Deadheading for the future

Professional organizer extraordinaire Monica Ricci gives a grounded perspective in her guest post on the process of uncluttering and organizing. You can follow Monica on Twitter, Facebook, and her blog for more organizing tips.

Deadheading. It sounds like either a grisly ritual or a summer vacation following your favorite band on tour. But it’s neither. Deadheading is simply the practice of removing the dead flowers from a plant. The reason you deadhead is because if you don’t, the flower will stop blooming, and how disappointing would that be?

All plants have one goal — to go to seed so they can perpetuate their little flower family. Creating flowers is part of that process, and if you leave the dead blooms on the plant, it will stop blooming and concentrate on going to seed. However, when you interrupt that cycle by removing old blooms, the plant then puts its energy into strengthening itself and producing more flowers in a continued effort to go to seed. The more you cut off the dead blooms, the more fresh blooms you’ll get.

This is a lot like organizing your life. The more you clear out and eliminate what’s “dead” in your life, the more space you create for opportunity, love, and success in the future. You have more energy to put toward strengthening yourself and blooming even more gloriously than you did before.

9 Comments for “Deadheading for the future”

  1. posted by Anita on

    Let me play devil’s advocate for a moment and say – wouldn’t the deadhead analogy work exactly the opposite way?

    As you mentioned, flowers are only part of the process of plants going to seed. Wilted flowers are far from “dead” — rather, they are another vital stage of plants creating seeds and perpetuating themselves. By cutting them off you are preventing them from reaching their goal, stunting their growth and keeping them in a stagnant intermediate stage for as long as possible. Which is fine if you’re just trying to have pretty flowers for longer, but unless your goal in life is to stagnate (or start projects and never finish them?), it really doesn’t work as an analogy for self-fulfilment…

  2. posted by whyioughtta on

    I like the deadheading analogy.

    Here’s my plant/life analogy:

    I live in a fairly harsh (Canadian) climate, on the side of a steep hill, in pretty dense forest, with highly acidic soil. I’m on a well, so I can’t water my flower gardens obsessively. I’ve got a lot of land to manage, so I can’t weed more than a few times a summer. Our growing season is basically from June to September — a measly 4 months.

    So when I plant something new in my garden, my rule is “I’m glad you’re here. I’ll get you set up. Then you’re on your own; it’s up to you to survive.” So far, I’ve had surprisingly few casualties. When something dies, I either replace it or just let nature take over and allow the ‘survivors’ to spread out.

    These days, I am trying to be this clear about everything I take on in my life, being more realistic about the number of things I can take on and what level of maintenance I can devote to them. So far, this approach is making me a more fulfilled person!

  3. posted by Brandon Green on

    Makes sense to me: cull, cull, cull.

  4. posted by Katha on

    I’m with Anita – also made a little uneasy by this analogy.
    I’ll perpetually bloom, but never bear fruit?

    Now, if you’d written about pruning an orchard – that would have done it better for me ;^)

  5. posted by Rebecca on

    This analogy doesn’t hold. By clearing old flowers, you get more new flowers, therefore, by clearing clutter (in all its forms), you get more things you value in life? It isn’t logically phrased at all.

    I read this and anticipated that the logical conclusion would be “Clear the clutter, and get more new clutter.”

    Fortunately, we can all understand the intended point. But still, I’m used to more clarity with this blog.

  6. posted by Inga on

    If blooming is your goal, rather than seeding then this analogy works fine. While I agree the orchard pruning might be a better example this one is also fine. Try not to overthink

  7. posted by Lindsay on

    People, please. We need to remember that with an analogy, not EVERY SINGLE POINT OF CONTACT holds. It’s not supposed to. . .you’re supposed to GET it, without over thinking it.

    I think this is a truly lovely, poetic piece and am happy to have read it and have passed the link on!

  8. posted by Another Deb on

    I saw the Plumeria flowers in the header and remember that they bloomed on my Texas patio for months on end, not being deadheaded at all….

  9. posted by Rebecca Malik on

    I love this post – it is so true that the more unnecessary things we clear out of our lives, the more room that we have to the wonderful things that we want to have around us.

    Thanks so much for an inspirational post to keep us focused.

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