Once again, the middle of February is approaching, accompanied by countless nods to falling in love. I am a big fan of love and wish everyone love in their lives. Love can manifest in a multitude of ways, such as ardor for a partner, care for a friend, affection for a child/parent, gratitude for a caretaker/care receiver, and fondness for a pet. Love can also be a word we use to describe experiences, careers, vacation destinations, and food, among other things. Personally, I love working as a professional organizer, and helping others to fall in love with organizing. In a world where chaos and unpredictability seem more the rule than the exception, I truly believe that organizing, and it’s associated rhythm and order, can provide both respite and refuge.
Have you fallen in love with organizing?
Would you like to?
Being organized isn’t magic. Living an organized life requires a willingness to establish systems for daily living, and then faithfully sticking to them. What kinds of things do we need systems for?
- When will I aim to wake up and go to sleep?
- When and (generally) what will I eat?
- When will I exercise/pray/meditate, if at all?
- When will I work, and when will I be “off duty?” (I know this can be a tough one!)
- What do I use, need, and/or love? (See more about what to keep here)
- Where will I store the items that I choose to keep? (For help on putting things away, click here)
- When will I put my belongings away each day, i.e., “reset” my space? (Yes, I said each day)
- How will I process (e.g., unpack, assign a home, put away) new items that I bring in?
- How will I remove items that I no longer want? (Click here for my Youtube™ tips for donating items.)
- Where do I need to show up (virtually and/or in person) and when?
- What potential conflicts might I need to manage?
- What time do I have today to deal with unexpected developments?
- What will I do if I run out of time?
- What tasks must I do today, and when will I do them?
- What tasks would I like to do today?
- What “next step” can I take on a large project?
- What task needs to get done but I feel like I can’t do it?
These are only examples, but you can see that organizing is all about adding structure, both physical and mental, to the various aspects of our lives. It is like creating a funnel through which the complexities of life get managed. When we lack systems, it is like showing up for a game that we don’t know how to play. When we know the rules of the game, we may still have to think, train, and work hard, but at least we have a general overview of what is going on.
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Still not falling in love with organizing?
Sometimes love is less of a feeling and more of a choice. I’m reminded of the song “Something That We Do” by Clint Black. Especially the closing lyric, “Love isn’t some place that we fall, it’s something that we do.”
In most situations, starting something new doesn’t feel like love. In fact, it can feel unfamiliar, uncomfortable, frustrating, and downright unpleasant. However, over time, if we choose to persevere, it isn’t long before we start to grow into our new reality; until what used to seem impossible starts to feel doable. Small successes start to add up, and we start reaping the rewards of our labors.
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Still not “feeling the love” for organizing? While I acknowledge that many people would rather stick needles in their eyes that clean out a closet, I must say that organizing has a plethora of benefits. Here are a few:
Whether you are planning your day or sorting through a box, the labor cost is simply your time. In terms of supplies, you may think you need to go to the Container Store® and buy expensive bins, but you don’t. Most people often have boxes/bins/binders/etc. lying around. Even if you need a few things, some of the most helpful items (e.g., clear plastic bins and cardboard banker boxes) are very affordable.
It adds zero calories!
In fact, cleaning out a big space may even burn a few. I’ve often laughed with clients about how many steps we are getting in as we work through a space.
It doesn’t depend on the weather!
You can organize a nice, air-conditioned space on a hot day or a warm room in the middle of a blizzard.
It makes you feel good!
Almost every decluttering project I work on results in at least one bag of items “to donate.” Knowing that you are equipping someone else in need is a great feeling and helps alleviate the guilt you may be feeling about having purchased too much stuff.
Hauling a bag of trash or recycling out to your bin, and then realizing the space you have freed up, can be a terrific mood booster.
Often, you come across items that you thought you had lost. How fun!
Preparing a daily plan makes you instantly feel more in control.
You get quick results!
I often tell clients “When you work out with a trainer it can take 3 months to see results. When you work with me, it only takes 3 hours!” You can make a significant and satisfying impact in a short period of time.
It can be done with whatever time you have!
Even if you can’t set aside a whole weekend to clean out the garage, you can still make progress. I often encourage clients to clean out a kitchen drawer or a medicine chest when they have ½ hour. The smallest result can be terrifically rewarding.
It is empowering!
Knowing exactly where to find your belongings, and where to put them away when you are finished with them, gives you a sense of being on top of things and in control. Similarly, having a plan for your day and working your plan makes you feel productive and efficient.
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I know that organizing may never seem as appealing as sitting on a beach, playing a round of golf, or feasting on your favorite dish. However, sometimes you end up loving something a lot more than you ever thought you would!
Are you “feeling the love” this year?