Lisa Hess offers a reminder that self-doubt doesn't have to live with us -- at least not when it comes to organization.
Lately, I've been thinking about self-doubt. It's an ugly and sneaky thing, really, lurking in the shadows and then popping out at the most inopportune times. Not only can it paralyze us on its own, but if we let it take up residence in our hearts and minds, it can unpack traveling companions like anxiety and depression, extending its stay indefinitely.
Those of us who've struggled to organize in traditional ways are familiar with self-doubt. We wonder why others can so easily do this thing that's so difficult for us. Why other people's homes look better, less cluttered, more organized than our own. If we'll ever keep the kitchen counter clear for more than 15 minutes, get rid of all the stuff we've collected in the attic or walk across the family room without stepping on a Lego or a Polly Pocket.
But organizing takes effort, looks can be deceiving, and those Legos and Polly Pockets will disappear altogether sooner than we're ready for them to. Most of all, self-doubt doesn't have to live with us -- at least not when it comes to organization.
Here are three steps to sending it packing.
Identify your styles. Considering what you do naturally not only helps you figure out how to best organize your stuff, it helps you to embrace who you are as well, something that has payoffs much bigger than clear kitchen counters. Once we recognize that we don't have to organize like anyone else, we're free to experiment, play and find our own way. When self-doubt arrives, aiming to sabotage, point to your style-based successes and show it the door.
Choose the right tools. Last night, as I was fighting to put a file back into a file cabinet (tucked into the corner of my office, no less), I became frustrated. Well, of course I did. I'm an I need to see itperson using a big black hole to store papers. I have, for some time, been considering a different solution for that corner, but haven't yet taken the plunge. Until I do, I am going to be frustrated not because there's something wrong with me, but because I've chosen the wrong tool. Would you pound a nail with a screwdriver? Of course not. When self-doubt arrives in the form of comparison to others who seem to have this organization thing down, remind it (and yourself) that appearances can be deceiving and one size does not fit all.
Accept the idea that getting organized and staying that way is a process. When I first started writing about style-based organizing, I dreamed of a day when I could sit back, relax, and point to all the clear surfaces in my house, declaring myself officially organized. Well, a girl can dream. The reality, however, is that life is constantly changing and it brings with it a steady flow of stuff we need to sort, organize and store. Someday, you won't need to store those Legos or Polly Pockets (and that's likely to be sadder than you expect) and will instead be making room for the latest entertainment craze. The closet that was once spacious enough to hold every outfit your toddler owned is now stuffed to the gills with much bigger clothes that, if not offered an easily accessible home, are just as likely to end up on the floor. Is it any wonder our organizational systems have to change over time? When self-doubt arrives, wagging its finger and berating you for having lost all of your alleged organizational skills, toss it in a trash bag and send it out the door with last week's fad.
Finally, don't forget that a sense of humor is a very effective tool for undercutting self-doubt. Getting organized is not about perfection so, when you find a flaw in the system (take my file cabinet -- please!), try to think of it more as an opportunity to grow than a fatal flaw. And don't forget to smile and congratulate yourself on how far you've come, or maybe even chuckle (as I did last night) at the idea that you ever thought that organizer would work in the first place.
You've got this. And, best of all, you get to do it your way.
Copyright 2020 Lisa Hess
Image: Tatiana Syrokova (2020), Pexels
About the Author
Lisa Lawmaster Hess is a transplanted Jersey girl who writes both fiction and non-fiction. Lisa’s latest book is 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. She blogs at The Porch Swing Chronicles, Organizing by STYLE, and here at Catholicmom.com. Read all articles by Lisa Hess.