Depression and Disorganization


There are a plethora of different reasons for disorganization: Personality type, upbringing, a busy schedule…other family members! But all of us traverse thru difficult times in our lives, and at those times, we have the tendency to let things go.

For me, hard times bring a swinging pendulum to my organizational style. There have been times that were so tough, and as I looked around my home, I pledged to pitch anything that wasn’t necessary for life itself in order to simplify things–in order to tame the one thing I felt I still had control of. This is my usual response, but I can’t say it’s the norm for the majority.

Then there are other times when I care less about my usual responsibilities, and things fall to the wayside. After a seemingly short time, the mess starts to get out of hand. This is actually a more typical response, and as organizers, we many times find this to be the case.

Obviously, severe depression requires professional attention, but if your life is in disarray due to the hardships typical of the human condition, there are some things you can do to get yourself back on track.

  • Have realistic expectations- many times, an idealistic mindset can sabotage organizing efforts. If it’s not Pinterest worthy, it’s not good, right? Wrong. You have a lot on your plate, and good enough is going to have to be good enough. Your home simply needs to be functional, and this in fact can decrease your stress overall. Get real and toss out your HGTV ideals right now.
  • Set some small goals for yourself- not only do you need realistic expectations regarding your home, but you need to give your mind a break as well.  If times are hard, there’s only so much you can mentally handle. The evening before or the morning of, make a short list of three things that need accomplished that seem doable for you that day. As you tick off those boxes you’ll feel quite accomplished and things will get more orderly every day- life will start to feel possible again.
  • Record what you’ve tackled- similar to the last tip although the opposite, you can instead make a list at the end of the day of what you’ve actually done. You’ll feel great when you see how well you’re actually surviving thru a difficult time and have encouragement for the following day.
  • Enlist a friend or professional organizer- I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: we all have issues, and sometimes we need to recruit help. I have my own trials that I struggle with, and although they may be different from the next person’s, when I can’t handle things on my own, I get help. Plumbers are for pipes, mechanics are for cars, organizers are for messes! At the very least, rope in a friend who has mad tidying skills and make a day of it! Love, after all, is one of the best cures in this world.

My Heart to Yours: What Makes This Job so Satisfying

thank-you-1238361-639x504It’s always a pleasure to get good feedback. After all,  who doesn’t like a compliment? But the excitement for this job runs deeper than that. An organizer isn’t just aiming to pitch your belongings and call it a day. This work is life-changing. It de-stresses. It frees people to spend time doing more important things, like enjoying their families.  It makes homes tick in a sweet clock like cadence.

Recently, I completed a particularly satisfying job which likely brought as much joy to me as it did to the homeowner. When we were finished, all we could do was sit back with our hands behind out heads and sigh happily over the simplicity around us. The resident children went from room to room, oooing and aaahhhing and exclaiming how much cleaner everything was.

Then, the other day the following feedback showed up in my inbox from the said homeowner and I was overwhelmed. It reminded me that this is so much more than a job: Organizers forge friendships,we bring freedom. Sometimes we hold hands, sometimes we help you move towards your future, and always we aim to improve your quality of life. I’m thankful to this artist, author, and mother who allowed me into her home and invited me to be a part of her family for a little while. Read and enjoy 🙂

“I’m still in shock.

Sarah came to help me with my upstairs and it was absolutely amazing. I couldn’t handle it myself. I’d see the disaster up there and just turn and walk away because my mind couldn’t wrap around the mess – I couldn’t seem to make myself try. I felt like I was drowning in toys, trash, artwork, broken crayons, and other junk. Even if I could have gotten started digging into the mess, there was nowhere for it to go. It had spread from the main area upstairs into the three kids’ bedrooms and even through the large loft.
Sarah came in for the initial meeting and had such a calming presence. She looked around, formulated a plan, and for the first time I felt like I might be able to gain control in my house again. She gave me some simple homework – an easy task to work on until the actual cleaning day.
Once the day we’d set arrived, the real magic began. Time flew as we dug through the deep mess and somehow, every time I blinked, there would be more and more order. We filled three large cans with trash and then some, and filled two cars with donations. Still, I didn’t feel like I was losing anything. Somehow she managed to take everything I cared about and give everything a home. I didn’t lose anything – only gained. She did the real organizing work – I just helped.
The work spread into the three kids’ bedrooms and the large loft area – all disasters before, all neat and organized now. We now have the three bedrooms, a playroom, and an art room. Sarah developed a maintenance plan after everything was organized and neat and emailed it to me the next day. It keeps me on track so I don’t slip back into messy habits. Everything is easy to maintain, even for my four small kids. I can ask them to clean up and it actually happens – everything goes back where it belongs and nothing is lost.
It’s been truly amazing and my home life is already better for it. The kids’ creativity with play has just exploded now that they can access things and keep them neat on their own, and I actually feel light and happy when I go upstairs, rather than being smothered by a mess I couldn’t mentally handle before. I also feel more prepared to deal with everything else in my home now that she cleared and organized the worst of it – I feel like I know how to tackle things on my own now. Sarah’s work here changed so much for the better, even me. I am truly grateful to her and all she’s done – I couldn’t have done this without her.”


To Shred or Not to Shred



For me that’s usually not even the question. I have an extreme dislike for paperwork. Filling it out is tedious and sometimes overwhelming. Keeping any unnecessary papers is not even an option for me. Not. A. Chance.

But I realize I might be in the minority. Having approached adulthood at a time when everything was going digital, I am accustomed to keeping and accessing most bills etc. through cyberspace, wherever that is. I always go with the paperless option whenever I can and pitch as much mail as is possible before it ever even makes in into circulation at my place. But not everyone operates this way.

Recently, I helped organize a client’s way thru a room full of paperwork, and there were a lot of questions as to what absolutely needed to be kept, and what could be tossed or shredded. A little bit of research led to this article from Consumer Reports which I thought could be of help as you sort thru your own papers. Very handy.

Also, you should know that if you don’t have your own shredder, you can always take your papers to your local office supply store to have it done. It costs about $25 for a medium box of paper. And as a last ditch effort, you could always go old school and burn them!

Hopefully, this will help you part the sea of unwanted papers in your life instead of drowning in them. And once you get your file cabinet tamed, it’s best to deal with papers as they come with periodic maintenance– you’ll be thankful if you do!


It Doesn’t Have to be Perfect

One of the things I run into when organizing is a tendency towards the ideal. Perfection. It seems with all of the media out there showing us closets and pantries with all of the little containers in a row, and everything the same size and shape, we feel that organization needs to duplicate this or it’s not good enough.

But the fact is that it’s just not realistic for the majority of us. I was watching a home tour recently of a professional organizer (whom I like and respect very much). When they toured her pantry,  it was perfection. Ahhhh…how wonderful it made me feel to see the tidy rows of everything. Everything in it’s place. Until I noticed something: when I looked at all of her canned goods, standing in tighter formation than any military unit on their best day, I saw that every last can was the same. All black beans, if I’m remembering correctly. Who has 20 cans of only black beans?! In reality, most of our pantries hold cans of all shapes and sizes and many of them (even of the same product!!!) don’t stack well.

So, what needs to happen is that we let go of the show room home mentality. In fact, there’s some evidence that severe disorganization many times comes from an idealistic mentality. Because things can’t be kept perfect, and the homeowner is holding themselves to an unrealistic expectation, they are faced with what seems to be an insurmountable task and therefore give up.

What’s the answer then? A home and an organization that’s workable for you. If it needs to be in pretty colors for you to enjoy it, then do that. If you are practical and need the most used items where you can get to them best, do that–even if it means that it disrupts a perfect row of containers on your shelf! Because in the long term, that’s the only way that your system will keep working for you and stay in place.