• Sarah Soboleski

7 Ways To Keep Your Focus When Organizing

How to stay in the zone while tackling an organizing project.

Are you feeling overwhelmed with your endless to-dos and struggling to stay on task with your organizing projects?


Do you struggle with maintaining focus during an organizing task? 


Are you constantly finding yourself doing something else when you should be working on your space?


Do you wonder how you ended up in another room when your project started somewhere else?


There's a term we use in the industry called "zig zag organizing." Let me give you an example:

You start off in your closet weeding through your wardrobe. As you begin to tackle yet another laundry basket of clothes, you find a dish towel. You don't store your dishtowels in your closet so you run down to the kitchen to put it away. While in the kitchen, you see the sink full of breakfast dishes that never got rinsed and put in the dishwasher. You begin to load the dishwasher, but realize you're out of soap. You head to the basement where you keep extra cleaning supplies. Once there you see that your husband put the bulk paper towels and the toilet paper in the wrong spot so you start rearranging things. 

Wait a minute! 

What was I supposed to be doing again?? 

Oh yeah, organizing my closet!!


Here are 7 ways to stay in the zone when organizing:

1. Set a timer

A well-known pro organizer, Geralin Thomas, once said, the best tool for organizing is a timer! Set it for a reasonable period of time and don't move until it dings. The constant ticking is a nice auditory cue to keep you focused on the task at hand.


2. Listen to a podcast

Find a podcast that you're interested in and vow to listen to one episode while you organize a space. It's a nice way to keep your mind stimulated while your hands do some physical work. And you might learn a thing or two along the way. My favorite podcasts related to stuff and organizing are: Young House Love Has A Podcast, The Slow Home, and The Minimalist Podcast


3. Make a playlist 

If you're more of a mover and shaker and need rhythm and some beats to keep you motivated, create your own organizing playlist! Include whatever tunes get you jazzed and keep up your energy. You can even make them songs related to organizing. Two that come to mind are "Let it Go" from the movie Frozen and Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust." 


4. Maximize time during TV commercials

Let's face it, many of us have a favorite show or sporting event we like to watch on television. I know I'd rather be in my pj's sipping tea and watching Fixer Upper rather than organizing a space, BUT watching HGTV shows on television isn't going to make my house more organized! Use the time during commercial breaks to tackle small projects like weeding out your recipe box, tackling your shredding pile, or deleting photos off your cell phone.


5. Section it off

I've mentioned using timers, music or podcasts as auditory cues, but here's one for the visual folks: section off small areas throughout the room with physical dividers. I like to think of an archaeological dig where they make a grid and tackle one patch at a time. You can do the same in your space using masking tape, partitioning off chairs, or if working with kids, throw a hula hoop down. Handle only what's in that particular area before moving on to the next. The physical boundary will keep you from zig-zagging around the room.


6. Put up a stop sign.

Another way to visually remind yourself of your task at hand is to put up a sign. You can tape things to the nearest exit like the word STOP in bold print, a picture of a traffic light, or a big ol' hand indicating to hold up! Seeing this reminder will help you turn back around to keep you in your project area.


7. Reward with food.

Yes, I said it. Let's be honest, food is a motivator for a lot of people. I have many a client who keep a stash of chocolate for the end of our sessions or who reward themselves with a trip to Dunkin Donuts after I leave. It worked for me a few years back when I had to take an 8wk class for my job. It was in the summertime from 6-9pm on Wednesday nights. I bought an 8 count package of Little Debbie brownie bars and at the end of each class would indulge in one and it got me through. Now there are plenty of healthier options like smoothies, frozen yogurt or popcorn that you could employ. Or you could forgo food altogether and do a rewarding activity like a hot bath or a walk outside, but I find that the immediate gratification of food is a biggie for most. Find what works and indulge a little when you've made some progress.


Staying in the zone when organizing is quite a feat. Unless you're like me and really like to organize, it's hard to stay focused and motivated throughout a project. My hope is that at least one of these tricks can help minimize distractions and boost the progress on your organizing goals.


Which one might you try?