March 2011 Newsletter

Dear Friend,

How I wish I could learn from others’ mistakes!  If you trip over a bump in the sidewalk and I’m right behind you, why do I trip over the exact same bump?  What I’ve learned is that the best lessons we learn don’t happen through osmosis.  We have to stumble on our own.  This month I address some of my own mistakes and how they have taught me what it really means to be organized.  Read on…

Simply yours,

Getting and STAYING Organized: The Secret Ingredient Revealed

When people learn what I do, I get two immediate reactions.  The first goes something like this: The person’s face washes over with a look of dread and embarrassment – “Oh, you don’t want to see my office, car, house, [fill in your room of choice].”  This is quickly followed by the second reaction – “Wow, you must be so organized!” 

These past few months have challenged me to define what it takes to be organized.  Sure, I know most of the tips and techniques out there and I’m certainly a familiar face at The Container Store.  However, if you’re baking a cake called organization, these ingredients are just the frosting.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve been known to eat plenty of frosting on its own, but if you want any substance, you need to know the key ingredients to make the cake.  Through some heard-learned mistakes, I’ve learned that a necessary – crucial – ingredient to organization is learning to say no.  I liken this practice to the baking powder in the cake.  You don’t need much, but without it, your cake is a mess! 

Most of us have the yes-disease – blurting out the word before we even know what we’ve committed to.  “Will you feed my cats while I’m away?”


            “Did I mention I’ll be gone for six months?… Oh, and I have seven cats…. Oh, and three of them are in heat.”

So unless you want a feline frenzy, practice saying NO.  It’s a wonderfully freeing word.  It’s simple in its construction – only two letters and one syllable.  But uttering that one syllable can be so hard!  So we fill our lives with yes’s – yes to being Girl Scout Leader, yes to that icky client that’s never happy, yes to joining that board, yes to helping your friend move, yes to everything!  Although most of these activities are wonderful, when we fill our plate with too many yes’s we don’t leave any space for ourselves in the mix.  No wonder we’re disorganized.

Now whenever I feel an inkling of doubt, even if I can't put words to the feeling, I say no.  As I just heard Oprah say on her show, "doubt means don't."  Trust that instict - our body is often smarter than our brain.  While our brain can justify nearly anything, our body doesn't lie.  When we start saying no, this weird thing happens.  Rather than getting smaller, our lives get so much bigger.  We have created space that allows us to create and maintain organization.  We have created space to be the very best of ourselves.  And when we are our best self, organization is much less daunting.