Organize into Groups

Step two of SORT and Succeed is so easy. You’ve been sorting things and organizing into groups since you were a toddler. Now that you can define your organizing project in five words or less, you are ready to organize into groups.

Organize Into Groups- SORT and Succeed

Organize into Groups

Organizing isn’t about throwing things out. It’s truly not.

Organizing is about finding what you need when you need it. But how can you find what you need if you don’t know what you have?

When you start organizing, you are really just grouping things. Usually we default to putting “like with like,” but sometimes we group things together if they serve the same function or are used for the same activity. You can use either or both.

I can hear you now…but Darla, where do I start??? Start at the door and move left to right. It’s the natural motion for most of us in the world. But if that feels weird, then go the opposite direction. Give left-to-right a try and let me know how it goes.

Step 2 – Organize into Groups.

Five Special Groups – Essential Bins for Every Organizing Project

Nearly every organizing project will have these five special groups. You should set these up at the start of your sorting.

  • Donate
  • Recycle
  • Trash (Note: This step isn’t focused on tossing or trashing. Keep reading.)
  • Elsewhere
  • Shred, if you are working on papers


essential bins for SORT and Succeed organizing

Sort Things First, Papers Later

If you have a mix of papers (documents, photos, newspapers, files, etc.) and things (decor, clothes, personal care items, etc.), then stack the papers all in one place and do those last. Don’t spend time sorting papers to start unless you only have papers. Sorting the things into groups will go much faster, will free up space quickly, and allow you to feel more accomplished

Organize Into Groups- SORT and Succeed

Organize into Groups for Organizing Success

Don’t buy things to start sorting. You already have what you need. 

Don’t get overwhelmed. You can do this. 

Don’t get super-detailed yet. Sort into big categories. 

Don’t worry about running out of room. As you make groupings, you’ll clear room to work. 

What are organizing groupings? They’ll be different in each space, but here are some examples:

  • in the home office: writing gear (pens and pencils), unused office supplies, blank notebooks, used notebooks, client files, tax records, electronics and cords
  • in the kitchen: everyday dishes, cutlery, serving utensils, drinking glasses, entertaining stemware, party gear, paper towels and napkins, snacks, baking trays, baking ingredients, cookbooks, bills and household files
  • in the bedroom: hanging clothes, folded clothes, shoes, purses, accessories, reading material, workout gear, health aids, personal momentos
  • in the playroom: board games, Lego sets, loose Legos, reading material, cozy gear, craft materials, electronics

What is the Difference Between Groups and Categories

You might have noticed that sometimes I say Step 2 is organize into groups and sometimes I say organize into categories. There isn’t really a difference. In fact, you can customize this step to work with your brain, as you should in most cases. Perhaps you prefer the term “activities” or “families” or something else. As long as you can stay consistent and make progress, you’re on the right track. As soon as you get confused or get stuck, revert back to the basics, simple groups or categories.

For instance, if you decide to organize everything into colors, you’re going to find that isn’t a very practical way to organize an entire house. But it can be a great way to organize a single shelf or rack inside a closet, or a group of t-shirts, for example.

Step 2 of SORT and Succeed: Organize into Groups

Step 2 of SORT and Succeed has you organizing things into groups, and that will help you in the next step. The system doesn’t ask you to throw away anything at this stage of the game. Simply sort, sort, sort.

In many cases, you find things you’ve been looking for and you re-discover things you forgot you had. Just put them with their brothers, sisters, and cousins, and keep sorting.

Are you working on an organizing project right now? Are you working with the five steps of SORT and Succeed?

No matter when you found us, catch up with all of this month’s organizing articles here.