Ever walk into your home/office, take a look around and say to yourself, How in the world did things get so out of control? MANY people find themselves in this situation, often for one of three very common reasons.
AN OVERWHELMING “LIFE EVENT”
This can be either a traumatic experience (e.g. illness, death of a family member, job loss) or a joyful event (e.g. wedding, relocation, new job). When we encounter situations like these, we naturally shift into “cope” mode. In “cope” mode, we don’t have the time to sit and ponder optimal storage solutions, or to reflect on the most efficient way to accomplish a task. Instead, we are typically just trying to survive the day! Bottles of medicine for an ailing parent get piled up on the kitchen counter; belongings get stashed in the nearest cabinet so we can get the moving boxes out of the hallway; personal files get dumped out as we frantically search for important documents. The resulting patterns frequently aren’t the most efficient. At one point or another, everyone encounters these life events.
OTHERS IN MY SPACE KEEP MESSING IT UP
These others include spouses, children, coworkers, parents, and pets. This can be a very frustrating situation. We work hard to clear out a room, organize a closet, or establish a paper management system, but then it gets quickly undone because we don’t have buy-in or cooperation from the other people in the space. To be honest, there are limitations on the extent to which we can force others to fold into our systems. Pets can be trained and children can be taught (some more easily than others), but spouses and co-workers often have their own ideas of how things should be done. Sometimes the best we can do is negotiate “zones” (areas we call our own and can keep as we wish), and then let the other spaces go.
I AM MY OWN WORST ENEMY
If this is you, don’t take this as a condemnation! Maybe organizing just isn’t your thing: you would rather hang at the party and leave the dishes for tomorrow; you want a home where “kids can be kids”. In many aspects of life, these qualities are serving you well.
Or maybe you want to be organized, but you just don’t know how. You weren’t reared with any instruction in this area, and you wonder where to start, how to go about setting up a system, or what you need to buy and where to get it?
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For many individuals, the source of the problem may be a combination of all three. For example, you moved 5 years ago but still have stuff in boxes, and your Mom is sick, and you’ve needed to take on a part-time job, and at night you are just too tired to run around and clean up after the kids.
The good news is: retaking control is easier than you think. It’s all a matter of starting small (e.g. with a drawer), and then maintaining the space you’ve organized. Talk with coworkers and family members about your goals, and see if they are willing to support you.
If you need help, there are a variety of resources available:
Sometimes just having someone showing up at the door to tackle the space is enough to keep you from procrastinating (much like a personal trainer or workout friend.) The important thing is to not throw in the towel… these situations can be fixed!
How have you been knocked off your game? What tools have helped you regain control?