We were thrilled to have our blog mentioned in Sandy Banks' Los Angeles Times column in Saturday's paper.
Banks (pictured right), a 30-year veteran journalist at the Times hired a local Los Angeles professional organizer to help her organize supplies and what seems like a mountain of paper, column notes, coupons, letters, post-its and scraps of paper in her office. She also represents the typical person needing an organizer: well-educated, with an accomplished career and bustling family life. She also has experienced an event that has pushed her over the disorganized edge, the resulting desire to seek change to bring her to a more empowered place in her life:
"I admitted I am powerless over clutter. I enlisted [a professional organizer named Suzanne O'Donnell] as my higher power.
My LA Organizer she calls herself. I found her in a Google search after I'd scrolled through a dozen other websites pledging to "banish chaos," "root out clutter," help me "create a perfect world with cool and innovative ideas."
I wasn't looking for a perfect world. I'll settle for being able to find my pen."
The piece does have the term "A cry for help" in the title, and the account is very positive of O'Donnell's ability and skill. However, what's sad about the piece is that the column ends with Banks feeling desperate, without one important thing solved-- she could not find a phone number. It seems like she still doesn't have a system for contact management. We offer the following advice for Banks, with sincere appreciation for the mention of our blog masthead blurb in her column.
For how many sessions did you hire the professional organizer? I have a feeling it was just one session of 4-5 hours. You only mention what happened with sorting of supplies and shopping for some products to corral the sorted contents. I think it's important to note that while getting organized is not about perfection, it's about consistency. And you can build on that consistency and add other necessary tasks to get deeper and deeper into the clutter as your desire dictates. Your disorganization may stem from a lack of time or motivation. The challenges you mention were not created over night, and they're not going to be solved in a 4 or 5 hour visit from a outside vendor. Bring her back for at least another session and dive deeper in your paper challenges.
Create one central place for contact management:
Again, we were not present at the organizing session, but we're not sure if you shared your 'deliverable' (desired outcome) with the organizer. If locating phone numbers efficiently was more important than tape, glue or a pencil, I would have concentrated more on developing a paper process, and less on organizing the supplies (sometimes however, you need to move the supplies out of the way so you know what you have left). Perhaps you need to have just one notebook to add information to, or a bin or box to toss all those scraps of paper or post-it notes into? The important thing is having one central process for docking information. And yes, you can have the best process or tools, and at the end of the day, it's about your motivation to follow the process and alter your behavior. Again, that's why it's important to bring your organizer back to equalize the system.
The National Association of Professional Organizers:
While it is not critical to hire a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) or a member of the Los Angeles Chapter (NAPO-LA), you will find a dedicated legion of productivity experts in the Association who specialize in paper management for the small office. While this is not a pick-on of O'Donnell (she is not a member), NAPO Professional Organizers in every category have access to skill training, resources, education, networking, product vendors, business building skills and some communication training. I am a two-term Past President of the Los Angeles Chapter.
What being organized is really about:
Being organized is about being smart with your time, breaking down larger tasks into smaller ones, concentrating on the things you do well, and perhaps, letting go of the things you don't do so well (and that are not that important anyway). For some, it can be about the visual representation of neatly folded towels. But for others it's a complex task of systematizing the complexities of a modern life, setting objectives, getting those routine must-do tasks out of the way. The end result for everyone is both heartwarming and empowering: being organized allows you to accomplish more and find time for the things that really matter to you. On the journey, find the right accountability partner for your project, whether it's a professional organizer, the latest productivity book, an on-line organizing system like Lorie Marrero's Clutter Diet, subscribe to our blog, or enlist a friend with some patience. Stick with it, stop being so hard on yourself, create and maintain good behaviors, laugh a lot, have fun and you'll find those keys and phone numbers in no time.
What does "being organized" mean to you? Please share your thoughts in the comment section.
Like this post?
Want to receive our updates sent directly to your email box, Facebook or Twitter? ----- > click here to subscribe to the OrganizingLA Blog.