Right before the New Year holiday, I was contacted by a reporter at the Star Tribune in Minneapolis seeking some functional tips to help folks get organized and to help them stay organized. My responses are below (the original questions are in bold). These tips are useful for everyone, especially at the start of a New Year when many people are focused on improving their lives. Enjoy!
The first step to getting organized is to determine the root cause of the disorganization. For some it is obvious, but for many it is the real reason they can never stay organized. Our goal at Can the Clutter is to not only organize the person the first time, but to truly solve the issue and ensure the client has the solution in place to stay organized. To do this very often involves not only modifying the space, but also modifying the client’s behavior to ensure success!
To keep from feeling overwhelmed, we often recommend you enlist help. For some people, all they need is a friend to help so that the task becomes more enjoyable. For others, they may require a professional that can be a fresh set of eyes, a project manager to keep them on track or a cheerleader/coach to provide the encouragement and support they need. The key is to enlist someone who is non-judgmental. We are hard enough on ourselves, and we don’t want someone that is going to add to the guilty feeling we often have. I have a background in psychology and it is interesting how often those skills come into play when working with clients that are having a hard time letting go.
Whatever you do, don’t beat yourself up and don’t be embarrassed to ask for help. Many of our clients get frustrated that it just doesn’t seem to be that hard, and why can’t they do it themselves? We have many highly skilled, successful clients who can’t understand why they can’t figure out how to stay organized. Sometimes clients have ADD or ADHD and focusing on detail oriented tasks like setting up an organizational system are very challenging for them. For others it’s just not where their time should be spent. Time is money as they say and why not hire someone that specializes in organizing to ensure the job gets done quickly and correctly? In our profession, we often joke that we are similar to personal trainers. Yes, we all know how to work out, but sometimes we need that person there to ensure we are using our time and energy in the most advantageous way.
My best advice for maintaining success is to have what we call “An Accountability Buddy,” someone that can keep you on track as you are beginning your organizational journey. It can take up to 3-4 weeks to learn a new skill. If you give up too early you will never complete your project or learn the new skills necessary to maintain your space. Having someone there to keep you accountable to your goals is pivotal.
Finally, if there’s an additional point you’d like to make, please feel free to add it here: Oftentimes, we find our organizational projects lead into teaching opportunities for our clients on better planning and time management skills. We also find that we often get hired to work with our clients in their place of work once they see the benefits of becoming organized at home. There are huge opportunities available for not only using your time more wisely, but for reducing the stress in your life both at home and at work.
–Can the Clutter: Home and office organizing in Eugene/Springfield, OR and Minneapolis/St Paul MN