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Blog: Can We Have Some Order Here?
The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized: C Is For Customization

Have you ever had some well-meaning (and probably highly anal-retentive) person give you organizing advice -- suggesting that they've discovered the "right" way to do things, and assuring you that your clutter problems will disappear overnight if only you would use their system? Here's something you might not realize as you attempt to tame the chaos in your life -- there is no one "right" way to organize.

Finding What Works For You

Don't be led astray by the experts. There are literally hundreds of books and thousands of P.O.'s out there who all think they know the "right" way to get organized -- but what you have to understand is that those techniques are only right for some folks, and may be very, very wrong for others. There are as many ways to organize a space or a folder or a calendar as there are people on the planet. And the key to finding the solution that best suits you is customization. If you've tried and failed to get organized in the past, chances are you weren't guilty of doing anything "wrong" -- the only crime you committed was using a system that didn't mesh with your lifestyle constraints, long-term goals, or personality quirks. Most likely, you were attempting to fit your very square peg into someone else's round hole -- no wonder it didn't work!

I'm not telling you to ignore professional recommendations -- there is always at least one good lesson hidden in every filing system, space design book, hoarding show, or time management class (even all you learn is that a particular approach simply isn't right for you!) Information is never a bad thing -- just don't limit your options by taking those organizing solutions at face value. If you feel that you HAVE to implement each suggestion in some specific way or you're doing it WRONG, then you've set yourself up for failure -- in fact, that's the only way you can really be "wrong" when you're organizing! WinkSo hit the library, watch the home improvement programs, talk to those in the know and ask for their opinions -- when you find a concept or two that resonate with you, make them your own. Stick them in your pocket (the way you did as a child, when you picked up a pretty rock or leaf or feather) -- take those ideas home, play with them for a while, then decide whether or not they belong in your collection. Keep what works, adjust where necessary, and incorporate those techniques into your existing systems. Most importantly, let go of anything that doesn't make your daily life easier, even if it's a tip from an "expert." In the way that you might sort through a closet cleaning out the unnecessary clutter, do the same with all those organizing tidbits you've accumulated over the years. Not every idea is a good one for your situation -- the goal is to pick out the kernels of truth and let the chaff blow away.

I find it helpful to think of organizing like cooking. When you're first starting out, you're expected to follow tried-and-true recipes -- and for good reason. Those instructions teach you specific skills and techniques, giving you a strong knowledge base for all your future culinary adventures. But the chef who created those recipes might like things saltier or sweeter or more garlicky than you. She might be a fan of marjoram when you prefer basil. There's absolutely nothing wrong with making a substitution! As you discover which flavors you like and what sorts of dishes you enjoy, you can break free from these recipes -- experimenting with unusual combinations, changing the quantities and ingredients to suit your palate. The same is true in organizing. Principles like "storing like with like" or " keeping things nearest the point where you use them" give you the foundation you need to succeed -- but it's up to you to customize the actual solutions so they meet your specific needs. Don't be afraid to tweak and improvise and improve -- using a basket instead of a tub or a ring-binder in place of a folder is no different than swapping eggplant for zucchini in a recipe. Get creative! Combine several ideas from different sources to create your perfect filing system or day planner or kitchen cabinet -- a pinch of this, a dash of that. Who knows what kinds of masterpieces you might create? Over time, you may even become an "expert" yourself!

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posted on: 9/13/2012 11:30:00 AM by Ramona Creel
category: General Organizing Tips

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Can We Have Some Order Here?

by Ramona Creel

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About Ramona:

I have been a Professional Organizer for more than 10 years, I am a NAPO Golden Circle member, and I was the original founder of OnlineOrganizing. I have worked one-on-one with scores of clients and have trained dozens of newbie organizers as they got started in the industry. I provide both hands-on and virtual coaching to help clients improve their organizing skills and simplify their lives. I invite you to visit my website at http://www.RamonaCreel.com, and I challenge you to find one new idea that you can put into practice in your life, to help you become better organized, starting TODAY! I am passionate about coaching folks toward a more balanced, productive, and enjoyable life -- and I firmly believe that if I can do it, so can you!

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