Dec 19, 2022

Sunbound Asks: Lisa Woodruff of Organize 365

Nat Miller

This week on Sunbound Asks we sat down with Lisa Woodruff, founder and CEO of Organize 365. It was a pleasure welcoming Lisa to the blog and we loved discussing a wide range of topics from how Lisa got into professional organizing in the first place, to how Organize 365 can help older adults keep their most important documents safe and organized. To learn more about Lisa and Organize 365 check out her website here or read our interview below.

Q: How long have you been a professional organizer?

A: Eleven years.

Q: How’d you get into professional organizing?

A: I was turning 40 and needed a more flexible job that worked around my kids’ schedules. I was looking back at all the jobs that I had in my past 20 years as an adult. I realized that I was successful in every one because I brought organization to the job or was able to teach people to get organized. So I knew that organization was going to be the through line to carry forward in my life. 

Q: What’s your favorite type of project to work on?

A: The thing that I’ve become known for is helping people organize paper. Specifically, I help people organize all the papers in their filing cabinets as well as all their actionable paper that piles up places like your kitchen counter. Our signature organizing method focuses on creating 4 binders that replace your filing cabinet. It works great for seniors because it’s kind of like Mad Libs for adults. You put all your financial documents in one binder, all your medical documents in another binder, all your house documents in a third, etc. and so it gives you a good framework of what to save and how to save it. Another benefit of a binder over a filing cabinet is that if you need to evacuate, you can evacuate with a binder a lot easier than with a filing cabinet. And finally you often need these documents when you’re out, not at home with your filing cabinet. You generally need your important medical or legal documents when you’re out at the lawyer or at the doctor, not at the retirement community, and so it helps for these documents to be portable.

Q: What’s your favorite memory as a professional organizer?

A: We’ve created these weekend-long paper organizing retreats at hotels that we really love. We literally have people drive in from 10 or 12 or even 14 hours away with cars full of papers that they need help organizing. We spend all day helping them sort all the paper and then shred all the paper. At the end of the weekend people leave with just their baskets and their binders and they’re so happy. We’ve been doing these retreats for five years now and they’re super popular.

Q: What’s your most unconventional professional organizing tip or trick?

A:. Our unique tip is to ditch the filing cabinet and put everything in binders. Ironically paper organizing is difficult for a lot of professional organizers as well. So a lot of professional organizers will get certified in our method. People tend to look at paper as if it's 1,000 different pieces of information, whereas I look at it as 5 different categories. The first is active paper which is documents that you’re not done with because you’re still using them. Once a document is no longer active, it belongs in one of four binders: medical documents, financial documents, documents related to your house as a real estate entity(things like your mortgage), and then documents related to how you run your house (things like vacations or taking care of pets).

Q: What professional organizing practice do you use most in your own life?

A: Mine is to write down everything that I’m thinking instead of trying to hold it in my head. I write down all the thoughts I have when I have them, then sort them like playing cards later. This is much easier than trying to hold and organize everything in in my head at once, and it really reduces the cognitive overload.

Q: What’s your favorite new professional organizing trend?

A: I love that people are going back to journaling and writing and just using paper in general. For along time people were pretty into going paperless and were resistant to write anything down. Now a lot of people are realizing that paper is a great way to keep yourself organized. There’s really been a resurgence in buying a planner or a notebook, and writing things down.

Q: What’s one thing you wish more people knew about professional organizing?

A: That organization in general is a learnable skill. It’s not something that some people have and some don’t, everyone can learn the skill of organizing. You also need to learn to give yourself the grace of finding out why you got disorganized in the first place. We all go through seasons where we’re going through time intensive events and our lives feel like they’ve gotten run over. When that happens it’s important to take time to stop and get organized. It’s also important to remember that getting organized isn’t a one-time thing. A lot of people feel like once you get organized, it should stay that way. But being organized is something that grows with you as you age.

Q: If you weren’t a professional organizer, what else would you be doing?

A: I definitely would be a business owner of some kind. I really love teaching and doing research. We’ve done some really great academic research at Organize 365 in coordination with Harrisburg University, including research on the weight of paper and how much there is in your home. We did another report on the state of housework in the United States, focusing on what is considered house work. And then we also have a great publication on how to stay organized at home. We’re always coming out with new research.

Q: What professional organizing resources would you suggest for our readers?

A: I’d first look to the research above! People have a lot of organizing support in places like schools and workplaces, but they often don’t have those systems put in place at home. Because everyone is starting with no structure at home, they need to create their own structures to keep things organized from scratch. It’s important to do that with structures and with systems that work for your life.

To learn more about how Sunbound can help make senior living more affordable for you or your loved one, send us an email at or request more information on Sunbound. Sunbound is the best way to pay for senior living and is on a mission to make senior living affordable for everyone.

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