If you really stop and think about it, the decision to get organized is a hopeful one. We hope that by decluttering our homes, sticking to a new routine, managing our time more efficiently or writing a To-Do list, we will finally, FINALLY gain control over the uncontrollable and attain peace of mind in our chaotic world. I may be a professional organizer, but as the mother of two (three if you count the big kid I’m married to), I am the first to admit that “being organized” is a matter of relativity. There’s no such thing as a “totally organized” life, and even if there were, I seriously doubt you’d want to live it.
One of the most common issues I uncover when I go to a new client’s house is that they have at least one large, unwanted, unneeded object sitting right in the middle of the most important area needing organization…their minds. The object is a negative thought that they keep tripping over. It takes up space that could be put to much better use. It obstructs easy access to other things sharing the space. It inserts itself into every task, and creates unwanted “noise”. It detracts from the peacefulness of the space and, let’s face it, it can be downright unappealing.
Obviously, the first step is to remove the object. Perhaps you have one of these crowding out your space:
- Need for Perfection – Kick this one to the curb. Organization is not an all-or-nothing prospect, but it does require prioritization. What bothers you most? Fix that. Once you’ve got that down, work on the next thing. “Good enough” should be your goal. Anything more pushes you into OCD territory, and that’s not a happy place.
- Procrastination – Stop worrying about where you should start or if you are doing it “right”…just start. There is no right way…only a right-for-you way. So what if you have to do something over later down the road? Staying organized is an evolving process anyway, even for a seasoned veteran like me (just ask my husband how many times I’ve changed where we store the drinking straws). The starting point is not a place, it’s a time, and the time is NOW!
- Self-Deprecation – Stop calling yourself “lazy”. You are busy. There’s a big difference. If you think you can try harder, do it. If you are already trying your best, you either need to tweak your system (that’s where someone like me can usually help) or you also need to remove #4. Either way, thinking of yourself as lazy is counter-productive.
- Impatience – Whether it is impatience with the process, with yourself or with others who share your home, impatience sucks up potential success before it happens. Organization involves developing new habits and routines, which requires time. Rome wasn’t built in a day and the road ahead is not always straight and easy. Set-backs are both inevitable and necessary. They become important learning experiences that will help you perfect your system. Accept that there’s a lot of trial and error in setting up an effective organizing system (which is why my poor husband can never find the drinking straws). It takes time, and not all factors are within your control. I have already resigned myself to the fact that my house will not be as organized as I want it until both of my children move out…a day I would rather languish in the far distance for as long as possible.
- Shame – Stop worrying about what others are thinking/going to think of your disorganization. Chances are good that they would be relieved to know they are not alone in their own struggle OR they struggle in another area you don’t. I may have an organized home, but I promise not to judge you on your messy playroom if you promise not to judge me by the nuclear wasteland I call a “backyard”. All too often, I’ve had clients wait until they are at a breaking point before calling me, because they were embarrassed about what I would think of their home. Me…a complete stranger whose livelihood depends on the disorganization of others. Trust me when I say that I have seen it all, and I never think any less of someone just because this happens to be their personal struggle.
The first step in organizing any space is to purge that which is no longer needed/wanted/useful. The first space to organize is your mind. Clear these five obstacles, and you will have a fantastic start.