Five Things You Need Before You Start to Be Organized

Five Things You Need Before You Start to Be Organized

July 22, 2020 Organizing 0

Whether your focus is your home, your work, a new or long-standing project, or an important relationship, five things will come in handy to help you become organized:

  1. The first is a strong desire to have a less stressful, more efficient life.   

You may feel overwhelmed by too many activities, too much work, too many commitments.  Wanting more simplicity will help you to release everything which does not support your most important life goals at this time.You may need to let go of the “I have to do it all myself” mentality – and learn to delegate more to your family or colleagues. I urge you to pay very close attention to the “pull-the covers-over-my-head-and-hope-everyone-goes-away” feeling you might get from time to time. The wish to hibernate is a strong signal from your body and your psyche not to be ignored. It means you need more sleep, more fun, more self-care, and less stress. And it often means your life needs more order.

2. The ability to create a picture of what you’d like your home, work space, or life to be like. What does “being organized” look like for you? Can you visualize your ideal schedule, kitchen, or closets?  This is especially important now – when for many of us, our homes are also doubling as our work or study space, and perhaps exercise space, and recreation space. Can you envision a life in which everything has a designated place, and you never ever misplace a bill or your keys? What would it feel like to be in control of your time and your life? Can you see it?

3. An understanding of – or at least a willingness to look at – the different types of clutter, including the emotional or psychological factors that may be holding you back. “Clutter” comes from an Old English word meaning “to clot.” It causes stagnation or a feeling of “being stuck” in one or more aspects of life. Clutter has several manifestations, and they often are interrelated.

Physical clutter is piles of papers; stuff in closets, drawers, handbags, briefcases, and yes, attics, basements, and garages. Holding on to physical clutter contributes to time pressure, anxiety, stress, depression, family tension, and poor sleep. It can keep us immersed in memories, both good and unpleasant: the trophy for your first bowling tournament, or the papers from your divorce, or an old car accident – OR living in the future (those used but empty file folders you can recycle some someday,  or the piles of magazines that might contain the exact article you need to revolutionize your business and your life.

Emotional clutter includes resentment, envy, and other negative attitudes; people who leech our energy or who make us feel bad about ourselves; past hurts, including childhood pain; or poor self-image. It’s also postponed decisions; living in chaos because “cleaning up” is what our parents ordered, or our boss required, or our spouse requests, and we’re still rebelling against the rules; and keeping possessions because we think they validate who we are, or because we don’t want to admit that their acquisition was a mistake. It may berigidly holding onto old beliefs that no longer serve us.

Time clutter is unproductive or unsatisfying activities. It’s too many meetings, work projects, demands from staff or family members, or even household chores with insufficient help. It’s trying to “do it all” perfectly, having many more “shoulds” than “want-tos,” or spending time looking for lost items (often a result of too much physical clutter).

4. A commitment of time and/or money and/or other resources. Learning to be organized has a price: it definitely will take time, and it may or may not cost money. You may need, or you already may have, storage supplies. You may need help, either from your family or a friend, or from a Professional Organizer. As in learning any other new skill, some people need teachers, while others are self-directed learners. Should you choose to hire a Professional Organizer, he or she not only will help you with your project(s), but will teach you organizing skills that you can use going forward. But – even after this time of physical distancing – you cannot have someone “come in and organize you,” and think that’s that. Your life is not a TV reality show.

5. A realistic view of the time it will take. In my experience, it takes about two hours to sort and process twelve inches of paper (whether it’s stored horizontally in a file drawer, or vertically in a stack). So an “average” home office might take two to three full work days to sort out.  The time it takes to organize a space is directly correlated with how fast you are able to make decisions. Whether you do a “blitz” or spend 45 minutes a day, any project will get done – if you stick with it.

So with these five essential elements in mind, you are now ready to move forward in your organizing efforts. 

I welcome your comments and organizing questions.

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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