How NOT to get stabbed by an avalanche of DVDs

For much of my life, until recently, I was classified as a “seesaw organizer.”

What exactly is a “seesaw organizer?” Let me describe one for you.

In the past, the spaces in my house – or dorm room or apartment or cabin or wherever I was in life at the moment – would typically fall into one of two categories: meticulous model home or hazardous waste zone.

I still don’t completely understand why I default to one of these two polar opposite housekeeping conditions. Perhaps it’s because I’m an all-or-nothing person. My mind works something like this: “The kitchen floor is really dirty. I’ll clean out the silverware drawer and organize the plastic cereal containers first to kick things off …” “The living room needs dusted. I’ll iron the curtains and redecorate the walls while I’m at it …”

Maybe I’m a perfectionist. Maybe I’m a procrastinator. Maybe I just like to see a really dramatic before and after. Whatever the reason, letting things get really bad and then spending hours – OK, days – making rooms perfect again became a recipe for housekeeping failure.

Eventually, the piles stacked higher and the inspiration and motivation to whip them into shape diminished due to growing life obligations. Don’t get me wrong; I still desperately longed to have spaces worthy of the pages of “Better Homes and Gardens” magazine. When my home was clean and organized, I felt immense joy and peace. When it looked like a war zone, I felt stressed out and anxious.

I would share my plight with friends and listen as they tried to cheer me with statements like, “You have young kids right now. You’ll just have to let some things go.” And while I understood the wisdom and practicality of their advice, I still felt in my heart there were some areas I didn’t want to let go. I had a passion for a beautifully organized home that I didn’t want to bury for a decade while my kids and harried lifestyle took over my schedule.

I needed to start by getting a lot smarter about my time and resources. The pinnacle moment when I knew I was ready to dig in and get organized for real came after one particularly disturbing organization frenzy.

I was in the middle of a seesaw upward, determined to get the closet in our office/guest room dunged out – at least to the point where I could make an educated guess as to what might be in it.

Messy-closet-with-caution-tape(The closet that nearly killed me)

As I was wading (yes, this is an accurate description) through stuff on the floor, I bumped into the top closet shelf, triggering an avalanche of DVDs. Unfortunately, I looked up just in time to get smacked in the face by one of the falling DVDs. Since none of them were in their cases, the raw edge cut my face under my eye. As I sat there clutching my injured cheek, buried in the rubble, emotion overwhelmed me. How did I let things get this bad?

After that meltdown, I vowed to get off the seesaw and find some simple, foundational methods of organizing my life that worked for me permanently. The five solutions I found changed me forever! So I wrote about them in an e-book called, “Organized for Real: How to Conquer Life’s Top 5 Chaos Hotspots.”


This e-book will be made available to all of you very, very soon (hint: this summer) and I am super excited about it!

Although I may not have a home that looks like it belongs in a magazine every day, I now feel at peace with the spaces I live in and I’m reaping the rewards of an organized life. Plus, I can find stuff and enjoy a home where rooms are kept reasonably clean and clutter-free on a regular basis.

More importantly, the junk and chaos are no longer hindrances to bigger and more meaningful goals in my life.

The steps I explain in “Organized for Real” are simple and totally worth the effort, although they are not necessarily easy. But if the potential of injuring yourself by the clutter in your home is a real fear for you, perhaps it is finally time for you to get off the seesaw, too.

Keep an eye out for this must read, coming soon from a self-proclaimed recovering “messie.”

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7 Responses

  1. Robin Kramer says:

    I relate with the all-or-nothing mentality. I, too, have thought that it’s perfectly logical to clean out the silverware drawer because the kitchen floor was dirty.

    Congrats on the upcoming book! Wonderful stuff!

  2. Sherrie says:

    I have been asked if I could change the way I clean. Before you laugh I have a very sucessful cleaning business. I don’t clean their houses, or businesses the way I clean my house. I tear everything in the room up. Then clean every single thing. If company is coming…I tear down curtains, clean windows, every single thing in that rooms. But it is overwhelming to do it to every single room in the house. I was told I am OCD. Right now I am working with a professional to overcome it. I am much better. The garage is my one place that is crazy. Funny how that works!

    • Susan says:

      I can totally relate, Sherrie. I’ve been taking baby steps to resist that urge to over-clean. I have to because I literally can’t get it all done! It is not unusual for me to spend 4 hours a day cleaning my house. The problem with that is I’m not getting other more important things done. Admitting I have a problem is the first step to recovery, right? 😉

      • Sherrie says:

        I do laugh at this but I think your post hit a nerve and gave me some understanding today. I have been in counseling over this. Yes people laugh at our need to be clean. I am the only one in my family this way, the rest are pretty messy. But it is something that is never ending, it has stopped me from doing things because I clean instead. Your post made me realize the hours I out in. I also paint furniture but I have almost stopped, I have stopped meeting friends out, taking classes, doing other things. It is amazing how my need to clean stops me from doing anything else. Thank You! Today I had a eye opener which I needed. Tomorrow I am getting up to work out which I have also stopped. Thank You!

  3. Peggy says:

    Congratulations on your book! I need the help! I was not taught how to clean and I do not have the organizing gene either. I am an all or nothing girl too. I have tried to do better over the years only because my precious husband is a neatnick to the core and I know I make him a little crazy. 🙂
    It would be so nice to be able to maintain! Looking forward to the read.

  4. Chatty says:

    I can hardly wait for your book to come out! I have progressive MS and just moved back to So. California with my Caregiver.

    When he moved our things back Everything that hasn’t been unpacked went into the guest closet. So when I read your blog I totally got what you were saying. I had to laugh at myself to know someone knows that feeliung. I will be applying your techniques so my brain fog and anxiety will calm down (Along with my Caregiver).
    Congrats on your book.

    • Susan says:

      Thanks so much for the feedback. My mom has been battling MS for the past decade. She and my dad also went through a big move and she’s still wondering where everything got stashed, lol. We could all use a little help getting motivated to dig through it all, including myself! 🙂

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