It’s Hard to Make a Difference When You Can’t Find Your Keys by Marilyn Paul

It’s Hard to Make a Difference When You Can’t Find Your Keys: The Seven-Step Path to Becoming Truly Organized brought me to tears more than once. This lyrical, cheerful, gentle, compassionate, sensible look at the consequences of disorganization and methods for re-framing negative mental habits that often reinforce disorganization is compelling. I’m usually organized, and yes, I’m one of the Pros who always has been, but when I’m not organized it is often a direct symptom of some stressor in my life.

My cat SnickersOr my cat got on my keyboard again. Snickers’ record for disruptions is four: turning my laptop to airplane mode, turning off and hiding my volume icon, shifting my monitor view from landscape to portrait, and wrecking my mouse’s functionality all in one sitting.

Alex's string art

My son’s string art, created when he was five. Completely representative of my mindset sometimes.

I’ve read more than 50 books on organizing, as particular as Easy Closets (Joseph R. Provey) and as free-ranging as Throw Out Fifty Things (Gail Blanke). Ms. Paul’s work is the first which helped me start approaching my destructive for-me mindset: stress = an excuse to let my structures slip. I’m emphasizing for-me because for many many someone elses, stress is not always or ever an excuse – we are all different. Stress can truly overwhelm people. But Ms. Paul’s techniques might even then provide some relief.

Ms. Paul understands living haphazardly because she “had to tackle her desk as if it were Mount Everest. I made thirty or forty attempts. I know this sounds exaggerated, but I had to get my figurative hiking boots, pack, and ice ax, and go after my desk with determination. The ‘mountain’ defeated me many times, but eventually I did conquer it. (I have a little flag waving at the top.)” page 11, last paragraph 2003 edition. Many of the BEST Pros are self-taught, now-organized “messies,” and I’ll go even farther and declare that any Organizer who claims s/he is always organized is probably fibbing.

I’m tempted to quote dozens of bits and pieces from this marvelous book. I’ll simply suggest that you read it.

About Lauren Williams

Lauren Williams, Certified Professional Organizer®, Certified Virtual Professional Organizer®