Monday, February 02, 2009

The Clutter Whisperer

I’ve got clutter and I must clean up!

It started when I got a virus on New Years Eve that lingered for three weeks. When I recovered, I was washed out and easily tired. There was no time to take care of the little things as I caught up with clients, did speaking engagements and checked on a sick mother. The mail went unsorted, dirty clothes piled up and the detritus of living went unattended. In other words, clutter happened. It happened in the way clutter usually happens. Some life event prevented me from performing usual routines that keep me organized.

While I was sick, the only thing that did not hurt was my eyeballs, so I watched television programs I seldom see. On one of them, I became acquainted with Cesar Milan, known as The Dog Whisperer. The psychology he uses to rehabilitate aggressive, scared, lazy, or compulsive dogs struck me as relevant to organizing. During one feverish period I even fancied myself as a “ clutter whisperer” taming piles of unruly items into organized spaces that stayed that way.

The reality is that much of the psychology Milan applies to rehabilitating dogs can be applied to getting organized. In fact, he says he rehabilitates dogs and trains people. That is a true statement for organizers. We rehabilitate spaces but educate and train clients in organizing techniques. There are some other parallels I found interesting. Milan advocates a three-step process of exercise, discipline and affection. My philosophy for organizing is get started, stay focused, and celebrate the successes. Sounds similar to me.

Milan also advocates setting rules, maintaining boundaries and recognizing limitations. All are important concepts in organizing, especially when organizing for groups like families or office staff.

The more I think about it, “clutter whisperer” is a good title. Although clutter is inanimate, it often takes on a life of its own. It causes us no end of trouble and we invest it with a whole host of emotions.

So try a little “Whisper” psychology and see if it tames your mess. Mine is almost back in order. One more day of focused discipline should do it. Then it will be time to celebrate with a little treat for myself. Maybe I will watch the Dog Whisperer.

Beverly & Kristen

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