Organizing 101: Sorting

Sorting is easy, fun AND useful!

Sorting is easy, fun AND useful!

Summer is a great time to get organized. Our mistakes from last school year are fresh in our heads, our hope for the upcoming year is blossoming and has yet to be crushed, dashed or squished.

I hear you through the internet.. . . "Hoooooow do I start?" (slight whine, whiff of the search for a magic answer, there IS a magic organizing answer, right?)

When I help clients get organized they often head into their office, junk drawer, playroom, closet and want an immediate answer, a solution, an end game. You guys, that's NO FUN at all (and, um, yo! it doesn't work). The answer, the solution, the end game comes through the doing. THAT's the Magical Art of Tidying Up. 

The expectation to HAVE the solution clogs the system, jams the wheels, de-rails the organizing train. Sorting gets it going again. Sorting is non-judgmental, sorting is easy, sorting gets your body into movement and then your brain gets into movement and from there answers start bubbling up.

When I help a client sort I can't feel, don't see, am unaware of the psychic goo* on, around and in each object, piece of clothing and book. I really just see things like - clothes, stuff that doesn't belong here, supplies, to read, action, project, give to spouse and my favorite of favorites - PITCH! Sometimes there is so much psychic goo on the objects that just moving them around upsets the apple cart and the client shuts down.  If we can loosen the goo - tolerate the anxiety and work on the sorting at hand the psychic goo loses some of its stickiness. Then, order and organization, values and priorities can start bubbling up. THAT'S where we find solutions.

When you tackle your next project - think "I will SORT out the answer", not - "Oh no, oh geez, I need an answer. I don't know the RIGHT answer. I think I'll get a diet coke and lay down until the answer magically comes to me (click goes the office door)."

Sorting Categories to Inspire, Move and Motivate

  1. Clothes
  2. Action (as in it has to get done, action is NOT "I should do this someday" or "It would be nice if this got done" or "My mom (dad, sister or friend) does this, so I should to."
  3. To be filed (Stuff you need to keep for taxes or reference BUT no action is necessary. Guys, that's NOT EVERYTHING. Please don't save random articles you can look up online. Please.)
  4. Pending where you've hit the tennis ball into someone else's court and you can't do anything until it's returned.)
  5. Projects (stuff that takes more then one step). For example: Skirt Project: Does it fit? Do I like it? Where do I get the button replaced? Do I have anything that matches it? Will I wear it? - See, more then one action - try on skirt, look at shirts/shoes, look for button (in the house, online, at a store), take to tailor, get cleaned. When we start acknowledging something is a multi-step project, we start being more realistic about what we have assigned ourselves and what we will actually do. (Pssst. . . we all have more projects then we can possibly do for the next decade.)
  6. Not my stuff (toss in whoever's room it is, don't turn it into a game of you helping them get organized, TOSS it in their room. On the other hand, don't THROW it in their room aggressively, just toss it in their room. Having lots of opinions and thoughts about how others really should, could, oughta get organized takes energy from our very own beautiful lives. "Helping" others get organized is a seductive dark art - feels good in the moment, doesn't get you where you want to go.)
  7. Pitch (do you hear the angels sing?!)
  8. Recycle & Donate (beware this category and it's potential to stop you from moving - allow yourself to put some of this stuff in the Pitch category. You alone can't save the planet, but you can save the planet a lot more effectively if you aren't consumed with your stuff and what to do with it!)
  9. Debris - sometimes things defy a category, don't let it stop you! Put all the 'debris' in a category and see what bubbles up.
  10. Some Other Time, Thank You - stuff that you want to keep but realistically know you won't get to it until you start your new job, your kids go to school, everyone is done with college, you come back from that trip, you recover from seasonal allergies. Put this stuff away - don't use up good every day real estate for this category.

*Psychic Goo: The meaning, thought, energy you put into objects. "I spent $350 on this, I should keep it." "Favorite Aunt Beatrice gave this box to me, I hate the box, but I love Aunt Beatrice, I should keep it." "What kind of monster would throw out their Dad's Master's thesis from 1974? I should keep it, Dad was really smart, I need proof, right?" "I should fit into these pants, I'm going to save them and they will shame me into submission, right?!" "I might, one day, even though I never have, and I probably shouldn't wear these shoes." Psychic Goo gets in the way of you living your every day life with comfort and ease!