Disorganization might become a tragic mess

By Tom Phelan - ReminderNews
Featured Article - posted Mon., Oct. 28, 2013
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- Contributed Photo

Once I knew a man who had a heart of gold, but who could not resist shopping, not so much for himself, but for others - and always for the deals. He lived by himself for many years, and when he passed away his family found a tragic mess. Items he had purchased as part of his coin, stamp and gun collections were randomly stowed in drawers and closets and in a rented storage locker, amidst new clothes bought for others, with the tags still on most of them.

The story is not new. It has been told repeatedly about different people with the same propensity.  Some fall clearly into the hoarding category, while others are just truly disorganized and some are victims of an addiction. Others who can’t keep a car or a single room uncluttered just need to learn organizational skills.

If you can recognize some of the symptoms, you probably have a chance at turning the disorganization around. At that point it is just a bad habit. If people around you recognize the symptoms, but you don’t, a book is not going to produce an epiphany for you. Seek professional help.

Most local bookstores offer a handful of books directed at the organizationally challenged. Some assume the reader has made the decision, and is ready to impose order on their homes and lives. Others recognize that the problem has many swimmers in the very deep end of the pool.

Professionals all recommend targeting one room or area to start. Work on something that gives you a chance of success in a reasonable amount of time. Once you have realized that success, you can use it to catapult yourself through a more difficult challenge.

Create an electronic (not paper) journal of your actions and your progress. Writing it down will help by reinforcing your achievement. If you need to restart the fire of your momentum, reading your journal may be the kindling you need.
While it is good to be organized about the way you de-clutter your home, it is also important to work on positive habits. Try to purge something every day, somewhere in your home. Perhaps there is a desktop in your office that hasn’t seen the light of day in forever, or maybe a mountain range of mail has been forming on your kitchen counter. Take some before and after photos, and include them in your journal.

Paper is the stuff of which clutter mountains are made. If you haven’t read it, throw it out, donate it or burn it. Scan contracts, warranty papers, statements, etc., into your computer. Do the same with your little darling’s preschool artwork. Any owner manuals you might have are also available online. If you must have a copy, download a PDF version. It is so much easier to store documents in digital format than in paper, easier still to find them if you actually need them.
Don’t forget to celebrate your success. Live in the room you have reclaimed for your clutter-free habitation. Enjoy it, maintain it, and keep it as motivation not to backslide into the clutter mentality.

Avoid rental storage units. Work on your living space first. Then apply your newly learned skills to the storage unit, and sell or give away everything you can. Trash the rest. If you absolutely must bring something back to your home, make room for it first
The Institute for Challenging Disorganization offers resources to the public as well as for organizing professionals. ICD also acts as a certification body for those who make a living helping people with organization problems.

Remember that, while “there is a place for everything,” you might just have more “everythings” than places. Be prepared to deal with that reality.


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