DUMP THE CLUTTER: Change your self-talk and get organized

I was sitting in the home of a new client. We began a discussion about her life, what she hoped to accomplish while working together, and her goals for the future.

During our conversation she said, “I need to let you know. I can’t make decisions quickly. Plus, I have to see everything that leaves the house.”

Like so many of my clients, she started giving me her rules. She has played these guidelines over and over in her head.

This client has struggled with disorganization for years. It affected her life negatively in many areas. Take a second to reread the two rules she gave me. Can you see how she slows the organizing process down before she even gets started?

So I shared a new way of thinking with her: “The beauty of going to bed at night is you get the chance to wake up and choose to act and think differently than you have in the past. For example, you can wake up and choose to focus on the positive, instead of the negative aspects of your life.”

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I explained that the beauty for her today is she can think positively by saying, “Today, I can make quick decisions.” With a little hesitation she repeated, “Today, I can make quick decisions.”

Earlier, during the interview, she pointed to an old piano sitting nearby. She told me she had forgotten how to play it, and how it was in her way all the time since moving to a smaller home. We also discussed what she wanted to do once her home was organized. She never mentioned playing the piano.

So I said, “Now that you can make quick decisions, what do you want to do with the piano?” With a smile on her face and to her surprise she said, “We can get rid of that.” That fast, she started her organizing journey towards making quick decisions.

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Next, we had to address her second belief — which was, “I have to see everything that leaves the house.” This was an important one to change. In addition to me working with her that day, two of her adult children were there to help. We couldn’t work efficiently if we all had to wait for her decision on every item.

We went about setting up as many guidelines as we could. For example, we were allowed to get rid of any magazines older than six months, plastic garden pots and outdoor sports equipment without asking her.

Her new rule became, “There are some things that can go without me seeing them.”

The only thing that changed from the day before was her self-talk. What you say to yourself can keep you in the same old rut or allow you to make changes to improve your situation.

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When she changed her self-talk, magically her car was now in the garage after sitting outside for years. She had her craft supplies together and ready to set up a craft room. We created a sitting area in her basement for her grandchildren to enjoy while visiting.

Pay attention to your self-talk. What you’re saying could be sabotaging your efforts to get organized. Change up a few words and you can reap the rewards of having an organized home.


Lori Firsdon will teach her seminar “Workplace Rescue: The Organized Office” on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 11:30 am-1:30 pm at Dayton Public Library-Downtown Branch, 215 E 3rd St, Dayton, OH 45402. Call the library at (937) 463-2665 for details.

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