Organizing is about having a strategy - its not about having the latest and greatest containers. Many of my clients and audiences fall victim to all the great “Organizing” & “ Organized” pictures of beautiful closet systems, kitchen & organizing bin systems which are only 30% filled with color coordinated items. Advertisers make it appear to be an organizing utopia. When I give seminars and talks, people are hungry for tips and gadgets to create the Container Store/Pottery Barn/Martha Stewart look.

The reality for most people however is that they own and let into their lives much more than will ever fit into those cute or elegant “organizing solutions”.

Many times people think having the right closet or basket will alleviate them of having to make conscious choices in the future. The clutter or physical debris is a SYMPTOM of a systemic problem. When people call for help or catch me after a talk I ask them what holds them back from being organized -number one is “I don’t have time to get organized”, two is that “I don’t have a system” and three ”I’m overwhelmed and don’t know where to start”. One needs to set up relevant decision making criteria to reduce clutter FIRST, and then create the plan. Containerizing is the last thing you worry about.

As an organizer, I can set you up with systems and containers but if you continue to overload the system (your space), I have simply helped you consolidate stuff so you can go out and bring more in. As a Certified Professional Organizer (CPO) with a passion for helping you remove the clutter from your mind first then environment, I want you to think, act and feel differently after we are done working together or you will be in the same cluttered jam as before, because you first need to set the foundation for good decision making.

Often, when it comes to “being or getting organized”, people only see it as an end result. If you are 50 pounds overweight, you know it is because you are not making good healthy choices in your meal planning (what planning?) and exercise program ( what program?) . The same is true of being organizationally over weight. The excess baggage that is ending up in your home or office environment is based not having a healthy plan and program for what you allow thru your office or front door (or onto your schedule).

If you treated your space and calendar (home and office) like your thighs and you knew that any one who put food-stuff on your buffet plate - it would stick to your thighs -how much more conscious would you act in protecting your plate and not allowing yourself and others over load it? Our environments and schedules are busting at the seams. Keeping with the analogy –will putting on a size 24 beige dress take care of the weight problem? No it goes back to teaching the fundamentals of living a healthy life style.

When it comes to organizing your life and stuff you need to be able to successfully address 3 things (this is the FOUNDATION I use with all of my clients & audiences):
1) What are you going to let in (stuff & activities)?
2) Where is it going to go (space & schedule)? and finally,
3) How do you know when you are done with it & what’s the exit strategy?

When you master these 3 areas and become more conscious about what fills your life with meaning then needing the quick fixes & oversized containers will become a non issue. Know also that it’s simple. It’s rarely easy but it is simple when you get back to the basics. Set your goals, set up your decision making criteria, break projects into small steps and never give up. Find out more

Author's Bio: 

Mary Dykstra, MBA, Certified Professional Organizer® is a speaker, strategist, hands-on organizing expert and Certified Senior Relocation Specialist. Mary is passionate about helping clients regain control of their minds, lives and environments – long term. Her listening, project management, problem solving skills, empathy and education have grown over the years and are focused on taking care of the details and issues that come up surrounding organizing, time management, planning, moving/relocation and setting up sustainable systems for her clients. Currently she serves as the Director of Examination Development for the Board of Certified Professional Organizers.