My Mother’s Voice

As an adult, I still hear my mother’s voice when I am trying to clean up a space and see that I still tend to make piles. “Helen, do something about all those piles!” Can you relate? It’s funny how we tend to keep old habits, no matter how old we get.

Me in my youth!

I have generally always been a neat person and like everything to be in its proper place. It is how I give myself a false sense of control over my pretty hectic and unpredictable corner of the world. When I don’t have time to put everything where it belongs, I resort to making piles. Most of my piles are of the paper sort, which just so happens to be the most tedious and time consuming when it comes to the organizing world. The piles tend to grow in height; which only increases my anxiety about dealing with them. This anxiety causes me to feel overwhelmed and then, as a result, I avoid tackling it.

I share this for two reasons. One, we all struggle with staying organized, even as a professional organizer it’s difficult. You know the proverbial wisdom of how it is easier to recognize another person’s problem, than it is for us to see our own? The same is true of getting and staying organized. Second, it is very common for our disorganization to spiral and grow. Once a problem area starts piling up, it often annoys us to the point where we choose to do something more enjoyable with our time. Later, when you add to the pile you again, you see how much it has grown and feel overwhelmed and annoyed by your disorganization. Thus, you end up avoiding and delaying it again, and as a result; you end up like me, with the leaning Tower of Pisa beautifully represented by your pile of papers.

paper pile

Does this look familiar? This is not an an actual pile of my papers, but I am sure I created a tower this size in high school and college.

Don’t let your clutter get out of hand and spiral out of control! My remedy to the piles is to honor my mother’s voice and make a daily and weekly habit of going through and doing something specific with each piece of paper. Most of the time, I can prevent these piles by following through with my established organization system for paper. I call it my “command center,” and it’s a system I’ve set up to go through the mail everyday and file everything away or put it in the trash.

A “Command Center”

Here is an example of a command center. This blog has a detailed plan for how to create one:

Therefore, don’t distress! No one is perfect, not even the professional organizers (me)!


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