Always have a work in progress? Great!

I’m pretty sure that many people assume my family lives in a beautiful, sparkling organization metropolis of squeaky clean glory, amazingly organized everything and never a mess to be found! Far from it (well, except the amazing organization). We always have a work in progress and a home that shows our progress. Sometimes our projects last for days, weeks and even months.

Just like Active Storage adjusts based your needs, your Work in Progress keeps your home actively organized–from the beginning stage to the very end. It takes work to get organized and the middle can be a bit messy, but that’s what it takes to be organized, sometimes you have a little bit of mess. It’s all part of the process.


Help yourself remember.

I probably make 100 trips up and down the stairs daily. And with each trip, I’m able to put a few things away because I stack them at the top or bottom of the stairs. With these out-of-place items just staring at me, I always remember to grab a few with each trip. It’s easy to take a few items with you to put away as you head to your destination, try to incorporate this as you travel around your house.


Realize the realistic amount of time a project will take.

This is the most often cleaned room in our house, the kids toy room. When it’s been used to the max, the room can take hours to put back together. We break it down into smaller pieces because I don’t always have large blocks of time to organize, but I do have 15 minutes. I’ll spend this time with the kids picking up a specific number of toys. We usually do three rounds of pick up times with the kids in our 15-minute cleaning block. Big brother gets 10-15 toy pick up tasks and counts the toys aloud as he picks them up (Remember Bonus Minutes? Yes, I reinforcing counting while we’re cleaning–Win. Win. Win.) and little brother picks up 3-5 toys at a time. These small tasks and times make the project much more manageable.


Keep all project pieces together.

I store tubs of future clothes for my kids in their closet. As our kids get new clothes and shoes, I stack the “to be organized” items on top of the tubs. Once the pile gets pretty big (like you see here), I sort the items into the correct tub and update my kids clothes spreadsheet (Yes, I keep track of every item they have, so grandparents know what is needed for gifts. More on this another day). You don’t need to put every item away the minute you get it. If you have a place to place pending items until you’re ready to store them, save yourself time and wait until you have time to put these items away.


Find a system that works for you and stick with it.

We sell all of our kids clothes after they’ve grown out of them. The sales are seasonal. We keep the spring/summer clothes in the green tub and the fall/winter clothes in the grey tub. As we change out the kids’ clothes each season, we put the outgrown items in these tubs in our garage. Then twice a year, we get them out and organize them to sell. The process is pretty easy because we’ve got a system and we’re sticking with it. Find what works for you and do it–it helps to have the right supplies.


Know when to get rid of stuff.

We regularly donate items that have outlived their usefulness or we’ve noticed we don’t need anymore. When my dad bought us a new table-top ironing board, we realized we didn’t need this old cheapo. It was our first purchase as a married couple when we moved to Maryland. It’s had a good run with us and can now move on to help someone else. We keep two donation locations: the in-progress donation bin is kept in our recycle closet and when the bin is full, we take it to the garage. Our ready-to-be donated items are kept in the garage. Don’t associate stuff with people. It’s just stuff–know when to let go.


Need to get it done soon? Put it in your way.

This is my childrens’ clean laundry and a few of their toys. I kept meaning to put it away, but kept forgetting. Then I put it in front of their cabinets so I couldn’t reach their stuff unless I moved their laundry out of the way. After a few times of doing this, I was fed up. And guess what? I put their stuff away right then. When you push items aside, it mentally clutters your thinking and stress begins to creep up on you. By putting it in your way, you give yourself a great reason to get it done immediately, and it saves your mind!


Master your To Do List.

How do I remember the many in-progress projects I have going on at once? I write everything down on my task list. Everything. And I keep my task list in the same place every day, a very visible spot so I see it every day and can keep myself updated on current tasks and write down new ones as they come to mind. If you write everything down, you are guaranteed to have better results getting everything done, because you’re much more likely to remember what needs to be done.

Tip! For large tasks, break it up into steps. It’s much easier to work through 14-easy steps as you have time than to try to tackle the full 14-step project at once. Plus, then you have the satisfaction of marking 14 things off of your to do list!


  1. I saw a trick on pinterest for homeless items that you find around your house – Set up an organization system tucked away somewhere, like a closet or basement. It should consist of several stackable and easily-accessible boxes. Mine system has 3 categories, but some people have more. My categories are “Donate,” “Return,” and “Gifts.” Donate is the obvious category, and the box only gets emptied when it is full. “Return” is random stuff that people leave at my house by accident, or things that I borrowed, or things someone else asked to borrow, etc. In other words, the items already have a designated person to go to, but I just haven’t had a chance to give it to them yet. No more frantically searching my house when that person comes over – it is in the box. “Gifts” are those little items that you give people in return when you get an unexpected gift – like the neighbor who got you a Christmas gift and you didn’t get them anything in return. No worries. Just find something in the “Gifts” box. I’ll confess, I should label it “regift.” It primarily consists of things people gave me that I can’t use (with a label of who gave it to me so I don’t get caught). Examples of things in this box include smelly candles that bother my husband’s allergies, duplicates of things I already have, or stuff I just don’t like (like the icky vase that came with the pretty flowers).

    So, that is what’s in my office closet. And I’m past-due for emptying my Donate box. Add it to my list for this week.

  2. oh yeah – my “gift” box also consists of gifts I intentionally bought people but haven’t had the chance to give them yet. This might include a birthday gift or shower gift that I bought early because I saw it and just KNEW it was perfect for so-and-so.

  3. “Helping yourself remember” is something my mom used to do and something I now do! I always put things near the door or stairs where they ultimately go and you’re right–this does help me remember to take them with me on my next trip!

  4. […] 3. Get it all back together. Put your storage containers in your Junk Drawer.  Find like items and put them together. Put the similar items in the junk drawer together. Throw away anything that is broken or unusable.  Donate any item that is usable, but you don’t need anymore.  Only put the items back in this drawer that you’ll use on a regular basis–this is an active storage area that is used frequently.  Any rarely used items should go somewhere else like long-term storage, find somewhere else to put it like one of your saved boxes, you can do this project later! […]

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