Julie Morgenstern's Organizing from the Inside Out

So you've been trying for years to get organized. You've clipped magazine articles, read tons of books, and spent marathon weekends clearing out the clutter, only for the piles to return within days. Is organizing an impossible task? Are some lucky people born with the ability to organize, while everyone else is left to suffer? Absolutely not.

The fact is that organizing is a skill. In fact it's a remarkably simple skill that anyone can learn. And, no matter what you're organizing, no matter how daunting the task, or how huge the backlog, getting organized boils down to the same very simple, predictable process.

If you have resolved to get organized this year, I offer you my SPACE Formula — a 5-step process for methodically digging through the clutter. Be sure to do the steps in order, and attack one room at a time for the biggest sense of accomplishment and success.

Sort — Circle the room, pick up each item and sort onto the bed or floor by category. Group similar items just to see what you have: e.g. blouses together, pants together, suits together, etc.

Purge — Keep only what you use and love. Most people only use about 20 percent of what they own in any given category. Eliminate the excess in the following way.

  • Toss. Throw out anything that is dated, stained, torn, pilled or out of shape beyond repair.
  • Give away. Letting go of items you are no longer use is easier when you give them to a person or organization you care about.
  • Sell. Have a tag sale or sell through a consignment shop.

Assign — Give each category of items you decide to keep a home, deciding specifically which shelf, which section of the closet, or which drawer you will assign. Avoid being vague by applying the "Select 1 Rule" of giving each item a single, consistent home.

Containerize — Baskets, bins and dividers help you to maximize storage space and keep your categories of items separate. Select containers which appeal to your sense of aesthetics and décor to make it fun to put things away.

Equalize — Maintain your system with the One-In, One-Out Rule. For every new item you purchase, get rid of something old to make room for it. Place a "Giveaway" box or bag at the bottom of your closet for additional giveaways you accumulate throughout the year.

Once you have mastered the SPACE formula, you will discover organizing to be an incredibly cleansing and satisfying process — an exhilarating way of freeing yourself up to make the most of what life has to offer. You'll even consider it fun because it produces a gratifying sense of clarity, focus and accomplishment.

Here's to an organized New Year!


Julie Morgenstern, founder and CEO of Julie Morgenstern Enterprises, LLC, is an internationally acclaimed organizing and time management expert, corporate productivity consultant, and speaker. Since 1989 her company has provided one-on-one coaching, public and in-house seminars, corporate training and products to help individuals and businesses maximize efficiency and achieve their goals. She is the author of the New York Times bestseller Organizing From the Inside Out and Time Management from the Inside Out. She also authored a groundbreaking new book, Never Check Email in the Morning. For more information, visit her Web site at www.juliemorgenstern.com.

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