Achieving Success: Getting Past Organizing Blocks

In the middle of an organizing session last week, my client suddenly burst out –

What is blocking me from getting organized?!

Although I get this question often, there is no one right answer.

Blocks to organizing come in a variety of forms and they rarely appear alone…

No time, Low motivation (or depression), Overwhelm, Perfectionism, Guilt, No follow-thru and/or uncooperative family members, the key to getting organized is figuring out what blocks you have and how best to overcome them so you can achieve the organized life you desire.

Here are a few tips for working with & overcoming some of the more common obstacles:

Never Seem to Have Time to Get Organized?

• Plan a date with yourself to work on one small space at a time. Think closet, kitchen counter, under a bed, top of a desk, etc. Preferably, plan your work dates in three hour blocks of time whenever possible.

• Pay attention to how much you are able to get done because more than likely, your concept of how long something takes to get organized may or may not even be close (it may take a shorter or longer time than you are thinking).

No Motivation to Start Organizing?

• Try setting a timer for 15 minutes and do as much organizing as you can in that time frame. When your timer goes off, ask yourself if you feel inspired enough to keep going. If not, quit for the day and start again the next day. At some point, you may feel inspired enough by the daily, 15 minute accomplishments that you will keep on going … and going.

• Find an accountability partner to help energize you and keep your focused.

Feeling Overwhelmed?

• Start somewhere that is small like a tabletop surface, a basket of magazines, your car trunk, etc. Once you finish that small space, use the momentum and feeling of success to start another small area.

organizingroadblocksFeeling Guilt?

You want to get rid of something but you feel guilty because:

a) someone gave it to you
b) you spent good money on it and want to recoup some value by selling or consigning it
c) you might need it someday?

• Remember that it is your home that you are living in – other people’s gifts and items given should not dictate how you live (or lessen your quality of life). If the item in question does not make you happy or is not useful then it is okay to let it go. Still worried? Etiquette experts say that it is okay to donate unwanted gifts.

• Sometimes the logistics to selling something is more complicated than it is worth. Ask yourself if you are truly ready to invest time to document, post, and ship something you longer want? Will the value recouped match the time and effort you put into it? Another thing to keep in mind is that the item you paid good money for in the past is still costing you because you are still investing space to keep it around, time to sell it, etc. Sometimes the best thing to do is donate an item because then you finally stop throwing more money at an item you don’t like, want or need.

• For that item you are holding on to for “someday,” brainstorm who or where you could borrow that item from when and if you really do need it in the future. Ask yourself what is the worst that could happen if you did not have that item on hand? More than likely you will improvise with what you do have.

• Have a donation box or bags taking up all the free space you gained by getting rid of stuff in the first place? Then you need to plan for regular trips to the donation drop-off or you need to find out who in your area picks up donations. Sometimes putting it directly in the car provides the motivation and the opportunity to get rid of it at your earliest convenience.

Family Members Sabotaging all of Your Organizing Efforts?

• Make sure that you are communicating to them where stuff goes and what your perception of organized is. Be ready to make some compromises such as common spaces need to be kept neat but bedrooms are organized at the discretion of the inhabitants. Never assume that everyone else sees or understands your organization set-up.

• If you have tried everything above, then you might want to consider a family counselor. You might feel that working with a professional organizer is as good as seeing a therapist but in the end, go to the right professional for the correct assistance.

Hopefully one or two of these tips can help you recognize and overcome the organizing blocks keeping you from moving forward. If not, then it might be time to consider a professional organizer to help you achieve that more peaceful, organized environment.

Image used under license agreement: © Lightsource

About Gabriela Burgman

Gabriela's mission is to empower her clients with the tools and motivation they need to get and stay organized. Prior to becoming a Professional Organizer, Gabriela worked in a photograph archive as well as several university archives, assisting offices, administrators, and retiring academics to sort through their files for preservation or disposal. She became a professional organizer in 2007 working as an independent consultant before joining Living Peace. When Gabriela is not learning new ways to organize photos or paper both physically and electronically, she is spending time on what matters most to her: visiting with family and friends, reading a good mystery book, or cooking a tasty meal.

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