By Caroline Bujold
So my awesome and caring husband David can’t get organized with his stuff, especially papers, even if his life depended on it. Until a few years ago he didn’t even use a datebook, planner or phone to organize commitments. And he suffers from what I call the ”Once I Syndrome” (once I finish this, then I can do that), so things can pile up for a while before he decides he can get to them.
THIS drives me nuts. …and he even admits it drives HIM nuts too.
It’s not even that he’s disorganized, per say. He has, it turns out, quite the analytical and creative mind (yes those can go together). The problem is there is WAY too much going on at the same time in his head, and he tends to take on WAY too many projects, jamming the calm and collected soul he can be. A little like hitting a few keys at once on an old typewriter.
Crazy thing, he can be so organized when it comes to restoring cars: labelling stuff, putting all the little nuts and bolts in bags, cleaning for hours.
When we started living together, I thought, no problem, I can help him get and stay organized. Best part, he doesn’t like the mess.
So we merged our lives, purged our stuff and got organized ever after. Well … kind of.
This organization process has been a long term project for many reasons. See, we were both starting a new job, on the same day (hello stress), I had just moved across country for this job and to be with David and the house was (is) still under renovations, and David had just moved his mom to a long term care facility and we had most of her possessions in our basement.
But back to living with Mr. Messy.
Mr. Messy puts stuff down instead of putting it away because there is no dedicated space for it. He can actually forget how exactly things go in the cupboard. This is fascinating to me, since it might be something he picks up every week in the same spot in the kitchen. David says he doesn’t have enough time to get organized (once I get this done, then I can do this other thing). He can, however, spend hours in the YouTube vortex learning how to fix the house or restore cars, which actually comes in handy. Mr. Messy might not be able to find items if they are put away. He has a bad case of out of sight out of mind. It’s been know to happen, once or twice, that Mr. Messy has had to buy a tool he already owns, but has misplaced.
But Mr. Messy is not messy at all when it comes to painting for example. Seriously he can paint without painters tape and without splashing a single drop on the floor. I, on the other hand, am somewhat of a messy painter. I need tape and by the end my paintbrush is full of paint to the aluminum rim. And THIS fascinates David.
Mr. Messy basically booked our whole trip the first time we went to Europe together. And that spells organized. When we travel anywhere, I rely on his geographically organized brain to find our way around. I’m not too bad, but if we relied on me alone, we would get lost way more often. He dreams of a clean, functional, organized garage and he’s working towards that lately.
Mr. Messy has different priorities and skills than I do and that’s a good thing too because together, we make a great team.
My point is, if you want to get organized and you want to get your family on board, you need to be open to their views, ideas and use their skills. It needs to work for them too; you can’t force your solution on someone else. Well you can try, but you might not get the results you’re hoping for.
So as long as you have people in your life that don’t do things exactly the way you would do them, you’re going to need a certain amount of flexibility and be willing to let go of some of your ways. THIS should be my mantra, I have a hard time letting go of having my way sometimes.
Tips to getting your family’s cooperation –
Explain why this is important to you. When we know how things affect positively and negatively the people that we love, we are generally more willing to accommodate them.
Ask questions like:
- What do you want to organize?
- Why do you want to organize this, what do you want it to look like at the end (what’s your vision)?
- How will this make your life easier?
Listen to their needs. For example:
- I want to organize XYZ because I can’t think in this mess;
- I want to organize my desk because it looks like hell and not very professional;
- I want to get organized, because I can never find my stuff when I need it and it makes me late.
Knowing the motivations behind a specific desired result makes it easier to get back on the wagon if you fall off.
Try different things until something works; don’t give up. You and your loved ones might have to experiment with different organizing tools or process to find the one thing that will work in the long run.