Archive for Psychology of Organizing

3 Ways to organize your goals for this year.

January is usually the time for goal setting.  Why am I writing about it in February? You may have thought about setting goals, you procrastinated so it never got done. January was a busy month this year with all the ongoing changes related to Covid 19.  Now might be a better time for you to take a moment and think about goals.  Goals don’t have to be set in January you can do it any time of the year.  I want to present three ways of setting goals.

Pick one  area and improve it

I am a person who is motivated by a fear of failure, I don’t want to fail, so I am cautious. My system of setting goals is to look at my business or life and see where I think could be improved, what types of skills I need to improve so my business or life will improve.  I pick one thing and then work on it all year to get better at it.  For example, I didn’t like social media so I decided to start working at becoming better at it and setting up a system that works for my day and philosophy about the importance of social media.  I picked a platform, got good at it and continued to add more and more platforms. I organized workshops on Twitter and Google My Business, I listened to webinars.   A vague plan works for me because  I am self-motivated,  I am not a procrastinator.  I read an interesting article by Ravi Venkatesan about the importance of learning new things, “What skill will you acquire this year? What new activity will you start?” Perhaps learning to play a new instrument, going on an adventure or taking on a new role- anything that causes you to move out of your comfort zone.  Pick a goal that challenges you at about a level 5 out of 10.  If you are too fearful you will panic and not start.   Choose that goal that challenges you and allows new neural connections to form. That would be a good goal for this year.

S.M.A.R.T Goals

Set goals that you can attain

That vague framework of deciding what you want to do to improve your business or life would not for everyone.  We are all different.  So there is a goal-setting system called SMART.  You pick a specific goal, with measurable outcomes, that are achievable, realistic and timely.  When you use this system of goal setting it gives you a step by step plan to follow.  For example with my social media goal, if it had been a SMART goal, would be something like

I will learn how to post on Facebook,

S (specific) – I will post 3 times a week, one original content, one a picture, one comment on someone else’s post

M(measurable) – Did I post 3 times/week?

A (achievable)  – I have that much time in my week

R(realistic) – If I only have to do it 3 times a week I will not become frustrated and stop

T(timely)- I have 3 mornings a week when I can do these posts. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday

This will work for some people who like to have a step by step plan and follow it.  It can cause problems if people stop following the plan. They may give up and not start again or some people may feel like it is too rigid.  Set your goal and keep trying to do it, that is the only way you will get better at it.

Turn desire into intention

Be intentional about your plan

I read an article that reveals a simple trick that doubles the chance for success of obtaining goals.  Earlier I commented on what motivates me.  Sometimes we say, I need to motivate myself to get working on….,  In this article, it says motivation is not the key to reaching your goals it is intention.

A study in the British Journal of Health Psychology divided 248 adults into 3 exercise groups.

  • Group  1 had to record how often they exercised during a 3 week period
  • Group 2 were told “ most young adults who have stuck to a regular exercise program have found it to be very effective in reducing their chances of developing coronary heart disease. ” ( motivation to exercise) and had to record how often they exercised during a 3 week period
  • Group 3  recorded when and where they would exercise (intention to exercise), they were given the same motivation as group 2  and they recorded  how often they exercised during a 3 week period


  • Control group 1 38% exercised at least once per week
  • The motivated group 2 35% exercised at least once per week
  • The intentional group 3 91% exercised at least once per week

We all have some level of desire or willpower or motivation but what turns desire into action is a written plan for implementation.  When you have a goal to do something, record when and how you will do that behaviour or activity. It will be the environment that triggers you to do your new behaviour or activity and not motivation or will power.  This year I used the intention method to become better at making videos.

  • Every morning for 30 days I made a video of 1 minute or less and sent it to a friend.  It was not edited and most of the time there was only one take, no practice videos.  The when of the intention, was at 8 am and the who of the intention, was a friend who expected to receive a video.
  • Step 2 was 30 days of videos on Instagram Stories.  It was usually at 8:15 am but sometimes it was at another time in the day when I was getting dressed up for a meeting.  Check out my Instagram stories.
  • Step 3 ( I am not there yet) will be 30 days on Facebook live.

The level of challenge increases with each step.  It is a great way to become better at doing video.  Thanks to James Mel for teaching me this.

These are just 3 systems

  • Having an all-encompassing vision or
  • Setting SMART goals or
  • Intentionally decide when you will do something and block off time

that can help you establish new behaviours to accomplish a goal for 2021.  Pick the one that works for you.

Set goals to help you move out of your comfort zone, learn new skills and grow. Click To Tweet

When you hire me, I don’t come to your office or home with the Mind over Clutter organizing system, install it and then leave.  I come and see what is working for you and how you do things so I can find solutions that work for you, how you think, feel and your lifestyle. I want you to accomplish your organizing project so you meet your goals.

Now I liked to hear from you:

What strategy from today’s post are you going to try first?

Maybe I didn’t mention your favourite way to set goals?

Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now.

Want help in 2021 to get your Mind and Space Organized, join my Facebook group full of free tips 

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer and Lifestyle Organizing Coach who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She has been working with clients since 2006 to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She uses her love of physical activity to reduce clutter, in your home, office, mind and time. If you’re in a difficult transition Julie can coach you to break-free of emotional clutter constraining you from living life on your terms. Get started by downloading Tips for Reorganizing 9 Rooms.

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11 Mindsets to fight to obtain organizing success


As a Professional Organizer I hear comments from clients that suggest they will not succeed at getting organized.  When I hear these words and phrases I try to coach my clients  through the feelings that are represented in their words and help  them to overcome their internal conflicts.

I asked my colleagues from Professional Organizers in Canada to share words that set off alarm bells in their brains, make them  take a step back and have a discussion with their clients to help them become successful.

Janet Barclay, Organized Assistant from Hamilton, ON phrase is:

Someone else will deal with it. –  Success in an organizing project occurs when the person is willing to take ownership for the task and decisions that need to be made.

April Miller, April Miller Professional Organizing, from St John, NL word is:

Purge – This word has negative connotations related to eating disorders so sometimes this word is replaced with edit, let go, reduce and part with. How a person thinks and feels about their  stuff effects their ability to make good decisions.

Natasha Solvason, Home Free Organizing Solutions, Saskatoon, SK phrase is:

For now, “I’ll put this here for now” –  In an organizing task many decisions need to be made and putting off decisions delays getting the job completed. The more decisions a person makes the better they get at making decisions.

Michelle Wright,  Wide Open Spaces Farm Cleanups,  Smokey Lake, AB phrase is:

“It doesn’t bother me but my (kids, spouse, mother) thinks I should get organized” –  It needs to be the goal of the person to get organized, not someone else’s, because the person will not be motivated to get the job done. Helping people to set SMART goals helps them to be successful.

Set goals that you can attain

Karen McIntosh Murdock,  Your Organized Friend, Saint Albert, AB word is:

“But,” – Anytime a reply starts with this word you know that a problem is going to be suggested for the solution that is recommended. This sometimes highlights that the person is not interested in getting organized and is preventing themselves from being successful  by discounting ideas.

Ida Tetlock, Smart Organizing , Orangeville, ON word is :

“Ready” –  Many conversations I have with people  result in comments such as…. “Oh, I really need to get your help when I’m READY to organize” or “I could really use your help, but I’m just not READY to tackle this yet”.  It can be an excuse to delay starting instead of dealing with an underlining fear.

Carolyn Caldwell, Caldwell Evolutions Inc., Toronto, ON word is:

“Should” -Translate: someone sitting on my shoulder whispering in my ear that what I’m not doing  they think I ought to be doing. Replace with “Could”: the language of potential

Erika Bookbinder, In the clear Organizing, Toronto, ON word is:

“Just” – as in “I’ll just leave it here for now”. Whenever the word “just” is inserted into a sentence, it usually means  that the person is doing something they shouldn’t (I tell this to my kids all the time!)

Shawn Ferguson, Everything Organized,  Kamloops BC words are:

Can’t, overwhelming – These words identify a situation where a client is lacking self-confidence in their skills or knowledge about getting organized.  Fortunately with some reassurance clients can begin to gain knowledge and success.

Alison Lush, Alison Lush Certified Professional Organizer, Montreal QC word is:

Should – When clients think they should be doing something, they may not want to do it, they may not want to do it that way, or they may lack the motivation to do it.

Melody Oshiro, Organize to Optimize Nanaimo, BC phrase is:

“I don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings” – Fear is a big deterrent in getting organized. People can be worried that their decisions may cause problems.  Gaining confidence in decision making makes a person successful at organizing.

In the comment section tell me what words or phases  you have heard people use that stop them from getting organized.

Join my Facebook group Organizing Mind and Space


Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Contact her at

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Why do I have clutter, how can I let it go?

Clutter is different for everyone but most people have some clutter in their lives. There are many reason why it can be hard to let go of things.  Let’s look at 4 scenarios.

Scenario 1: Fear 

Perhaps it is fear that causes you to hold onto things

  • What if I need it someday – fear of scarcity
  • I’ll keep it just in case – fear of uncertainly and doubt
  • I can’t give that away it was a gift – fear of rejection
  • I can’t decide so I’ll keep it and what if it is worth something someday – fear of making mistakes

In an article by Hellen Bittigieg, she talks about: Steps to eliminate your fears and conquer the clutter

  1. As you sort through your items notice the thoughts that come up and begin to acknowledge them, say okay now you’ve got my attention.
  2. Notice where you feel the fear in your body, stomach, chest head ache?
  3. Analyze the fear and try to understand where it’s coming from then thank it and move on
  4. Replace fear with trust
  5. What if I need it someday replace it with all my needs are abundantly supplied
  6. I’ll keep it just in case – replace it with what are the odds I’ll ever need to replace it?
  7. I can’t give that away it was a gift – replace it with my real friends always love and support me
  8. I can’t decide so i’ll just keep it – replace it with I’ll make a decision and trust that everything will be okay
  9. What if it’s worth something someday – replace it with it will never be more valuable than joy, health, friendships etc

Scenario 2: Sentimentality

I have clients who if they touch an object they will automatically keep it, so I hold up the object and don’t let them touch it when they are deciding to keep it or give it away.  Other clients need to touch an item before they can donate it, it is like saying good by to it.

The sentimentality we feel towards an object can be associated with:

  • Someone you loved gave it to you or
  • Someone you once loved used or
  • The object is associate with a time when you were happy. ( memorabilia)

Being able to separate the object from a person or event can be difficult . Learning that you can still have the memory and the corresponding feeling without having the object will help you to be able to let go of  items.

Scenario 3: Control / Personality

Clients will hire me and want me to do their plan.  As I work with them and make a few suggestions about alternative ways to organize things generally they say no and then at our next appointment they usually say I thought about your idea, let’s try it.


  • People want to have control over their decisions and environment. Avoiding power struggles over decisions about what stays and what goes and make decluttering easier.

Scenario 4: The cost of getting rid of stuff

I have clients who want to make lots of money selling their stuff.  Sometimes it is possible and sometimes it isn’t. They will hold onto stuff for garage sales, to put on Kijiji or EBay.  Sometimes they hold onto it for so long that it has lost its value. They think,”I paid good money for it.”

PSSST: The money is already spent…..

Just because it was costly to purchase does not mean that it’s valuable today! Items change in value. What’s important is whether you are using what you have now or,  if what you have is distracting you from the lifestyle you want. If you are not loving, using and enjoying your things,  reconsider their ‘value’.

The important thing is to discover what reasons make it hard for you to let go of things and change those mindsets.

There are 3 things that are true

  • We all have too much stuff
  • It is hard to let go of our own stuff
  • One day we will part with our stuff.


Join my Facebook Group Organizing Mind and Space 

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Contact her at


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