Organize to Your Core Values* Gayle M. Gruenberg, CPO-CD®

Organize to Your Core Values* Gayle M. Gruenberg, CPO-CD®

January is National Get Organized Month. Why? Because one of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to once and for all get organized.

Come closer. Closer. I’m going to let you in on a little secret.

There is no once and for all when it comes to getting organized.

People change over time.

Life circumstances change over time.

Our organizing systems have to evolve with us. We are never stagnant, nor should our organizing systems be.

That said, I’m going to share with you an interesting idea. What would happen if we organize according to our Core Values? Organizing according to our Core Values can help to create a system that is natural for us and therefore easy to maintain. Every decision we make on what to do, what to acquire or purge, and how we allocate our money would be based on whether or not it fits our Core Values. To me, that sounds very freeing. Decisions would be so much easier to make!

How does organizing according to your Core Values work?

First, you have to make sure your Needs are met. A well-known model of needs is Maslow’s Hierarchy. Once we satisfy our body’s basic Needs, we can move on to secure our Needs for safety, love/belonging, esteem, and self-actualization.

Next, you have to figure out what your Core Values are. This requires some real thought and mindfulness. Have you ever stopped to think about your Core Values? What are the traits in yourself and others that you hold most dear? Here are a few examples of Core Values:























Then it’s time to address your organizing systems. Start with one small area, like a drawer.

  1. Gather
    1. Take everything out of the drawer and put it on a horizontal surface.
    2. Clean the drawer.  
    3. Examine the contents of the drawer.
    4. Throw away any obvious garbage.
  2. Sort
    1. Put everything into logical categories. Put like with like.
    2. Decide what needs to be kept in the drawer according to its location and use. If things belong elsewhere, set them aside for now.
    3. This is where Core Values come into play. What are you telling yourself about your “stuff?” Whose voice do you hear in your head? Does every item you have meet a Need or serve a Value?
    4. Pare down to only what meets a Need or serves a Value. Are there too many of a certain category? How many do you have to keep? For example, are there ten scissors in the kitchen “junk” drawer? You could keep two and relocate or donate the rest.
  3. Contain
    1. Put back what belongs in the drawer.
    2. Use containers that fit the drawer, and keep things in their categories.  Now you can easily find what you need when you need it and return things to their rightful places when you’re done.
    3. Label what goes where, with pictures or words, so others using the drawer can follow the system.
    4. “A place for everything and everything in its place.”
  4. Maintain
    1. Modify the system as you use it. If it’s too complicated, simplify it.
    2. Regularly reevaluate the system according to your Needs and Values. I call this a “periodic tweak.” What has changed in your life? Do your systems still serve you? What do you need to do to bring your systems up to date?

Apply the process of evaluating your systems according to your Core Values to every room in your house, commitment you make, purchase you consider, and relationship you have. Over time, it will become second nature to ask yourself, “Does this decision support my Core Values?” Life may start to feel happier, your home may start to feel bigger, you may find you have more time for the things that you most enjoy, your relationships may become more fulfilling.

If you start to organize according to your core values, I would love to know what results you see.  Call or email me to let me know!

Gayle M. Gruenberg, CPO-CD® is the Chief Executive Organizer of Let’s Get Organized, LLC, a premier professional organizing firm based in Bergen County, New Jersey. A former CPA, Gayle started LGO in 2003 to change people’s lives by helping them get organized. LGO specializes in Chronic Disorganization, divorce and estate organizing, and its signature LETGOTM services.  Visit LGO at

*Inspiration for this article is derived from The Coach Approach for Organizers,

My Time-Out is listed on’s 2018 Top 30 Emotional Intelligence Blogs on the Planet!!!

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