Organizing is knowing what you want

Fifteen year ago I started my organizing business. After three years of helping people clear the clutter out of their lives enough to see what they really wanted in life, I realized I had cleared out so much clutter in my own life that I could see that Toronto was no longer my home. I followed a childhood dream of living in southern Europe and more than a decade later I am still living that dream.

During the past ten years, however, I’ve learned as well that not everyone comes from the privileged place that I did and cannot always follow their dreams, no matter how clearly they see that dream. Family, health, or economics may impede achieving or even acknowledging that deeply secret desire.

I made a life-altering change when I cleared the space to allow the dream to reveal itself. Not everyone needs that. Sometimes, clearing mental, emotional, and physical clutter reveals that you are in fact living the life you want and no extreme changes are necessary.

Professional organizing as a profession is just beginning to appear here in Spain and people wonder, over and over again, just what it is. Some people have called it a form of interior decorating mixed with psychology. Others believe it is a type of coaching. And yet others call it “selling smoke” — an expression in Spanish that would best translate into English as “snake oil salesmen,” modern day charlatans selling cure-alls.

When people ask me, however, I tell them that at a deep level, professional organizing helps people reduce what they don’t need, figure out what they really want, then determine how to get it and maintain it.

If you look at every single article here on Unclutterer, you’ll see that even the most practical “let’s clean out under the kitchen sink” articles focus on one of those three principles, in the case of the kitchen sink specifically helping you save time and energy when it comes to cleaning so that you have more time and more energy for what’s important to you.

This is why there is no one way when it comes to organizing, and why there is such a proliferation of books, manuals, and methodologies. We are each looking for a way to streamline our lives down to what will make us glide through life without scraping against everyone and everything we pass by. Whether that’s with a 5000 sq. ft. house full of knick-knacks or a 50 sq. ft. apartment with just the bare minimum.

Often in my articles here, you see links to books, to other websites, or even to other articles here on Unclutterer, but this time I’m not going to do that. Today, I ask you to look inside you. Forget the advice, forget the rules, forget the obligations and the responsibilities and ask yourself the following question:

What do I want?

If you can’t answer it, you have some more uncluttering to do. Go find that book, that article, that professional organizer that will help you clear away layers until you have the answer to that question.

And if you know the answer, determine what you need to get there, including what help and how much streamlining is left for you to do. Then stop reading, stop planning, stop consulting and go fulfill your dream to the best your circumstances allow.

6 Comments for “Organizing is knowing what you want”

  1. posted by TH on

    Awesome and very informative read, probably have to read it again to fully grasp all the info haha. Cheers and thanks for writing!

  2. posted by Joke on

    Great post!

  3. posted by Kenneth in Virginia on

    The first thing a lot of people need to pursue their dreams is a bus ticket out of town. That’s where my story started.

  4. posted by Monica Kostak on

    Touching..i think “stuff” stresses us out too and I need to sit back further to help reduce. –thanks for sharing. Linked over from Sherri’s “a Quilting Life” article.

  5. posted by Kathie in Cali on

    Yes! Reducing what I don’t need, figuring out what I really want, then determining how to get it and maintain it… I am a work in progress. Thank you for sharing your story, insightful article and thanks to Sherri at A Quilting Life for posting link.

  6. posted by Helen Melbourne on

    Great writing and ideas Alex! And that last question: What do I want? is the cornerstone of change and progress, and really helps clear the clutter in your life that is stopping you from moving forward. Unless of course you are me – a Professional Organizer who stopped practicing, and returned to my artistic roots – with the idea of sustainability laid on top. Because of my new goal, and deciding what I want – a creative reuse centre for the community I live in, I have more stuff than ever…as I run the social enterprise/reuse classes out of my own studio until I can get funding to get it out into the world in its own bricks and mortar centre. So for myself, What do I want? – is one of those be careful what you wish for goals. However the incentive to get it going is huge – I want my living room and studio back!

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