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Getting Organized: Diagnosing the Problem

Written by Seana Turner, PO.

Ever walk into your house, take a look around and say to yourself, “Whose house is this anyway? How in the world did things get so out of control?” If that scenario rings a bell, then relax. MANY people find themselves in this situation, often for one of three very common reasons.

First, the most universal reason that people lose control of their spaces and possession is because of a life event. This can be either from a traumatic experience (e.g. personal illness, death of a family member, loss of a job) or a joyful event (e.g. getting married, moving, starting a new job).

When we encounter new or unexpected situations like these, we naturally shift in “cope” mode. In “cope” mode, we don’t have the time to sit and ponder optimal storage solutions, or to reflect on the most efficient way to accomplish a task. Instead, we are typically just trying to survive the day! Bottles of medicine for an ailing parent get piled up on the kitchen counter; belongings get stashed in the nearest cabinet so we can get the moving boxes out of the hallway; personal files get dumped out as we frantically search for important documents. The resulting patterns frequently aren’t the most efficient. At one point or another, everyone encounters these life events.

A second reason people struggle with keeping a home or office organized is that others in the space keep messing it up. These others include spouses, children, coworkers, parents, and pets. This can be a very frustrating situation. We work hard to clear out a room, organize a closet, or establish a paper management system, but then it gets quickly undone because we don’t have buy-in or cooperation from the other people in the space. And to be honest, there are limitations on the extent to which we can force others to fold into our systems. Pets can be trained (some better than others!), and children can be taught (once again, some are more easily than others), but spouses and co-workers often have their own ideas of how things should be done. We would be wise to tread lightly and seek early participation from others if we want to institute a change.

The third most common reason for a disorganized space is when we are our own worst enemy. Those of you out there reading this know who you are. It is the dreaded “I am the problem” scenario. Often these are the people who are fun, easy going and relaxed… so if this is you, don’t take this as a condemnation. Organizing just isn’t your thing. The idea of organizing a closet makes you sick to your stomach. You would rather hang at the party and leave the dishes for tomorrow. You want a home where the kids can be themselves, and not worry about putting one item away before taking out another. You roll with the punches. In many aspects of life, these qualities are serving you well, but in terms of your stuff, a lack of self discipline may mean a “little clutter” is quickly morphing into a “major mess”. Or maybe you want to be organized, but you just don’t know how. You weren’t reared with any instruction in this area, and you wonder where to start, how to go about setting up a system, or what you need to buy and where to get it? As with so many facets of life, when it comes to organizing our property, space and time, we all need boundaries and a little instruction.

For most individuals, the explanation for the state of things in our homes is probably a combination of the three. Maybe you moved 5 years ago but after the initial “unpack” you just never got around to doing a thorough reorganization. And then Mom got sick, and then you needed to take on a part-time job, and at night you were just too tired to do anything about it. The good news is, retaking control is easier than you think. There are a variety of resources out there to help you get started. You’ve already found one in Projectlife.net, so keep checking back for ideas for turning your space around. And as you begin, be mindful of the triggers that so frequently knock you off balance so that you can guard against them and stay the course to success.

Seana Turner, PO
Seana Turner, PO

Seana Turner is the founder & President of The Seana Method in Darien, CT. The Seana Method is a structured approach to organizing the three aspects of daily life: space, time, and responsibilities. Developed to erase the slate of self recrimination, The Seana Method designs life strategies that result in predictability, flexibility and joy. Vi.. Read more

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