“I didn’t go to college to learn how to organize!” “If I’m so smart, then why can’t I do this!?” “I used to be organized, until I had kids!” That’s what people tell me when I meet them for the first time. Usually, these feeling are expressed with some frustration and bewilderment.
There are a couple of issues at play here. The first is situational. Many people are organized until they reach a critical mass of demands on their time. It’s easier to be organized when it’s just you, your stuff and your life. Toss in 3,000 square feet of house, two kids, a dog, a husband and two jobs and then it becomes harder to keep it all together. Who can get organized when you have so many things demanding your time and attention? Your situation has changed and that’s why you’re disorganized.
Also note that if you have gone through the loss of a loved one or divorce, then you may be experiencing a brain fog that makes it harder to make decisions and move forward. Understand that this will take some time to resolve and the support of a group or counselor can be helpful.
Then there are those people who are chronically disorganized. These people may have spatial issues, ADD or their brain processes information differently than others, rendering them more likely to be chronically disorganized. Also, if someone has been involved in an accident or has suffered a head injury, then their ability to organize may be impacted, at least for a period of time. Being organized is a skill set that can be learned by most people, but if you have any of these mentioned conditions then it will be harder for you, at least until you recovered to some extent.
Some people employ certain patterns of thought that prevent them from getting organized and seeing their way clear. The most common one I see as a professional organizer is perfectionism. Ironically, it can be the perfectionist who has the most disorganized house! This is because if something can’t get done perfectly, it doesn’t get done at all. This all-or-nothing mentality can keep a home in perpetual clutter. To some degree this can be tolerated, but when the rules of perfection keep you from even starting, then you have to change your way of thinking and take action.
Don’t let perfection be the enemy of done–this is a useful aphorism. Many of us are eager to be seen as competent and reliable, even stellar, in our contributions to our communities and places of employment. However, you will want to let up the reins on yourself and find a way to get organized, even if it’s not perfect. If you have 15 minutes to get the front hall cleaned up, then set the timer and do it. Always start with weeding out what you don’t need–hat alone will give you space in your home and in your head. You will be able to think more clearly. You may not have the perfect shoe rack or storage baskets for the closet, but do the best you can and move your project forward. Something done imperfectly is better than nothing done perfectly in your head.
Sometimes people say “oh, your house must be perfectly organized!” and I say, “No, not perfectly, but generally, yes.” That’s because I do spend a little time, on a regular basis, doing something that puts things in order for me. I feel better that way, even if it’s only one counter or one drawer or one corner of the front hall. It’s the one thing I can do to take control of my life and home that’s measurable and beneficial. The rest of my day may be a wild ride, but I know when I get home tonight, I will have a little bit of peace and order in my house, even if it’s only the 10 square feet of my front hall.
Everyone deserves to come home to a peaceful, orderly home–even the perfectionists!
Andréa Deinstadt, a professional organizer, helps people create order to their homes and reduce the stress when downsizing. For more, email: Andrea@OrganizingWisdom.com or call 914.391.8816 or visit her website www.OrganizingWisdom.com