I was looking up some statistics the other day for a talk I was giving. One I didn’t use, but that struck me as incredibly sad, was the following:
How long would it take you to get your house ready for dinner guests? The results are as follows: 65% said "4 hours or fewer" (913 votes), 11% said "I'll never invite anyone inside" (151 votes), 10% said "8 hours" (142 votes), 7% said "24 hours" (104 votes), 6% said "40 or more hours" (87 votes)*
Spend 24 or more hours getting ready for dinner guests?? Well, ok, maybe for Thanksgiving. But never invite anyone inside? Given that this was a “quick poll”, I know it’s not part of a larger, more scientific study, but I think those results are an indication of how isolating our choices can be. I joke around sometimes that the best way to get motivated for organizing is to invite house guests for a weekend. But for a lot of people, it’s no joke. They will never do it. I think it can be a chicken-and-egg situation, too: do they not invite people over because the house is disorganized, or do they keep the house disorganized so that they don’t have to invite people over?
To think of actually hiring or inviting someone to actually assist with an organizing project can cause even more distress.
"A professional organizer in my home? Not a chance. I’ll have to get rid of things (some things, probably)…They’ll see what I mess I’ve made (they’ll have to, to address the issues)…They’ll think I’m _________(no, it’s about being of service)…Really, I can handle this myself (then why haven’t you?).”
I think this problem occurs often with outwardly very smart, successful people - think medical or legal professionals, professors, entrepreneurs. They work hard to maintain the image of being in control, and why wouldn’t they? Most people wouldn’t want to visit a dentist who can’t find their tools or who forgets to show up for appointments. Perception is important. But I think there are also those who in a weird way, may prefer to just stay disorganized. Maybe it’s much easier to be in denial than to face the fear of 1) having to go through the sorting process; and 2) having no excuse to stay hidden at home.
To circle back, it does make me sad. We all could stand a little more connection in our lives, and to let too much physical stuff get in the way of interacting with others is a missed opportunity. Whether we work on it ourselves, or get a friend to help, or hire an organizer, or even remain blissfully unconcerned, clutter shouldn’t dictate our social lives. So maybe, invite someone over. And if you need a little extra help to get ready, I’m here for you.
*NAPO, . NAPO Public Quick Poll. Unknown 01/06/2009 Statistic by/from NAPO Public Quick Poll, June 2009
I have people who contact me to help them get rid of extra stuff and make their spaces clear and simple. I also have people who contact me to help them do what they need to do more efficiently, whether through technology, managing their schedules, or learning how to keep track of their priorities. Once in a while I have the potential client who calls and says something like, "I need to get my spaces organized, but I think there's more to it - I need to get my mind organized...does that make any sense?"
Indeed it does, and that potential client is probably already halfway to their goal without even realizing it. That's because they have intuitively stumbled onto what I try to incorporate into my work with all clients: that organization and productivity skills naturally work together. The mindset and approach to how you complete tasks is as important as the de-cluttering. Still, sometimes I sense a little resistance when I try to talk about time management in the context of setting up a home drop zone, or a quizzical look when I suggest that the desk needs to be clear and organized before we tackle goal-setting. It's kind of like those old Reese's Peanut Butter Cup commercials:
"Hey, you put productivity in my organizing session!! Oh yeah?! Well..." You get the idea. (Yes, I know I'm dating myself...I even know who those actors are).
What folks sometimes don't connect is that if your spaces are set up for your style of work (or play), then it's a LOT easier to make decisions, and you have more time to think about lists, goals and priorities. And if you are making headway with keeping track of to do items, appointments, or even the laundry, you may just feel a lot more inclined to simplify and de-clutter your personal possessions. You need less stuff to do what you need to do. Productivity is not just for folks who work in big companies and receive lots of emails. And organizing a space is not just for overtired moms trying to get a grip on their closets. Whatever project we work on together, I'm likely to put the two in sync. It's how I believe the best level of success is achieved.
Organizing and productivity - they go great together.
Sara Skillen - Certified Professional Organizer®, coach, wife and mom, and serial list-maker. Excited to be in the long but worthwhile process of becoming a Certified ADHD Organizer Coach. Learning to trust my intuition more every day. Shall we work together?
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