Day 79 – Define Your Why

Now this might be an interesting way to look at your need for organization.  One thing I have learned in 40 years is that every goal you ever had starts with a very simple question:  why?  You must define your why in order to start.

In my personal case, I thought organizing my apartment was about getting a hold on my clutter.  It seemed like a logical reason.  When I moved to Florida I had a suitcase full of clothes.  Eventually we had air mattresses, a couple of tables and a TV.  The most important thing we brought was our cell phones and my daughter’s mini laptop.  Logically, as we brought more things and purchased more things, the apartment got crowded.  And then, three years in, I went to Puerto Rico and got half of my stuff in boxes to Florida.

I have given away, thrown away and sold many things.  There was no rhyme or reason to my efforts.  There are many goals and dreams I want to accomplish, and all the other ones have a why.  It dawned on me recently that I had not defined my why to the point where it was working for me.

There are two things that are really important to me right now:  my health and my sanity.  Both of them have been compromised in recent months.  My health has had some major hurdles and as a consequence, my sanity has hit some snags as well.  I am having trouble concentrating and remembering things, which is not good when you work in a highly regulated field where everything you do is verified for accuracy.

After supposedly recovering from surgery, I find myself at home again, recovering for what may be a side effect of medication or a warning from my body that I have not healed yet.  Either way, I am home indefinitely.  I noticed that as I clear areas of the house, my family members are getting on the bandwagon and whatever area I clean, they keep that way.  I also noticed that the hardest area to deal with is my bedroom.  And so last night, I started thinking about my why.

I know why I accumulate stuff:  it gives me comfort from the inner demons that I have been able to discover one by one.  The bullies of my youth have become the bullies in my head and little by little, I am working through those in an effort to improve my life and that of all other women that feel like me.  The main bully is inadequacy.  Women tend to feel like they are not good enough for some reason.  In my case, I have always been smart.  I grew up in an era where women were beginning to discover their brains.  I guess the message is not sinking in yet that it is OK to be smart.  I don’t feel like I deserve many things because I am a woman.  Although in my head I believe this is nonsense, somewhere in my heart I still carry some of that feeling that I am less than.  The other bully is the one about beauty.  I used to be beautiful when I was young and I never admitted that to myself for two reasons:  vanity is not a good thing and if I am so beautiful, why do I have so many bullies calling me “witch”.  Witches are not pretty.  So there are my two biggest demons out in the open.  And my stuff, which is usually books, is a comfort from both of those demons.

The why I can’t get organized is a little trickier.  It is not about having stuff.  I can always buy organizing units and put it all away neatly.  I believe that it is time to let go of some of my comforts.  My health demands it.  In this process that I am right now, getting rid of things, including comfort food and belongings, is like a death.  I’ve had too many deaths in my life.  I’m just not sure I want to deal with another one.  And so, I hold on to my stuff and to my clutter, because if I don’t get rid of it all, I am not killing my comfort.

So I ask you: what is your why?  Do you know why you can’t get rid of the cigarettes, the overspending, the food addiction?  Whatever your demon is hides a good reason that you must deal with in order to get rid of your misbehavior.  Share with us what that is on the comments section below.  If you like this message, share it with a friend and help her figure out what her demon is as well.  Thanks.

Day 72 – Organizing Tip of the Week

Every Wednesday we share what we learn about Organizing.  We decided to make it the organizing tip of the week.  This one is very easy, which means most of us rarely do it.  Before you go to bed, make sure you clear up the mess.

I started organizing the apartment one area at a time.  I cleared the kitchen counters, and my desk.  I figured surfaces were more important than any room for two reasons:

1)  most of my surfaces are in public areas

2)  they are closer to eye level, which makes them more obvious

The strategy was simple.  The more surfaces I clean, the more things I get rid of, the prettier the apartment looks.  Also, when I come home after a long day of work, seeing my living space more organized makes me smile.  As the days go by, we all have a tendency to drop one or two things and if you don’t pick up, it gets messy again.

The cure for this is simple.  The areas that are already organized get a once over before I go to bed.  If there is a dish at the sink, I wash it.  If there is a letter, I check it and dispose of it accordingly. If someone left a book at the table, it goes back to its shelf.  It sounds simple, and it is.  The thing is, we sometimes convince ourselves that we are too tired to move it in this particular instant. The next thing you know, what would take five minutes takes two hours on a weekend because we have so many things out-of-place.

Trust me, try it tonight.  If you don’t have any area organized yet, just take a couple of minutes and take a few things off the table.  The difference will make you breath lighter.

What area of your house can you apply this little trick to?  Leave us a comment below.

Day 57: Organizing Your Mind

Lately, we have seen many organizing experts talk about your internal reasons for being disorganized.  They talk about you studying your attachment to things.  They refer to your unnatural love of things.  They even talk about your hidden pain points.  I think it goes much deeper.  I believe that if you don’t organize your mind, you will not organize your house.

Here’s the news:  the reason why you are disorganized is the same reason why you pick up and then it gets messy two days later.  It has nothing to do with the latest gadget or your fascination with a clean house.  It has everything to do with you and your motives.

I will use myself as a guinea pig.  I love books.  I have books all over my house.  My biggest pain point is my book collection.  I know where my obsession comes from.  As a little girl, I remember the wall of books in my house.  I also know that even though we could take the books out of the shelf, it was not a good idea to keep them off the shelf for long.  And more importantly, we had to make sure they went back to the same spot.  The little rebel in me could not wait to have her own place and just keep books wherever I wanted for as long as I wanted.

Although that explained the books, it did not explain much else.  Why am I the messy one?  I love decorating and yet, I cannot keep a neat house.  I’m not attached to anything other than my books, so what is with this disaster I have in my current apartment?

I need to get to the root of it or else I will keep going from room to room and by the time I clean the living room, the kitchen will be a mess again.  In the next few weeks I will share my insights as I discover why I behave this way.

What about you?  Do you know why you are messy?  Are you a hoarder?  Do you just have one area in your house that is not neat or does your entire house need help?  Leave a comment below.