An organized life also requires a look at organizing beliefs. It’s a good idea to discuss this prior to any work. Here’s an example, I met a young mother who wanted to get organized so she could have visitors without feeling ashamed because of the condition of her home. When I inquired about her beliefs of what it means to be organized, she defensively explained that she would not spend time “cleaning” while her kids played outside. Instead, she wanted to be with them. She saw organizing as an intrusion on her family time. What she didn’t realize was, getting and staying organized does not have to violate the boundaries of family time. Getting and staying organized can be re-defined by her so that it fits her life. Redefined, getting and staying organized is an investment in family time; it allows for dinner to be eaten at the table together and decreases stress for the entire family. An organized home is a source of pride for the entire family; a contrast to the source of shame their previously disorganized and cluttered home had become. Ok. So you want to get organized. You’re committed and ready to go! You page through magazines and look on Pinterest for ideas. After a while, confusion sets in. You ask yourself, “How the heck am I going to make my house look like?!” Frustrated, you close Pinterest, toss the magazines aside, and let out a sigh of disgust and defeat. You think to yourself, “my house will never look like that, what’s the use?”
Time and again, I’ve heard clients speak of this scenario. The comparison of their home to those found in print and online leaves many feeling embarrassed and ashamed. My question to my clients is always the same…Have you ever questioned if those pictures are an accurate representation of what your organized space looks like? Oftentimes, we are so quick to jump into a project that we forget to define the purpose of the project.
Something to keep in mind the next time you’re scanning for ideas is this: Magazines are in the magazine business; they are not in the organizing business. They exist so that you will buy them. Period. That photograph of a perfectly, pretty, linen closet with perfectly, pretty labels and perfectly, pretty towels are in the magazine because perfectly pretty sells magazines. But let me ask you this…suppose I sent my 14-year-old son into that perfectly pretty linen closet to get a towel. How long do you suppose that perfectly pretty state will last. Probably not long. Why? Because real-life wins over perfectly, pretty every time.
My suggestion is to throw out that predefined concept of organizing and define what organizing means to you. For me, being organized means being able to find what I’m looking for, have my son and husband know where things are, being able to put things away quickly, easily, and in the places where they belong. It also means easily prepare for my, my son’s, and my husband’s next action steps (whatever they might be). For my son, that may be getting ready for soccer the night before, for my husband that may be getting ready for a long bike ride the next day, for me that may be getting ready to go to the gym, then work, then run errands afterward. Mix in notes to school, business trips, and maintenance of the home, cars, and pets, and you end up with a clear understanding of how crucial organization is to my family. Don’t get me wrong, I like sprinklings of perfectly pretty but if I try perfectly pretty with sprinklings of organization, the system will fail every time.
How about you? How do you define being organized? Perhaps your ideal organization will have more sprinklings of perfectly pretty than mine. That’s ok. The important thing is that you define it. You do that, and it will be much easier to sort and purge and make decisions on what to keep and what to discard. This will also help you decide what level of organizing products you need.
So the next time you are paging through a magazine, comparing your home to the new supermodel that is the perfectly prettily organized home ask yourself, would this system work for me in my life? If you have kids, could the system withstand disruption or is it too delicate? Is this system built for real life or just to sell magazines?