Could disorganization be all in your head? According to Linda Easton of Atascadero’s Extraordinary Organizing, there is no shortage of organizing tips and gadgets, but all of them are futile unless you begin by changing your attitude.
Easton has been a professional organizer since 1991. In 2009 she began a home party-format business — sort of the “Pampered Chef” of organizing.
At each party, guests learn tips on a subject such as organizing the home, paperwork or car. Each show is tailored to the guests’ particular organizing challenges.
“Organizing can be stressful, so this is all about learning while having fun,” she said.
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Easton also sells her own line of organizing products, which include a car organizer and a “One Thing Book” that contains a household’s most important papers.
“It’s about having everything in one place, so you have it when you need it,” she said. “It’s the one thing you’d grab in case of an emergency.”
At her parties, Easton offers suggestions on how to change one’s attitude toward organization. Here, she shares with us a sevenstep attitude adjustment program for those hoping to turn a new, neater leaf in the new year.
Step One — Create a Vision
“Sit quietly, close your eyes, and envision what your home, your car, your desk, your closet, or whatever is challenging you, would look like if it were under control,” she said.
The key, she said, is to envision control, not perfection, which is not realistic and can be self-defeating, especially if you tend to be a perfectionist.
“Perfectionists can be the worst procrastinators, because they don’t want to work on something unless they can do it perfectly,” she said.
Control may be as simple as being able to find things when you need them.
She also advises to begin with a space that creates problems in your day-today life — a spot that really gets under your skin.
“You need to feel some passion about it or you won’t do it,” Easton advised.
Step Two — Take a Picture
Take a snapshot of that space as it is now – mess and all. Transfer the image to your computer so that you can see it large and in detail.
“This will change your viewpoint, believe me, so that you can look objectively and apply that vision you made to the reality,” said Easton.
Step Three — Book a Date
Instead of adding your organizing project to a long to-do list, schedule an actual date and time to get started. And don’t worry if you don’t have huge blocks of time to work with.
“Speaking from experience, it will take less time than you think,” said Easton. “The hardest part is getting started. Once you begin, work will go faster than you think.”
If you suspect that the appointment might be chronically rescheduled, take advantage of positive peer pressure and have a friend, family member or a professional organizer meet you at the scheduled time.
Step Four — Get Busy
Start by preparing. To streamline the sorting process, find large bags or boxes and label them Keep, Donate, and Toss. If you are working on a closet, also have a Clean/ Repair bag or box.
Step Five — Sort First
According to Easton, this step is the key to all organizing.
“Sounds simple but it will be challenging. Resist the urge to do something with whatever you are sorting,” she advised.
This means no stopping to take an item to another room or even to reminisce about it. If you are working with a friend or professional, have them talk you through this step and give you an objective point of view about each object.
If at all possible, remove everything from the closet, drawer, garage, car, or room before you sort, so that you will see your stuff and space in a whole new way.
Step Six — Create a System
Notice that Easton didn’t list “run out and buy cute containers” as step one. This is a common tendency, and one that backfires with a hodgepodge of containers and still too much stuff.
Instead, purge first and survey the items that are left. Measure them and determine where their permanent home should be. Find a system of containers that work well together in both style and function.
Step Seven — It’s a Lifestyle
The key to not letting things return to their previous chaotic state is, once again, all in the attitude. According to Easton, “Organizing is not an activity. It is a lifestyle.”
Having an efficient storage system in place helps. The rest is about consistency.
“Use the system for a few months consistently before you give up, before you change it, before you let those around you discourage you,” said Easton. “After, you will feel like you created new habits that respect your life. The fulfillment you will have with your new lifestyle will be worth it.”
Linda Easton is available through her website http://www.extraordinaryorganizing.com or by phone at 461-8179.
Reach Rebecca Juretic at firstname.lastname@example.org.