Lisa Hess explains why a good sense of humor is a key organizing tool.
If you've ever heard me speak, you've probably heard the story of how an office relocation led to first an organizational resolution, then an organizational epiphany. At the time, I was working in an elementary school with students ranging in age from seven to twelve. When I decided to share my strategies with them, simple, straightforward names just made sense.
But "cram and jam"? "I know I put it somewhere"?
Okay, so they're straightforward with a twist. Their inherent silliness makes it hard to take ourselves -- or our organization situation -- too seriously.
So often, those of us who organize in non-traditional ways and/or struggle with getting and staying organized take it personally. It's hard not to when our self-talk is routinely negative and serious -- self-talk that we might very well have picked up from the other people along the way.
What a mess! I'll never get this. What's wrong with me? Why can everyone else do this? How hard is it to put papers in a folder?
When this is the case, we're less likely to get organized. Negative self-talk isn't motivating, it's demoralizing. Frustrated and disgusted, we give up, assuming we can't do any better, and further cementing our belief that there's something wrong with us. Or, perhaps we assume that we were absent on the day God was gifting people with organizational skills, and we simply need to accept that we'll never get any better.
Never is such an ugly word.
Even though getting and staying organized requires a seriousness of purpose, it doesn't have to be all serious all the time. Dubbing our default styles with names that clearly identify the action but leave room for a little levity can make an onerous task less insurmountable. And being able to laugh despite missteps and amid piles is far, far better for us than beating ourselves up.
To be honest, when I took organizing by STYLE out of the elementary school and into adult settings, I was afraid the names wouldn't fly. I couldn't have been more wrong. Dogged by years of belief that they were hopeless, the adults who arrived at my presentations were relieved by the levity and delighted to find that they had company -- others who could wear the same labels they were donning themselves.
While there are lots of practical tool that are a key part of the organizing arsenal, there are intangibles as well. Faith in ourselves. Optimism. Persistence.
And a sense of humor.
Sure, we can get angry about the piles, frustrated by the collections, and overwhelmed by the busy schedules and seasons the leave us feeling as though we'll never get ahead of things.
Or, we can slap on our personal and organizational style monikers like one of those sticky "Hello! My name is ..." badges (mine says I need to see it/drop and run) and brainstorm our way out of the clutter.
The labels are silly but they're also a call to action. The realization that I need to see things and that, when things get busy, I default to dropping and running, puts me on the path to finding the organizational tools I need. Wearing that silly name badge (literally or figuratively) is the first step to accepting who I am and how I operate. Even better, it gives me a road map for getting to organizational success.
Name it. Accept it. Use it.
And don't forget to smile.
Copyright 2021 Lisa Hess
Images: Canva Pro
About the Author
Transplanted Jersey girl Lisa Lawmaster Hess is the author of a blog compilation, three novels, and three non-fiction books, including the award-winning Know Thyself: The Imperfectionist’s Guide to Sorting Your Stuff. A retired elementary school counselor, Lisa is an adjunct professor of psychology at York College of Pennsylvania. She blogs at The Porch Swing Chronicles, Organizing by STYLE, and here at Catholicmom.com. Read all articles by Lisa Hess.