Tuesday, January 12, 2010

It's the season-for Organizing


It started the day after Christmas. The ads in my paper were pushing shelves, bins, totes, and organizers of every shape and color. The message is clear- You got stuff. You need stuff to store your stuff. The time is now, when you are stuck inside with your stuff. There was National Clean off Your Desk Day this week, "GO" (Get Organized) Month from the National Association of Professional Organizers, Oprah has Peter Walsh organizing again, and A&E will spotlight another Hoarder so we see how bad it can get. There is no doubt about it-Organized is better. Organized students get better grades. Organized bill payers have better credit ratings. Organized workers get better jobs. Do we need to be reminded that we have so much that we can't find what we need? Apparently so.

There has never been a time in history when a society has had so many possessions. We could not have learned from the past how to deal with too much. I watch old westerns (my guilty pleasure) and think how hard it would be to narrow down my possessions to fit in a covered wagon or to carry my possessions like a refugee on the news. This is, of course, extreme but many of us have developed unhealthy and fearful relationships with our stuff. I have heard clients say that a teddy bear would feel lonely or rejected if we tossed it. People feel they're stuck for eternity with a cheese plate because "It was a gift". They worry that tossing something owned by one's parents is disrespectful to the past even if it costs them the use of a garage or basement. They hang on to checks written in the last century in fear that the government will come beating on their door requesting proof of a "Save the Children" donation. The good news is that with the help of a professional organizer, asking the right questions, they were able to re-frame their thinking. The gift was not meant to weigh them down, the IRS has rules about what you need to keep and for how long, and their parents would rather they stayed warm in their garage.

We need reminders and support as we learn to deal with the stuff in our life. We need reminders to bless others when we have more than we need. We need guides to help us make rules for ourselves about what to keep, for how long, or what to do when we inherit a household. Remember- no product will completely make you organized. You have to first re-frame your thinking. The goal for each year is just to get better.