Halfway to organizational nirvana

  • Mon Sep 20th, 2010 4:01pm
  • Life

By Sarri Gilman

I believe one of most underrated, unrecognized, most valuable skills is the ability to organize.

I’m not thinking about just closets and sock drawers. I’m referring to organizing skills with a big O, organizing as it applies to every thing you can imagine.

Not everyone comes by organizing naturally. Some people definitely have more of a knack for it than others.

After lots of disorganized living, I am certain that those of us without that inborn quality need to be trained just so we can manage our demanding, not simple, lives.

Sure, I have wondered if I should “simplify” my life — as if that would somehow help me reduce the piles and then, magically, I would be more organized because I have less.

I’ve been simplifying and reducing clutter, but I have realized that if I keep simplifying and reducing, I’ll never get finished with simplifying before the end of a normal life span. In other words, I may never reach organized nirvana by simplifying alone. I still need to learn how to organize.

I really am only a second-grader in terms of organizing skills. I know this because if you give me something to alphabetize like books or my CDs or a guest list for an event, I promise there will be errors. Imagine trying to manage an entire adult world and professional career with second-grade organizing skills.

It’s often embarrassing. Now, I can blame lots of errors on my Droid phone: All those letters on a tiny keypad — ridiculous. Errors are to be expected.

But I can’t blame all organizing deficits on my Droid, so for all other things, my blanket excuse has been, “I’m not a detail person.”

Could I be more obnoxious?

I sound like I’m too busy thinking big thoughts to be bothered cleaning up the mess I make as I go along.

I’m making a commitment to stop insulting all of the hard-working, organized people.

I wish I had more organizing skills. I wish this was sorted out when I was a kid and someone put me in remedial organizing class. I don’t remember anyone teaching me how to organize anything. It was always assumed I could or I would.

I’m just a half-organized person. I’m very organized with my laundry, but not with paper. I’m organized about the phone, but not the mail. I’m very structured as a therapist, but not so organized as a mom.

There are no homemade cookies marching out of my oven. Good thing clients don’t expect cookies. My kids were raised to understand that cookies weren’t good for you anyway. Really, I have a whole lot of ways to excuse myself.

I’m coming out and just being honest: Those necessary and essential organizing skills do not come naturally or easily. At nearly 50 years old, I’m beginning to learn the basics of organizing everything.

I will not master this any time soon. I’m more of a work in progress and focus on letting other, more organized people show me the way. I’m on the path to organizational nirvana.

Sarri Gilman is a freelance writer living on Whidbey Island and director of Leadership Snohomish County. Her column on living with purpose runs every other Tuesday in The Herald. You can e-mail her at features@heraldnet.com.