Friday, October 31, 2014

3 Simple Organizing Secrets ... from a Reformed Slob

Confession: I Was The Queen of Disorganization

Growing up, I was known for my distinct lack of organization. Teachers would tell my parents at parent-teacher interviews: “she has so much potential, but she needs to be more organized.” 

My desk was a mess. I was constantly losing my glasses, my pencils, my papers.
My desk was a huge mess!
Photo is free photo from Sgarton via MorgueFile

My worst memory was of losing something very precious of my Mom’s. She had lent me her Strong’s Concordance book. For those of you who don’t know, that is a massive volume requiring great strength just to haul it down a hall. 
I had asked to borrow it for a skit I was performing in the local music festival. She gave it me, extremely reluctantly, warning me over and over again to lose it. But guess what I did? I lost it. 

When we got the building for the skit, I was so preoccupied with feeling nervous and self-conscious, that any thoughts of the concordance were out the window. Until I got home. And what a feeling of shame I had! I still a sense of shame when I think about it. 

Yes, I was the queen of disorganization growing up. And then I kept my reign into my 20’s and early 30’s, but somewhere along the line, I determined that this HAD TO STOP! 

I am now a Reformed Slob

And now, I consider myself a pretty organized person. Yes, me, the former queen of the mess. I love having a place for everything, and everything being in its place. I fantasize about new containers and drool over creative storage ideas on Pinterest. (Check out some of my Pinterest boards, if you want to see what I've been looking at!) 

Organizing -- Kitchen
Organizing -- Bathroom
Organizing -- Bedroom 

I won't claim to be perfect at it, I like the feeling of having order in my life.  My point is that my level of organization is FAR HIGHER than it was before. So, what happened to change me? That is what I would like to share with you today. Because I believe that anyone can become a more organized person using these simple principles. 

I am going to offer you some changes in thinking patterns that can help anyone, whether yourself, your child or someone else .you know. 

Principle #1: Do It For Yourself

You have to determine that is important for you, and not to do it for anyone else. Growing up, I felt a great deal of pressure from my father because I wasn’t organized. Although I was never diagnosed with a learning disorder, it was definitely not something I was doing on purpose. 

But my father would get volatile about me losing things, where he would yell and call me down. So, organizing and cleaning were things that I felt were for him ... and not for me. 

And then, at the age of twenty, I found myself in an early marriage to another angry man (not my current husband.m)  He was very displeased about my lack of housewife skills, and wasn't afraid to let me know. 

But in spite of the pressure from others, it was only when I truly realized that being organized and clutter-free was for me, to help me, and not just to please other people and stave off the shame, that it started to click. 

If you struggle with organization (or know someone who does), find reasons that it will help you in your life, to meet your goals. Maybe being organized will help you get ahead in your career, by giving you the confidence to apply for a better position. Perhaps it will make you feel less stress because you will be able to find your things. Maybe it will make you more money, because you will be able handle more clients. 

If you are helping a child who struggles with organizational issues, help the child find his or her own motivation. For a teenager, the motivation might be being able to find her clothes, so that she can look her best each and every day. For the child, it might be the ability to find a favourite toy when a friend comes over, or the feeling of warmth they feel when they are able to invite friends into their room for a time of play. 

Your reasons will be unique to you. And that is good. Don’t do it because of the pressure from society. Start looking at staying organized as a special treat for yourself, instead of a dreaded task that you must do someday! Do it for you. Because your life counts. 

Principle #2: It's Never As Bad As It Looks

The next realization I had about organizing is that my clutter and mess is never as bad as it seems.  I have seen this principle so many times in my own life, and in the lives of others. 

Why do we tend to see messes as worse than they are? Let me explain why. A mess is just that: messy. And it’s ugly and it’s unpleasant. We, as humans, are wired to be turned off by something ugly and unpleasant. So we exaggerate the mess, in our minds, until it becomes a ten feet wall of junk and garbage. And more than we can deal with. I will give you an example from my own life. 

When my husband and I moved to our place in the woods, we were in a rush. I was teaching,with an extremely hectic schedule, and driving back and forth three hours a day. My husband was working full-time and trying to get our old house completely renovated in a very tight schedule. 

Our moving date kept moving forward, and we were afraid of losing the deal. So when we actually got around to moving, it was rushed. Despite my careful organization at the beginning of the move, by the end, stuff was just being stuffed into random boxes. No careful labeling. Just boxes upon boxes of stuff. 
 A mess of boxes from our home.
My own photo

And then after all the stuff arrived here, it didn’t get any better. We were living in our dream home, but life was still too busy. Stuff didn’t get unpacked. There were boxes strewn everywhere: our master bedroom, the two other bedrooms, the living room. Even the kitchen. And we couldn’t catch up; in fact, mess kept adding unto mess. Have you ever been there? 

And I felt completely overwhelmed by it. Living in this chaos was depressing for me, and I know it made my husband crabby We couldn’t find anything. It felt like nothing was getting done. We could not invite guests over. Yuck! 

But you know what? As bad as it was, it wasn’t as bad as I thought. Because once I started, the place started to come together. Yes, the year of neglect did take a while to get out from under, but it was do-able. I am still working on right now, but as I tackle each room, it is coming. And it’s not as bad I thought! 

And this principle is so true, no matter what the mess is. Once you start, it won’t be nearly as bad as you thought it was. The presence of clutter in our life can make some of us feel debiliated and helpless. But that is just a feeling. It really doesn’t have to crush us! 

And it is only stuff. It does not have some magic power to destroy us. It is not a lion that threatens to devour us. It is just stuff -- sometimes junk -- that we bought or acquired in some way. It’s just a bit unweildy right now. But it is controllable. When we avoid it, thinking it is unconquerable, we are giving into an illusion, a lie. And we are giving our stuff power that it does not possess on our own. 

Principle #3: Starting Gives You Confidence

The final change in thinking I am going to offer is realizing that just starting will give you confidence. Not starting is the most debilitating thing you can do. I should know because I am still bad at procrastinating!  I am also confident, however, that once I start, even just for a few minutes, the pressure  decreases expotentionally. 

When we start, we start to believe and see our own ability to do the task we have been dreading. We start to see ourselves as competent, and this belief in ourselves will carry us through to be able to do more and more. 
A nicely organized shelf from our home.
My own photo

I have seen this principle at work in my own life more times than I can count. This works for any task. Sometimes I am so scared of doing something that I try to avoid it, and put it off. But the moment I start, I realize that it is possible. And I just have to try my best. 

Don’t think that you must do it all, before you start. It's nice when we can finish a job all in the same day, but it may take some time to get a big job done. But having even one little area organized can be a tremendous morale booster. Start with one cupboard, or your purse. Or your one drawer in your desk. But just start. And you will start to feel better. 

So, these are the three changes in thinking that I strongly believe will help someone become much more organized. They are: 

  1. Do it for yourself
  2. It's not as bad as it looks
  3. Starting will give you confidence
Please let me know if this was helpful to you or for someone you know. How are your organizing skills? Tell us your story! 

Love Sharilee. If you like what you are reading, sign up for regular updates with Blogger or through my Facebook page. or to receive posts by e-mail, join here

1 comment:

  1. Bev needs to read this. :) I have always been organized. Even as a kid and then teen, I always put things back where they belonged and knew where everything was. Disgusting, I know. :) Happy Weekend, Sharilee!


Please keep your comments nice and kind.