Getting Organized While Working Full-Time

by golda on December 5, 2011

Mother working from home

Getting Organized While Working Full-Time

By Elvie Look

It just dawned on me that many think I am organized because I work from home, so I have tons of time. Well honey, you need to know that I had more time when I worked full time in the corporate world. At one point I was working full time for Employment and Insurance Canada, running a picture framing business from my basement, raising my two step-daughters, Oh, and we were building our home in the country while we were living in it.

So if you think you don’t have “time” to be organized…. you need to adjust your thinking. You can't afford the time NOT to be organized. Being organized is what enabled me to juggle all of our commitments, and I still fit in time to sew. I used to TRY to sew one thing each week. Of course that was a bit ambitious at times, but I was always working on something (because I love sewing, that is my hobby.) A friend wanted to know how did I find time to sew?

It is simple, it is the same principle I use for organizing which I teach in my book “21 Steps From Chaos To Calm.”

Because life is busy, and it seems to be getting busier. The computer was supposed to reduce paper and work, but it seems to eat up our time. Have you ever done some research on the computer, and the next thing you are browsing on Amazon? I have to catch myself and get back on track.

“If you want something done, give it to a busy person.” You've probably heard that quote, and I guess that is why I used to be asked to take on extra projects and alterations all of the time. No matter how busy I was, I would say yes and fit it in.

I was asked over and over, how did I do it? Here are some of my Secrets:

1. Get up an hour earlier Monday to Friday

My husband Ken used to work for CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) hosting the morning radio show. He was up at 4 every morning. When he got off work he would go home and have a nap. By the time I got off work, we made supper and then every night we were booked with meetings or aerobic classes. Then to bed early. I found that by getting up earlier, I used that hour as my time. It didn’t take long and getting up at 5 was no problem because I was sleeping better at night. I loved that hour in the morning. I did my sewing one morning, baking another, laundry another and house work. By doing this, we had our weekends free. This is especially helpful in the summer when you want to enjoy the outdoors more. Try it, you will love it.

2. Write everything down

Don’t rely on your memory. Write it down, whatever it is you need to do, and this includes things that are your HOBBY and fun things. Unfortunately I was raised that we couldn’t play until work was done. That actually is something I have to battle with to this day, because work is NEVER done. So I found I was NEVER playing. To overcome my thinking on that, I schedule my hobbies and my play-time on my To Do list – things like sewing, reading a novel,  knitting, quilting, or working on photo albums. Whatever projects I want to complete, I write them into my schedule each week.

3. 10-20-30 Minutes To Sew

There is a Sewing book by that title, but I had been applying that to my life long before it had been written. When you work full-time, it was a luxury I never had to devote a whole afternoon or day to a sewing project. So I would work on my project even when I had just ten minutes to spare. I would whip in to my sewing room, sew one or two seams, and back out. That is how I made my clothes, maybe just two seams a day, a little-here-little-there.

I use the same principle to work on organizing. Whenever I have 10, 20 or 30 minutes, I tackle just one stack of papers, or one drawer. You would be surprised how many times in a week you have “little windows” of time. Use them…that is your ticket to getting organized and maintaining your organized space. One word of caution though… I do this so much, even if I have two minutes, and it means I get lots done BUT, I cut it too close. Sometimes I am late. I think that is a characteristic of an Organized Person. That is my story…and I am sticking to it!

Kitchen Timer2

4. Set a timer

Just like baskets and bins are key in organizing, because they SET LIMITS. You will hear Organizers say, when that bin is full – it is time to purge. We need limits, otherwise we get carried away. The same is true with our time. If you are not careful with your time, you can get carried away in how you spend it or waste it. So, set a timer for yourself before you tackle a project or enjoy some hobby, or play on Facebook. A kitchen timer is great. Or, another idea is start your project fifteen minutes before your favorite TV show. This will encourage you to work on things in small windows of time, and you will quit when your show comes on.

5. Learn To Say No

Lightning will not strike you dead. You are not a bad person to say no. As a matter of fact, we are admonished to be modest. I was known about my love of sewing and was asked to do alterations all of the time. Here I would be fitting in repairing someone else’s underwear, and my projects were getting pushed aside. Then one day I read an article about modesty, and the definition was “an awareness of your limitations as well as chastity.” That was a revelation to me. As a busy person working full-time, I had to start saying no. Unfortunately it was after I suffered a burn-out, and had to take sick time. It was a hard lesson to learn, but your health, whether physical, mental or emotional, is important. No one needs to know the reason, you do not owe them that. You can just politely say “it’s impossible.” Who can argue with “impossible?”

Do whatever it takes to get organized because when you do, you actually Gain more TIME. These are just a few secrets I discovered in my busy life while working full time and running my own businesses. So you see, I am just like you, and I am proof you can get organized while working full time.

Elvie's Bio PhotoElvie Look: Your Professional Organizing Coach who is helping people get organized with her easy tips and suggestions. These systems help the busy mom, businessman or woman,  entrepreneur or student learn the keys to organizing in simple, actionable and manageable steps. She teaches how to get organized and maintain your organized space while carrying on your normal busy life. She is the author of "21 Steps From Chaos To Calm, "One-A-Day" Organizing Tips, and "Relax Without Guilt Video Series".



  is a single mom who is building her "Business From The Kitchen Table" and enjoys working with other moms to get them into the happy zone and living the lives they were meant to live! She has a FREE report entitled "The 3 List Building Mistakes Direct Sales Professionals Are Making Right Now". Don't listen to another dial tone, get this NOW!



{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Stacie Walker December 5, 2011 at 11:18 am


The five steps in this article are a huge help to busy working women, like me, to stay organized while operating a business at home. Thank you for sharing this priceless information.
Keep up the excellent work!
To Your Success,

Stacie Walker
Business Consultant
Woman in Leadership – Essential Knowledge for Business Success


2 LuSundra Everett
Twitter: lusundraeverett
December 5, 2011 at 11:21 am

I always seem to come across your blog posts when they are most fitting for me. Getting organized is one thing. STAYING organized is another! I'm still a work in progress on that. My life is WAY easier when I take the time to get organized! Great advice!


3 Monica December 6, 2011 at 3:35 am

Very important is learning  how to say No. I can't do that.  but guess I should from now on.  Every time I decided I will say no to some one. I end up doing the work.


4 Golda
Twitter: only1golda
December 6, 2011 at 11:35 am

For some reason women, in general, have a tough time saying no. Is it the need to please and be liked? Not sure. What I do know is that if you continue to say yes to everyone then you’ll ultimately have to say no to more and more of the things which are important to you and that will lead to resentment…NOT a healthy way to live at all!


5 Grady Pruitt
Twitter: successBB
December 7, 2011 at 12:41 am

I know I need to get a bit more organized myself.  I have ways in which I am very organized, but in other ways I am completely disorganized.  I need to work on setting up the system where I can get to the things I need to have the things I don't need out of the way.  Thanks for sharing.


6 Maxx December 19, 2011 at 12:04 pm

I have to agree with several of the other comments I've read here – It's not getting organized that's so much the issue, its really staying that way that can be a problem. Over the holidays, I feel my work area suffers while my home does really well since I'm always the host at home and helper at work. I actually almost gotten written up because of the condition of my desk and it makes me feel even more helpless since I don't actually have time in the work day to sit fix the mess so it just grows. I'm really glad I found your blog and I think I'll try and use of these tips after the new year.


7 Golda
Twitter: only1golda
December 20, 2011 at 10:51 am

You’re welcome Maxx.


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