Updated: Feb 15, 2020
Stage 1: Oblivious/Dismissal/Tolerant: This first stage is shocking yet often too true for words. People who are purposefully oblivious or naturally oblivious either have tendencies toward hoarding or are using busyness as an extreme reason for not getting organized or not establishing systems to help get and stay organized. It is not a fault or flaw; it is putting priority towards other things while at the same time thinking that there is no way to create more time for organizing our space. **Please note: This has nothing to do with extreme health issues. Circumstances out of our control are never dismissal or intolerance or oblivion. At those times I would strongly suggest asking for help.
Stage 2: Trigger: This second stage in getting organized is set off by the realization that suddenly something doesn’t feel right or look right. One fine day you notice without trying that a tornado swept through your house quite thoroughly and dinner must wait. Your creative space, your sanctuary, your home sweet home has turned into chaos on steroids. What are your triggers? Could it be clean laundry waiting to be put away since Christmas, or could it be dirty dishes in the kitchen sink and bathtub, or could it be Lego pieces on the floor that have hurt your feet for the last time? Whatever it is, it has arrived and the only way to make it stop causing high anxiety is to face it head on and slay that dragon.
Stage 3: Begin: It is easy for me to say as a professional organizer, but this stage is anything but easy. This stage is the hardest. It causes overwhelm, disorientation, stress, bouts of crying, physical and emotional pain, denial, creative excuses, helplessness, etc. Sounds fun right? When the kind of overwhelm one feels when it comes to organizing really takes over your every breath, it is absolutely time to call in help. Whether it be the family, a good friend, junk haulers, or a professional organizer, the goal is to get rid of the horrible feelings and find peace and pride again in your living/office space. Your home is your sanctuary, or it is supposed to be. Your home is not an expensive storage facility to find a place to sleep and eat in. So, begin, any way that works for you, one box, one drawer one room at a time. You may not realize this, but you already began by acknowledging the need to get organized from your triggers. Take pictures of what the space looks like before you start organizing. Remind yourself of what you never want to have happen again.
Stage 4: Commit/Accomplish: Winners never quit; quitters never win. Post that somewhere so it is loud and annoying. You have a commitment to getting organized and you will see it through. The feeling of accomplishment waiting for you at the end of all your hard work will be priceless and just as overwhelming as it was in the beginning. The difference is that you will feel overwhelmingly empowered, overwhelmingly proud, overwhelmingly full of happiness and you will feel able to breathe for what will seem like the first time in an overdue long time. Take pictures of your accomplishment so you have a constant reminder of your hard work and pride.
Stage 5: Steady as she goes: Maintenance. Refusing to allow what was. You have changed and been changed by your hard work and the deep sense of pride and respect you feel for your new space and yourself. Every ounce of placement and flow you established for your possessions has rhyme and reason and makes life easier to live. The first time you look for something and find it where it “should” be is shocking and makes you laugh in a childishly giddy way. It is worth all the effort.
Stage 6: Like Riding a Bike: We are not static. We do not live to stand in one spot forever. So too are our surroundings. I promise you will go through organizing again, decluttering over and over. That is the way of life. We change, so do our spaces, likes and dislikes change. By staying present, alert, aware of change we can practice organizing our spaces like we practiced learning how to ride a bike. It will get easier and more streamlined and if at some point things should get overwhelming again, ask for help. We can not know what circumstances will become a trigger to fall back into overwhelm so be kind to yourself and remember that you accomplished organizing once, you can do it again.