Good organizing is like puzzle building

Yesterday I pieced Dora the Explorer’s head together.

I explained to my son Nash (almost 3 now) that when you’re putting a puzzle together, you look for similarities on the pieces and then join them together. I told him that it’s easiest if you start by assembling the edge pieces and frame the puzzle and then work in from there, putting characters and butterflies and flowers together. I smiled as I explained this “puzzle protocol” as it occurred to me that it’s the same system I use to organize.

That’s right; organizing is just like puzzle assembly. Good organizing is not only for the glossy and privileged few that have it “all together” like Martha Stewart or photo designers of Real Simple magazine. You don’t have to (and rarely will) have the outcome figured out before you start.

The root word of organizing is “organic” and from start to finish GOOD organizing is just that…it progresses as it goes; it’s a natural and fluid process. If you want your organizing efforts to last, it is essential that you engage in a discovery process and accept that your project(s) will develop as it goes. You begin with what you DO know (so amidst all that you DON’T know, just find the one thing you DO know…like how to “restore order” to the junk drawer). Then begin with that one thing.

As you do what you know, what you know begins to grow. And what you don’t know begins to shrink. It works every time. I’ve been doing this for 10 years and this “start with what you know” policy has NEVER failed me.

People think that as a professional organizer, I must have a secret master plan for every project. Special insight that no one else has. Not true. Instead I have a faith that when I do what I know (and am faithful with that) that I will grow in my knowledge and understanding and that then the next step or solution will present itself.

Try it. Begin your puzzle and see the pieces start to form a beautiful picture.


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