You are already organized! (Really!)

One of the first questions I like to ask new organizing clients is “What’s working?” In other words, in what ways are you currently maintaining organization in your space, with little or no effort? Often, people don’t contact me until they’re already at the end of their rope, so they’re feeling very discouraged, and they say, “Nothing! Nothing is working!”

Maybe you feel this way too. But take a step back. Do you really live in total and complete chaos? Here’s something to start with: Where is your toothbrush? If you answer, “In the bathroom”, then something is working. You keep your toothbrush in the space where you typically brush your teeth. And does it have toothpaste nearby? There’s another thing that’s working! If you look around your house, you will find that many things are in the rooms where they’re used: your mixing bowls, your underwear, your DVDs, and so forth.

How about your habits, your systems? When you wake up in the morning, you usually go to the bathroom, have something to eat, shower and/or brush your teeth, and get dressed. You do all these things at the roughly appropriate time. Maybe some days you skip breakfast or don’t have a chance to shower, but on the whole, you do all the things for getting ready in the morning every day. Maybe your messy closet makes it hard to find the right clothes, but that’s about storage/organization, not habits. You get dressed at the right time. You don’t go to work in your pajamas.

My point is, don’t take these things for granted. You already have some organization and systems that work.

Now, the task is to expand what you already have to encompass a larger area, in space and in time. If you keep your toothbrush in the bathroom, what else needs to be kept where you normally use it? If you usually read in the living room, move your books out of the library or study. If your morning routine works because it’s a habit and makes sense, what new habits can you take on (one at a time!) that will also make sense and become second nature? For instance, this can include leaving your house keys by the door when you come home, or throwing out junk mail when you bring your mail inside, because it’s already in your hands. (A recycling bin or trash can right there makes this easy.)

You are already organized, and you already have the capacity to be even more organized!