Breaking the organizing stalemate

Have you ever been in a situation where you felt that you couldn’t organize your bedroom until the laundry room is organized, but you couldn’t organize the laundry room until the bedroom is organized? This is a deadlock or stalemate situation — one in which several actions are waiting for the other to finish, and thus none of them ever is completed.

There are two basic ways to break a stalemate, one is by diplomacy and the other is by imposing military might.

Diplomatic method

The diplomatic method creates the least amount of disruption, however it does take a lot more time to complete the organizing process. It involves working a little at a time in each space, alternating back and forth. In the above example between the laundry room and the bedroom, you may choose to spend 15 minutes in each space each day organizing. You may repeatedly need to transfer clothing between rooms. You may decide to do a few loads of laundry every day. Additionally you would cart away clothing that is no longer suited to your lifestyle. Slowly, over the course of time, both rooms would become organized.

Military might method

The military might method may cause intense disruption for a short period of time, but the end result can be achieved more quickly than with the diplomatic method. The military might strategy involves clearing a full day in your calendar to complete the entire task and clearing everything from the space all at once. In the laundry room and bedroom example, you would gather up all of the clothing from both the bedroom and the laundry room and dump it in the living room where there is enough space to do a sort and purge. Once that is completed in the living room, your clothing would be returned to its appropriate storage area and the living room would be clear.

You may have to employ a combination of strategies, using both diplomacy and military might. There are no rules in love (of a tidy home) and war (on disorganization). The important thing is to get started and choose the method that works best for you and your situation.

11 Comments for “Breaking the organizing stalemate”

  1. posted by Melody Mesick on

    I really like how you defined both of these methods. I’m always a fan of Military might method because you can get the fastest results 🙂

  2. posted by Lucía on

    Gretchen Rubin from “The Happiness Project” often references this quote:

    “A small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labours of a spasmodic Hercules” – Anthony Trollope.

    Plus she often says “We tend to over-estimate what we can do in a short time (say, an afternoon), and under-estimate what we can do over a longer time (a month) a little bit at a time.”

    The more chances I have to test these hypotheses, the more I find them to be true. Although if you do manage to complete the task in one go, I admit this is definitely the most satisfying!

  3. posted by Tiffany Lynn Lepp on


    These methods are not new, but this is the first time I’ve heard them defined and described in such a brilliant way. Thank you!

    I think, which strategy to use depends a lot on the space you are working on. Personally, if I am organizing the garage or kitchen I would turn to the military method.

    But, if I am organizing the spare bedroom or basement I would turn to the diplomatic method.

  4. posted by Maria on

    I’m getting heaps of emails from the forums regarding comments made to me during 2012… When will it stop? I want to remove notifications but I get error messages using the link and I get error messages when I log in. PLEASE FIX THIS. It is quite annoying! Talk about clutter getting emails from years ago…

  5. posted by [email protected] on

    I have been in that situation a few times and it is hard to figure out what to do. These are great ideas. I would be more apt to do the diplomatic method since I don’t have big blocks of time very often. Plus I get bored with a project if it takes too long so a little at a time would be more palatable.

  6. posted by Cathy on

    I am also getting email from the forums from long-ago posts and I can’t figure out how to make them stop. Please fix the problem, it’s very VERY cluttery in my in-box!

  7. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Maria and @Cathy — We had no idea until yesterday (April 7) that there were emails being sent from the Forums and since we found out the techs have been diligently working to get them to stop. We _think_ we have it figured out. Please let us know if you receive any more messages after Tuesday, April 8, at 8:30 am eastern time. We apologize profusely. We had no idea it was even a possibility that they would go out. Ack! Clutter indeed!!

  8. posted by Cathy on

    Thanks Erin, it seems to have stopped! 😀

  9. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Cathy — Please email me through the Contact Us page if they start up again. Ugh. We truly are sorry. Such a mess!!

  10. posted by Maria on

    I got four emails today so it definitely hasn’t stopped. I’m in touch with other ex members of the forums and they are also getting more emails today…

  11. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Maria — Fingers crossed they have stopped this second time. Thank you for your email and please let me know if they start up again. If they do, I’m not sure it will be possible for me to scream louder than I did today when you sent me that message. UGH! I hate tech bugs!!! My sincerest apologies!!!

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