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A Realists' Organizing Vocabulary

The real meaning of those chirpy words that can feel hard to live up to.

letters on little wood tiles spellling choose your words
Words matter


  • The opposite of Upsize, which is what you’ve strived for all your life.

  • What you want to do when big spaces and big bills are no longer fun.



  • What you can enjoy, or at least manage, maintaining.

  • The contentment you feel when your spaces are Goldilocks-approved.



  • Things you don’t know what to do with.

  • OPS: Other People’s Stuff (or Sh*t, if you're bugged with them)


  • Gathering or trashing OPS.

  • Clearing countertops then forgetting where you stuffed things.



  • Toddlers enjoy. Adults not so much.

  • Categorizing things you shouldn’t have bought in the first place.



  • What cowboys do with cattle. What you should be doing.

  • Confronts one with the critical question (and side eye), “Do you honestly believe you need this? 

Need vs Want

  • Quite confusing at times.

  • Can be exactly the same.


  • Moving things, papers, and OPS around without finding a good home for them.

  • Your stomach when you realize how much stuff you have or they left you.


Rough sort

  • First round at categorization.

  • It is not, repeat, not the end of the game. But bravo!



  • What to do before and during selling your house, and even if you're not selling.

  • Displaying piles of churned stuff so others can admire your work. See rough sort. Still a bravo!


Recyle bins

  • Virtuous guilt relief.

  • Moments of frozen confusion of Is it? Isn't it? What number is it? What if I'm wrong?


  • Can get you a tax deduction.

  • The antidote to the guilt you feel for buying too much.


Give away pile       

  • Those bags by the front door you keep walking past. 

  • Your car's trunk contents, waiting, waiting, waiting for the donation center drop off.

Time Management

  • What bosses want me to teach their overworked staff.

  • A euphemism for pretending you always have control over your day. Ha!

Laundry Basket

  • The fastest way to clear up for company.

  • The door clearance architects should plan for but don't: a Rubbermaid laundry basket width plus your knuckles.



  • Weight gain from family sized portions for kid-less families.

  • Not usually a bargain. Two pound jars of chili powder are for restaurants.


Container store

  • Pricey inspiration.

  • A false promise of products = action.

Legal documents (Wills, PoAs)

  • What you know you should complete, someday.

  • What you're extremely grateful for in emergencies.

Typical quotes           

  • What was I thinking?

  • Do you think I have ADD?

  • I can’t believe I bought this!

  • I’m really smart; why is this so hard? 

  • Seemed like a good idea at the time.

  • I wish he'd done this before he died.

  • I should be able to do this myself but I just hate it.

  • By the way… (I’m moving, divorcing, extremely sick).


Life happens. Stuff arrives. Choose carefully. Share liberally.





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