Do It Yourself? Or Do You Need Help?

Do It Yourself? Or Do You Need Help?

August 5, 2020 Organizing 0

Keeping clutter around you may have been a benefit – perhaps for a long time. But now, for your own reasons, you’d like a change.

You buy an organizing book, or watch a home improvement TV show. You start throwing stuff away, with the best of intentions, only to be sidetracked by the demands of a busy life. Or you may feel overwhelmed, either by the magnitude of the project, or by the feelings that arise, particularly while working on clearing memorabilia and family photographs. Feelings of anger (“I just don’t want to have to do this”) or even resentment (“They can’t make me”) may thwart your early good efforts.

Is it time to ask for help? If so, what’s stopping you?

When we first think about beginning to get organized, many of us are reluctant or unwilling to ask for help, for a number of reasons. The two most common are:

  • “Cost: I can’t afford it.”

Everything you do or acquire has a cost of time or dollars. Add to that any “emotional costs,” such as asking a neighbor to babysit while you organize, or asking a willing but judgmental relative for help, and only you can decide which option is most “costly” to you. If saving money is your primary concern, the library has plenty of excellent books (and some not so good) to walk you through the organizing process. If saving time is paramount, think about how you spend yours. For example, to have a neatly maintained lawn, you could cut your own grass with a pair of scissors. You can use a push- or power mower, hire a neighborhood teenager, or contract with a landscaping service. Convenience, time, quality, money, or being “beholden” to someone else: the choice is always yours.

  •  Control: “I really want to be more organized and in charge, but I don’t want anyone to judge me or make me throw away my stuff.”

You may be embarrassed by the amount of clutter you’ve accumulated and don’t want anyone to see it. Or you may be afraid that someone will come in and “make you” get rid of all your treasures. As you read in the last post, many clients say something like: “I feel safe and secure with all my stuff around me;” or, “If I get organized, I would have to think about everything else in my life that’s bothering me;” or, “I’m an artist. Artists don’t have to be organized.”

“So,” I may inquire, “is any of this working for you?” If not, then it’s definitely time to ask for help!

Here are some options:

  • Ask a family member to pitch in: either to help you with the actual organizing tasks, or to take over some of your regular responsibilities, to free up time for your organizing work.
  • Swap organizing time with a friend: even in this time of social distancing, you can virtually “go” to his/her home or workspace via FaceTime, Skype, or Zoom to help, and he/she can do the same for you at a later time.
  • Use a “body double”:  a body double is someone (a friend, relative, neighbor, or colleague) who simply is present – even via computer – while you begin or carry out your organizing efforts. Finding the right person to help can be a challenge. He or she needs to be quiet, patient, and not prone to giving unwanted advice. Your in-person body double can bring his or her own paperwork, read a book, or just be there quietly with you. Your virtual body double can simply agree to be available to you as you work. This technique often is used with great success by those with ADD/ADHD or other learning disabilities, as well as by people who just are having difficulty staying on task.
  • Hire a Professional Organizer to help you get started, and/or to continue to work with you throughout your project.

Next week: how to hire a Professional Organizer

As always, I welcome your comments and organizing questions.

Gail R. Shapiro

About the author

Gail R. Shapiro Gail Shapiro is pleased to bring you her experience, education, and energy to help you create harmony, efficiency, and systems that work. Gail first worked as a Professional Organizer in the mid-1980s, after many years in the development field, and before founding a non-profit community women’s center. She brings her clients more than 40 years of teaching and organizing skills garnered from her work as a director of development, project manager, grant proposal writer, executive director, workshop presenter, writer and editor, and strategic planning consultant, as well as a lifelong volunteer and board member at several charitable organizations.

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