Is Organizing Overwhelming? See SORT in action!

SEE THE SORT in action – Thanks Ruth Hadlock (a Clear & SIMPLE Certified Organizer™)

You’ve picked the organizing project to do, you have set aside the time and now the overwhelm hits. You look around at all the stuff and feel paralyzed about where to start…We are here to help! Read and watch below as Ruth Hadlock brings the power of SORTING FIRST to life!!


Clear & SIMPLE, Ruth Hadlock, SORT

Click to watch Ruth on TV


We just love when other people share in their own words the steps of The Clear & SIMPLE Systems™. It affirms to us how simple and supportive they truly are. Ruth Hadlock of Streamlined Space, who is also a Clear & SIMPLE Certified Organizer™, explains the power of a simple SORT.

PARALYZED! My clients tell me it’s often overwhelming when they decide they are going to finally organize a junk room/craft room/etc. They are inspired and ready for action but as soon as they walk into that room and look around at all the clutter they are paralyzed – they don’t know where to start and what to do! I’m a certified organizer in the Clear & Simple method, a step by step system called S.T.A.C.K.S. © that takes you through the entire organizing process.  The first step is SORT. I have seen over and over again that by sorting first all the other steps are easier; they actually build on each other.

So we start with setting up for the SORT. Put together 15-20 bankers boxes. You can buy them at Office Depot or Costco [or best price at Wal-mart]. These are great because once you’re done with this project, you fold up the bankers boxes until you’re ready to use them for your next organizing project. [read Clear & SIMPLE’s blog post on bankers boxes to get more]

The goal of SORT is to put like with like according to categories. As you pick up an item, ask “What is it?” and put it in a bankers box with a post it note label. For example, if you were sorting your office, you might have books, office supplies, filing supplies, projects, etc. If you don’t have a box already with that category, then make a new one. 

The benefit of using boxes is you can freeze the process in time. How many of you have tried to organize an area, run out of time, friends are coming over, so you shove it into a closet and shut the door essentially wrecking any organization you just tried to implement!? This way, when you run out of time, simply stack the boxes against a wall and when you have time another day, you can easily pick up where you left off.

The key is to focus only on sorting. You’re not jumping ahead to “Am I going to keep it? ” Where will I put it?” “Does it need a container?”. Those are later steps. Just sort until the room is completely categorized.

Does this take time? YES! But how long has this room of yours been the way it looks now? I promise this method pays off if you follow the system. You will feel the progress!

VIEWER HOMEWORK: Choose a room in your house to sort. Download the Clear & SIMPLE Systems Card for free. Next time, I’ll share the 2nd step “Toss” with you.

Marla, Kate & Team

Would you like to become a professional organizer? Check out our in-depth, 3-tiered training program.


Bankers Boxes – Sanity When Sorting the Stuff!

Yes, Bankers Boxes can save your sanity, and even your marriage!

The Clear & SIMPLE Way is all about keeping organizing simple and joyful. That might seem laughable when it comes to actually handling the stuff, but that’s exactly why we LOVE banker’s boxes together with post-it-notes. When you pair them with the first step of S.T.AC.K.S. ©, which is SORT, you get this supportive blend of the right tool for the right step.

We have heard from our clients that Bankers Boxes completely transform the sorting process and even save marriages! Often the person who likes order and everything put away partners with the person who is attached to stuff and having everything out where they can see it. This can be a disaster when it comes to doing an organizing project together. Bankers Boxes satisfy both needs – the stuff is neatly contained but you can find what you need.

Here’s a little list of what we love about bankers boxes combined with the post-it-note labels:
  • They make it easier to do the sort because the piles are now easy to identify
  • They are the container for the piles and make it easy to move the piles as you go along
  • They remove all the visual distraction of the piles and replace it with a calm energy
  • They keep all of the stuff contained until you are ready to make decisions about it
  • At the end of the working session you can put the lids on and stack them all nice and neat out of your way
  • The lids are great for all the little “stuff”Sort Supplies

So before you start into sorting the stuff we suggest – go get a minimum of 30 bankers boxes. They come in packs of 10. You will use them over and over again for multiple projects. See below for some places you can order them online and then pick them up. Also get a large pack of super sticky post-it-notes in a color you love along with a black sharpie.

Now you are ready to SORT! Remember you are just asking one question – What is it? Sort like with like into the BB and create a label with each new box. When you run out of time, just stack the boxes on top of each other and put against a wall. You can still find things if you need to until you can return to the job.

Bankers Boxes are sold at a variety of places like Office Depot and Walmart (best price is Walmart).

We hope you find true sanity in the SORT with this awesome new TOOL! Please share your stories with us.

Marla, Kate & Team


SORT First. TOSS Later.

Breathe. You don’t have to decide *yet* what to do with the stuff.

You have gone through the SEE IT. © and MAP IT. © steps and are ready to begin the DO IT. ©. This means touching the stuff. This is loaded. When you are looking at the piles of paper everywhere or that spare room stuffed with boxes and bags, the mere thought of really starting brings up the urge to run away. You can get hung up before you even start because of the heaviness (mentally, emotionally and energetically) of all the decisions to be made; the heaviness of what to do with it all.

Most of thClear & SIMPLE, S.T.A.C.K.S. One Step at a Timee advice out there says pick up each thing and make a decision. If it were that easy the piles wouldn’t be there. So at C&S we break it down into bite size pieces. The DO IT. © Step now gets it’s own system called S.T.A.C.K.S. ©. It’s the ACTION system.

Part of the brilliance of  The Clear & SIMPLE Systems © is the step-by-step approach, with each step building upon the previous. This helps us stay present in each moment and releases the weight of the project, by asking us to only answer one question at a time. When we finally dive into touching the stuff with S.T.A.C.K.S. ©, we start with SORT, and only sort!! You are asking one question and making only one decision – what is it?

  • Question: What is it? Trust what comes into your brain.
  • Action: Sort into piles of like with like. Keep it simple, general categories are good enough.
  • Tip: Place items into bankers boxes. Label each box with a post-it note for steps ahead.
  • Reward: You will know exactly what you have. You will be amazed at how freeing this is.

By asking one question and making only one decision at a time, you WILL be able to get through all of the stuff. When you can see how many months worth of electric bills you have, how many of the same black shirt, how many pens & pencils, the TOSS step is much easier.


One of your Sort piles can be Toss for the stuff that you know easily is give or throw away, shred or recycle.

Stay tuned in upcoming weeks as we continue through the S.T.A.C.K.S. © process.

With you each step of the way,
Marla, Kate & Team

How being organized – or not – affects our relationships.

What does organization have to do with relationships you might ask?

Why is it that “Mr. Organized” partners with “Ms. Chaos”? Think about how often you are at odds with someone in your life because of organization issues:

  • Not being able to find what your boss is looking for.
  • Arguing with your child about the way their room looks.
  • Being accused of throwing important things away.
  • Always being asked where something is.

As professional organizers we constantly witness the stress in our clients relationships over organization styles and decisions.  Too often those with the ability to organize do not understand when others cannot maintain their environment. Those that are organized need to keep in mind that our research shows only 10 – 15% of the population is naturally organized. Hence, the need to be able to communicate and get help when lack of organization gets in the way.

This barrier between those who naturally know how to organize and the other 90% who don’t is why our main focus is teaching people how.  The foundation for any organizing project or communication is three simple steps outlined below.

SEE IT – take a look at where you’ve been

Begin by taking a realistic look at where a lack of organization is impacting your life and relationships. Choose just one area or issue. What’s working,  what’s not and why?  Keep it simple. Then look at it from both sides and try to see what is at the heart of the conflict. Often our relationships serve as mirrors to look at ourselves. Once you have clarity, why not share your truth with this person or persons and then ask for them to share.

MAP IT – make a plan for where you want to go

Now that you have each shared your truth, each person can create a simple vision for what needs to change.  Try asking – what is the single most important change that needs to happen?  What is one action you can take? Let this be enough. It is imperative to the relationship that each person has a chance to share their vision and what is important to them.

DO IT – take the actions to make it happen

How you choose to implement your changes or DO IT will be very specific to the relationship. Some may come up with a way to do it together, while others might call in outside help, and still others will compromise on different levels.

Some examples of this are:

  • A family sets up a system for incoming mail and an active paper system together.
  • A mother and child call it fun time, put on music, and make a game of putting everything back in its’ home.
  • A couple decides to hire a professional organizer because they would rather enjoy their time together hiking or taking dance lessons.
  • A boss and assistant set up a weekly 1 hour focused time to go through all the lists and questions.
  • Two friends or buddies get excited about helping each other one weekend a month with the clutter areas – We all have them you know.


The Clear & SIMPLE Way Video

Organizing The Clear & SIMPLE Way is easy and fun!
When your piles become big problems
and you feel yourself get stuck
in the mire of decisions
’cause your systems run amuck
and the clutter grows around you
till there’s no place left to sit
you need a simple system
that will help you bit by bit
STACKS will get you through it
These are clear & simple rules
that are priceless little jewels
STACKS will get you through it
on the road you soon will be
to freedom, order, clarity

Poem by Kris Pond Burtis 2004, All rights reserved

Get the step by step C&S SYSTEMS Card by clicking here

In this short and sweet video Marla Dee takes you on a visual journey and teaches the Clear & SIMPLE Systems.  Let her you teach the skill of organizing. Most people are not born with the “organizing gene” so they need to learn how. The systems teach you where to start, what to do and how to keep it up. 

Let Marla bring the Clear & Simple Systems to life for you!