Organizing is like dieting: you have to get the junk out of the trunk; then, you have to keep it out. Really though, before you even get to that point, you have to know your weaknesses. Once you know your weaknesses, you can work around them to organize your life and bring balance to your home. Compare organizing to dieting to see where you fit in. Are you an emergency-only organizer, a resolution-maker, a natural, hopefully deluded, or a freak?

An emergency-only dieter starts to diet and exercise when the doctor says, “your life is on the line.” An emergency-only organizer de-junks when her mother-in-law calls to say, “I’m coming to stay for a week.”

You can succeed as and emergency-only organizer if, when the emergency strikes, you call in the troops and make a good plan. Sit down and write out what must be done to get the house mother-in-law-ready and then delegate. If it’s a serious emergency, call in a professional organizer. This is no time to be embarrassed; your mother-in-law is coming for pete’s sake! Go room by room and be ruthless in your elimination process. When you come across something you’re emotionally attached to put it in a labeled box and store it. Whatever you do, don’t open that labeled box again. You’ll be much more able to make an unemotional decision about what to do with it later.

A resolution-maker dieter goes to the gym regularly - for a week in January, a couple of times in April and then again maybe for a week in June. Resolution-maker organizers love to buy organizing supplies - especially when they are on sale (and whether or not she can use them), and then organizes in streaks, either when the mood strikes or when she’s feeling guilty.

If you are a resolution-maker, you need to let yourself off the hook and set and accomplish small goals consistently. Don’t try to organize your whole home at once. Don’t even try to organize a whole room at once. Tackle one task at a time. For example, make a realistic goal to organize your kitchen - maybe it will take a month, maybe two. Then, set weekly goals, one or two cupboards a week or one or two pantry shelves at a time. Do something towards that goal every week and reward yourself so you can stay motivated.

A natural dieter is someone who just stays thin regardless of what they eat and do. A natural organizer’s home and life are magically in order. The truth is a natural dieter has a killer metabolism doing all the work for her and the natural organizer doesn’t exist. You’ve decided your neighbor is a natural organizer so you can compare yourself to her but the fact is, if it actually is effortless for her, someone else is doing the organizing when you are not watching.

Give up on the idea that this is going to be easy and that if you could just be like so-and-so, organizing would be a breeze. It’s hard work. Give yourself and your organized neighbor some credit.

Hopefully Deluded
The hopefully deluded dieter just does the best she can, without a real plan and hopes her metabolism will help out. She’s deluded because when she turns 30, her bad habits are going to catch up with her. The hopefully deluded organizer doesn’t realize how her lack of planning is eventually going to lead to disaster.

Things are piling up. Pretty soon, the paper is going to take over and you will be stunned because you never saw it coming. The good news is; it’s not an emergency yet. But if you don’t get a handle on it now, it will be. Look around. Where you see a mess, make a system to deal with it. If the mail is piling up in the same place every day, put a sorter in place of the mess. Notice your trouble areas and be creative about solutions. You’ll be in good shape in no time.

The freak dieter is one whose life is consumed with eating right and exercising. Freak dieters are personal trainers or body-builders. The freak organizer drives her family crazy with a new system every week and actually giggles when she sees a new junk-drawer organizer at the store.

It is okay to love organizing but it’s not okay to drive your family crazy. Branch out and offer to help your emergency-only neighbor and quit moving your husband’s ties for cryin’ out loud.

No matter what kind or organizer you are, the number one way to keep junk from taking over your life is not to allow the junk into your life in the first place! Before you make any purchase, ask yourself, do I really want to dust that? Do I really want to move that? Do I really want to repair that when it breaks? If the answer is no, leave the item at the store and go visit it whenever you’d like but DON’T buy it! Make a commitment to love the things you buy. Reevaluate that commitment as time goes by - do I still want to dust that? Do I still love that? When the answer becomes no, give the item a new home. It will be happier and so will you.