Core Organizing Tips from The Trenches

Apr 8

I’ve been very excited to share this post for several reasons. First and most importantly, because you must be introduced to Jenn, the owner of local spin studio, Starcycle. I’m going to talk about her incredible energy and heart in a sec. Also excited because I’ve been anxious to share some of my core organizing tips…which is part of what I spoke about in January at Jenn’s Women in Wellness series.

Whenever I’m asked to speak at an event, it’s cathartic because I’m able to get all my thoughts around organizing out of my head…and it allows me to reflect on experiences faced as families go through the declutter / organizing process. Writing a speech allows me to get it all out…my thoughts change over time with more experience. It definitely gets refined. They change over time because I learn from each and every project…from the deep trenches of doing the work. So when I say these tips come from the trenches, I mean it. I see and feel the challenges we face with clutter and organizing in the flesh! I sit with people who struggle. I work through the process of letting go or help kick off the act of just getting started….which let’s not kid ourselves, is sometimes the most difficult part.

You guys know I do not like public speaking. It’s not a strong point but a skill I’ve had to work on. If I’m ever going to help a broader population in their efforts to streamline, it’s a fear I need to overcome.

In the process of writing this speech, I knew I’d want to share this info with you as well. And now that I have the images from the photographer, I’m ready to let it out!


But first, Jenn!…

This one. She’s a keeper and someone I treasure..immensely. Our entire community treasures this woman. Take a scroll through the Starcycle Danville Instagram account and you’ll understand why. You’ll feel and see her passion. Her connection to the community and how much we all adore her.

I met Jenn when the studio opened over a year ago. A PR firm reached out to ask if I was interested in trying a few classes in exchange for sharing it on social. As someone who loves anything fitness, count me in. At the time it was a great fit because I was stressed with the prospect of getting the house ready to go on the market. There was a lot of emotions built up and I was in the thick of several personal topics. Something challenging and stress-reducing was exactly what the doctor ordered.

After trying a couple classes and encouraging more friends to give it a shot, I finally met Jenn. It was after taking a class. We finally had the chance to meet. Walked out sweaty and ready to move along with my day. She didn’t care…and doesn’t. No matter how sweaty, she’s going to grab you and hug you tight. Our friendship was instantaneous. And it’s become deeper and stronger over this last year…but especially with what we are going through right now as small business owners.

Jenn not only brought Starcycle to Danville, she’s created an incredible community for the membership. Positive. Giving. Loving. Generous. She has a passion for mentoring teens as well and hires high school students to help run the front desk and watch children in the childcare area while tired parents get a 45 minute break to sweat and feel re-energized. This job is so positive it’s highly sought after by high school students.

You step into the studio and feel the positive energy. It pours out of her and down to her teachers and staff. They truly inspire me. Jenn inspires me. And she’s faced this recent challenge by hitting it straight on – she took to IG Live and Zoom to meet her membership online for rides and classes. So proud of her and her ability to pivot…I’m pivoting too along with hundreds of small business owners in our area.

Anyway, this woman – so grateful to have her as a friend and fellow small business owner.


As she continues building this positive community at Starcycle and throughout the Danville community, she created a speaker series called Women in Wellness. She invited various speakers, one per month, to share inspiring information on topics that are important to her membership. Topics from home design and making your home cozy for the holidays (November topic) to gratefulness and ways we can show love and appreciation for others (February topic) to mindfulness (March topic). In January she invited me in to speak about organizing. This is always top of mind in a new year.

The event is held in the evening and includes about 50 guests…all crowded into the cozy studio lobby. That one lone guy back there? That’s her sweet and very supportive husband!…

My friend Molly provided the flowers – such a talent!…

( Branches & Blooms )

It was an honor to be invited and introduced so warmly…


I shared a bit about myself and how I got started, but the majority of my speech was digging into some of my core philosophies and sharing real, tangible organizing tips. Anytime I can make the topic of organizing real and light, not heavy or weighted, I’ll seize that opportunity. So without more chatter, let’s get going with some of my core tips!

Keep It Simple

Organizing should work FOR you, not against you. Anytime you’re setting up a new system and it doesn’t feel maintainable, easy flow or it’s going to require massive habit changes for you or your household = probably not a great idea. Listen to that little inner voice. It may backfire if not simple. So when getting started keep in mind HOW you live in your home and how OTHERS do as well. Don’t overcomplicate it. Keep it simple, light and easy.

Have a List of Priorities

If you have several spaces to declutter and organize, write down all of them. Then decide which one is the most annoying. The one that would make the biggest impact and improvement in your life. Sometimes your most annoying hot spots may move quickly, you never know. So start with a list. But…

Start Small

If you don’t have a professional on board to help keep the process moving and know you tend to get distracted, whether kids at home or not, start with a small project. One you can start and finish in the same day…or within a few hours. If you’re first go at decluttering is the garage, keep in mind these tend to be large spaces full of a variety of items / categories and generally take a lot of time to work through. Instead consider starting with a few kitchen drawers or a small closet. Something to get your wheels spinning, ramped up and give you a feel for your energy level throughout the process.

Stay Focused

It’s SO easy to get distracted when you find something you know belongs somewhere else. And it already has a home. This is generally when I most lose a person’s focus – they find an item in the pantry they know belongs in the garage, they take off to put it away and I have to reel them back in because they’ve discovered something else from the garage that can be relocated. I’m sure you’ve heard of the 3 piles = trash / recycle, donate, sell. Consider adding a 4th pile that includes items to be relocated elsewhere in the house. This keeps you engaged and physically in the space you’re focused on.

If necessary, set a timer for 30 minutes then take a quick break. Turn off devices, unless listening to a podcast or music. Don’t have the TV going or take calls. And be realistic about the time you plan for this based on the ages of your children. Basically, think about chunks of time they won’t really need your attention – naptime, quiet time, time after a meal when they’re watching a show. This can be super frustrating, I know. I’ve been there. Just try to set yourself up for success on this one.

Have a Plan

Before you begin decluttering or while in the midst of it, have a clear outlined plan. A plan for where your donations will go and when. (Hopefully that’s shortly after you purge so those decisions don’t sit around lingering and tempting you) A plan for what you’ll do with the keeps. If you’ll need new bins or containers, get some measurements and then plan for the look of the space. Plan it out from start to finish and have a checklist if those are a motivating factor.

Consider Your Available Space

I see this time and again when organizing. We can’t create space out of thin air. Can I help to make the best use of your available space? Absolutely. But we can’t magically make another 500 square feet appear for that shelving unit you’re dreaming of. We have to live in and make the most of the space we have available. So consider what that is…and what is being stored there. If it means items need to be relocated or totally moved around, go for it. For example, items in your pantry may be better suited for a garage cabinet where you keep seasonal entertaining items or overflow bulk foods / home products. Maybe linens need to move to a different closet to free up space for medicines and first aid kits.

Consider the overall space you have, the flow around your home and where items might be better suited to live.


Ask Yourself BEFORE You Buy

Before you buy something online or are tempted in person, ask yourself the tough question of if you really need it or not. I know this may seem easier said than done. But I’m sure you can look around your house and spot several items you “had to” have that aren’t really serving you anymore. Maybe you were inspired seeing it on someone else’s IG account or in a friends home.

I can’t count the amount of times I’ve taken brand new never used or opened items out of a home for donation. Always the best intentions, of course. But I think if we pause a second to really ask the tough questions … in the end you may not end up buying it.

Less Will Always Be More

When it comes to organizing solutions, less will always be more in my professional opinion. I’m the organizer who looks at the whole space and considers how we can use IT better, as opposed to buying a bin or basket. Less product can sometimes SAVE you space. And might make more sense in the long run.

Organization Doesn’t Always Cost Money

On a similar note to the above point, getting organized doesn’t and shouldn’t cost you money with each effort. Decluttering is where it’s really at! Many times after decluttering a garage, for example, a family decides we don’t in fact need all that wall shelving they previously thought was necessary. With the newfound space and items removed, it’s so airy there’s room for everything.

Even if you do need a few containers or bins, buy them on sale or at a discount either online or at a retailer with prices on a budget. The dollar store has great pricing for bins, containers and organizers. I never buy solutions full price. I usually wait for the sale and then alert clients. The Container Store for example always has one section or space of the store on sale at all times throughout the year. Follow their sales cycle before you start to organize.


Let Retailers Store Your Items

You’re probably confused here but stick with me. In this time we have access to everything. At our fingertips. Need anything? Go to Amazon and have it delivered next day. (OK, maybe not right now during this pandemic, but you catch my drift) Point is, if it exists now, it will still be in existence when you need it. I know there’s items you need to keep stocked, like toilet paper. Stick with me for a minute considering the bigger picture. I’m talking books, for example. Why can’t the library hold that book until you’re ready to read it or read it again? Target will always have cute things in the dollar section. Let them store it for you for when you really need that set of socks perfect for a stocking or a gift topper.

I find more items like these in homes than you can imagine. Items that can easily be located on a whim when you actually need them. But in the meantime, they are taking up valuable space. Space I need to help you get that beautiful after you’ve been dreaming of.

Try Not To Create Burdens

This is a tough one for a lot of us – emotional and sentimental items. When saving items it’s a good idea to consider how YOU feel when items from family members are passed down to you. Items you now feel obligated to keep or display or find a space for when you don’t have the space. Sometimes these items can cause arguments between you and your spouse or partner too. Yikes!

When keeping your children’s artwork, photos or items you think they will love to see or have later, really give it a hard look. Is this something that can be photographed and used in a cute memory book? Is this something YOU have an attachment to but they don’t remember it at all? Ask them before you store it with the idea of giving it to them years and years from now.

Keep in mind, doing this also keeps you from holding onto a burden for yourself.

Find A Methodology That Works For You

By now, we are all aware of Marie Kondo and her “spark joy” movement. Does her methodology sink in and actually spark or motivate you to declutter and organize? Great! Go with it! There are many organizing experts who have written books and shared tips for getting organized. Share their expertise so you don’t have to hire someone for help. Sometimes finding that person, author or expert is all you need to get going. Peter Walsh is great too!


The biggest hurdle I see with families is getting to the finish line. I’ve been there too – I know. That last 5-10% is always the toughest. But I promise, you will sleep better knowing every last detail has been covered and it’s truly complete. Finished! This is why sometimes starting small is better.

Thank you for letting me share this list with you…and I hope even 1 or 2 resonate.

A HUGE thank you to Jenn for inviting me in and for your solid, undying friendship and support. Look forward to getting sweaty with you and everyone else when the studio reopens. Which IT WILL!!! We are all here cheering you on girl!

Back soon with more guys!



Photo credit: Mercedes Angela Portraits – website and Instagram

comments +

  1. Darlene says:

    I am going on Amazon to look for your book didn’t know about it until reading this post. Thank You stay home and stay safe.

I'd Love To Hear From You!



terms of service & privacy policy


© 2022 Samantha Pregenzer LLC |
Bay Area, California