My Organizing Journey

Posted on February 2, 2021 by prairiemoonquilts in Studio Organizing Challenge

Organizing just comes naturally to some people — like my grandmother, who passed the gene on to my sister, while skipping over my mother and me. My sister is more like our grandmother, and I’m more like our mother. I’m super organized about some things, but other things just escape me. I’d love to be organized in ALL areas, and I keep working toward that. Which side of the fence do YOU fall on?

One realization I’ve come to over the years is that it’s very, very difficult to organize things if you have more stuff than will fit into the spaces you have for it. For instance, if you can’t fit all your clothes into your closets and drawers, where do you put the things that don’t fit into those spaces? If you have more kitchen items than will fit into your kitchen cabinets and drawers, what do you do with the extra things?

My answer in recent years has been: get rid of the excess. I’m one person, with My Cowboy in tow. Can we actually ever use all the things we’ve accumulated over a lifetime? Probably not. Some of it — lots of it — needs to go. And over the last year, a lot of it went.

It’s also difficult to become organized if you have difficulty making decisions, and in some areas, I do have lots of difficulty with this (such as paper items). My indecisiveness is the root of a lot of my procrastination. Is it easy for you to make decisions? If not, does this cause you to procrastinate?

Because I’m not 100% an organized person, I sometimes feel like a fraud offering up organizing advice, but the advice I’m handing out is usually advice I need to follow my ownself, and I share it on here because, if you’re like me, then maybe it will help you, too. And mostly here on my blog, I offer up advice specific to our sewing/quilting areas because that is my biggest remaining organization issue. And by having some of you along with me on this journey, it helps keep me accountable, and I make better progress than I would otherwise.

I never jumped on the Marie Kondo bandwagon because we live on a farm, and there are lots of things we need around here that in no way, shape, or form spark joy for me — like a stash of animal medications!

So I needed to come up with some other method of organizing that works for me. I know we need less stuff, but I also realize that we have to keep on hand lots of stuff we only need occasionally, such as a collection of baby bottles and various nipple types in the event we need to feed baby goats, various types of bandages, syringes, and needles, medications for all the animals, windbreaker pants, heavy winter coats, mud boots, chore gloves and hats, ice melt, ice scrapers, stock tank heaters, battery chargers, horse tack, feed containers, fence-fixing supplies, spare parts for various equipment, etc. We live pretty far from town, and there’s not always time to run into town to purchase what you need when it’s an emergency.

I had mulled over in my mind the theory of minimalism, but didn’t see how that could work for us here . . . until I read an article on minimalism that outlined how minimalism looks different for every person. Aha!

Minimalism isn’t a race to see who can own and get by with the least amount of stuff — it’s a method you can use to free your space of the things that are unimportant to YOU. Don’t worry about what others are doing in the form of minimalism — decide what it means for YOU, and strive to reach that point. Your version of minimalism will not look like anyone else’s version of minimalism, and that’s OK. You may not have a farm, but perhaps you have small children still at home. Your world will look drastically different from mine!

It’s very freeing.

I read a lot of information from this site: Becoming Minimalist.

He also invites lots of guest bloggers to contribute to his blog, and a recent article by Jay Harrington from Life and Whim caught my eye. To quote Jay:

At its core, minimalism is a powerful means to an important end. Without an end in mind, practicing minimalism can feel like a rote exercise devoid of any larger purpose. (Read the full article HERE.)

I have often struggled with exactly what my purpose is. But even if I don’t completely know what my purpose is, I do know two of my reasons for having less stuff are 1) to make it easier to move, in the event I might need to, and 2) to not leave my daughter with a huge mess of things to take care of should something happen to me. Those two things are my driving force for getting organized, my current purpose for trying to be more minimalistic.

Once you have a solid compelling reason to become more organized, it makes the process a bit easier. Easier, perhaps, but not necessarily speedier!

My biggest remaining hurdle is my sewing stuff and the mess that is my studio.

I’ve been offering up Studio Organizing Challenges here on my blog for the last 6 years (2021 will be my 7th year of challenges), and every year, it seems like I’m doing the same things over and over again. Spoiler alert: I AM doing the same things over and over again!

But in doing those same things over and over again, I can look back over the last 6 years and see that I have indeed made progress.

It has also made me realize that organizing is not something you do and then it’s forever done. It’s an ongoing job. You have to keep at it, or things can quickly get out of control all over again. So I’ve come to terms with the fact that I will always be organizing something, and that it’s just a part of life. But I also know that having less stuff and consistently becoming more organized over time means that it gets easier and easier to stay on top of things and keep them organized.

So that’s why I plan to continue offering up my Studio Organizing Challenges here on the blog indefinitely, and I hope you’ll join me on my continuing organizing journey. My plan is to kick things off on February 10th. I’ll be offering two challenges a month this year, instead of one. (Weekly seemed like too much, but monthly didn’t seem like enough, so this is a compromise!) The first one will come out on or around the 10th, and the second one on or around the 25th of each month.

And have you heard me mention before how I have to make things into a game for myself to get me to do them? Well . . . to make the challenges a bit more fun and to make it possible to do more than just the two challenges each month (should I feel the urge to move along a little faster), I made myself a set of cards. I’m having so much fun with them, I decided to make it a formal thing and make real sets of cards to offer to any of you that might want to play along.

It’s a cute little deck of 30 cards packaged up in their own little black tin. Each one has an organizing task on it, and we’ll be doing fun things with these in future challenges.

Please note: The cards are NOT mandatory to take part in the challenges. The tasks will be presented just like always. I’ll simply be using the cards to make things into a game for myself, and to do organizing tasks more often than just the two monthly challenges. If you’re interested in having a set of cards so you can do that, too, you can read more about them and purchase them in my Etsy Shop. With each task I post, I’ll go into a bit more detail about some of the cards.

Meanwhile, here are a few of my favorite organizing sites. You should go check them out, and then be sure to check back in here on the 10th to see what we’ll be organizing this year!

Abby Organizes

Becoming Minimalist

Learn | Do | Become

The Minimal Mom

The Organized Mom

23 responses to “My Organizing Journey”

  1. Pam says:

    Wow. You put into words what goes on in my brain in regards to this. Inspiring. Thanks for sharing your ideas and helping to set goals

  2. I like the way you think. I too am so organized it certain areas and others… well…. Im just not! But we have so much extra to keep around for the ranch too – I look forward to seeing more of your challenges!

  3. Tracy says:

    Love this! I love those a-ha moments when what you are trying to do suddenly makes sense.

  4. Shasta says:

    I have a hard time with paper too. This year, I have reduced a lot of it, but I still have to figure out what to do with the paper I want to keep. I really like Kondo’s method of touching everything, but I don’t look for sparks of joy. I just need to make sure that everything that is in my house has my permission to live here. There are things taking up valuable storage space that I will never use again and when they go, there is space for things that are allowed to live here.

  5. Randy Menninghaus says:


  6. Randy Menninghaus says:

    This is such a thoughtful entry. I have been musing over the way I keep things, and my only daughter has made it CLEAR that she does not want most of it. ,regarding the Ufo’s people find after you die. People get all precious. Do they realize that there was a reason it was undone? Do I want future generations to think these ufo are my finest work?

  7. Pam Desilets says:

    I have been cleaning and reorganizing my sewing room. I want through all my books and magazines. Made a box for my sister-in-law, who is anew quilter. Then all my rulers. I found I had duplicates. So she has new ones. Now for fabric. I sorted and sorted have a large pile for friends to go through. I know it is an endless job. Why do things get so messy. Work in progress all the time. Please keep posting. Love for all the suggestions.

  8. Sharon says:

    I so agree with you. Keeping only things that spark joy is not a reasonable concept for everyone. We downsized 90% by moving a few years ago, and got rid of so many things we had accumulated over the last thirty-eight years. Now we are having to rebuy things we had gotten rid of like a log splitter, fencing and posts, etc. We probably could have saved a lot of money by not downsizing our possessions so much. But finding a way to organize all those belongings is a challenge.

  9. Diana S says:

    Enjoyed reading this and it hit so very close to home. I tend to start organizing an area. Get sidetracked and the months later am back to square 1! I have been cutting fabric and sewing blocks lately but since I found the top.if my table the other day, instead of throwing the scraps somewhere to be cut at a later date. I cut them into my sizes and put away! Fir me that is a big step! Hope I can keep it up

  10. Amanda M. says:

    I’m the same way but part of my problem is I can’t bring myself to get rid of my mom’s things even though she died 2 and a half years ago. I’m also bad about keeping something for the future; in the past I’ve pitched something only to need it the next day….

  11. Kerry says:

    I missed the tidy gene. My mum is tidy, my husband is tidy, my dad hoarded wood – all potential timber was useful, and I hoarded art supplies and now fabric. Am working through it. I’m not a minimalist, nor could I ever be. I need to feel comfortable, at the same time more clutter equals more dusting mishaps! But a place for everything and everything in its place serves well until you start auditioning stash!

    I do like the idea of the cards – sounds fun!

  12. Mary Delia says:

    Are you sure we’re not related?? My theory is that if you’re creative you see a potential use for everything. Sounds good, right? But we must never give up.

  13. cindy-liveacolorfullife says:

    I loved this post, Shelly. I’m pretty good at minimizing until it comes to my sewing room. Even after destashing what seems like so much fabric, there is still an overwhelming amount. I’ll just keep working at it and definitely following along with your challenges.

  14. Diane says:

    After going through my Stepmothers things, and on the heels of that my Moms and a little over a year later my Dads it became more important to me to try to get a handle on what I leave behind. Paper is hard, so are photographs. I am similar to my Dad in the thinking that it’s better to fix something than replace it. All parents saw creative potential in many things. So do I. It’s hard to temper it down. But I’ve seen the flip side of this where a person does not own the possessions, but the possessions appear to own the person. I was told as I started to have things of my own that having stuff is a responsibility. It’s a challenge because I like stuff. All kinds of stuff and I know that I need to use it and not leave it for someone else to be responsible for. It’s a hard balance.

  15. Tonia says:

    I loved the recognition of the fact that many of us see “creative potential” in so many things! However! I have to remind myself that there is absolutely no potential in a lot of stuff I have accumulated. This does not mean fabric though!!! You said:” It has also made me realize that organizing is not something you do and then it’s forever done. It’s an ongoing job. You have to keep at it, or things can quickly get out of control all over again”. Very well said! Don’t we all wish that once a task is finished it would stay that way? Maybe that’s why we love to make quilts…once they are done they are truly finished. And hopefully photographed and gifted

  16. Karen says:

    My reasons for decluttering are the exact same two you mentioned. And thanks to all your organizing challenges over the years, I can look back and see that I used to have my sewing and craft supplies scattered throughout the house, then moved to several areas in the basement, and now just one small room in the basement. It feels great to have made so much progress! It is certainly an on-going thing though, so I’ll be looking forward to more of your challenges. I’m glad to see I’m not alone in this, too!

  17. Angie in SoCal says:

    Even if I work on each challenge just one day, it will be progress forward.

  18. Debbi says:

    I enjoyed reading your thoughts Shelly. I’ve been following the same minimalists, and a few others. Helps keep me focused and my mindset is changing from having to have everything to a more realistic picture of what I really need and can manage without being overwhelmed. Looking forward to continuing challenges!

  19. Rose Marie Smith says:

    Remember when you and I followed the housekeeping organizer years ago? I still have a feather duster I bought from her. My organization goal this year was determined by me before New Year’s Day. I must throw away, sort away, shred, or donate something each day of this year. So far I have made it each day. All 35 days of 2021. I hope I can make it for the next 300!! I will report that.

  20. Shelley this post sure rang a bell with me. Accumulating stuff was easy over the years but downsizing when we moved from the acreage to the apartment wasn’t so easy. Every few months I start pulling boxes and bins out of the storage room and purge a bit more. Having the longarm now should help with emptying some of those bins of finished flimsies, backing and binding.

  21. christopher thomas says:

    i am always up to keep things in better order

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