Archive for the ‘Time to Organize’ Category

Why You Can’t Get Organized: When Organization is a Phobia

Monday, July 2nd, 2018

Clutter / Organizing

Is it “can’t” or “won’t” when it comes to summarizing the reasons people fail to organize their stuff? And does it apply to you?
“Can’t” implies inability.
“Won’t” is the lack of initiative or desire.

The five main reasons fall into BOTH camps: Can’t AND Won’t.

CAN’T – Don’t know how
Mindy (fictitious name) tells me “I just don’t have the gene to organize.” Could it be genetics that stop Mindy from organizing her important household stuff? Could it be a neurological issue? Mindy is a very creative (right-brained) individual.

For decades, Mindy has tried to read books in many failed attempts to follow guidance on organizing papers and assorted stuff. Does it sound familiar? She feels like a failure because she can’t maintain a system of organization. Plus, She rarely remembers where she puts her stuff.

Yes, many disorganized people complain about their memory. While cognitive decline is a real thing, finding yourself overwhelmed can affect thinking, especially, in my experience, with creative people. Reader, you may be chuckling as you recognize the trait in yourself, but you know it’s not funny. It can be painful. People spend hours each year searching for important information that they put “in a good place.” They spend more money than necessary to replace items that were put away but can’t locate.

Organizing overwhelms, and many smart people truly believe they’re hopeless. They develop bad habits, leaving things around their home and office because they think that the “stuff” will be visible to find at a later date. But nothing can be found when you need it. The lucky ones find help, or find a partner to assist, and to compliment this “missing gene.” Some, however, don’t let others in, and end up unhappy.

CAN’T – Can’t get started/ Can’t manage interruptions/ Gets Distracted
Starting a new project can be daunting.

Some people need to be in the right frame of mind to start a project, while others can “Just Do It.” If you are easily distracted, especially if the project is that dreaded ORGANIZING. Distraction can be a disorder and a house filled with stuff, with dozens of unfinished projects, may point in that direction. If you think you’re overwhelmed because of Attention Deficit Disorder, get an evaluation. The right treatment can make the job of organization a thousand times easier.

With or without ADD, many people don’t know how to begin to sort through all their stuff. When sorting through the past, the trips down memory lane can divert you off on tangents. It is a normal hazard when going through old things. It’s not hard to reminisce the day away.

Robert (fictitious name) wanted to transition his business. He had an office filled with papers: client material, marketing material, and personal papers. He also had a habit of making multiple copies of each paper to be sure he always had a copy. This compensatory mechanism made his office look like a sea of random papers and files.

The task of “organizing” the papers of the old business was impossible. He lacked the motivation to get started because he didn’t know how. And, so the business transition could not begin. The old business made Robert unhappier each day, and he was stuck. Each folder he touched stirred up old (good and bad) memories. He couldn’t get out of his own way to organize. Empowering himself to learn how to get started, and stay focused, helped change his life. Also, learning how to conquer his personal challenge of starting new things gave him a new confidence.

WON’T – Don’t feel like it
Yes, our feelings get in the way – with relationships and our relationship to stuff. Rhonda (fictitious name) refused to keep a calendar/date book because she wanted her life to be flexible, be a butterfly, do as she pleased. Often, any plans made in advance were forgotten unless a good friend called her to remind her. Now, that’s a good friend, but then again, maybe that “friend” actually enabled her fairy tales.

More often, her plans were cancelled at the last minute because something better to do came along. Bills went unpaid. Piles of mail, and assorted papers and household items, collected on tables, under tables, and inside cabinets. Rhonda did as she pleased, until her husband wanted to refinance the house. Their credit rating was so low because of so many unpaid or late paid bills, their refinancing was rejected. Rhonda only wanted to do things that were fun. She constantly compared her life to others’. She festered over the thought that someone else’s life could be better than hers. I could tell you how her life turned out, but this time, I’ll let you fantasize.

CAN’T – Have to clear up first
We think too much. Some think they have to clear the decks before they can plan or organize. They have so much stuff in the way, they think they have to clear away the “stuff” before organizing.

Angela (fictitious name) had boxes and files full of personal memories and professional accomplishments, all mixed together. She wanted to embark on a new job search, and needed to put together a resume. Angela wanted to use some examples of the materials located in these files as resume points. She was FROZEN. Angela felt that she had to go through EVERYTHING before she could even START organizing her resume. She needed guidance, and fortunately found that guidance so that she could begin her journey to find her dream job. Clearing and organizing go hand in hand. As you start to clear, you get a clearer idea of what is left to organize. Then, the organizing process will flow easier as you’re gradually familiar with your “stuff”.

CAN’T – Need the right “tools”
Every craftsman knows that “Good tools aren’t cheap; Cheap tools aren’t any good.” There are so many good organizing “tools” at varying price points. Have you been to The Container Store, Bed Bath and Beyond or Home Goods lately? You’ll find a dizzying array of organizing “tools” in those and other stores, as well as online sources.

Those who can’t organize, because they need to find the “right” tools first, are land locked in their stuff. Others may purchase a wide variety of inappropriate tools, adding to the accumulation of clutter.

Organizing is an ongoing activity. Oh, did you think that once you’re organized, you’re organized? The organizing process evolves just like we do. Our needs change, as do our systems. There’s never a right time to organize. We make the time.

If you learn to organize each day, just a little, a great deal can happen. Start with your bed, and move on to your work or your house. Tackle a little at a time, and learn not to be afraid of clearing, organizing and discarding. Soon it will become natural.

Finally, whether you CAN’T or WON’T organize your stuff, enlisting help will empower you to accomplish these and other Herculean tasks. Yet, once things begin to clear out, you’ll begin to feel freer, only to have the energy to do more. Organizational phobias do exist with multiple can’ts and won’ts. As with most phobias, the best way around them is through them.

(Reprinted from Mark Banschick’s blog in Psychology Today)

The Right Strategy for Paring Down

Monday, October 9th, 2017


“Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up.”
– – A. A. Milne, author of Winnie the Pooh

Before you tackle your next organizing project, will you plan and strategize?  What motivates and inspires you?

I have helped 600+ individuals to successfully accomplish their organizing goals with solid plans and strategies.  I believe that there is no “right” strategy.  As your personality is unique from your friends and relatives, so are your styles to succeed.  We cannot compare our stuff with others’, nor can we compare our ways and lives with that of others’.  Each project and each individual is unique, and there are so many different strategies to pare down and/or organize your “stuff”. 

Recently, a new client asked for my help.   Sheila (fictitious name, real person) had experience paring down possessions, but this time it was too emotional for her to do alone.  Her mom had passed away, and the home needed to be cleared out.  Sheila was afraid that she would procrastinate and it would not get accomplished.  Her budget was limited, too.

Sheila accepted my first recommendation which was to complete a specific task on her own within one week.  Sheila completed her assignment successfully. She trusted the idea to work with me virtually to achieve ultimate success, and keep her expenses low. Her next assignment was also completed on time. I estimated the project to complete in six months, this was agreeable to Sheila.

With my feedback, advice and encouragement, Sheila was motivated and held accountable for her success.  Her organizing/paring down project was completed in 3 months….way ahead of schedule. The strategy, that I recommended to Sheila, worked! 

Part of our strategy was to start with easy decisions.  The easier the decision, then the organizing process flowed.  If you start with the hard decisions, one could get stuck.  I vote for easy, and small changes over time.  Leo Tolstoy, the great author of War and Peace, knew that great success was achieved by taking baby steps. He said, “True life is lived when tiny changes occur.”   Taking baby steps give us a chance to experience the changes in our lives.  When we give ourselves time to make decisions, (to keep or eliminate our things, relationships and/or relationship(s) with things or people), we have great opportunities for success.

The industry of Professional Organizing officially began in 1985 by a handful of bold women.  Today, there are thousands of professional organizers in the world, each having a specialty, unique personality, style and philosophy. Marie Kondo, a new popular author of simplifying, emphasizes that if “the thing” does not resonate with you, “it” no longer belongs in your life.  That makes for an easier decision to keep or eliminate. 

Be successful at organizing your space and your life.  Make thoughtful decisions to keep or eliminate, and organize the “best way” for you.

Winnie the Pooh and his friends gave everyone, at every age, a sense of joy, adventure, loyalty and accomplishment.  Allow them to be inspiration for your next organizing project.

Organizing, Gratitude and Asking for Help

Monday, December 5th, 2016

Marcia Sloman, Under Control Organizing

The grocery-cart-return area was about 20 feet away, but the able-bodied, middle aged man rolled his emptied grocery cart to an level surface next to his car instead.  I just couldn’t walk away.
“The return area is right over there”, I stopped, pointed, and said with a smile.
He froze, unexpectedly confronted.  “Yes, it is”, was his retort.
“I’ll be happy to help, and take it for you, if you like”, I offered.
“That’s kind of you”, was the man’s reply.
“You’re welcome. All you had to do was ask.  Have a nice day.”

Whether it’s keeping the parking lot safe from rolling grocery carts, being able to find things quickly in my home and office, or listening carefully to you to determine the best “systems” in your space, it’s all Organizing.  I’m happy to do it.  All you have to do is ask.

It’s natural instinct for people to want to help.  We need help, and help may come from unexpected sources.  All you have to do is ask.

I’m happy, and grateful that I chose my second career in Organizing. I’m grateful to my mentors, supportive friends, family and acquaintances.  I’m grateful to the career counselor who evaluated my skills in 1992 as “having excellence in organizing”.  I am grateful every day for the challenging projects offered to me by my clients.  All you have to do is ask.

Giving thanks is not limited to the holiday time of Thanksgiving.  I think that if we make time to remember and acknowledge others throughout the year, our lives might be easier, less stressed, more organized and productive.  We would feel comforted by partnership.  We just have to ask, “Can you help me with ______?”  After receiving, please pay it forward.  I can only hope that the man in the parking lot “paid it forward” in gratitude later that day, even if no one asked.

It’s a challenge to stay organized.  Today’s hectic, harried life commands our attention in so many directions.  Tasks take longer to complete than expected.  Our high priority lists grow.  We’re stretched.  Distractions abound.  There are only 24 hours in the day, and we can’t be everywhere at once.

What does gratitude and helping others have to do with Organizing?  I named my Organizing business “Under Control” to represent a feeling one would have after they work with me.  I enjoy sharing that knowledge with you.  I want you to feel a sense of confidence and calm after our work together.  Being organized can provide that sense.  Organizing is a thoughtful process, whether it’s downsizing, transition-ing or building a new venture.

For me, “organized” is knowing how, when and from whom we need to ask for help, and being able to take our valuable time to express our appreciation for it.

Simple Ways to Streamline your Life, Be More Productive and Stay Organized

Monday, August 10th, 2015

Praying for Organization?

Start with a few simple ways to streamline your life, be more productive and stay organized:

Manage your schedule

  • Send yourself reminders via email, app or electronic calendar.
  • Set up a separate inbox for your reminders, and check it daily.
  • Use a family calendar to track family commitments.
  • Eliminate multiple calendars, or be sure to synchronize.
  • Set up a grab and go area near your exit to remember to bring items with you when you go out.

Pare down paper

  • Pay as many bills online as you can.
  • Remember to maintain receipts if they are tax-deductible expenses.
  • Find what you need, when you need it: set up a simple format and naming convention to scan and to file. Please remember to back up. If you don’t keep the paper as back up, save to a hard drive or cloud storage.

Eliminate electronic clutter

  • Reduce stress and anxiety resulting from the overwhelm of feeling buried.
  • Unsubscribe from e-offers and emails that are no longer relevant to you.
  • Clear out your Inbox by creating folders for important senders/categories.

Filing

  • No one LIKES to file (except for me). Make it easy on yourself, or set up a simple system, for paper and electronic matter, so that anyone can put your stuff away.

De-clutter your space(s)

  • Surround yourself in an environment that represents who you are.
  • Free up valuable space.
  • Start with the EASY decisions. Choose to keep or eliminate. Get to know what you have.
  • Set aside 10-15 minutes a day: with a notebook and pen, walk room to room, closet to closet, drawer to drawer, until your entire home/office is inventoried. Bookmark where you left off each day so that you can pick up where you left off. This may take a month or more overall to complete. The process will force you to eliminate items that you no longer want.

For more easy ways to streamline your life, be more productive and to stay organized, contact me. We can quickly brainstorm your unique life situations to transform your life to an organized life.

Why You Can’t Get Organized

Monday, July 14th, 2014

Do you find yourself struggling to organize your things? You’re not alone.

Read my article on Dr. Mark Banschick’s blog in Psychology Today. I know it’s overwhelming. But, you can do it.

Best Gadget for Self Management

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

Sometimes the oldest technologies are the best technologies.  The old fashioned “timer” for instance can help you stay on track in your projects, and manage time throughout the day. Using a timer can empower you to feel more accomplished in your projects.

See my interview on News 12.

Time to De-Clutter

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

There’s never enough time! Our lives are so full as we attend to day-to-day chores and activities. There never seems to be enough time to decorate, renovate, start or complete special projects. Can you de-clutter or organize all the stuff around your house? In order to set aside some time to accomplish these important things, we need to become aware of how we spend our time. If we are able to eliminate the “time wasters”, we can set goals, prioritize, and begin those often put off projects. Become skilled at estimating how long it takes to accomplish a task. Set a stopwatch to learn how long a task takes. Eliminate distractions. Do you want to plan your next project to de-clutter the garage in order to fit the car inside before the winter comes? Examine your garage space and decide the purposes for which it should be used. Visualize the car inside the garage. Sort the contents into Trash, Recycle, Sell, Give Away and Donate. Follow through by distributing those items to appropriate places. Store the rest on shelves, hooks, bins, and use other easy-to-organize products.