Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What if I've never been organized ... can I really become organized?
Absolutely! Getting organized is a skill. Just as you can learn to play a musical instrument or a master a sport, anyone can learn to be organized, assuming they have:

  • desire to succeed, a.k.a. commitment;
  • willingness to learn a new set of skills; and
  • determination to practice.

Q: How long will it take me to become organized?:
This is hard to predict because each individual challenge is unique. However, I can assure you that if you read all the material prepared for you here, write out the answers to the exercises and put in the time that's needed, you will plant your feet firmly on the road to success.

Q: How do I know the changes I make will last?
I'm afraid I have to use the "C word" again: Your level of commitment will be reflected in your willingness to change and perform regular maintenance tasks. Take heart, however, because even the most chaotic environments take maintenance. You've just never looked at it from this perspective.

Some women, for example, walk into a house and immediately put their keys in the same place. They call this their "system." Other women steadfastly refuse to designate a set home for their keys. Several times a day a drama erupts as they search frantically for their keys. You would be amazed at how addicted people are to systems that sabotage their best efforts. Our goal is to replace all chaotic systems with ones that nurture us.

Q: What if I am too busy to get organized?:
If you don't have the time to make a physical commitment to bring order to your environment while this challenge is running, I would suggest you make time to at least do the journal work. You can schedule the physical tasks at a specific time in the future that works better for you. If, on the other hand, you never foresee having the time to get organized, you are allowing chaos to control your life. This Community Challenge® offers you the opportunity to change your relationship with your physical world at home and at work. There is no downside to living a more organized life.

Q: What exactly is a "Zen organized" environment?:
Originally I used this phrase to describe the difference between chaos and calm. I would look at a client's project and be overwhelmed by its appearance. Later, when we were done, the feeling of peace and calm was intoxicating and remarkably different. Here's how I describe it in my book, The Zen of Organizing:

"I recognize a 'Zen organized' environment the minute I enter one. It's the feel of the room, not just its appearance. Alone in an office that invites your best efforts, cooking in a kitchen that seems to hand you the tools you need, falling asleep in a restful bedroom, you will suddenly smile and say to yourself: 'Oh, this is what she was talking about.' "

Q: How is getting organized tied to spirituality?:
Living and working in clutter-free, peace-filled, orderly environments nurtures us and empowers us to find and fulfill our highest callings. If you have decided to get organized because someone (spouse, parent, teacher, boss, best friend etc.) in your life thinks you "should," you aren't likely to have lasting results. Fulfilling another person's agenda (or society's for that matter) will never make you happy. Cleaning out the clutter because it will enhance your ability to live a more balanced life will reap untold benefits.

Q: What if I have no interest in spiritual matters?:
An organized environment will automatically give you a wonderful feeling of control in your life. And this feeling of control over your environment will in turn make you a more powerful and effective human being. You can enjoy a "Zen organized" environment no matter what path you follow in life.

Q: What if I'm very organized ... what can I learn?:
You can always learn new, improved methods for organization. I read organizing books and articles all the time. It's wonderful to pick up tips from others. Sometimes it's refreshing to find a new way to organize something. It can rejuvenate your space ... and your mind!

Q: What is a professional organizer?:
We are consultants who restore order where there is chaos. Some organizers have very specific specialties, such as helping people with a move, creating office systems or organizing homes. Personally I enjoy all of it. If you can't hire me or one of my colleagues to work with you one on one, you may want to consider ordering my book The Zen of Organizing, which is the text for this course.

Q: What is your background?:
I became a professional organizer in 1988. My book was born when I realized that the organizing books I was reading bored me. In addition, my clients were unable to follow them. Concurrently, the spiritual books I was studying extolled the virtues of a chaos-free environment. Their authors were not organizers, however, and their work lacked the basic how-to instructions one needed to create such an environment. I decided to write a book that would bridge the gap between these worlds. I hope you'll find that The Zen of Organizing accomplishes this for you.

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