With the extreme numbers of organizing books available, this book was on my radar, though cannot be sure where it would have landed if it hadn’t been included as part of the coaching program I took. We weren’t required to read the whole thing, just a section – though once I had the book I was reading it. Making Peace with the Things in Your Life: Why Your Papers, Books, Clothes, and Other Possessions Keep Overwhelming You – and What to Do About It by Cindy Glovinsky, M.S.W., A.C.S.W. is quite possibly one of the best books on organizing I’ve read.
This book takes a different approach than many organizing books out there – it’s designed to help you look at the internal stuff that happens around Things in your life. Often when dealing with all the stuff that surrounds us, we target the physical items first and this doesn’t always work well – the stuff keeps returning. Cindy Glovinsky is trained as a psychotherapist and walks the reader through many aspects to explore around the problem with Things. It’s designed to get you ready to use all those other more typical organizing books available.
One of the aspects that I really appreciated was that early on she talks about chaos and order – how “the two interweave in a perpetual, ever-changing dance.” She spends a little time talking about how these are both part of our universe and serve a purpose. Here I go again, my passions – the balance, the self-acceptance, the inevitable changes of life – this is part of life.
You might have noticed that when the word Things appears, it’s always capitalized. This is done throughout the book to draw your attention to it and change your perspective on the stuff around you. Generally I dislike the device of using capitals in such ways, though I found that it did shift my perspective. The word itself is wonderfully vague so it can apply to any of us, with whatever it is that we have. Her language and use of aliens and characters convey her compassion – for others and yourself.
If you want quick and easy answers, this book is not for you. It takes you through the major tasks needed to make lasting change. The book is broken into 4 parts – Part I: assumptions about Things; Part II: systematic inventory of Thing habits and Thing feelings; Part III: possible causes of Thing problems with suggestions for coping with them; Part IV: putting what you’ve learned into action. In the introduction she acknowledges that figuring out what is going on for you with Things is hard work and that it might feel like this is a lot of trouble to go through, yet “[O]nly action informed by insight can lead you out of the circles.”
As with many things – from time management and scheduling to organizing and beyond – there’s a need for the foundation. I look at David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD) as foundational work for scheduling and managing time (at least so far in my reading), which means that Franklin Covey might not work for you until you get the basics of GTD. If you struggle with handling your stuff well, Making Peace with Things in Your Life is a great foundation on which to start. Then you might move on to the books dealing with physically handling your stuff and space.