February 2, 2011

Tip of the day—What I learned from a professional organizer

Betsy Peterson of Space and Time was the speaker for the senior adult group yesterday at our church.  Betsy has helped some of the clients with whom I work, and I can attest to what a blessing she has been for them!  If you are in the Knoxville area and are in need of an organizer, I highly recommend her.  Below are a few of the things that I learned from her talk. 

Betsy says that we use 20% of what we own 80% of the time.  What an eye opener!  I was reading an article in Mother Earth News the other night about the Japanese decorating term Wabi-Sabi (hope I’m spelling that right).  The basic idea is that the things that you keep in  your home should be useful, purposeful tools that have beauty to them.  As I write this, I look at the home office desk, and there isn’t anything Wabi-Sabi about the piles of papers, receipts strewn about, and “stuff” that I should have put up a while ago.  The only things that I really like about this desk are Wabi-Sabi—the black rotary phone that my sweet husband bought me one year for my birthday and the ancient metal desk that my husband salvaged from who knows where.  Both are old, both have purpose, both make me happy when I look at them.  The rest of the stuff that I’m looking at makes me anxious and fretful.  I get a case of the “shoulda, coulda, woulda”s and become frustrated with myself because I should have put those things up by now, I could have done it if I had a better filing system, and I would have done it if I didn’t have a million other balls up in the air. 

This is a good time to segue into what I learned next from Betsy.  Guilt and stuff—sometimes they go hand-in-hand.  Either we have guilt about not doing a better job of putting away and organizing our things, or we have guilt that keeps us from releasing some of our belongings.  She told a story of a person she knew who wouldn't give up a tray that a relative had given her 20  years ago.  She said that she couldn’t give it away because whenever that relative came, he would be wondering why it wasn’t out.  Betsy convinced her to call the relative and ask if he would be offended if she passed it on to someone else.  He had no idea what tray she was talking about and said of course she could give it away.  Betsy reminded us of what it feels like to be the giver of a gift.  We don’t want others to feel beholden to us.  We don’t want them to feel burdened by a gift.  So, why do we put that burden on ourselves? 

Betsy said that organizing is “about you making choices, decisions, and changes that will enable you to maintain a quality of life you desire.”  How liberating that is!  As a way to get started, she recommended the ten minute trick.  Set the timer for ten minutes and get to work on one small part of a room.  Focus on an area in which you’ll see some instant gratification.  By focusing on the small area and setting a time limit, you are less likely to become overwhelmed.  I tried this when we came home from our day, and it worked great! 

I’m feeling so motivated, I just might tackle this desk now!  For more of Betsy’s great tips, check out the tip page on her website.

1 comment:

  1. I like it! I'm going to try it! Thanks Gabrielle!