Friday, September 26, 2008

Organizing interview with Beverly Coggins

I'm so excited to introduce Bev and give her answers on the topic of organizing. From what you'll read, you see that she lives it out and is excited to help other people live in peace. Thanks again Bev!

Beverly Coggins, professional organizing expert, speaker and author, has been organizing herself and others for over 30 years, inspiring her authorship of the 1-2-3 … Get Organized series comprised of 17 books and workbooks.

“My passions are to help people make home a refuge, and to help people function in peace rather than chaos, whether at home or at work. When my home, office, and life are organized, I have more time and energy to devote to my family, my friends, and my faith,” observes Mrs. Coggins.

She lives with her husband in Ohio, where they are foster parents for teenage girls. They have two grown daughters.

Her website is Her blog devoted to organizational tips is found at And you can contact her at


(Jamie) What is your best organizing tip?
(Bev) For time: Know your priorities, passions, and gifts, as well as the legacy you want to leave your children and future generations. By knowing these critical items, you know what is important to you, and you know how to spend your time. If you don’t know where you’re going, it doesn’t really matter how efficient you are!
J As Yogi Berra said, “We’re lost, but we’re making good time!”

For space: if it takes less than five minutes to accomplish the task, do it now rather than postpone it.

Do you find that organization has a lot to do with simplifying your life? How?
Again, if you know what is important to you, you eliminate those activities and possessions that don’t contribute to them. This frees up and simplifies your schedule as well as your clutter.

How do you manage to organize and simplify during the extremely busy seasons of life?
If you have systems in place already, it’s easier to maintain them. Let’s be real – when life gets busy, it usually gets messy. Sometimes you just need to give yourself permission to be messy for a time, knowing that you’ll get back to your system soon. Of course, you can’t use that rationalization for long periods of time, but for short bursts of busyness.

What are the best ways to go about organizing with small children in the house (with all their toys and stuff)?
When my children were pre-school age and at home, I had certain times each day where we would together put toys away – before lunch, before dinner, and before bedtime. As they got older and were away at school, it was before bedtime. If there is a place for everything and a system in place and a time to maintain that system, stuff doesn’t pile up as readily.

We also put away about 2/3 of their toys when they were small. Every few months we’d swap out toys. It wasn’t overcrowded. And when we swapped toys, we could evaluate as to age appropriateness.

We used shelves instead of toy boxes.

What is the most important step for a person who is just starting to organize?
Start small – with a surface, drawer, etc. Also start with small increments of time – anyone can do anything, no matter how overwhelming it is, for 15 minutes! Put on some great music and have fun!

What part of the house, do you find, gets dismissed most easily? What can we do about that?
Many times people have an area or a room that becomes the dumping zone for possessions without a home. The long-term solution is to find a home for each item in your home and discard those no longer needed. This takes time and perseverance, but it is so worth the effort!

Do you think being organized helps a person save money? How?
Absolutely! When you organize your meals by planning menus, making grocery lists, and shopping only once a week, you are less likely to eat out or get take out. You could be eating salmon or steak for the price of four combo meals at a fast food restaurant. If you’re frugal, and you don’t use a lot of prepared food, you could squeeze several meals out of that amount!

When you’re organized, you plan your life. You plan your trips and errands. And with the price of gas these days – that’s a huge savings!

When your possessions are organized, you can easily see what you have. You are less likely to purchase things you already own and can’t find or don’t know you have!

And when you know what is important to you, you are less likely to spend money on items other people think are important. You have a filter through which you evaluate your time, your activities, and your spending.


  1. Wow Jamie! Thanks for doing this. This interview (as the other one) was excellent. Such great tips and advice for living simply. Love it! And I love you! Way to go for it!

  2. Great, practical organizing tips that anyone can use. I especially like the tip on starting in small increments of 15 minutes.

    Lynn Cressy

  3. Thanks Lynn for checking out my site. I looked at yours and you seem great at organizing and decorating!