Getting Organized in the New Year: Systems versus Sorting

You’re trying to get organized this new year, and you’re wondering what’s going to be different this time. Do you have organizing systems in place, or are you just shuffling things around? Let me help you create systems so your organizing efforts last past the first week in January.

Getting Organized in the New Year_ Systems versus Sorting

In January I publish a new organizing article every day to keep you motivated (skip to the whole list). This year we are spending a week on four major areas in your home, giving you ample time to complete a whole project.

Let’s start January by encouraging you to organize the kitchen. You can dive in any old place, but I wanted to give you a little insight about how to get and stay organized. Tips and systems can look very similar, but tips are likely to produce a quick fix that doesn’t last. A system, however, is a combination of four parts that facilitate a lasting change:

  1. Space
  2. Supplies
  3. Time
  4. A series of steps

The difference between the two might seem subtle, but having systems in your home will produce an organized home. Let me give you some examples.


A tip is to put your keys in the same place every day when you come home.

A system is to install a key hook (supplies) by the door you enter (space) and to build the habit (time) to stop and hang your keys on the hook before you do anything else upon returning home (steps).


A tip is to have your kids do homework every day before bed.

A system is to create a study station (space) stocked with pencils, paper, a calculator, computer chargers and anything else they need to do their homework (supplies), and teach them to use a timer (time) to do their homework immediately after school, and then have you check it and initial it before it goes in the backpack before dinner (steps).


A tip is to clean your fridge weekly.

A system is to wait until the day before you go shopping (time) so there is almost nothing in your fridge (space) so you can quickly wipe down the shelves with white vinegar and a sponge (supplies) and throw out expired food before bringing home new groceries (steps).


If you are naturally an organized person, you are thinking, “Well, of course, the tip listed naturally leads to the system outlined.” But that’s not always true.

If you or someone you love has ADHD or any learning differences, or even just a crazy-busy lifestyle, you’ll recognize that making the leap from the tip to the system isn’t natural for everyone in all cases.

Even organized people might struggle when they encounter a new situation, such as a move to a new house, a diagnosis of an allergy or illness or a promotion at work. It takes mental energy to go from the situation…to the tip…to the system. But once you make this leap, systems make daily tasks more automated and less of a struggle.

If you are looking for a list of organizing tips on this site, you will be getting so much more.

Getting organized is about creating systems.

If you are a tip junkie, that’s cool. But instead of collecting tips willy-nilly, start building the systems that will support your life, your family, your house and your kitchen.

This article was excerpted from my book, Organizing Your Kitchen with SORT and Succeed. 

This week I’d love for you to focus on organizing your kitchen. We”ll spend roughly a week on each of the next three areas, including storage areas, living areas, and bedrooms. If you’ve never really finished an organizing project before, I hope this will be the time to turn things around.


Turn Over a New Leaf GO month 2019

I’m posting the list of daily articles to support you in working on four major home organizing areas for 2019: organizing the kitchen and pantry, organizing closets and storage spaces, organizing bedrooms and wardrobes, organizing main living rooms. Follow along by subscribing to the blog (at right) to get the articles as soon as they are published. Here is the current list:

3 Reasons Your (Buying in Bulk) Math Might Be Wrong

Best Organizing Tip Ever – Never Leave Empty Handed

How to Organize Your Dining Room in 5 Simple Steps

Time to Tame the Toys

How to Re-Home Your Clutter

Little Girl Closet Organizing

Photo Organizing to Save Closet Space

Organizing a Closet with Lots of Boots

Closet Organizing Tips from a Certified Professional Organizer

Make the Most of your Walk-In Closet with These Organizing Ideas

Organize a Boatload of Garage Gear (Literally)!

5 Mistakes You are Making When Putting Away Christmas Ornaments

This Organizing Tip Can Save You Hundreds!

Book Review: Change Your Brain, Change Your Life by Daniel G. Amen, M.D.

15 Hidden Storage Spaces in Your Home

I Tested Folding Luggage – Organizing Hack for Closets

The Five Stages of Throwing Out Your Adult Child’s Stuff

Solving Storage Challenges in Dormers

Basements and clutter and bins, oh my!

The 5 Don’ts of Home Decluttering

White Kitchen Redesign

Clever Kitchen Organizers (Kitchen Space Savers)

Kitchen Organizing Including Paper Organizing

How to Organize a Small Kitchen (With Gratuitous Giraffe)

Bad at Organizing or Overachiever?

Spice Cabinet Kitchen Organizing

Get a Handle on Organizing Pots and Pans

Food, Shelter, Clothing…and Organizing (Bonus Fish Corn Chowder Recipe)

9 Simple Ways to Change this Year