Professional organizer Rachel Strisik shares five organizing fundamentals that you may not know:

1. It’s better to take it slow.

“People will say, ‘I want to organize my entire bedroom,’ but that’s overwhelming, and it can derail you from the entire process,” says Strisik. Instead, write down the steps of your project first. “Looking at chunks is more manageable, less overwhelming and more likely to get done.”

2. There is a difference between being neat and being organized.

Organizing is not just about getting bins; that is a big misconception. Neat is stacking items and putting things away. Organizing is having homes for items so you can find them when you need them.

Rachel Strisik at home in Bethesda. (Linda Davidson/THE WASHINGTON POST)

“Organizing is the next step that will allow you to spend time on the things you want to spend time on rather than wasting time looking for X,” Strisik says. “It’s unrealistic to think your house will look neat all the time, especially if you have children. But it can always be organized.”

3. Off-site storage should be a last resort.

“I think they are a waste of money,” says Strisik. “Not only is it a major splurge, but what you put in there will probably never be looked at again. Out of sight, out of mind.”

4. Looks matter.

If you like the color blue or flowers, spend the extra 50 cents to get blue files or the ones with flowers because you’re more likely to use them.

5. Remember that organizing is not a one-time event.

There’s maintenance, too. Organizing works only if you continue to sort, group, file and discard as new items come into your home. “The first time might be the hardest,” Strisik says about organizing, “but the next time is just maintaining what you’ve already accomplished.”