I am a wife, a mom and an entrepreneur with no separation amongst these roles. My to do list is often comprised of writing a new script for a class, preparing a webinar, picking up deodorant for my husband and ordering a braided belt for my fourth grader. I also work out of my home, which means that my office is also the mudroom. I love that I am home so much and don’t have to commute to work, but it can be difficult to stay organized melding so much into a 5X10 room.
I used to be a total Type A, self-proclaimed neat freak. Being uber organized is one of the best qualities I got from my dad, and I am the only one our of four siblings that inherited it. I am the sister that visits and organizes the fridge and cleans off your kitchen counters.
Somewhere along the way of raising kids I realized that I was always buzzing around like a busy bee, doing dishes because I couldn’t stand to have them in the sink, running clothes up to the laundry room so they wouldn’t be laying around, and straightening the book cabinet so it was nice and neat when you opened the door…instead of actually reading them with my kids. That isn’t to say that I never had quality time with my kids. I certainly did, but I can admit that I wasted valuable time when I could have been more present thinking about my to do list and cleaning up. So I eased up. I played games on the floor and did dishes later. I let stacks accumulate in my office, and I occasionally had to take uniform pants out of the laundry for a second wearing. I was prioritizing time with my kids which felt very right in my heart, but something was nudging me in the gut.
I eased up until I couldn’t stand to even sit in my office anymore. I had piles and stacks, unorganized files, and jumbles of cords so big that when I grabbed them with two hands to organize, it was so overwhelming that I just decided to shove them back on the shelf. Now, most of this mess was contained to my office which I made the excuse of being my “messy room.” I was ok with this exception as long as the rest of my house was neat, or at least neat to company. I had a few cabinets and drawers that were a total wreck but nobody could see them, which made it ok…sort of.
Something about the start of a new year, and being really ready to take my business to a new level in 2015, made me say ENOUGH, and I hired a professional organizer to help me whip my house, and mainly my office into shape. I felt overwhelmed and I really wanted to get this project going, like yesterday.
We had a consultation so I could show her all the areas I wanted to work on and within minutes I was bawling to this poor woman. I was overcome with emotion and started spilling my guts to someone I had never even met before. Have you ever done that? It is strange how sometimes it is even easier to let go with a person you hardly know!
What came pouring out is how I found it hard to balance being present with my kids while keeping up the house, finding time for self care, and running a growing business. I am running a business I love and adore, that fuels me beyond belief, out of a tiny office strewn with shoes and backpacks. I write next to a huge pile of papers, and there is nothing that feels productive or abundant about that. It was obvious that I needed to find more balance in my space, and that things feeling organized and neat was crucial for me so that I could focus on more important things like my family and my work. It is almost like putting the oxygen mask on yourself before your kids on the plane. I needed to clean up areas of my life that were out of control so that I could be successful and present in the really important ones.
This project facilitated self-awareness about issues I didn’t even realize I had. I now consider taking care of my spaces to be self-care because an organized environment helps me to stay clear and open to creativity, new ideas, and the flow of life. An organized space keeps me in the present moment and allows me to focus on one thing at a time, whether it be my family, my work, or myself.
Just like I teach others to do, I exhaled all the stress I felt associated with this project and inhaled the joy in knowing I was ready to tackle it. So together we made a game plan and determined what I needed to do on my own prep wise. I certainly didn’t need the organizer to sit with me at an hourly rate to watch me clean out papers and old markers. So I spent a few days over the holidays cleaning out drawers and cabinets until my husband asked me if I was pregnant. I was on a tear in the best sort of nesting way.
Then my organizer came back and we spent four hours together in my home and one buying out the Container Store. I swear, I could spend all day in there! I also had one trip to Officemax which was less overwhelming and more affordable. The best things there are the label makers. OMG! Total game changer.
In the pictures you can see the finished product, and I couldn’t be happier. I have a place for everything, and I can see my desk. Now when I sit in my office I feel inspired instead of distracted. We also organized all of my kids “stuff” in the kitchen so that they know where to find everything, and more importantly put everything away. I am hoping that this fosters more independence in the boys, and I got their buy in on the project with the promise that they got to help with the label maker. Side note: in addition to making things look nice, the label maker is an excellent bribery tool.
When I gazed at the finished product my first thought was, “what took me so long?” I very well could have suffered through another year surrounded by my piles and crap, but I am so glad that I bit the bullet and got started. This is very much a metaphor for life. We can eat healthy next year, write that book sometime, or learn to meditate one day. But if we put off what we are seeking body, mind, and spirit what are we missing out on now? Obviously it hurt something inside of me to be surrounded by chaos. I didn’t want to bring that energy into one more day, month or year than I needed to. Taking the steps toward a destination can feel overwhelming, but there is no way around it, only through it, and I have three huge trash bags and a large donation pile to prove it.
What project can you tackle that will bring more calm, presence, and peace to your life? How can you prioritize your needs and desires by admitting what you need from your space and relationships? Can you make a plan to facilitate the change? I know you can. Take a moment and tell yourself what you are going to clear in your space/relationships/life to make room for what you want this year. Join me, because I still have the pantry and my closet to go!
Share in the comments what you plan to let go of. Writing it down is a sure fire way to hold yourself accountable.