“You can’t have everything. Where would you put it?”
Steven Wright, comedian
I’m not an organizational guru by any means. My life has been a physical mess for years. Every space I have had, at work, at home, or in my car, has been a mess. Then about two weeks ago I heard T. Harv Eker say, “I won’t do business with anyone who has a messy car.” I needed to hear that. More accurately, I had heard it before, if not those exact words, and if not from T. Harv Eker, I had heard those sentiments, or similar thoughts, before. But I wasn’t ready.
Now I think I am.
I’m not sure why it’s now. It would have been more useful to get organized 20 or 30 years ago. My lack of organization has affected my work, my relationships, and my self-esteem. A friend once asked me, after looking inside my car, if I was homeless. Around the same time, my landlady, who never came into my rented room, saw it and left a terse note that I needed to clean it. My mother refused to visit after seeing my place once. On and on it went. Add this to all the lost hours trying to find something. Lost keys, missing paperwork, added to the general disarray of bedrooms, garages, kitchens and car – all of it was just a mess. It’s depressing to think about – if I still chose to live like that.
I’m choosing to live differently now.
I’m not saying there isn’t the possibility of reverting back to the way things were – but I don’t think that will happen. I’ve been organized before, but for the first time, I have a picture of what things can and should look like. This picture didn’t come from seeing someone else’s work. It came from within, popping into my head the day after I heard T. Harv Eker’s proclamation. It may not even have been what he said. I may never do business with him anyway. Maybe I was just ready. Maybe other things needed to come together first. Maybe the timing was finally right. I’m just glad it’s happening now.
A friend told me her best friend’s husband is a chronic hoarder and that in order to walk through the home, they have to walk around stacks of newspapers, old mail and trash. I tried to watch an episode of Hoarders on Youtube, but I couldn’t do it. It was overwhelming. I’m fortunate that I’ve never gotten to that level, but it’s still too close to home.
Here are some things that have helped me manage and maintain this change.
1. I do a little every day. Rather than try to do it all at once, which overwhelms, scares and depresses me, I work for a while and then stop. By “a while” I mean 20 – 90 minutes. It depends on how motivated I am.
2. I set a number. My magic number is usually 25. Whenever I go into the garage, I make it my goal to eliminate, donate, or store 25 things. Even the smallest item counts. If I find an old receipt or an expired coupon, they each count as one item. Of course, in this manner, I usually exceed 25 items. I usually do this two or three times a day.
3. I have a lot of boxes. Boxes are great because rather than sorting everything immediately, I just put things in the appropriate boxes. Later I can go through those boxes and eliminate things.
4. I’ve stopped believing “I might need that some day.” This belief, more than anything else, has caused me to hold onto things well past their usefulness. I can only think of two or three times in my life that I regretted throwing or giving something away. The rest of the time, I did fine without those items.
That’s it. As I said, I’m no expert or guru. I just know that my car has never looked better.