“…if she could see the mess I made?  Would she come and hold me tight?  No, she was never that way.  What would Mama say if she were here to see me cry?  Would she understand all that’s left is to try and make it right?  What would Mama say?”

This is a GREAT lyric from Shannon Curfman’s song “What Would Mama Say”.   I mean, seriously.  How many times have you done something and thought “Oh crap.  What would my mama say about this?”   How many times have you found yourself in a certain situation and hung your head because you knew EXACTLY what mama would say?

Personally, I’ve been blessed with an awesome mama.   We’ve had our ups and downs and I’m sure we drive each other crazy at times, but she’s a good one.  A great one.  Girl let me have an Elvis poster and a Dukes of Hazzard poster in my room when I was a toddler.  She let me take her Elvis records to school with me.  (I’m actually listening to Elvis RIGHT NOW as I type this!)  She also chased my ass down the hall with a fly swatter when I was bad.  And busted my lip one time when I wouldn’t stop screaming in the car.  She let me reorganize stuff around the house when I was little (Like maybe 8?) and has been one of my biggest supporters in this whole organizing extravaganza I’ve gotten myself into. She taught me how to take care of a household and did her very best to teach me to cook and act like a lady.  Those last two things didn’t take all that well.  Sorry, Mom, but come on.  Dad’s nickname for me was johnny cake face.  Did you really think all that proper stuff was gonna stick?

I talked to another mama- aside from my own- recently and what she said really stuck with me.  This particular mama is the mother of a new client of mine  and she was SUPER excited that I was going to be working with her daughter.  This mama had come to visit and babysit while her daughter and I did some organizing.   Before we got started she pulled me aside and said the following- “I’m SO glad you’re here.  I can’t wait for my daughter to learn how to be organized.  My house looks exactly like this one and that’s how she grew up.  It’s the only way she knows!   If you worked out of state, I’d hire you too!”

Did you catch that super powerful word she used?

She said “learn”!

LEARN!

That’s right, folks.  Organization is a LEARNED skill.

LEARNED.

Just like guitar.  Or soccer. Or algebra.

It’s something you can be taught how to do.

Think back to when you got your first bike.  Did you start out on an adult-sized ten-speed?  Heck no you didn’t!  You started with a tricycle that you rode until your parents had to wrestle it away from you. Then you got a  tiny bicycle with training wheels. And probably a basket on the front or Spiderman on the seat.   When you got really good at that, the training wheels came off.  You rode that bad boy until you couldn’t fit on it anymore and then moved on to a more big kid bike.  Eventually you even got a grown up bike!  (Personally, I’m not a fan of grown up bikes.  I don’t enjoy changing gears.  I’m profoundly disconcerted that pedaling backwards doesn’t act as the brake.)  See, there was a scaffold in place to help you ride until you figured it out on your own. (That’s fancy teacher speak for support system.)

The same thing is true of organizing.

IT’S A SKILL YOU CAN LEARN.

The former teacher in me really, really REALLY loves this part of it.   And kinda hates it too.  See, learning how to be organized is awesome..until it isn’t.  That is, people make it too damn complicated.  It’s like that grown up bike.  Really?  The brakes HAVE to be on the handlebars? Okay, okay.  I get if you’re a competitive biker then those brakes make sense but how many of us are competitive bikers???

Do you know that in every client’s home I’ve ever been , the vast- VAST-majority of them have had a label maker?  I find that curious.  It’s like buying that competitive bike for a toddler!  1.  They’re not ready for it and 2. There’s a decent chance they’ll NEVER need it!  (I’m not a fan of label makers.  That’s a whole other post!)

I firmly believe that in order to be successful in organizing you need to un-learn all the complicated shit you’ve thought was fact your entire life.  Organizing is SIMPLE.

Pretty much you establish your zero and then you maintain/get back to your zero.

There are three main steps in establishing zero.  Ready for ’em?

  1. Sort all your crap into like categories.  

  2. Put the crap you don’t want/need/love/use in a “get rid of/pass on” pile.  (Trash goes in the garbage!)

  3. Find homes for the crap that made the cut.  

There are three main steps for maintaining/getting back to zero.  Ready?

  1. Sort all the crap that’s not in its home into like categories.

  2. Put the crap that you don’t want/need/love/use in a “get rid of/pass on” pile. (Trash goes in the garbage!)

  3. Put the crap that made the cut back where it belongs.

That’s all you’ve gotta know when you’re organizing. That’s it!  

You don’t worry about cute labels or the perfect container.  That stuff is the after party!  The reward for doing the hard work.  The details once you’ve got the big picture mapped out.

Don’t get caught up in what great-aunt Lily would think about you getting rid of that sweater she knitted you 30 years ago that only has one sleeve.  That’s the stuff that trips you up and makes getting organized an AGONIZING task.  Throwing all that stuff into the “get rid of”/pass on” pile gives you the opportunity to see your space without all that emotional clutter.  It allows you to get all the other stuff in your life organized so you can see how much room you have left over for items that you might be keeping out of obligation.  And really, it puts it one step closer to the door.  Sometimes all it takes is getting used to the idea of passing something on to make it stick.

I know you think I’m oversimplifying this organizing thing.  The fact that it can be learned.  The fact that it actually IS pretty simple.

The thing is, I’M NOT. It takes work but it IS simple.  

Look, I’m one of the biggest slackers you’ll ever meet.  I’m also a recovering over-achiever and perfectionist.  My goal in life has always been to get the business taken care of as quickly and effectively as possible so I have the time and energy for the fun stuff.   Since that’s my goal for you too, I’m gonna need you to jump off of that bandwagon of complicated crap you’ve bought into and hop on the OOG train. I promise I’ll teach you everything you need to know!  You know, about organizing!