Being disorganized, having clutter doesn’t mean that you don’t have any type of organizational system. Quite the contrary, for some. I should know. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you probably have noticed that I enjoy systems, patterns, and knowing how to handle things. I like things to have a place where things belong and a methodology in getting them to that place. It helps make sure that I know where things are and can find them easily. This is what true organization is all about.
I may not always be as prompt as I plan on following through on the methodology. The perfect example for me is the filing, I have a bin that collect the papers to be filed and have tried various time frames for when I will move them from the bin into the filing cabinet. They often live in the bin longer than I intend. The acceptable aspect of this is that if I have procrastinated filing, at least I know where to look and know it will be in the bin. This is why the bin works for me.
The problem arises when no part of the system is working. If you decide to use a bin to collect something and yet the bin is empty or worse yet there are other things suddenly in the bin, the system is not working. This can happen from the moment you set up a new system, or it can happen down the road, even after using the system for a while successfully. Trying to establish new routines and systems for dealing with things often carries the hazard of backsliding and therefore the tendency to berate ourselves for the failure to be perfect.
Slipping up or backsliding happens to everyone. Yes, I mean everyone. There are times that we make progress and are thrilled with the changes that are happening. Then at other times, we suddenly look around and see that chaos has returned. We are not using the systems that we created. The Room Re-Vamp I talked about in another post was a large-scale example, where the room had become a dumping ground.
This same thing can happen on a small scale, for example when the mail is piling up and not even where you intended to keep it. Piles anywhere we do not intend, is a sign that systems are not working, that is assuming that you have decided on a system to try.
This is one of the frustrations (and in some ways, joys) of organizing. There is no one way to do something; there are a plethora of approaches to the same thing. It allows for the ultimate in personalization of systems. It also requires a perseverance and determination to create new habits. Even the best system, tailored to your personality and habits, does not function independently of you.
As an organizer, I come in, ask questions, and attempt to find a system of approaching problem areas that will work for that person. If something is working, even partially, do not change what works. When something is not working though, it means things to need to change. The larger the struggle, the smaller the steps I try to find for you to start taking. Sometimes even those small steps might be challenging or completely avoided. This is just another part of the struggle of making changes.
The worst aspect to backsliding is the guilt and shame that often accompanies it. Whether you are working with a professional organizer or not, this happens to everyone. We are all human; yet somehow do not give ourselves some slack to stumble, on our way to making changes. I wish I had a magic wand, where I could just wave it around and erase all the guilt and shame people feel for their simply being human.
Change is challenging, plain and simple, and regardless of what change we are attempting. We need to be ready and prepared to tackle all the emotions that arise from attempting change. This is when our determination and perseverance is critical, and with it can eventually develop those habits we want. Sometimes it is just a matter of time: time to prepare ourselves for changing and to adjust how we approach things. No matter the timing or success of our attempts, guilt and shame deserve no place with us.