Sunday, December 31, 2006

Getting Organized

Most Americans ring in the New Year with a list of resolutions that will guide their lives, they hope, to health, happiness and prosperity. “Getting organized” is frequently on the list – in fact, it is among the top ten resolutions in this country. What typically happens though is hardly happy. In fact, I wouldn’t even call it healthy.

Armed with determination and a truck full of organizing tools, people tear into their mightiest piles of clutter. A few days later they feel frustrated, tired and defeated. Instead of one pile of clutter there are many piles of clutter, a stack of expensive organizing tools, and the pervasive fear that perhaps they “cannot” get organized.

Maybe this has happened to you.

If you have ever told yourself that you will never be organized – stop it! Telling yourself that you cannot do something limits your growth and happiness; it is downright unhealthy.

Asked to imagine “organization”, people often conjure up images of neatly divided drawers, tidy baskets of toys, or closets arranged with specialized nooks. Really, organization is more about routines than storage. These routines must be developed and learned. Ideally they provide us with a framework for pursuing our life’s endeavors efficiently and creatively.

Creatively? Yes, creativity is important. Because we perceive differently, think differently, and live differently, creative approaches to organization are needed that respect our individuality. There isn’t one way to be organized because there isn’t one way to live. Likewise, organization supports creatively. Don’t believe me? The world-renowned choreographer Twyla Tharp wrote an entire book on creativity and organization: The Creative Habit: Learn It And Use It For Life.

There are several good resources for learning about organization. The book Organizing from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern is a wonderful place to start, and I consider it a “must-read” book. Organizing for the Creative Person by Dorothy Lehmkuhl and Dolores Cotter Lamping, C.S.W. focuses on those individuals who excel in creative pursuits but feel trapped by chronic disorganization. One of my favorite online resources is And of course, a professional organizer can help you quickly and effectively develop systems and routines that address your clutter in an individualized fashion.

As with any new skill: start small. Give yourself opportunities to learn and realize that learning takes time. Patience is an essential part of the formula for success. May your New Year be blessed with success.
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