A couple years ago, fellow professional organizer Marcia Sloman wrote a fabulous Psychology Today article about why it’s hard to get organized. I found it while researching why people fear the prospect of organizing. Like any good article, it got me thinking….
Being afraid to organize is somewhat of a taboo subject, don’t you think? How often do you hear a friend say, “Wow, I’m really having trouble getting my home office under control – that’s why I meet at coffee shops.” What does this say about us?! There is a link between fear and embarrassment, and that’s why it’s hard to talk about not being able to de-clutter and organize.
I was curious to find out how much people do talk openly about this issue. My online search revealed little – the PT article mentioned above was the only relevant piece I could find. Feel free to read Marcia’s article first; my comments here are independent of that article.
I should mention that my comments are not relevant for folks who suffer from bona fide hoarding or chronic disorganization syndromes. It has been proven that mental health issues often contribute.
Rather, I’m talking about ‘normal’ people like you and me. When we experience anxiety around “organizing” – specifically de-cluttering, downsizing, re-configuring, or moving and unpacking – how do we deal with the fear that comes up? Well, let me ask you – who here was taught how to organize?
BTW, it’s no wonder that people don’t talk about their fear around organizing. Fear and shame often go hand-in-hand… “If my neighbors see the inside of my home, what will they think?” “I have so much paper, going back so many years… I must be a hoarder.” “It’s a good thing I meet clients in coffee shops – If they saw how disorganized my home office is, they’d run a mile.”
Instead, let’s take cluttering out the closet (so to speak). Yes!! Let’s acknowledge that some of us are afraid of our clutter and the thought of organizing.
Feel the fear and do it anyway? For some, fear can be so paralyzing that they can’t do anything. We may be paralyzed when we can’t decide our next step. We can be paralyzed when we don’t have control over our own situations or decisions (e.g. elders, employees, children, when dealing with large institutions and their customer support depts).
We can be paralyzed by knowing that we need to de-clutter and organize but not knowing how to do it.
The good news is that there’s a simple antidote – decision-making. Clutter is nothing more than decisions being delayed. When you realize just how much your external environment and your internal environment (your thinking) are connected, you begin to experience how making a small decision about a group of physical items can have a larger knock-on effect. Many people have experienced significant change once they’ve de-cluttered and organized.
Ok, so now you’re convinced that it would be helpful to find a professional organizing coach to help you. What should you look for? As you talk to organizers, you should be sensing these qualities:
- A good professional organizer learns how their client ‘ticks’.
- A good organizer helps clients find solutions.
- A good organizer is your best cheerleader and coach.
- A good organizer cares about you and wants to see you succeed.
- In working with boomers and seniors especially, a good organizer understands that long-held possessions evoke emotions and helps their client let go.
At The Potential Center I help busy professionals and home-based entrepreneurs work smarter in their homes and home offices, and help boomers and seniors downsize. I pair great problem-solving abilities with supportive coaching skills, and this helps people be less fearful of organizing. Trained in Virtual Organizing, I also help people all around the country get organized via videoconferencing, phone and email.
I’d love to find out what you want to achieve in your home! Please contact me when you’re ready for a free 1/2 hr phone consult.