September 5, 2014 at 1:00 am

Smart Solutions

Organizing can be more palatable in small bites

Dividers help keep your drawers organized. (Real Simple)

I live in the land of procrastination, especially where organization is concerned. In the days leading up to a recent vacation, I was amazed how much I managed to accomplish when pushed to the limit.

My car, which was long overdue for scheduled maintenance and a thorough emptying of the trunk, was treated to both. As it turns out, neither one took much time or effort.

All of the laundry was done and I had finally activated a new backup service for my computer files after much delay.

The house was neat and tidy for our neighbors who would be checking on it while we were gone. In fact, it hadnt looked that good in quite some time.

So, when my husband and daughter took a second trip shortly after our first one, I vowed to spend my spare time getting things done around the house. In reality, I knew the chances were slim that this would actually happen.

What was supposed to be a quiet week gave way to an unexpected boost in work and social obligations that acted as a natural distraction from my original plan.

The house still looked great on the surface when they returned, but most of my mayhem hides behind closed doors.

Last month, I was on a mission to organize our storage room. A friend had given us some sturdy shelves, and my daughter was helping me label plastic containers and sort through our belongings.

We were making great progress until the label maker jammed, and the worlds largest spider appeared out of nowhere. I thought it was dead, but I was sadly mistaken.

Once again, I had an excuse (or two) to stop the project, and I havent been back since.

In the meantime, my daughter, who is obsessed with YouTube videos on organization, continues to get her room in order. Its beginning to look better than any other part of the house.

This makes me think I might need a new strategy until I realize theres nothing wrong with the old one as long as I stick to it.

Lately Ive been relying on some of my old favorites, like never leaving a room without grabbing something that belongs in another room and doing a final sweep of papers and other recyclables the night before garbage day.

Separating tedious tasks into small portions still makes sense. I am trying to convince myself to return to my routine of organizing a drawer a day. Ive learned that drawer dividers can prevent them from getting messy again.

Simple solutions, such as stashing outgoing items near the door, make a big difference. In our case, this can be magazines for a friend or library returns.

Now that my label maker is on the mend, I feel added pressure to complete some projects. As I revisit my old organizing tricks, I plan to introduce a few new ones, too. It might be time to watch YouTube with my daughter for inspiration.

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at