Organizing can feel overwhelming, similar to the ongoing effort it takes to create and maintain health. Plus, things aren’t “that bad” we reason…so we wait until a crash. We often treat our state-of-order like we do our health…a back-burner priority. In this blog, you’ll get strategies to begin treating ORDER like WELLNESS to achieve transformation.

I wrote a blog a few years ago “Another Full Time Job” explaining how taking care of my health felt totally all-consuming. As I began my health restoration journey in earnest in 2011, I constantly felt like I might as well quit my job just to tend to my health. From sourcing, ordering, and taking supplements, to visits with naturopaths and alternative medicine practitioners, to managing the related paperwork, I was under water. That doesn’t even count my hours of endless research.

Even though this stressful onslaught of additional work felt overburdening, it taught me something.

I learned that tending my health was not optional.

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Every time I started a new habit, I would “fall off the wagon” sooner or later and have to start again. Then, I had to learn not to beat myself up about it. I was learning new habits and building commitment muscle.

The good news is: after I got through a few years of this overwhelmed feeling, I accepted this journey and settled into some new rhythms. (I’m just being honest; it took me quite a while to get over the irritation, trauma, and overwhelm of this much work just to get back to a health baseline. Maybe you will be a faster study than I was!)

I am now at a point where I don’t rue the effort it takes to hunt down an issue and do the research. I don’t feel mad that my time is being “stolen” the way I used to. And I am pretty consistent with taking vitamins and doing what it takes to caretake my health. I’ve mostly gotten over the incredible amount of money that is spent on our collective health as a family. Why?

Because we all realize that our health is everything. If you don’t have your health, you can’t enjoy life. You can’t fulfill your purpose, and you certainly can’t manage any area of your life with consistency.

Along the health journey, I’ve noticed a striking similarity to the organizing journey.

Both journeys are filled with ruts.

I want to help you avoid the ruts that can keep you stuck in wrong thinking and help you take the higher road to a more ordered life.

Triage vs. Wellness Approach to Life

In a conventional medical TRIAGE approach, we go to the doctor when we are sick or are in a traumatic moment. After we’ve received enough relief to return to some sense of normalcy, we return to business-as-usual. In this healthcare model, we live from one urgent development to the next. And we expect the doctor to “fix it” when something is broken. Shockingly, we wonder why things are “happening to us” even though we never get to the root, which causes recurrent problems. In this model, we are simply not trained to think preventatively, we are trained to react.

In practicing a WELLNESS approach to our health, we take care of ourselves ongoingly. We take responsibility for our own health, rather than deferring it to the future, to a crisis, or to an “expert.” As we discover problems within our lifestyle or genetics, we take initiative to address those matters and make lifestyle changes, often sacrificially. In a wellness approach to life, we don’t discount medical care when needed, we just hope to avoid it as much as possible by becoming our own healthcare provider and advocate. We simply choose proactivity over reactivity.

Living an ordered life takes a wellness, not a triage approach.

We don’t have to wait till “company is coming,” or until we lose something, miss a deadline, or our family or work life is degraded by disorder.

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We can address the mess, the confusion, and the piles BEFORE they come to a head.

Switching your approach-to-life from triage to wellness requires a mindset turnaround.

Think about the ill-effects of living from crisis-to-crisis in your home or workplace. Reflect on the stress you endure from the reactive way of life.

And then decide.

Decide YOU, your family, your work, and your environment are worth caretaking. Decide to take initiative to restore order, no matter how long it takes.

Those who enjoy the benefits of order have invested in a lifestyle of order.

Having the Gear Does Not Equal Action

In my early years, I would buy cute workout gear, thinking that having the latest fashion in exercise apparel would make me exercise. These cute outfits just gathered dust and didn’t make me work out at all. They just taunted me from the drawer.

Now that you’ve made the decision to switch your mindset into a wellness approach to life, you’re on your way. But don’t make one of the biggest organizing mistakes of all time: throwing product at the problem.

You can have all the bins and baskets to get yourself organized – just like you can have the cutest workout outfits – but not actually get organized.

We circumvent the PROCESS of getting organized when we simply throw a container at the problem. And it’s the process that teaches us things about ourselves, our choices, our priorities, and our lives.

My advice is to resist buying anything for your organizing journey until you go through the discovery process, and definitely DO NOT try to jump start yourself with a cute basket or bin!

Tune Into Yourself and Your Space

So, if we don’t start organizing with buying stuff, where do we start?

Quality organizing requires tuning into ourselves and our space. Any organizing solution or system that does not first seek to understand is not only temporary, it’s dishonoring.

I’ve always marveled at business consultants that come into a company and implement a cookie cutter system to “fix” the company. After 20 years in business I’ve been in lots of those companies years later, and they’ve all abandoned the systems they spent so much money acquiring. Why? Because a cookie cutter solution will never be a one-size-fits-all solution and what works for one company will likely not work for another.

Our organizing intake assessments begin with a huge litany of questions. We feel we must understand the PERSON or FAMILY living in or using the space in order to create systems that are truly native to them. We want to get to know them, and get in their head, so we can focus our time on their priorities and build out systems that make sense to them. We have to TUNE IN to them. We must LISTEN to what’s going on around the home and OBSERVE what’s happening, even if they don’t notice. This is the way to honor a person and their space: by caring enough to behold the context of their life. And this takes time.

Unfortunately, most of us are going so hard and fast, we are living haphazardly. Most folks don’t slow down long enough to even rest, let alone to tune into their needs and the needs of their space.

Moreover, most people are hardly ever home so homekeeping becomes an afterthought and feels like a chore. It’s a thin way of living most of us have carved out: living at breakneck speed and using our houses to collapse and jump start….

Just like in wellness – only when we:

  • Slow down and prioritize ourselves can we get organized
  • Tune into ourselves can we discover what is and isn’t working
  • Practice caretaking can we stay organized

How can you tune into yourself and your space? Schedule an hour or two where you’re not doing anything else but walking around your house taking notes.

What do you notice?

What do you enjoy about the space?

What drives you crazy?

Where are the clogs?

As you begin to observe, make a room-by-room list, and then you can prioritize your organizing projects.

Dowload Free Resource Road Map to Priority-Based Living

When you’re out of health, you can’t start running marathons, but you can start somewhere. Similarly, when many rooms (or the whole house) is out-of-order, you can begin by tackling your top priorities first and building the organizing “muscle” at little at a time.

Daily Habits Restore Order

Sometimes I start feeling like I’m backsliding in my health. And then all of a sudden I’ll notice that I have only taken half my supplements that week. Just like that, I stop doing what I know is helpful to me!

In the same way, our daily habits to create and maintain order are an ongoing priority. And when we let them slide, our space and sanity suffer.

Our daily habits are all the unglamorous, behind-the-scenes stuff that you’re never going to see as “tips” on television, but they’re actually the glue of maintenance.

We choose each moment whether we are going to:

  • Wash those dinner dishes when we are tired
  • Let that load of laundry sit too long in the washer
  • Cull the fridge of expired items or ignore the increasing volume
  • Put away that toy, book, or paperwork after we are done with it

In my own life, I’ve found that it takes me a while to truly commit to a new habit if it’s something I’m resisting. I have to be convinced that the payoff is worth the sacrifice. So, I have had to be graceful with myself when I fall off the vitamin or exercise wagon. The key is that I keep getting back up and trying again until I build that weak commitment muscle into a stronger muscle. Once I start experiencing the benefit, I stick to something long term.

Maybe you have been resisting the habits it takes to become and remain organized.

Instead of beating yourself up, look at the process as building muscle and getting stronger. Just keep resuming your efforts. Start small (like tackling a junk drawer) so you can see progress quickly, which will boost your morale and help you gain momentum.

Order is Easier in Community

Health is social. Anyone who has ever had a workout buddy knows that staying healthy is easier in community.

After 20 years as a professional organizer, I can tell you it’s the same with organizing: collaboration is king, especially if it’s hard for you to start or stick to organizing.

Drafting others to work with you is not only smart, it will save you endless hours of aimlessness. Getting input and extra hands will boost your efficiency and commitment to get the job done.

When we organize side-by-side with family, friends, or hired help, we create fun, accountability, and combined ideation.

Creating and maintaining order is like practicing wellness; it’s an investment that pays you back every day in healthy living.


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