Organizing Emotionally: It’s Hard to Make a Difference When You Can’t Find Your Keys

Written by Karen Jessee. Posted in Organizing.



Magazines touting the latest in organizing solutions with glossy images of clean and perfect spaces do not deal with individuals or their lives.   Staged with new furniture and quaint products, these articles are advice with the underlying hint that buying something pretty will put one’s life in order. There’s the panacea of visual fantasies: ten beige outfits in a closet; six bathroom towels rolled with ribbons.  Glib. 

Unrealistic Cluttered and dramatic spaces are often manifestations of cluttered and traumatic lives.Many people are emotionally unable – for any number of reasons- to deal with their clutter, clothing, papers and bills.Some have suffered emotional setbacks; others live in a world where they are unable to focus, unable to organize their time, homes or offices. Many who look polished and successful on the outside harbor destructively chaotic habits. When people who have suffered setbacks look at these magazines and then try desperately to make sense out of their own clutter, it just does not work.

’s Hard to Make a Difference When You Can’t Find Your Keys: the seven step path to becoming truly organized is the latest book from Marilyn Paul who holds a doctorate from Yale and who co-founded a counseling program for business clients to develop teamwork and to gain more meaningful results. She is also a woman with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). The image of success on the outside, Marilyn admitted to being a mess on the inside.  Her home, her office, and her car were disaster areas.  She often found herself unprepared, late, and forgetting.   She was working harder but not better. Carnage everywhere. An ironic lifestyle.  But when Marilyn finally applied  many of the emotional steps and principals that she used in business to clear up her own messes, when she brought respect and compassion into the picture, when she became more responsible about changing her habits, she was able to clarify her own life and space and become the creative and effective person she wanted to be.  

Step 1:  Purpose

Get rid of the shame and the blame. Simply ask yourself this: Why?  Why do you want to be organized? What will being organized do for you?  What do you want to be able to do?  Write this down. You work best when you have a purpose and when you’ve acknowledged it. You can begin small (I want to find my keys every morning, pay bills on time, make my bedroom an oasis) and work your way to something greater (I want to reestablish integrity and pride in my work, feel more spiritually calm, socialize with friends in my own home) 

Often, people who are disorganized have lost their purpose. They didn’t mean to lose it; there were those unforeseen circumstances and new responsibilities at every turn.  Taking care of the very space in which they worked and lived suddenly fell to the bottom of the list, yet it was the very space that would determine how they worked and how they lived. Once they lost their purpose, their space lost its purpose as well.


Step 2:  Vision

This is all about you. Visualizing is essential for giving yourself a sense of direction and for seeing yourself actually living your purpose.  Visualize finding your  keys or important papers in the same place. Walk into the bedroom, visualize clothing where it belongs, a clear floor, the shoes in order.  This is not dictated by the outside; this is what you want for yourself.  It will give you a greater sense of who you are.  Being able to visualize shifts your mind-set from the emotional to the practical.  Once you can imagine what you want, you will start to develop strategies to get it.  If you cannot determine what you want, begin with what you don’t want.   The small, mundane stuff is important; putting laundry away, making the bed, filing the papers, and hanging the keys on the hook are exactly the little things that lead to the bigger things.  See yourself in motion; see your space take shape.

This is your start; just these two steps. Determine your purpose; envision yourself living that purpose. Determine the purpose of the space; envision a new space. Organizing emotionally is a process;  a way to work through the inner clutter to deal with the outside clutter. It takes time and repetition.  It is learning new habits to change your life...not just the surface of your desk today. It is a journey into learning how to live well and fulfill your potential. Getting organized is not about moving stuff and donating stuff; it is about learning who you are, what you want, and discovering what you’re willing to do to get what you want.  ( To be continued)




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