When clients find me, they are typically tired, frustrated, dejected, angry, or all of the above. They have tried organizing on their own, but for various reasons, they were not successful. They feel deflated and wonder what went wrong. Often, they conclude that they just do not have the “organizing gene.” So, they resign themselves to living amongst frustrating clutter until they find me.
These clients are initially quite dubious when I tell them that they will gain confidence in their ability to organize if they commit to the work. During the process, they discover their roadblocks and learn how to course correct.
Many “a-ha” moments arise as processes click and practice takes shape. Towards the end of our work together, clients who reflect on the journey are typically shocked: they see a vast chasm between their initial doubt and resulting confidence.
There is no magic involved. These individuals simply decided to learn the process, commit to the work, and practice new skill sets. This is not to say that simple is easy. (If it were easy, the professional organizing industry would not exist.) Sometimes decluttering is one of the biggest challenges they will ever face, but they stick to it and experience massive shifts in their lives as a result. It can be incredibly cathartic.
So, if you have thought that you just do not have what it takes or that you will never get out from beneath the clutter, please challenge that thought because it does not have to be true. I believe that you can do it!
“Yeah, yeah,” some might say. “Those people are unique. They are not me. They had a special hidden knack that was unearthed in the process, and that is something I know do not possess.” Here is the thing: I have lost count of how many people thought that they did not have what it takes and were thrilled to discover that they unequivocally did. They just needed to have customized systems, learn how to do the work, and stick with it as habits took shape. You, too, can do it. Start with a drawer, part of a drawer, or even one or two objects a day, and see how your confidence grows!
Years ago, I had a particularly inspiring home décor idea involving a large plant. Its long leaves would gracefully arch over my armchair, carving out a tranquil reading corner in my humble San Francisco abode. I could almost feel the relaxation as the image came into focus. Those types of plants, though, had wince-inducing pricetags. “Too expensive,” I thought and banished the flash of inspiration from my mind.
A year or so later, I came upon a five-foot-tall bird of paradise in the unlikeliest of places. It was tucked away in the far recess of a massive store and on sale for an unbelievably low price. I felt like destiny was knocking. I left the store, grinning from ear to ear.
As I reached the parking lot, I hit my first snag. This lovely plant was almost too large for my car. That should have given me pause, but I was determined to bring my idea to fruition. So, with some struggle and a bit of spilled soil, I worked it out. Perhaps at that point, I should have known that this was the beginning of a complicated love affair.
As with so many budding relationships, it started effortlessly. I placed it behind my chair, and, voila, my vision came to life. The leaves were slightly too low, so I purchased a pedestal to elevate the plant a foot off the ground. That little corner provided quite a bit of joy over the coming months.
Flash forward a year and a half. Just like all relationships, the initial euphoria wore off, and reality set in. Due to the nature of my warm apartment, the plant thrived and quickly outgrew that corner. The leaves blocked enough light in the evenings that it could no longer serve as my reading corner.
Knowing that no good relationship comes without effort, I plucked it from the corner and moved furniture to accommodate its new home. The relocation worked, but the unsightly container was an eyesore. “No problem,” I thought as I headed out to purchase a ceramic pot within my price range. The simple task quickly blossomed into a large project: everything was too small, too large, too heavy, too expensive, or too unattractive. After a disheartening search, I finally discovered a quaint outdoor nursery and discount container store with exactly what I needed. I did not want a saucer to mar the planter’s aesthetic, so the nursery staff suggested using silicone to plug the drainage holes.
This was a more complicated task than I had assumed. At the hardware store, an employee suggested that I use rubber plugs instead of silicone. When I arrived home, I attempted to hammer them into place, but the rubber proved uncooperative. On to plan B: I cut them to size. Unfortunately, they did not create a water-tight seal. By then, I had run out of time and wondered when I could finish the project, given the busy week ahead.
There sat my lovely plant, beautiful dark green pot, hammer, toolbox, rubber stoppers, and a bag of rocks for the bottom of the planter. That pile of clutter was a big nuisance and taunted me all week. What started as a simple impulse buy turned into a big headache. Between shopping for the pot and the additional supplies, I ended up going to more than six stores. Repotting also took a fair amount of time, given the plant’s large footprint and my small kitchen.
After all that work, though, it looked lovely in the new planter. I enjoyed it for many more months as it continued to grow. Eventually, it reached the ceiling and became too large. Additionally, it no longer looked as healthy as it had in the original spot. I came to terms with the fact that we had to part ways. I extracted a small shoot and sold the rest of the plant, but not before removing some of the soil because it was otherwise too heavy to carry. That little shoot grew even faster than the original plant and meant I had to sell it long before I was ready. That was a sad day. I had invested an incredible amount of time and energy into making my vision a reality. The plant had brought me so much joy, but the breakup had to happen much sooner than I ever would have predicted. We just were not a good fit for each other.
Why do I share this story?
So, the next time you are tempted to purchase on impulse, do yourself a favor and stop a minute. That allows you to decide it is truly worth the time, space, and effort that it will usurp from your life. Feel free to recall my cautionary tale so that you can leave an impulse buy on the shelf and instead spend that time cozying up in a chair with a good book.
Author: Judith Dold
Musings from yours truly about all things organizing.