’re at all interested, I’m currently looking for a few guest bloggers for a 2009 de-cluttering blog. Details, if you’d like them, are at http://jumpingthecandlestick.blogspot.com/2008/12/looking-for-few-slightly-disorganized.html

    All best,
    Debbie Diesen

If you would like to select an image to appear next to your comment, go to Gravatar.