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
Sara Skillen - Certified Professional Organizer®, Certified Organizer Coach®, wife, mom, and serial list-maker. Learning to trust my intuition more every day. Shall we work together?