From Overwhelm to a Plan

by Lisa Woodruff

May 15, 2020 | Episode 335 | 47:01

The Organize 365 Story – Part 3

This is part 3 of a series sharing the Organize 365 Story. This week, I want to talk with you about what happens as we move from one phase to the next. Typically, we get overwhelmed, feel like we are living in chaos, and struggle to have a plan. We struggle to keep pace with the new change while we are trying to learn a new level of organization, and the transition takes longer than we expect. As things get moving faster and you begin to feel overwhelmed, the way to regain clarity and be able to adjust from being reactive to productivity is the Sunday Basket®. This week, I want to share the details of the Sunday Basket® to help the Organize 365 community to have a shared vocabulary and foundational language.

I began to teach Sunday Baskets® and Workboxes to others as early as 2008. Over the years, I refined the system and became a better teacher. The core concept is still exactly the same, but my ability to teach the skills of functional organizing to others have improved greatly. Although I was born organized, I began my career as a preschool teacher. I naturally make things as visual, tactile, and organized as possible, and this is still true of the Sunday Basket®. This week, I want to teach you about the Sunday Basket®.

No matter when you begin your transformational journey (or when you need to reset or restart), this information will be here as a reference for you. Listen in as I teach you about how the Sunday Basket® is at the core of everything I teach and how I approach organizing and will help you take those first steps towards learning the skills of organization.

The Sunday Basket® Creation Story

I created my first Sunday Basket® in 2002. I had recently transitioned into motherhood, and I needed to figure out how to keep up with my home, my direct sales business, and my family. I was a stay at home mom of a 2 year old and a 6 month old and was overwhelmed just with my actionable to-dos. I was trying to make sure I got #allthethings done – running the household, working in my direct sales business, medical care for my son, and adoption paperwork for our youngest. Like many of you, these papers were all stacked on the kitchen counter. I need to have things out where I can see them, or they do not get done. Every single piece of paper required some kind of action – a form to be filled out, a bill to pay, a checkbook to balance, or similar. This was before online ordering and smart phones so I had to have time to call and make appointments and I had to physically run errands and take trips to the store for our shopping. No wonder I was overwhelmed and had a meltdown!

The Sunday Basket® Details

A Sunday Basket® is a file box (mine originally was a Medium Market Longaberger Basket and the name stuck!) with color coded slash pockets and notecards.

A Sunday Basket holds actionable (not archive) papers. Grab those papers off of your kitchen counter and the front of the refrigerator. You can put your mail directly into your Sunday Basket®. Add all the different thoughts from your head written onto notecards.

A Sunday Basket® does:

The Sunday Basket® Routine

All week long, I add to my Sunday Basket®. Mail, forms, bills, and notes to myself (haircut, doctor’s appointment, prescription refills) are written on individual notecards. Physical items that do not need to be done immediately I also add to the Sunday Basket ®. I put a toy that needs new batteries, a button to sew back on, or the items for a project that I bought at the store (lightbulbs, door knobs, etc.) right into the Sunday Basket®. Every single thing that can wait until Sunday, must wait in the Sunday Basket® until next Sunday.

Every Sunday afternoon, around 2 pm, I go through my Sunday Basket®. My Sunday Basket® still requires about 90 minutes each week. I empty every single thing from my Sunday Basket®. I go through the items that have accumulated in my box over the week, group them by task or project, and put them into their slash pockets. I then go through and take care of only the things that must be done this week. Everything else, I plan to neglect for another week. By focusing on just one week at a time, I free up time to allow time for the unexpected events that always show up. I consistently try to put as much back undone as possible.

My Sunday Basket® time also includes weekly family maintenance tasks like refilling pill boxes, paying bills, making a grocery and errand list, and taking care of forms that must be filled out. I would also make a list of phone calls for Monday morning (appointments to make, bills to dispute, etc.). Once I know how many things I must still complete during the upcoming week, I schedule time in my calendar as an appointment with myself so that I have the time already planned to get things done and make progress on my goals.

Slash Pockets

A slash pocket is a plastic, 3 hole punched divider originally designed for binders. They have tabs along one edge that can easily be labeled. Slash pockets are sealed on three sides creating diagonal pockets that hold notecards and papers of all sizes. They securely hold the papers inside so that you can carry them around without dropping or losing your important papers. Although slash pockets are colored plastic, they are transparent so you can see what is inside without having to open it or remove everything. Instead of having 20 piles of paper, you can use slash pockets to hold similar groups or piles of paper and then sort through them like a deck of cards without messing up your sorting.


Notecards or index cards are the tools I use to record separate ideas, thoughts, to-do’s, and things I want to remember that I toss in my Sunday Basket®. I only put one to-do or idea per notecard. The things you write down will not have equal priority or urgency. Some are great ideas, but cannot be done now with the resources you have. Some are for the future (like gift ideas or travel dreams). Some are reminders about another person. Some you will look at in a week and realize you will never do – and you can throw those out!

Eliminate the to-do list

As you start using the Sunday Basket® successfully, your brain does not have to be your to-do list anymore. Your brain is able to be empty of nagging reminders and is free to make bigger decisions. Your brain is able to be a workhorse to help you find new, positive solutions to the problems and the situations that you face.

To hear more about the Psychology of the Sunday Basket – check out Podcast Episode 258.

This episode is a part of the Organize 365® Glossary Playlist. Listen to other episodes on the Glossary Playlist here.

Did you enjoy this episode? Please leave us a rating and review in your favorite podcast app. See this post and coffee chat episode for help setting up a podcast app as well as how to leave a rating and a review. Share this episode with a friend and be sure to tag Organize 365® when you share on social media!

Follow the Organize 365® Podcast in Your Favorite App!