Kelly Pratt is the owner of Spaces Limited Organizing. What began as a little something to keep busy while her kids were at school has developed into product creation, speaking and training, writing and regular television appearances. Professional organizing has become quite a journey!

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What’s Your Style?

OK. I lied. In honor of this most romantic of months, instead of diving into the next step in the organizing process, Do It, we’re going to take a little detour. We’re going to observe Valentine’s Day by exploring your organizing style and seeing how it matches up with your significant other’s. How’s that for some practical romance? If you are in a long-time relationship, you may have a pretty good idea how to function in the organizing realm as a couple. If you are making the transition to life as a couple or have experienced significant life change recently, you may be trying to figure out how to reestablish organizing systems to adjust to those changes. Regardless of your current circumstances, take a minute with your spouse or partner to determine your organizing style and to see how you match up. You’ll find helpful hints for making your styles mesh in the information that follows. And remember, one of the greatest gifts you can give your Valentine—on any day of the year—is to honor and respect his or her style!

What’s Your Style?

A. I have a place for everything and love having my environment clear and uncluttered.

B. I have places for most things, but a little clutter here and there doesn’t bother me.

C. I have places for some things, but I don’t generally make time to clear my clutter until I can’t find something really important.

D. I have places for very few things, tend to save everything and have trouble finding most things.

What’s Your Match?

If you are an A and your spouse is—

A: You will have a household that suits your needs for order and structure.

B: You might get a little crazy with the piles.

C: You may be the one to take care of all important papers, etc. so they don’t get lost in the shuffle. Determine how you’ll react when you can’t stand looking at his/her stuff anymore and talk about it before it becomes an issue.

D: You may have a hard time relating to why someone has to keep EVERYTHING and may wonder how on earth someone functions this way. You may need to enlist outside help at some point to help your spouse learn to let go of excess stuff. Don’t be the one to throw his/her stuff away.

If you are a B and your spouse is—

A: You may wonder if he/she is a little obsessive-compulsive. Be that as it may, recognize and respect his/her need and desire for order and structure. He/she needs it to effectively function.

B: You will probably have piles here and there, but they won’t really bug you.

C: You may have a tendency to adopt your spouse’s less ordered structure. Remember that you are the one with a greater need or desire for order, so you may have to be the one to encourage greater organization.

D: You may wonder if you are a little Obsessive-Compulsive. You may be surprised at the depth of your spouse’s desire to keep everything that falls into his/her hands. If you start getting frustrated with the accumulation, clearly communicate with your spouse and enlist some outside help. Don’t be the one to throw his/her stuff away.

If you are a C and your spouse is—

A: You may be convinced that he/she is a little obsessive-compulsive. Be that as it may, recognize and respect his/her need and desire for order and structure. He/she needs it to effectively function. You may have to very clearly communicate what you see as the benefits of your organizing style. Just don’t expect your spouse to be convinced.

B: You may be very grateful that you live with someone more organized than you are but who doesn’t have to have a place for everything all of the time. Remember to contribute to this heightened level of organization by being willing to put a few more things away.

C: You will feel relieved that you are living with someone who isn’t a neat freak. Be mindful of the fact, however, that if you have had trouble finding stuff in your single days, you will have even more difficulty now. Someone needs to be in charge of making sure you can find all the important stuff when you need it. Who will it be? If you get stuck, enlist outside help.

D: You may start feeling like you are the neat freak. This is probably a new and uncomfortable role for you. If your spouse’s stuff starts driving you crazy, clearly communicate and get some outside help or training so you both can create a livable environment and systems. Otherwise, the accumulation of stuff and inability to find things will create a great deal of stress.

If you are a D and your spouse is—

A: You will know he/she is obsessive-compulsive and may have a hard time understanding his/her need and desire for order and structure. You must, however, recognize and respect his/her needs and desires because he/she needs order to effectively function. You can do this by helping to keep your home as clutter-free as possible. You may have to very clearly communicate what you see as the benefits of your organizing style. Just don’t expect your spouse to be convinced. You will also have to determine if there is an area of your home that can be just yours and that your spouse doesn’t touch so nothing goes missing.

B: You will wonder if he/she is obsessive-compulsive but find solace in his/her occasional piles. You may be grateful that you live with someone more organized than you are so he/she can take care of keeping track of the important stuff. Be mindful of this important role and respect your spouse or partner by keeping things as clutter-free as possible.

C: You will be strangely comforted that you can just be yourself and keep all your stuff but that someone else can occasionally find the important stuff. Be mindful that your living environment may get out of hand because you and your spouse have a less structured style. Enlisting outside help to assist you in keeping up your living space and important documents will likely be a necessity.

D: You may need to live in a very large home. While you are not living with someone who makes you feel guilty for your style (which may have been a source of guilt or shame in the past), you may find yourself overwhelmed by your own as well as your spouse’s accumulations and will likely be frustrated by the constant influx of stuff. Enlisting outside help to assist you in keeping up your living space and important documents as well as training you in an organizing system that will work for you will likely be a necessity.

—Kelly

Next Month

Next month we really will talk about how to break down the Do It process using the acronym S.T.A.C.K.S. If you haven’t had a chance to go through the See It and Map It steps in the organizing process, I encourage you to review last month’s article and get prepared for your upcoming projects! Until then, the very happiest of Valentine’s days!

Kelly Pratt is a Clear & SIMPLE™ Certified professional organizer on the Clear & SIMPLE™ team in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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