Photo: Simran Sethi
For the past few weeks, environmental journalist Simran Sethi has been trying to clean her personal environment by getting organized—or, she says, what might be better described as less disorganized.
The host of memories embedded in my stuff might explain why I've moved the same box from New York to Singapore...then back to New York and on to Kansas. But it does not explain why I have 2,268 emails in my in-box, or enough shoes and bags to rival Imelda Marcos.
People don't expect this of me, this messiness. On the surface, I have it all together. I look organized because my mess is stealth—hidden in closets and tucked into filing cabinets and virtual folders. Yet, to me, my mess is omnipresent. It makes me feel like no matter how hard I try, the work is never done.
The move to my first house was an initial impetus to take giant leaps forward and shed a lot of stuff, but I've now returned to a state of busyness and complacency and haven't made the time or had the energy to tackle the remaining boxes.
After getting over a good deal of frustration and a big dose of shame, I decided it was time to get help. This wasn't easy, because people didn't expect this of me—and I didn't expect this of myself.
I once thought hiring a professional organizer was an indulgence, not a necessity. Now I view it differently. This physical baggage has weighed me down emotionally. It is not a reflection of how I want to be in the world. Getting support to help me achieve greater alignment feels like an investment in myself—and it makes sense.
This decision was reaffirmed the minute Amy Thomas, owner of A Home for Everything, settled onto my couch and peeked into my closets for an initial consultation. She has been helping people get organized for over 10 years. The systems she puts into place aren't cookie-cutter: They are customized for what each person needs. Amy helped me understand that part of my shame around this came from a one-size-fits-all mentality. "You think you're disorganized because you can't fit your life into a set of neat containers," she says. "It's not true."
Find more insights on organization—or lack thereof—by listening to my conversation with Amy.
I encourage you to take steps to insert a little control in your chaos. As Amy says, "Give yourself grace."
Simran Sethi is an award-winning journalist and associate professor at the University of Kansas School of Journalism and Mass Communications. For more information on Sethi, visit SimranSethi.com and follow her on Twitter @simransethi.
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Published on June 01, 2010