Before and After – The Big Reveal

As I did my usual scan of the morning news on Yahoo!, a feature article caught my eye – – Seven Simple Ways to Get Organized.  It outlined how you can organize your home in 7 days, simply, easily, without any fuss. 

They are kidding, right? 

As a wannabe professional organizer, I can assure you, the average family would struggle to organize their home in 7 simple ways.  Cleaning out the kitchen cabinets and restacking the towels in the linen closet does not an organized home make.  It is far more complex than that.

Articles like this and “organizing” TV shows really distress me.  Many of us who are not “born organized” long for those perfectly stacked shelves, those closets where like items are arranged by season, color and sleeve length.  Where our children’s playrooms have color coordinated toy bins, neatly organized according to toy type, size and age.  You know those ones, straight out of a Pottery Barn or Container Store catalog.  Sure they look great, but how realistic are they?

Those shows in which teams of organizers sweep in, magically decluttering to give the homeowner a”big reveal” moment when they walk in and see their wonderful new spaces, do not tell the whole story.  Sure they provide great entertainment for us and perhaps ideas for our homes, but they don’t tell us the before and after story.  They don’t really address how the “before” chaos happens and how the organized “after” can be maintained.  Recognizing the “before” and “after” is the key for true home organization.

My desk is the one place where I really struggle.  It’s the general dumping ground for every piece of paper in the house – kids school papers (which come home by the thousands, it seems), newspapers (that need to be recycled.  Why on earth I put them on my desk instead of straight in the recycling bin is something I cannot comprehend.), bills (which I will get to, later) and junk mail (that needs to be shredded).  Under all this is my inbox which seems to be constantly overflowing.  So much so that I never get to it, because in order to get to it, I need to clear off my desk!  I clear off my desk and then, whoosh, all this paper appears from no where and I have to start all over again at the beginning.  Know what I’m talking about?  Thought so.

So I could get TLC or HGTV to come over and clear out the recycling and kids papers, and give me some pretty desk accessories to hold the mail and nice little matching pencil holders and a nifty looking label maker to label everything.  But what good is that when all I will do is dump my papers on my desk and cover all the cute things up?  That’s the problem – why do I dump it instead of sorting immediately (before) and once sorted, how do I keep it that way (after)?  Having pretty containers on my desk doesn’t help me.

Organizing is far more than plastic bins and cute organizing accessories.  It’s about really looking at ourselves and asking why we do the things we do.  Why do we buy stuff?  Why do we procrastinate about our inboxes?  Why can we never seem to get organized?  What is standing in our way?  Perhaps if we answer the “before” questions, we can have the organized “after” that so many of us desperately seek.  Now THAT would be a big reveal.

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