I was speaking with a client recently about some organizing and time management goals that she and I had developed. She found herself struggling with the idea of organizing and managing her time differently – which felt, to her, inflexible and rigid. So she was resisting completing the tasks. This left her dissatisfied in that she did not want to continue with her current, somewhat haphazard approach to time but didn’t want to swing to the other extreme and lose the ability to adapt and react to changing circumstances and opportunities.
We decided to shift our goal for her use of time from organizing to simplifying. In many ways the actual actions didn’t change, but her feelings about them changed. The idea of simplifying resonated with her in a way that organizing did not. I encouraged her to question ways to simplify the realms of her life that felt out of control in some way – How could she simplify their breakfast preparations? How could she simplify her social calendar? How could she simplify her work schedule?
If organizing ever feels to you like simply putting the same things into new boxes, consider approaching it from the perspective of simplifying. I am an enormous supporter of simplicity, and the more simple your lifestyle and belongings are, the less organized you need to be. A small wardrobe fits easily into your closet. A few toys fit easily into a few bins. A simplified calendar isn’t that challenging to manage.
Would you like a concrete example? Let’s say that you have been feeling a need to organize your overflowing closet. If you simply decide to organize, you might sort your clothes by season and then color, folding everything neatly and replacing. This can certainly create a more usable closet, making full use of its space through efficient folding and sorting. But it will require consistent maintenance so that it doesn’t revert to the original system of piles of clothes. Instead, begin by asking yourself what one thing you could do right now to simplify your closet. Maybe you could remove everything that no longer fits, or that you haven’t worn in a year or more. Continue until you feel like you have simplified your closet enough to please you.
From a practical standpoint, the tasks of simplifying are not very different from the same ways I would suggest you approach organizing. But words do matter, and it is important that you find a perspective that feels good to you. Perhaps your next organizing task will become a simplifying task!