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When You Don’t Know Where To Begin

This episode is for those who long to get organised but don’t know where to begin. Bonnie and Lily talk about the basic principles of organising, how to declutter successfully and small steps that you can take to transform your home in just 10 minutes. If you’ve tried to get organised before and are ready to conquer the clutter once and for all, this episode will show you how.

Plus, we make a big announcement!


Episode Transcript

BONNIE: Hello and welcome. I am Bonnie.

LILY: and I am Lily, and this is Little Home Organised, the podcast dedicated to helping you declutter, get organised and reclaim time for the things you love.


BONNIE: Hello and welcome.  In this weeks episode we are talking about where to begin when decluttering and organising your home.  We will chat about the basic principles to organise any space, what tools you will need and how to make instant changes in just 10 minutes.

LILY: Oh my goodness, you know what I just realised, that song by Abba that we loved to sing Money, money, money, well you are Bonnie, Bonnie, Bonnie

BONNIE: Oh dear

LILY: And I think that is how I am going to refer to you from now on.

BONNIE: I am totally fine for that.

LILY: I have to say you same thrice.


LILY: But I am actually generally so excited right now because we have some really exciting news, something that has been in the works – drum roll please…….” drum roll”

BONNIE: We are launching our very first online course.

LILY: The essential guide.

BONNIE: It is the only guide you will need to declutter and organise every space in your home.

LILY: Now this online course comes with videos, bite sized step by step instructions and additional resources to help you the busy parent, the busy person, declutter your home from head to toe.

BONNIE: And to celebrate the launch of his course we are inviting you to join us for a free, free webinar, declutter your home in 7 days, it is a free webinar on October 6 at 8pm, Australian Eastern standard time and the spaces are limited so please head on over and register: – littlehomeorganised.com.au/webinar

LILY: And it gets better to celebrate the launch of this course we have teamed up with Second Scout to offer prizes to the first 5 people who purchased the essentials guide.

BONNIE: Second Scout is an amazing Brisbane based company that creates beautiful organising labels.  They use not only words but pictures too so that even the littlest person in your family can help you stay organised even before they can read.  They are made of premium grade clear vinyl.  They are waterproof and they look amazing, no matter whether it is a draw, a cupboard, the shelves, or your containers and especially those ones that get covered in finger-paint.

LILY: Head to secondscout.com.au to check out there full range.

BONNIE: So once again to register for that free webinar on October 6th head to littlehomeorangised.com.au/webinar, And we will see you there

LILY: You will see us there because it is video, so not only will you get to hear our beautiful voices but you will get to see the faces behind them as well.

BONNIE: Unless we wear a mask.

LILY: COVID, oh topical Bonnie, you know how to keep it relevant but today we talking all things organisation and what to do when you are just like ahhh I don’t even know where to start and I am sure you have encountered that with many of your clients that you have walked in and they have just thought, I wanted to get on top of this I am just surrounded by it and I just don’t even know where to begin.

BONNIE: Well you know it is really funny because we moved house recently and we were packing up one day and you and I were actually recording when this was happening and I came out to the garage where my husband was staring at piles of garage stuff and he just looked completely bewildered.

LILY: He was deer in the headlights, wasn’t it?

BONNIE: Yeah he was just really zoning out and I said “What’s wrong?” and he said I am overwhelmed, I don’t know where to begin, he goes I think I finally worked out why people hire you.  And I was like “Thanks honey”, 9 ½ years later that’s amazing.

LILY: I loved it. You just kind of walked in there and you were like, oh roll up your sleeves and you are like she’s arrived.  It was awesome because I also watched you spring into action and you were just like sweet, ok even though this is my stuff too I am able to remove myself from the situation and I have got the skills and the tools to be able to go okay when I am surrounded by overwhelmed, what can I do to tackle this problem.

BONNIE: Yes and I think that is sometimes what it comes down to is having someone who is a step out of it to be able to come in and give that objective view point and it was awesome because in just 10 minutes I was able to get things to a place where I could go back to recording with you and he was like sweet, yep I am good now, thanks for that, now I am back on track and I know what I am doing.  So it really can be as simple as a 10 minute exercise to really help you on your way.

LILY: And I mean that’s the perks of being married to a professional organiser, that’s the perks of you being a professional organiser but you don’t have to be a professional organiser you can look at your stuff, you can get on top of it and make a decision and get started today.  So lets like cover the basics first of getting organised.  When we talk about organisation, there is kind of 3 main components right

BONNIE: Yeah 3 phases and people get them in the wrong order sometimes, um but they are decluttering first, organising second, and maintaining third.

LILY: And I think where people do get it wrong is they get really excited and inspired and that is when they go out and go shopping, they buy all their storage containers, come home and they haven’t actually done the cull first,  they haven’t made the plan, you know they have the good intentions but they have kind of gotten the order around the wrong way.  So if you are at home wondering oh I don’t even know where to begin, step one time to declutter.

BONNIE: Because I think a lot of people otherwise will look at social media and see all these beautifully organised pantries and spaces and go oh it is as simple as me going to my local department store and buying a whole lot of storage.

LILY: And can I put a controversial opinion out there,

BONNIE: No, oh okay


BONNIE: Just do it, its fine.  I will just disassociate myself from you when people don’t like it.

LILY: We are not related.  Ah pinterest perfect pantries are not necessarily practical.

BONNIE: Noooo, so true

LILY: What did she say… I dropped the microphone but my producer would be very cross

BONNIE: It is far to expensive for that.

LILY: No but truly like some pinterest perfect pantries are super functional and beautiful and those are the ones that truly impress me but a lot of them are like not set up in a way that actually practically works for what gets brought into the house and the pantry is the best example of that because you try to estimate how much stuff and how much content of food and stuff is going to come into the pantry and then things are overflowing and you don’t follow the system and or the system doesn’t really work, or to make the system work there is, you have to add in multiple steps to your day and people are busy and like

BONNIE: YOU are making me stressed

LILY: Right, like I feel like you know when we get focused on that idea of perfection we really can start to weight ourselves down and it can be so overwhelming that it stops us from even wanting to jump in and start so you know it is really important to like ditch that expectation and you know you can create the order but don’t get yourself more overwhelmed than you probably already feeling do it in the right order, take the right steps.  Lets start with the most logical step and that is of course to declutter, lessen what we are working with so we know actually what we do want to work with.

BONNIE: Yes and it is only once you have done the declutter can you then work on the organising what you want to keep and what you are going to use, because there is no point buying storage and organising and labelling all this stuff if it is actually stuff that you don’t need to keep and you can let go of.  So that is why the decluttering comes first, and then the organising comes second and then once you have done all that organising, then the third and final step which is the most important one, is maintenance, it is like anything, if you go on a diet and you don’t maintain a good exercise regime and eating healthy and getting good sleep and drinking lots of water, well of course the diet regime that you implemented is then going to go backwards because you are not maintaining.  So any big changes that you put into your house, you need to maintain them for that organisation to stick.

LILY: It is interesting I think in life we often think about things like destinations like bars to meet, goals to achieve rather than looking at life being like a consistent fluid journey

BONNIE: Journey

LILY: A fluid journey, yes we all love that word, mmm journey my journey

BONNIE: Um I don’t know what accent that was but it was funny

LILY: It wasn’t it was more like little; I am trying to think it is not valley girl that is so 90’s.  It is

BONNIE: Sweet Valley High, Baby sitters club

LILY:  That’s different again, have you seen they have done a remake of that.

BONNIE: I have but haven’t watched it

LILY: I watched it out of pure nostalgia, it was definitely made for young teenagers and I was like  I am very, I am too old for this but it was great, it really hit the nostalgia on the head, but you know it is true, I am not going to suddenly one day wake up and oh I am organised tick.  My body, my mind, my soul has met this criteria and now it is just going to feel completely you know natural to me and I am never going to have any inclination towards disorganisation or poor habits, no, will it be easier, heck yes but will it still take work? Yeah maintenance is key in all areas of our life.

BONNIE: Especially when you think about relationships, it is not like when you got married, you never had to spend you know one on one time with your spouse ever again, like everything needs maintenance and when we forget that, that’s when our relationships, our homes and health, all that stuff falls apart, maintenance is KEY.   The second thing that I would like to talk about as a basic principle is categorising, and this when I talked about that story with my husband in the garage this was actually all we needed to do to help him move from being overwhelmed, because he had laid everything out on the floor and he was preparing to pack things and something’s were going to storage and something’s were going with us to our new house which is temporary and then other things were just going to go in general, get donated or given away.  The overwhelm for him was that everything was spread out altogether.  All the categories were all mixed up, so all I did in that 10 minutes was actually go in and categorise and say okay well this is your gardening stuff, this is your tools related stuff, this is your hobby related stuff and this is our camping stuff and do it that kind of way and then I just stood there with him and said okay some of this, of each category you will need to take, say to this temporary house, so what are those things and lets put them altogether and just by doing that and having those you know 5 or 6 different categories and him knowing, oh well we are not going to use camping stuff, he could easily then continue the process of decluttering and packing so that moving was not so overwhelming for him and I think categorising is something a lot of people kind of forget about.

LILY: Yeah it is actually quite a simple concept but it is incredibly helpful and another thing that you do when you are trying to get organised and you are starting with a space is take everything out if you can, take it away from that like area and lay it out,  you know like you did on the garage floor and then do your categorising, put it where it needs to go and I feel like these simple things are making it easier for you to make decisions which is a core component of organising is you have to make the decision on this item.  Am I keeping it? Is it going? Am I donating it? What am I doing with it?

BONNIE: To really simplify it, think about when your kids learn how to sort and they use coloured counters or beads when they are at school and you put all the blue beads together and you put all the pink beads together, that is the same way that categorising your stuff works,  so put all the pencils together, put all your papers together, put all your books together, put like with like and then you can easily look at a pile of items and know that belongs to this particular category.

LILY: So another one of the main principles of organising is decision making and I think this is where a lot of people get stuck because they are not sure on what to keep, does this item stay, does it go, is this the best place for it.

BONNIE: Yes and delayed decision making is actually what produces most of our clutter in our homes because we look at something and we might have that gut feeling of yeah it should go, but then guilt pops in.  Oh, grandma brought that toy for my child, oh cant get rid of that.

LILY: Actually it is quite a useful thing, I do have 5 of them but it is pretty useful.

BONNIE: Oh I spent $80 on that pair of pants, it doesn’t matter that they are 2 sizes too small.

LILY: I have never done that.

BONNIE: So yes we can get really stuck, oh dear, we can get really stuck with decision making because um

LILY: What’s that quote where it talks about clutter as literally just a delayed decisions.


LILY: I love that quote.

BONNIE: It is true

LILY: Right now where ever you are, look around, if you are in your house and look at stuff and just look at the things that are there that you don’t want them to be there, is it literally that you just can’t make a decision about that.

BONNIE: Mm you can’t let it go because you feel guilty, or it is a sunk cost, you have spent money on it,  and you want to recoup the money, or yeah it is very true, decision making is the key to decluttering your home.

LILY: Absolutely

BONNIE: Making decisions.

LILY: So when you are at that point and you know okay I have pulled everything out, I have laid it out on the garage floor and you have sorted it into your categories you then have to categorise what is going where as far as what do I keep, what do I donate, what is rubbish and than what should I sell and if you can keep those 4 pillars in mind when you are going through a space in your house, it kind of helps you do the

BONNIE: I really want to say, the pillars of the earth

LILY: What’s that?

BONNIE: It is a TV show

LILY: Is it

BONNIE: It is really good

LILY: It sounds like daytime television.

BONNIE: No, no, no it is like one of these

LILY: Or a docuseries

BONNIE: No, no it is one of those older like period type dramas, kind of like game of thrones type era but no where near as gory.  It is very good actually; it is like maybe a 3 part series. Yes sorry, it is very dramatic though you know the big intense music and you said, the 4 pillars and I just thought about it.

LILY: You just heard a gong and you were like


LILY: You are taken somewhere else.

BONNIE: I was taken away to another place.

LILY: But you know keep those 4 categories in mind, keep, donate, sell or rubbish or if you are in the States trash.

BONNIE: Trash, we have a book that mum actually brought when she was last in Burma, visiting the orphanage and it has got all these puppets on sticks and they talk about you know everybody is valuable and the story is these 6 friends are in the classroom and there is like the water vase, the trash can and the broom and the blackboard and something else and you know how they realise that the trash can and the broom are really dirty and so they should leave the classroom because they don’t want dirty friends, so they leave and then because the broom and the dustbin are gone the classroom gets really gross and disgusting and there is rats and all these things and the teacher comes back and tells the water vase and the blackboard and whatever the other thing is, everybody is valuable and we need everybody and we should treat everybody with respect and blah, blah, blah and then they invite the trash can and the broom back and the classroom becomes a happy place again and it is has got these little puppet things on sticks and you can turn it around to make the trash can happy face or a sad face and so my kids just absolutely loving this book at the moment with this trash can and that was just a really digressing story but

LILY: I was like I was wondering how this was going to dive back in but literally you heard the word trash and you ran with it.

BONNIE: It has just been such a focal point for my kids, like every night for the last week, it is like can read that book

LILY: You know what Bonnie, it was a great message for everyone to hear, everyone is valuable

BONNIE: Everyone is valuable

LILY: Hey there you, you are valuable,

BONNIE: Mmmm hmmm

LILY: Even if you today look like trash

BONNIE: Hot trash

LILY: So the biggest tip we can give anybody when it comes of organising and not knowing where to begin is when you get in there to start, set yourself up for success by starting small, do something achievable.

BONNIE: Mmmm yes, something like your cutlery draw or the top of your bedside table, these are really small place that are usually pretty easy to do, you can do them under the 10 minutes, um to get them organised and to have success with a place like your cutlery draw for example, then it means every time you go to use that draw you think ah isn’t this nice, this is organised I have removed all  the items that don’t need to be in here, I have given it a little bit of a clean and then you can move onto other spaces whether it is your utensils draw or a bigger section to organise and you have had success with the small thing and you can move on and have success with the larger things.

LILY: It is like when you start like that health regime and you eat like one salad and you are like um yes so healthy

BONNIE: Oh yeah look at me.

LILY: I am water, I am green

BONNIE: What is that up, that sounds like an add for I don’t know some eco thing

LILY: Like all of them but the whole point is set yourself up for success, you know start small, make achievable but also we also say you know go for the non sentimental things because it is easier to make decisions when we do not have emotional attachment to something and that goes for all things in life, so you know a cutlery draw is a pretty safe place to start.

BONNIE: Um now I think it is time for this week clutter confession.


WACKY CONFESSIONS ANONYMOUS CALLER 1: I am a compulsive collector of anything and everything that relates to the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys.  Everything from Band-Aids, toothbrushes, coasters, flags, stubby coolers, beach towels, cups, plates, clocks, if it comes with the cowboys logo on it, I have to add it my collection.

LILY: Amazing, I think we found the Cowboy’s biggest fan.  Did you know that you could get like custom Band-Aids like that though, like plasters?

BONNIE: I did not know you could get Band-Aids like that and you know I think the Cowboys should try and get in touch with this person or this person should get in touch with the Cowboys and say, Hey I am your biggest fan, like use me in your advertising and stuff because I bet her house is really cool.

LILY: Yeah, I bet you from head to toe it is covered in Cowboys paraphernalia but you know I have got a feeling that they probably already know who this person is.

BONNIE: That’s true she is probably very vocal at the Cowboys games.

LILY: She sounds like their best supporter.   Well if you have got a clutter confession we would also love to hear it, so it is some weird, wacky or wonderful and maybe it is a collection like that or maybe it is an item in your house that someone else might find unusual.  So let us know, send us in an audio recording on our Facebook page Little Home Organised Podcast.


BONNIE: So we mentioned earlier when you are sorting out your piles, you have got your 4 pillars of the earth, and they are keep, donate, rubbish, sell.  Now the keep pile is all the stuff that you want to keep, so the things that you have decided have a place in your present,  they have a place in your future and you want to make a space for them in your home.  So where do these keepers go? Well there is a couple of different options, so safe for sentimental items, because we always have sentimental items just floater around our house,  make sure that you have got a memory box for you, for everyone in your house, so that when you find that hospital band you have got a place to put it and you don’t just put it in the junk draw because that is how you get the draw of doom is by not knowing where to put something and so you just put it in there because it is too hard to work out where it really should go.  So it goes in the memory box, anything sentimental.  Then if there is anything that is a keeper in the space that you are organising, save for example you are in the kitchen and you have got some pots and you have decided well I am going to keep them, well they go in the kitchen don’t they and they go in a space that is near to the stove, that is prime real estate that means that you can access them easily, they are not going to be hard to get out, so that is what happens with the keepers in the space that you are actually organising.  You just put them away, you find them a home.  Even if it is a temporary home because you need to buy some more storage, so for example you have done your utensil draw but you need to buy a draw divider,  just pop the utensils back in the draw, then go and buy the divider, bring the divider home and put it into place.  The third thing you can do with your keeping items, these are the ones that don’t belong in the room that you are organising.  So say you are organising the kitchen and you find some books in there.  Well they don’t belong in the kitchen they belong in the lounge room but if you go to put those books back in the lounge room you then find other things to do along the way and all of a sudden it is 3 hours later and you haven’t actually finished the kitchen.

LILY: And you can become pretty overwhelmed to.

BONNIE: And that becomes very overwhelming so then we have this system called the Elsie basket, so Elsie stands for ELSEWHERE, and it is funny because we devised this system along time ago and then shortly after that the frozen movie came out and so people said oh you should start calling it the Elsa basket, let it go, let it go.

LILY: Back to the room that it came from. Trademark

BONNIE: You and I should so go into music production.  Just give us a call anybody who likes our lyrics.  Um so the Elsie basket yeah is for anything that goes anywhere else in the house.  So the books that belong in the living room, the clothes that belong in the wardrobe, that kind of thing.

LILY: Next any items that you want to donate, or need to be returned they go in your go box, so basically you designate a zone, a space, a box where you put items in that need to exit your house and you know we talk about the idea of a go zone and so this is the perfect space for your go box, so any of those items go straight into there.  So things that you might be returning might be a library book that has been borrowed, it could be

BONNIE: the dish that your mother gave you a lasagne in.

LILY: Yeah and left at your house so you could finish the leftovers.  You know just those basic things that you happen to end up with that don’t belong to you that need to go somewhere.  Having a designated space for them is a perfect way to get yourself a little bit more organised.

BONNIE:  And the other thing that we do with the go box in our house which works fabulously is this is our donate box obviously, and so when kids come to me and say oh I am finished with this toy, or I don’t want this anymore or I have outgrown this piece of clothing, I will say well where does it need to go? And they go oh in the go box and they will go an put it in there and when that box is full we will then pack it up and take if off to the right charity.

LILY: And it is awesome because maybe you have done like the bigger portion of your donating, your big bags of stuff and that is probably not going to fit into your go box but if you are in your maybe or maintenance stage and you keep coming across things, you know have a designated spot

BONNIE: Yes, yes and that is very true because when you do your first declutter there is heaps of stuff that is to go right and so you are just piling it up, piling it up and then you can bag it all up but when you are at that maintenance point and you have done lots of declutters and there are only little bits here and there that need to go it is a lot harder to think well where do I put it, I have only got one item or 2 items and I don’t want them just floating around the house and the go box is the perfect solution.

LILY: It is the designated spot

BONNIE: It is, the third pillar is rubbish, so this included recycling, things that you want to give away that maybe a charity can’t actually use but you know that someone could use.  So for example if you had a broken washing machine and a charity didn’t want but you knew that someone would be able to either take it apart and use it for parts or fix it themselves, this might be something that you would list online as a freebie or you might put it out on your kerb for someone to pick up, oh my goodness you should have seen people picking up all the free stuff that we put out on the kerb when we were moving house,  it was like black Friday sales.  It was pretty funny um but it was great because there were all really good things that we just didn’t need anymore and honestly people were so stoked that they got free toasters, free kettles, free Lego heads, you know it was really good

LILY: You put the work free on it in front of something and it suddenly becomes a whole lot more enticing though doesn’t it.

BONNIE: That’s so true

LILY: But you know when we are decluttering I think we can still be mindful of our contribution to landfill so look at your stuff and if it can be recycled, recycle it, you know in Australia you can even recycle your soft plastics, so like if you buy a loaf of bread and it comes in a soft plastic bag that can be recycled back at your grocery store so be mindful of the options in your area to be considerate of the planet as well when you are doing the whole decluttering thing.

BONNIE: I am really passionate these days actually about all of the recycling options that are available and it is so good because you can recycle practically anything, you know your old x-rays, your mobile phone, your old socks um you do to any of the office stores and you can do your old pens, there are programs that take old makeup cases, like there are so many options out there for recycling and repurposing things that you don’t need anymore.  It is awesome.

LILY: Yeah and if you are not sure just jump on line and you are guaranteed to find a whole host of information about that.  And of course pillar no 4, do you want to say your pillar theme song again.

BONNIE: The pillars of the earth.

LILY: I was going to say pillars of the night but I knew it wasn’t right.  Is of course selling and we actually had an episode on this recently, feel free to check it out, turn your clutter into cash but you can actually take the items that you are decluttering, list them on line and make back a bit of money on them, maybe your selling something that was a part of your past but you don’t see it being a part of your future.  Selling online is a great way to make back some money and impart something that was special to you onto to somebody else but one of the important things to consider is having a deadline, if you have got a ton of stuff that you are chucking up online and you don’t have a deadline you may actually find that you end up with a lot of stuff just sitting in your spare room for months and months and months.  So those are the 4 pillars and you know that can help you think about getting organised right, so grab your stuff, take it out of the space, small non sentimental, spread it out, categorise it and then decide which of the 4 pillars and that can kind of help you figure out what to do and don’t forget Elsie, Elsie is such a great concept to stop you getting distracted and overwhelmed when you are focusing on one zone in your house.  And just use the laundry basket for Elsie

BONNIE: Make sure that your washing is put away first.


BONNIE:  And then just yeah have a basket or an old tub and there she is.

LILY: So if you are at home and you are thinking ah I just don’t know where to begin, start small, start non sentimental, pick a tiny space that can help set you up for success and rather than focusing on your entire house and everything that needs to happen in the entire home break it down, what’s that say about the elephant Bonnie

BONNIE: How do you eat an Elephant, one bite at a time.  And that brings me to this week’s tidy task.  This week’s tidy task is just 10 minutes long.  So what we would like you to do is pick one of the following sections in your house, either your bench or the top of your bedside table, just spend 10 minutes decluttering, so you are going to sort it into categories and then you are going to sort into keep, donate, rubbish and sell and then you will be on your way, transforming your home in just 10 minutes.

LILY: And that’s it for this weeks episode, thank you so much for tuning in, we know how busy life can be and really appreciate you lending us your ears and don’t forget we have that free webinar coming up, make sure to head to our Facebook page to check it out.


LILY: See you later


We would love to see the conversation continue, head over to the Little Home Organised Community group on Facebook, ask questions, find motivation and share your before and afters, and if you enjoyed the show please help us going by hitting subscribe on Apple Podcast, Spotify or where ever you listen.  It is free and ensures you do not miss and episode but if you really want to share the love leave us a rating and review.  Trust me it makes all the difference in the world.




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