Get ready for the biggest assignment ever!

O.K. everyone, I have a weekend homework assignment for you. No one is exempt and you will be graded.   Of course I have no way of knowing whether you did the assignment or not or how well you did.

Just know  that if you do not complete this assignment and accept the imaginary gold star I assign you under false pretences, … you’re a bad, bad person and hairs will grow out of your chin.  If you happen to be a man, 125 hairs will stop growing out of your chin, giving that  luxurious beard you’re so proud of a patchy appearance.

Onto the assignment!

This weekend, I would like you all to mentally prepare for one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever thrown your way before.

That’s right.  That’s all you have to do.  Mentally prepare for what’s coming next week. Like a boxer would mentally prepare for a fight, or a woman would mentally prepare for buying a bathing suit.

Because next Monday marks the start of the “5 Days of Organizing challenge” on The Art of Doing Stuff.




I have 5 days of organizing your home planned for next week starting with Monday … the closets.

Throughout the week I’ll show you ways to throw away, clear out, recycle and reuse your way to a more organized life.  It won’t be anything so drastic that it’s overwhelming.  Just a little guide and schedule to push you into clearing out some crap.

If you need even MORE incentive to get it done, know this … it’ll be way more fun than buying a bathing suit.

Have a good weekend!  And get ready to get rid of it.




  1. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Do I have to Mom???? OK..shit

  2. kathy says:

    WAYYYYY ahead of you, girl! I’ve been cleaning out cupboards, closets, drawers for the past month. Why not do this in the middle of the holiday season? I found gifts I forgot to give people five years ago!!! I found more clothing that’s too big for me (Yipee) and I found open space that is SO lovely to look at when the drawers and doors are flung open.

    But, alas, I didn’t find the mother-in-law’s diamond earrings (bad, bad me) nor the tax documents for my non-profit, nor the pendant from……oh, well. I’m trying! And, it is SOOOOO wonderful to clean out, give away and lighten up!!!

    Can’t wait for your guidance.

    • Emily says:

      Kathy, that is so funny. I was rummaging in my “gift” closet right before Christmas and found 2 wrapped with a name, one without. I had to open them to figure out what and who they were for. LOL We are so silly huh?

  3. missnicoleo says:

    Funnnnnn!!! So when I throw my boyfriends stupid stuff out I can say you told me to!

  4. Sue says:

    I gleefully accept the assignment! I am going to start working on it right away…as in right now since I can’t seem to sleep. :/ maybe because I have a tiny Serama rooster and his girlfriend living in a pen in my house right now due to the cold temps we have been having, and he is crowing continuously!! Anywho, I need all the help in the world with organization so this is going to be great for me. Hope you have a great weekend!! Cock-a-doodle-doo!!

  5. Alex says:

    I have 5 garbage bags full of donations ready to be dropped at thrift stores this week, bins and boxes ready for the kitchen and blackmailing my husband to going to IKEA for 3rd time in less than a week. Do I need to polish up the paper shredder? Or can I just have a campfire?

  6. Christina says:

    Yay!!!! Cannot wait!! I tackled my linen closet and my closet so far….I’m scared to look at my husbands and the guest room!

  7. Janet says:

    Oh crumb…can I delay mine a week? I have to work all next week!…but the following one is good…..I’ll check in every night when I get home to see how it’s going for you all….just think…I’ll be SO INSPIRED!

  8. gloria says:

    Closets ought to be an easy challenge for me, seeing as my little bungalow only has the one. I knew I’d find a silver lining in that fact one day.

  9. Twyla says:

    I will be your first drop out!!!
    I don’t want to ……..waaaaaaaaaaaaa

  10. carolyn says:

    I am looking forward to it…recycle AND reuse? Cool! Seriously, I need this.

  11. Annieb says:

    Can I get rid of my bathing suits?

  12. Valerie says:

    Information on middle aged mens’ hair/beard/growth etc:

    My partner believes that for some reason the hair follicles get confused and change direction at middle age. The hair stops growing on their heads and comes out their noses and ears. Fascinating belief, isn’t it?

  13. Raymonde says:

    Oh shit… I have a whole lot of mental preparation to do…

  14. Elly says:

    You do realise that you are speaking to someone who still has 1970s kaftans somewhere in the house – which I am keeping as they WILL be useful when they come back into fashion…when I can find them…and when I’ve been on that diet so that they fit…but only the ones without the moth holes…

    Dear Karen,
    I’m Elly and I’m a hoardaholic. Please come and run my life for a few months as I seem to have lost the instructions!

  15. Katie says:

    Yeah! I have been working on larger room sweeps (moving furniture and big junk) out the past week or two, but have avoiding at least two areas you mentioned… closets and documents/receipts. They can be so overwhelming because you have to decide things like “Does this receipt make me look sloppy?” And “will I need this sweater for my tax return next year?” Wait a second…

  16. Stephanie Hobson says:

    Anything is more fun than buying a bathing suit…

  17. Kirsten says:


    I live with four young guys, and managed to wrangle them into doing a house clean starting on Monday. So I will structure our big clean off of yours!

  18. dee says:

    Perfect timing… that was on my to do list for next week!! 🙂

  19. nancy says:

    Oh fuck me, this is like a video of folding the fitted sheets, who wants this? When we could have a home tour of Betty’s house? Priorities, people. Don’t get off track.

  20. Laura Bee says:

    I am so ready for this. I just don’t know where to start somedays….I found a geat cleaning plan, but need to get organized first! Getting all mental here.

  21. Pati Gulat says:

    YAY !!!! CAN’T WAIT TO START !!!!! I love organizing !!!! Am I mentally unbalanced ???? Could be !

  22. debbie bashford says:

    you assume there is a clear path to my closets , silly woman

  23. Zoe says:

    Yay ! Am excited – conveniently we are moving apartment soon so this is perfect timing!!

  24. Elaine says:

    Looking forward to it. I love challenges. Motivates one into getting stuff done. Knowing you are not alone in this helps. I was just thinking the other day I need to clear out my bedroom closet. Well this is the push I need Thank you.

  25. Candice says:

    What if some of us already have hairs growing out of our chin?!

  26. karol says:

    Challenge accepted… I’m already ahead of the game. I’ve been cleaning out for a month, but am looking forward to your take on it.

  27. Jody says:

    Yippee! Will one of the days include organizing and consolidating Lego, Lego and even more Lego? And what about tons (I’m sure literally) of quilting fabric? Or will this be an additional credit course?

    • Karen says:

      Oh, you’d have to speak to Betty about the quilting materials. She’s the fabric hoarder. I’ll see what she has to say, but I’m pretty sure she now just uses it to clean the cat, stuff pillows, start fires, etc. ~ karen!

    • Call Me Patty says:

      Jody, my niece has a brilliant way of organizing Lego. She puts it down on the floor on a large sheet. The kids can play to their hearts content (on the sheet). When they are done she picks up the sheet by the 4 corners and voila the Lego is all contained. Puts it away in the closet, ready for the next time. Easy Peasy, and takes all of 2 minutes.

  28. Tigersmom says:

    Um……..does this mean I should have already undecorated from Christmas?

    Yeah, I may be late completing this assignment. But clever of you to dangle something shiny for me as motivation. ; )

  29. Su says:

    Do we get extra credit if we have already started? When putting away the xmas decor I just kept going. I already have a couple of large bags for donations. Our neighborhood has a huge fire that we all donate unwanted lets not put it in a landfill items, on NYE where we drop a keg from a bucket truck at midnite and share bottles of Baileys and Rum Chatta. It’s quite hillbilly festive…

  30. Shel says:

    Great timing…I’ve been feeling the urge to purge!!

  31. Mary R says:

    How do you know I need to do this?! Have you been peeping through my windows?!

  32. This I can do. I need some psyching up to challenge the furniture hoard in the basement. But please no more chin hair!

  33. I was totally prepared to lie and say I was all in but I am definitely in and I will be doing it! This isn’t sarcasm, this is true enthusiasm. Cheers!!

  34. You’re not fooling this fool! No one wants to clear their crap out all by themselves so you’ve asked us to “come over and help”…hmmmmm. Smart move!

  35. Thera says:

    I am also way ahead of you. We have been decluttering/paring down and clearing out the house since we moved here in June.

  36. Emily says:

    I am one step ahead of you … well maybe half a step. I have discovered if one does not move (as in houses) one does not purge. I have lived in the same house for 20 years! (Which is much different than my first 30 years of my life when I moved at least once every 5 years) Moving, in itself, has its own built in purging benefits. Anyway….I have decided to clean out closets, cabinets and drawers as if I were REALLY moving. I take everything out of said closet, cabinet or drawer and either keep, throw away or put in give-away pile.

    SO bring it on.. I am ready…and can’t wait to see your tips and tricks for the coming week !

    Wooohooo, Emily

  37. Ann says:

    Nope. I refuse. Going out of town this weekend and I am leaving the house to my husband, a total post Christmas wreck. I am going to go see several different family members that require me to carry a shitload of emotional baggage around with me. When I get back I will need to spend at least the first few days of the week clearing my noggin back out. But then I will join right in….what? It will all be done by then? Shucks. Maybe next year.

    And BTW-chin hairs aren’t a threat anymore. Just one more thing to take tweezers to

  38. Danni says:

    I gutted my kitchen, started in the fall, am now putting it back together… amazing that there were about 15 pot lids without pots! The stuff I found shoved in the back of the cupboards, sheesh!!
    There will be a large garbage bag sitting on the curb with lots of pan lids and “as seen on tv” crap this coming Monday if anyone is interested…

  39. jainegayer says:

    O THANK GOD!!! I NEED this intervention. I’m putting the house up for sale in March and the closets are full of stuff. Did my best friend put you up to this???

  40. Mary R says:

    I am new at commenting and I don’t blog (I am just a blog stalker!), but I did comment this morning and don’t see it. Do I need to have a blog in order to view my comments? I hope someone will be kind enough to take the time to explain this to me, a behind-the-times airhead!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Mary R – Welcome to commenting! The comments don’t go up until I approve them so if you happen to send one when I’m not around the computer it doesn’t go up right away. And comments that come in overnight while I’m sleeping don’t get approved until morning. 🙂 ~ karen!

  41. Danni says:

    Ugh does that include the kids closets too??? That kinda scares me… I may get lost…maybe ill bring in a rope to find my way out, or a trail of sweet tarts so one of them can find me!

  42. Marti says:

    Hurray! I get why you did this… you’re such a tease. But you really should have just started us on the job. Trust me, in my case, it will take more than five measly days. YIPPPEEEEE!!! Enforced cleanliness!

  43. Linda says:

    Thanks Karen!! I’ve been needing a kick in the ass to get started. Kick away, I can’t wait!

  44. Patti says:

    I ‘m seriously looking forward to this, no joke…especially how to deal with bills and paperwork. I don’t know what to save and what to chuck so I end up ‘filing’ everything! I have no room for this stuff and it’s taking over my house!!

  45. Dawn says:

    I am sooooo ready!!!

    Lets Ramble Ramblers!!!!!

    ps… thank you for the heads up!

  46. JF says:

    wooooooooo eeeeeee! is it wrong that I find purging and organizing and all that SO MUCH FUN?!?!?!?!

  47. Laura says:

    I feel like I’ve been training all winter for this moment. BRING IT ON!

  48. Kristin D. says:

    Oh boy… I really do need the mental prep time! Need to tackle this project–no excuses!

  49. Tracie says:

    OMG, all these over-achievers! Well, I guess it’s not that much of a stretch, considering the site…..I have an entire junk room that needs purging and organizing……I thank you in advance for the up-coming week of motivation. I will need it…..Thank the Gods Christmas is gone from the house, I don’t think I could do both.

    • Karen says:

      Oh no… that’s why I waited until this particular moment. 🙂 After the mess of Christmas everyone is more inclined get things neat and organized. That’s why rubbermaid containers are always on sale in January! ~ karen

  50. Debbie W. says:

    Seriously Karen, I think your blog is the only one where the comments are as good as the blog!! Love reading them!! I’m an organizational freak… clothes closets are colour coordinated and purged regularly. But can’t wait to see your tips!! And to see the comments that follow!!

  51. Deb J says:

    I really really hope I can participate. I have three adult childrens’ rooms to de-toy, etc but am still recovering from whatever plague I got over Christmas. Trust me, de-cluttering beats what I got hands down! Will do my best.

  52. AngieC says:

    Whoo-hoo!! I’ve been picking away at organizing and before Christmas I went on a giant paper-shredding binge (no, Husband, you do not need the paperwork from a house you sold over 10 years ago) so I’m in fairly good shape with that but the rest needs work. Boy, does it ever. The funny thing is, I’m a chucker not a hoarder. But I’m also lazy so mostly things just need to go back where they belong.

  53. Carol says:

    I can’t wait to begin. Cleaning and organizing is my absolute favorite thing. If only my family would help keep things organized 🙁

  54. Sandy says:

    Thank you. This is just what I need to get motivated! If your fun personality can’t get me motivated I am doomed to a life of clutter. Serious clutter!!

  55. Stefani says:

    I can’t wait. I never organize nor throw things away but I absolutely love to read about it!

  56. kari says:

    Yes ma’am! I accept!!! If anyone can make what I already know I need to be doing fun, it’s you! And I do love a shiny gold star. Can’t wait to see your assignments next week. I have already begun purging, so I hope I get extra credit. 🙂

  57. Barney Google says:

    I keep thinking that should say “chuck it til you upchuck”. Anyhoo, my big plan is to clean & tidy my garage this weekend (unless I find a damn good excuse, like a wine tasting or the Seahawks playoff game that must be watched).

  58. cbblue says:

    I’m with Stefani. Plus I still have Christmas out. I just stripped the tree yesterday. It’s now naked in my living room. But I always plan to organize. It’s just when it happens everywhere else gets mucked up.

  59. Jake says:

    This will be a breeze, I am already in the 5th year of a 4 week organizing plan. At this rate I will have nothing left to organize, yea me.

  60. Sherri Hanigan says:

    I groaned when I read about the mental preparation for next week’s free-for-all, but then I read the comments from your readers and something happened. I got stoked! I’m going to take a slow stroll around the house this weekend and start making a list of my home’s problem areas. I know now that shit is stored everywhere with no rhyme nor reason about the location. The Christmas paraphernalia is not stored together in one location, for example. That seems to be a theme in our small house. Every nook and cranny is fair game, but I can never remember where anything is once I put it away. It’s a little like having dementia, I would imagine. I’m constantly amazed when I find something that I thought was lost. It’s time to tame the chaos. Challenge accepted!

  61. Katie says:

    Thanks Karen. As I tossed my boots in my closet this morning I thought, I really, really need to get that cleaned out. So I guess it’s time to mentally prepare.

  62. gabrielle says:

    Hey – what gives? I’ve been organizing since boxing day, and I’ve had hairs sprouting from my chin ever since I turned 55. Talking really deep rooted ones. OW. Both activities really take the shine off christmas, but I’m surrounded by man-slobs. Please send one-way tickets OUT of Ontario. And depilatory. Thanks!

  63. Cindy says:

    I’m on board. I will mentally prepare myself as requested. Have a great weekend!

  64. dana gault says:

    How much alcohol is involved? I don’t mean isopropyl, as in make my own window cleaner.

    Either way, I’m in.

  65. Jane says:

    I’m kind of a yo-yo dieter when it comes to organizing. I take 4 bags to Value Village and come home with 2 more. Better than my my mother, who takes 2 bags and comes home with 4. I’m secretly purging her apartment of Value Village finds that she’s forgotten. January is definitely the time for cleaning!

  66. ally says:

    Way ahead of you also. First of all, thanks for the mention of getting itchy on day 25 and day 26 of Christmas décor. I too, can’t take it past the 25th. I almost went looney this year waiting til Jan 5th to please the family. BUT, I cleaned and sorted and tidied and got rid of lots of stuff between Dec 27 and Jan 5. All done. Neat and tidy – I’m a professional purger. you’re welcome.

  67. Patti says:

    OK, I’m mentally preparing myself……oh wait….I forgot. We are leaving Monday morning for a couple of weeks. Oh well. I’ll just have to play catch-up when I return. And I will – I promise. My house is begging for it.

  68. Barbie says:

    So GLAD you decided to wait until NEXT week as I spent ALL DAY LONG yesterday looking for a source for those damn glass candle pillar holders!! and I am worn out! LOL I know you got em at Pottery Barn but I cannot bring myself to spend nearly $50.00 per holder for those puppies! This is what being a wholesaler does to you! I looked at every vendor I could think of to fine something similar … I will have to go get my Atlanta gift mart catalog and look for more vendors! You will know I found them when they show up for sale on my website. HA! I found some I liked even more at Pottery Barn though….the Branson ones. I also found some at Hobby Lobby that were very similar to yours…and about $5 cheaper…(not enough cheaper for me) 🙂

  69. Audrey says:

    Karen, your timing is pristine. This old Victorian pile has a large attic and basement + a 2 car garage. Picture what can be crammed in. Despite the fact that things are clean and orderly, one of my daughters asked if I think I am a functioning hoarder! Toooooooooo much stuff. Particularly clothes. I will steel myself mentally this weekend to prepare for next week. I’m interested in your suggestions for where to take stuff. The Value Village is a business with relatively little going to charities, The Salvation Army, apparently, doesn’t ‘approve’ of gay people, shelters only seem to want seasonal, current clothes… Will do whatever you suggest about anything and everything. Ta!

  70. rktrixy says:

    Impeccable timing, as usual m’dear! Thanks for the nudge (aka full body slam, while wearing a Mexican wrestler’s mask).

  71. Sandra says:

    Hey Karen since your closets are already incredibly immaculate I would like to offer up mine as a great teaching tool. I guarantee your skills will be highlighted in the best possible way. Imagine: a variety of clothing in all sizes, styles, and eras to demonstrate sorting skills. A plethora of shoes, boots and slippers that have patiently waited years just to be held. Drawers overflowing with assorted scarves, lingerie, belts, and who knows what else? C’mon, it will be great fun and I promise not to get in the way. My chin hairs and I thank you in advance.

  72. Brenda says:

    Have you been talking to my husband or vice versa? I’ll mentally prepare myself, but I can’t promise I’ll get rid of as much stuff as dear hubby would like.

  73. olequiltbat says:

    I’ve already started tossing and cleaning areas, which makes me feel so much better. We have a large enclosed back porch where a lot of things get tossed when there’s no room in the house….usually around Christmas and New Years. that all that stuff has been packed up and put away…I’ve started on several other areas. Found several good sized plastic baskets at the Dollar Store and got a lot of things tidied up. However, I have to go back there for several more so I can finish the jobs. Yay Dollar store. So…yes….I’m in as well. Look forward to your posts next week.

  74. Ellen says:

    B R I N G I T O N !!!!!!!!!

  75. Susan says:

    I’m in, and I already have chin hairs, so that proves I wasn’t scared into doing it. Ha!

  76. Paulina says:

    Well, we are moving in about a month so this has already been forced on me… Fun times!

  77. Sally says:

    So excited! Just the push that I need. Bring it on! Of course, I may lie at the end of the week, but I figure anything that I actually do do will be a bonus.

  78. nola says:

    I seriously can’t believe you have people gushing and fawning for tips on how to throw shit away. What kind of fangirls do you cater to?

  79. Jen says:

    Organization? Yes Please!

    I will bang out 3 chapters of accounting and studying tomorrow. Then go to the gym for date night.
    Then do eyes for my business on Sunday, and review my accounting class notes. And Cheer husband up for his last night at the job he is losing.

    After work and class on Monday, I will be ready for my assignment. Additional organization is a blessing between MBA Classes, Part Time work, Tiny art business, trying to exercise at the gym, and hunt for a full time job for me, & helping my man figure out what’s next. I don’t think I am BAD, but I think we could be better.

  80. I am excited as I am in need of a decluttering and purging. And I need something/someone to keep me accountable. However, only 5 days? YIKES! I usually take the while Lenten season to do this each year (40 bags in 40 days). I have 3 kids and a part time business and a social life even. I am not sure I have time to do my whole house in five days. WIll you give us suggestions for if we can only devote say an hour a day to this project? Pretty please.

    I am mentally preparing though.

  81. Deb says:

    I do need the “cattle prod.” Crikey…I’ll do it. Ready. Set. Go.

  82. Diane says:

    I’m way ahead of you. I started clearing the house when it was time to take down the tree. So far I’ve completed the purge and repacking of the storage area, the hall and linen closets, and the bedroom closet. However, I do still have to throw myself into the kitchen to purge, organize, restock and redecorate. And who knows, maybe you’ll convince me to do it all again and teach me a few new tricks. 😉

  83. Jay says:

    Um, Prof? I need an extension. Cos…

    We booked theatre tickets in BLOODY MAY for November and the lead was ill. Re-booked for Monday, so we’ll be away Mon/Tues.
    And my 12th annual Run-Away-To-London-With-Best-Friend-To-Watch-Ballet-And-Gossip starts Friday.
    But I promise to do it next week

    • Karen says:

      I don’t know Jay. I’m fairly strict and don’t usually allow for extensions. Let me think about it. Which play is it? That might help me decide. ~ karen!

      • Jay says:

        It’s Jeeves and Wooster: Perfect Nonsense.

        We booked tickets 5 months in advance to see it in November and the performance was cancelled through illness. Today was the only date we could get seats, so we’re off to London overnight. I am extremely excited.

        Matthew Macfadyen (Darcy in the recent Pride and Prejudice film) is Jeeves and Steven Mangan (do you Canucks get Episodes? Or Green Wing? Or Dirk Gently?) will be the hapless Bertie. Perfect cast.

  84. Sara says:

    Fitting. It’s Sunday night, and I’m just now starting the assignment. I always was great at procrastinating in school. I’m a minimalist at heart, so the house and it’s closets are generally tidy. My son’s closet is again beginning to overflow with his Lego creations he can’t bear to take apart. I generally need a glass of wine before and after gently helping him edit that collection. The toy bins could likely use a little thinning after the recent arrival of Christmas offerings. Currently the garage and the master bedroom are hoarder’s-reality-TV-worthy, since they’ve been the dumping grounds for displaced items during other projects around here. The backyard is a disaster. There is no way I can accomplish all this in a week. I’d rather wait to tackle some of it closer to the neighborhood garage sale, so I’ll be bookmarking all your wise suggestions. Thinking is now done. Bring on the gold star! 🙂

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