March is the month that I always talk about the benefits of spring cleaning and organizing and I couldn’t be more excited to talk about it again this year. However, this March, I am going to do things a bit differently than in year’s past. Today I want to talk about the emotional impact of organizing. Each spring we are all excited to throw open our windows, clean and organize but sometimes that process can come with a lot of emotion that many of us were not expecting.
In my years of organizing, I have all seen it, the numerous TV shows about organizing, Marie Kondo, all the organizing books and so much more. But when I started organizing, at the beginning of the 21st century, professional organizing wasn’t a thing. No one was doing it. There were no famous names, there were only a handful of professionals in the business but in the last 15 years things have exploded.
These days, every big box store from Target to West Elm to Pottery Barn has a section dedicated to organizing products. There is an entire store, The Container Store, dedicated to organization (I mean, the store might as well be called The Organizing Store, right?). No matter where you tune in there are many shows about organizing everywhere from from Netflix to HGTV and more. And don’t ever get me started on organization taking over Instagram.
As of 2021, the organizing industry has become a $20 billion dollar industry. Everywhere you turn you are told to be organized. It is an imperative. Get organized! Do this to be organized! You see it everywhere you go. And yes, as an organizing expert, I am here to tell you that this all has value and it is important for daily life but what has happened is we have commoditized organizing, and it has become commercialized. Getting organized now is portrayed to be about buying the right product or following the right person as opposed to confronting and overcoming the emotional obstacles that stand in the way of getting and being organized in all areas of life.. In your marriage, in raising your children, in planning vacations, in your office, in planning your meeting and, of course, in organizing your home. I just happen to be an expert in organizing your home but organization translates to all of those areas
We are told that if you hire someone to help you get organized and you buy some bins then you become organized. And look, I get it. I probably have spent more at The Container Store than everyone reading this combined, I mean, they know my name at six stores in the Washington, DC area and my professional organizing firm is now the biggest buyer of products in the three connecting states.
But through all of this, we have forgotten what the real driver of organization is and it isn’t products or picture perfect spaces. To get organized should be an organizational process. It should take you on a cathartic, emotional journey. And that journey is actually the greatest benefit to getting organized. If you are unaware of that journey, you deny that journey or you don’t undertake that journey you are cutting off the greatest benefit of getting organized.
The impression the organizing industry portrays today is that it is easy to get organized. This leaves people asking themselves, why am I not organized? But it’s not that easy, despite what the experts say, in fact it can be quite challenging and emotionally charged. So to help you become better organized – in any area or space of your life – I want to share more today about the emotional obstacles to becoming and staying organized. I am talking about the journey, not the products you need to buy, TV shows you need to watch or the books you need to read.
I have a five step process to overcoming emotional obstacles that I have developed over the past 13 years. I use this process in my own life, I teach it to my kids and I work with all my clients through the five steps. The formula is called HEART. And yes, as the acronym implies, this is an emotional based process, not a product based one. Everyone talks about living your life with heart and that is what I am going to show you.
H: Confront your Hopelessness.
E: Own your Embarrassment.
A: Acknowledge your Anxiety
R: Commit to a Reset.
T: Embrace the Transformation.
And while I am not going to take a long time on each step in this blog post (I might sometime in the future), I am going to ask you to think about getting organized for and during this spring, in a different way. When you go to get organized, I would ask you to think about HEART!
To start, how are you comforting your own hopelessness? Does life feel overwhelming right now? Does the sight of all the toys lined up or the fact that you are continuously purchasing things only to discover you already have it, starting to drive you crazy? Or maybe you wouldn’t describe it as hopelessness but desperation to get things back to some sense of order.
The next step is to own your own embarrassment. And trust me, this is the hardest step and I have been there. When it comes to getting organized, I have clients that feel such shame around getting to a point of disorganization and feel so embarrassed for me to even step foot into their house. They feel like their house shouldn’t look the way it does or they should be able to get organized and do things themselves. But I want to empower you to get through and over that embarrassment. Everyone needs help at some point in their lives and asking for help to get through some spring organizing, might be yours!
I then always try to encourage clients to acknowledge their anxiety. And client’s anxiety has many different forms. It might be that they are anxious to have a complete stranger come into their home to help. It might be that they are anxious about the entire process of letting go of things and not being able to do it. Whatever the feelings, it is a process that we work directly with the clients on and make sure they are not feeling overwhelmed or upset but secure with the organizational process. If you are tackling organizing on your own it is important that you acknowledge your anxiety so you can work through it.
Next, it is important to commit to a reset. I mean, resetting and getting your home organized is a process – not that one time event you see on TV. It takes commitment. So, whether you decide you want to get your pantry organized once and for all or your garage organized for spring, I work with clients on their goals and we discuss the undertaking that will happen.
Finally, it is about embracing the transformation. For any client that has worked with us knows, it isn’t just about the physical but more importantly it is about the emotional transformation that you go through. And for each of our client’s journeys are different but I will say that after getting organized most people feel like true weights have been lifted in their lives, they say they feel like they have the freedom to do more of what they enjoy in life rather than trying to find that missing black shirt.
I encourage you to work through the HEART process as you tackle your spring cleaning and organizing this year. I will, of course, be back in our next blog post sharing tips on organizing, favorite products and more but I think it is so important to start talking about the emotional impacts of organizing. TELL ME: what is the one emotion you struggle with when tackling getting organized?