Order is the shape upon which beauty depends.
– Pearl Buck
One of the most alarming people I’ve spoken to recently was a young woman who thought she might want to become a professional organizer. What she really wanted was to lay down the law, boss people around, and plumb everyone up. I carefully explained to her that the difference between an organized person (which she no doubt was) and a professional organizer is that the organizer uses all their skills and tools to create systems that work for the client. We don’t force the client to do things “our” way or the “right” way.
I love helping clients get organized. I love the sense of relief, freedom, and power that come to people when they have ordered their time, projects, and resources for maximum productivity. We may begin with moving things around in physical space, but that is never really the point.
Organizing and productivity professionals have a saying: it’s not about the stuff.* The stuff is just an outer representation of the various currents of emotional and mental motion at play in a person’s life and work.
We hold onto things for many reasons:
- they remind us of a deceased loved one or of our former selves.
- they confer status.
- they cost a lot (in money, time, or effort) to get in the first place.
- we believe they hold monetary value.
- they make our lives easier.
- they represent some goal or wish we have for our lives.
When I work with a client to bring more order and organization to their life and work, we touch those deeper levels of meaning behind the never-used scanner, the mountains of paper, the overstuffed schedule. We don’t just move around the things and the commitments in order to cram more into an already crowded calendar or drawer. We make change that matters.
It is my belief that no one wants a tombstone that reads “she was the most organized person ever.” Organization is a tool to help us achieve what we want, not an end in itself. Instead, we want to be remembered for the good we did, for the gifts we contributed to those around us and to the whole world.
It’s not about the stuff. I help my clients clarify meaning and live a life better connected to their true desires. And that’s why I love to help people get organized.
(*Note: the phrase “it’s not about the stuff” was first used in print by Laura Leist in her (beautifully illustrated) book Eliminate Chaos.)