Lisa Hess poses three questions to guide the process of setting—and keeping—organizing goals this new year.
Did you make a New Year’s resolution to get organized? Congratulations! That's a great start!
But what is organizing, exactly? What does it look like?
Let's start with what it isn't. Organizing isn’t purging your possessions. And minimalism, whether for spiritual purposes or something else entirely, isn't organizing either. While both of these can be tools in the organizing process because they reduce the sheer quantity of what we need to organize, neither is an organizational solution in and of itself.
To decide what organizing is, let’s jump to our desired conclusion. What does "organized" look like? Why does it matter to you? When you picture your perfectly organized life, what do you see?
To me, being organized has two parts: being able to find what I need when I need it and living in a home that's (mostly) free of clutter because I have found a logical home for all of my possessions.
I used to think being organized meant existing in a showplace—somewhere where nothing was ever out of place. But, over time, I've discovered that it's hard to relax in a place where things need to be perfect all the time, just as it's hard to concentrate in a place where there's so much clutter that it's distracting. Organizing should be a source of peace, not a source of stress and frustration.
I also discovered that those showplace spaces may not be organized in a functional way. Anyone can bundle up clutter, put it in a pretty box and put it on a shelf, but that's not a sustainable organizational plan. While it makes things look nice in the moment, it makes it hard to find what we need on a day-to-day basis, let alone when we're rushing out the door and need to grab the paper that was on the counter on Saturday before we stuck everything in a box and put a lid on it because company was coming.
Why am I not just giving you a definition and a list of helpful hints?
Because organizing is personal. Sure, the basic concepts are the same, but which tools we choose to achieve organizational success (and how we use those tools) is determined by our answers to the questions I posed earlier:
- what does "organized" look like to you?
- why does it matter?
- when you picture your perfectly organized life, what do you see?
I've shared my answers, but yours may be different. If we went shopping together, we might pick out completely different tools. Or we might choose the same ones and use them in entirely different ways. How we organize is dictated by our answers to the questions above, how we think, how we organize naturally, and what season of life we are in.
Right now, your decision to get organized might mean that you need a complete overhaul of a space, a room, or your whole house. And, regardless of which of those is true, which tools you decide on, and what you do with them, some days, the clutter will win. But if you develop systems that work for you, its victory will be short-lived, and you'll always know which tools you need to win the war on clutter.
All it takes is some patience ... and a little style.
Copyright 2023 Lisa Hess
Images: (top) Canva; (bottom) copyright 2023 Lisa Hess, all rights reserved
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.