Why the secret to getting organized has nothing to do finding the right bins or buying the perfect filing system.
First of all, let’s clear up the unspoken misconception that Organized is some mystical state of being akin to Nirvana. One does not simply “become organized” and suddenly all their problems are solved and their house looks like Pinterest.
Because it doesn’t matter how pretty those matching wicker baskets in your pantry are if you don’t remember to put the food back in them when you’re done. And the most fanciest filing system will be a hidden drawer of doom if you don’t consistently put your receipts in the receipts file.
Becoming an organized person is about habits and consistency. Ugh, I know. Sorry to burst your bubble.
We all want to find that one thing – the one storage solution, the one magical method, the one online tutorial – that we can do in a weekend that will make our home stay clean and pretty and organized forever. But that doesn’t exist.
Yikes, this started off on a real negative foot.
But I think this needs to be said because it’s not said enough. There is no magic pill. There is no one answer. There is no finish line. Just like everything else in life, it’s a practice. And, just like everything else in life, there is no perfection.
Perfect does not exist. So what are you waiting for?
I know what you’re thinking: “But Jenna, I’ve tried, and nothing works. I’m not trying to be perfect, I just want to get some momentum!”
I feel you. The thing is, whenever somebody finds a system or product that works for them, it’s very exciting! And it’s easy to think that, because it worked for you, it will work for others. It’s natural to want to spread the good news.
The flipside is, when someone else tries that same system/product and it doesn’t work at all, that person often feels like a failure, or dysfunctional, or like they’re incapable of living in a home that doesn’t resemble a TJ Maxx after Black Friday. It’s really hard to gain momentum when every attempt feels like a false start.
So I’m here to give you a virtual hug and whisper in your ear (not in a creepy way) “You’re not broken and you’re not alone”. I want to help you adjust your expectations around “becoming organized” by bringing it down to earth. It’s not sexy, your house is not suddenly going to look like a magazine, and it’s never done. Let me say that again: It’s never done.
As I mentioned earlier, organizing is about habits. Yes, there are some big things that need to be done before you can implement those habits. But that’s not the end goal; finding systems that you and your family can maintain in order to stay organized – and then doing those things consistently – is the end goal.
And the cool thing is, anyone can do it! It’s not going to look the same, but nothing else about our personalities or our lives looks exactly the same as everyone else’s, so why should our home’s organization?
It can be a journey to try different things and find what sticks, but being organized is itself a journey, not a destination. So all those “false starts” you’ve made or “failed attempts” you’ve had? Those aren’t failures! They are clues to what kinds of systems do not work for you, which gets you closer to finding methods that will work. But you have to pay attention, and you cannot give up.
You’re probably experiencing this in many areas of your life: eating healthy, working out, parenting, maybe your career, dating, learning literally any new skill or developing literally any new habit…..you see where I’m going with this.
My current thing (and by current, I mean over the course of the last few years) is trying to develop a morning practice. I’m not naturally a morning person…ok, that’s an understatement. I freaking hate getting up early. Even when I was a kid, my parents would invariably be up before me on Christmas morning. Christmas morning! The presents ain’t goin nowhere; I need my 9+ hours.
But when I started on this self-development kick a couple of years back, I noticed something that all successful people had in common…they all got up early, and used their mornings intentionally. Eventually, I accepted the wisdom in that, and I decided that I too would be a Morning Warrior (cue inspirational montage).
And I was! …for about 3 days. Then I tried again a few weeks later with similar results. And on and on and on…you get the idea.
And with every wave of attempts, the time in between got longer and longer, until I just about gave up. I told myself “I’m just not a morning person, I will never be able to do this, why am I even trying?” I felt like a failure.
But this was really important to me, and giving up on this goal felt like giving up on myself. Why am I letting my groggy brain control my life? Not. Today.
So I did a thing so many of us are so reluctant to do: I got help. I spent over one hundred dollars to buy an armband that “zaps” me when it’s time to get up. In plain English, I voluntarily bought a thing that literally shocks me awake.
That’s insane, right?
Maybe! But I get out of bed most days now, even when it’s dark and cold and the only thing I have to look forward to is the gym. That shock wakes me up just enough to clear out the grogginess and allow me to make clear decisions.
When your willpower isn’t enough, get help.
So now I’m a morning person and I haven’t looked back since, right? Well…no. I still have to make a choice every single morning. And until they make a robot that forcibly pushes you out of bed, it will always be a choice. Sometimes I make the wrong choice and stay in my warm bed for another hour. But turning that choice into a habit makes it a hell of a lot more likely that I’ll do the right thing more often than not.
“Getting organized” can only happen through daily habits, through you deciding to make the right choices over and over and over again. At the beginning, will it feel like you’re trying to dig yourself out of a well? Probably, especially if your home is full of years of postponed decisions (read: clutter).
And that’s why people choose to enlist help for moral support, physical help, guidance, and motivation. A little zap in the form of a friend, family member, or professional can go a long way to jumpstarting your new habits.
Sometimes you do find a way to make positive changes in your life without outside help – often probably! But please know that there is no shame in seeking out help when you feel yourself get to that tipping point. Because here’s the thing: getting help is a solution. Choosing to live with the unhappy status quo is just another postponed decision cluttering up your life.