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Get Ready, Get Set, Get Organized!

Welcome to National Get Organized Month 2007! If, as you look around your home or office, you find yourself trying to manage the incoming tidal wave of stuff from the holiday season or the residual stuff from the entire year and are muttering, “I need to get organized,” you have come to the right place.
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Welcome to National Get Organized Month 2007! If, as you look around your home or office, you find yourself trying to manage the incoming tidal wave of stuff from the holiday season or the residual stuff from the entire year and are muttering, “I need to get organized,” you have come to the right place.

Debunking the “Get Organized” Myth

“I need to get organized.” Sometimes we say it with a sigh, sometimes with a scream. Whenever I use that phrase, I feel absolutely overwhelmed because of the underlying message, which is that there are several aspects of my life and environment that feel like they’re spinning out of control, and I want them all fixed. TODAY. My subconscious conversation on speaker phone after I say “I need to get organized” goes a little something like “If I can just get to Target to get some containers, I ought to be able to have the play room, storage room and home office put together by the time the kids get home from school and still have time (and energy) to help with homework, spend quality time with my kids and have a hot meal on the table by six.” Ha! There are few other phrases that propel perfectly smart, sane women into guilt-induced insanity faster than “I need to get organized.”

Now take a deep breath and get ready for this: there is NO SUCH THING as being perfectly organized all of the time! It’s a myth! We move from order to chaos and back to order, so the idea of effective organization is to shorten the time we spend in the chaos stage of the cycle, which, I dare say, is sometimes lengthened by our enthusiastic attempts at “getting organized.” The good news is that you can create highly organized, highly functional spaces and schedules without killing yourself by changing the way you approach the process of organizing itself.

See It. Map It. Do It.© and S.T.A.C.K.S.©

Marla Dee, owner of Clear & SIMPLE™, Inc., has developed the Clear & SIMPLE™ Systems© of organizing: See It. Map It. Do It.© and S.T.A.C.K.S.© These systems are more than a compilation of helpful hints; they outline proven steps you can apply to a full spectrum of organizing projects. Over the course of the next two months, I will share these powerful systems with you. Kris Pond-Burtis, an accomplished speaker and professional organizer, asked this question during a seminar I recently attended: “Would it be OK if things got easier?” Get ready to make organizing easier and a whole lot more fun because as you utilize these systems, your organizing experience will be absolutely transformed! If you have ever felt frustrated because you’ve thought you should just know how to organize, ask yourself when in your life someone actually taught you how to organize. Never? Well, let’s change that by starting with the first two steps in the Clear & SIMPLE™ Systems©.

See It

What is your natural inclination when you decide to do an organizing project? Most people see the piles, dive in and start throwing stuff away so that what’s left will either fit into existing containers or into the containers they just bought earlier in the day—usually those really big Rubbermaid totes that fit just about everything. This first step in the organizing process requires a shift at the most vital part of the process: the beginning.

How would it be to sit down in a comfortable spot and consider for just a moment which spaces or activities require your most immediate attention? When you See It, that’s what you do. I want to emphasize that this step doesn’t require a lot of time; you can complete it in less than ten minutes.

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Notwithstanding its simplicity, this step is necessary and powerful because it not only requires a seeing of your physical space but also a seeing of what has caused your chaos. See It allows you to address root causes in addition to their symptoms. You can See It in a number of ways:
•Write the story your clutter tells.
•Draw the story your clutter tells.
•Take a picture of the space you want to organize.
You can also ask yourself some questions:
•What’s working?
•What’s not?
•Where am I stuck?
•What do I want to accomplish?
When you take time to actually see your space, one of your first reactions may be, “Who has been living in my house?” While the chaos you see is often not an accurate reflection of who you are generally, the picture will likely be an accurate reflection of what is going on in your life at the moment. As Marla Dee says, “To actually see one’s current situation, environment or patterns requires a willingness to be accountable for the ‘picture’ that shows up. The environment is simply a reflection of where we are in our life. The chaos was created by us and the decisions we did or didn’t make. As long as we don’t take the time to really see our situation, we can stay in comfortable denial.” If it’s time for you to get out of comfortable denial, take courage and read on!

Map It

After you have taken time to see your space and get a better handle on whatever chaos exists and why it does, you get to bring your observations into a concrete form by making a map. What does it mean to map? You can use the word “map” as an acronym for “make a plan.” That’s all mapping is: making a plan. For many of us, when we think of creating a map we think of making lists. If you cringe at the prospect of list-making, there are, quite fortunately, several additional ways to Map It. When you make your map, choose a method that suits your personality so that this step is FUN! Some ways you can Map It are to—
•Make a mind map (search “mind map” on Google for great images, instructions and software).
•Create a chart.
•Write your vision for your space.
•Draw a picture of your vision.
•Make a collage.
For example, if you are mapping your home office, your vision map might be “I want my office to support my creativity, productivity and financial security.” I have experienced first-hand the enormous benefits of taking time to consider the components of a project and my vision for a space as well as the resulting frustration from just diving in without a good map. I am a firm believer in joyful creation, and I know that having a good map of your project can make all the difference between having fun and having a meltdown.

Regardless of how you create your map, create one! Most people say they don’t take time to See It and Map It because it takes too long. I promise that taking time for these steps fulfills the purpose of any great system which is to Save You Stress Time Energy and Money.

Next Month: Do It

The steps of See It and Map It are an absolutely vital foundation to the step that we all associate with organizing: DO IT! Next month we’ll talk about how to break down the Do It process using the acronym S.T.A.C.K.S. I encourage you, until then, to practice seeing and mapping so that when it comes time to actually do your project, the groundwork is laid and you can get to work! As you use the Clear & SIMPLE™ Systems© to create order in your environment you will have more fun organizing because it will simply be easier. Isn’t it about time?

Additional Resources and Recommended Reading At this web site, you can join a mailing list to receive a monthly e-zine that contains organizing tips, featured products and organizing events and trainings.

Dee, Marla. Organizing the Clear & SIMPLE™ Way. This guidebook is one my personal favorites. This 60-page manual and 4-CD set provide some of the most practically applicable organizing systems created and are available for less than the cost of a consultation. If you are ready to make organizing your life incredibly fun and simple, applying the Clear & SIMPLE™ Systems© will teach you where to start, what to do and how to keep it up. Order at or
Morgenstern, Julie. Organizing from the Inside Out. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2004. This New York Times Best-Seller offers workable solutions for a variety of organizing projects. Referred to as the House Whisperer, Julie Morgenstern is one of the best-known and most accomplished professional organizers in the business. Order at or purchase at local booksellers.
Waddill, Kathy. The Organizing Sourcebook. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2001. Another of my favorites, the Organizing Sourcebook outlines the Nine Strategies of Reasonably Organized People and includes numerous real-life scenarios that illustrate how to apply them. This is a really fun read. Order at or purchase at local booksellers.

Kelly Pratt is a Clear & SIMPLE™ Certified professional organizer on the Clear & SIMPLE™ team in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Clear & SIMPLE™ Systems© of See It. Map It. Do It.© and S.T.A.C.K.S.© are copyrighted and are the sole property of Clear & SIMPLE™, Inc. This material may not be reproduced or distributed without express written consent. All rights reserved.


Get Ready! Get Set! Get Organized!

Welcome to National Get Organized Month 2008! If, as you look around your home or office, you find yourself trying to manage the incoming tidal wave of stuff from the holiday season or the residual stuff from the entire year and are muttering, “I need to get organized,” you have come to the right place.

Ready, Get Set, Get Organized

Do you feel overwhelmed and stressed because you have so much to get organized?

The Gifts of Organizing

I hope as we near the end of the year that you’ve enjoyed a year of organizing success! As we approach the holiday gift-giving season, I want to round out the year by sharing three gifts of organizing and offer some tips for a simpler, more organized holiday season.

Top 5 Products to Keep You Organized

Getting your life organized is one thing. Keeping it that way is another! Here are my top 5 favorite products for helping you stay in control of your paper, time and space

Organizing the Car

How much time do you spend in the car each week? If you’re like most people, you rack up over 15 hours behind the wheel. That calculates to roughly 10% of your life!

Organizing Clothing Purchases

Spring has sprung, and along with planting flowers and enjoying warmer weather, it’s time for another favorite: shopping! Here are some great tips that will make updating your wardrobe easier before you even step foot inside a department store, while you’re shopping, and after you get everything home.

Look What I Drew! Organizing and Displaying Kids’ Art

You have a budding artist—or two or three. The front of your fridge is plastered with images ranging from your 2-year-old’s first scribbles (on paper) to your kindergartner’s abstract macaroni cow to your second-grader’s ever-evolving and oh-so-prolific attempts at Dracula and his happy pet bats.

Matchmaker, Matchmaker

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.