God Bless You, Julie Morgenstern

I’m reading through the book Organizing from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern, and it is taking me a looooonnnng time to get through it. Not because it is hard to read (it isn’t), but because it is so full of valuable information that I am eager to learn as I am working to develop my own methods of organization that work for me. I spent an entire lunch break the other day reading and mentally digesting two pages. As soon as I had synthesized the information, I knew I had to share it.

Julie asked two questions about the reader’s current organizational processes in those two pages:

1. What IS working?

2. What is NOT working?

I had to think it over to really know how to answer. I realized I already had some things I was doing effectively. (YAY!) For instance, I usually have my morning routine down pat. I know how to find folders at work with my most recent projects in them. I have my books in order on their shelves. I blog daily by just talking about what is going on in my life. I sort laundry and do loads on a regular basis.

On the other hand, I frequently lose my keys. I know where my food staples are kept, but I don’t know exactly what I have and frequently make duplicate purchases. I have a fear of organizing my personal papers because I don’t know how to categorize them. I don’t always put away my laundry immediately and then have to hunt for items to go with my outfits for work each day. I miss out on workouts because my bag isn’t packed and ready to go after I leave the office.

The idea is that making statements like “I can’t find my tennis shoes when I need them,” or “when company comes, I have to hide my stuff in the closet” makes you aware of the overall areas in which your organization needs improvement. It forces you to be concrete, think things through, and recognize how making changes to solve the problems can benefit your life. It takes a negative thought and changes it to a positive solution!

Julie calls this seeing “the complete picture.”

I had a lot of thinking to do about this. I make a habit of carrying a single composition book with me almost everywhere I go (it fits in my purses) and using it to take down any notes for myself as inspiration hits. (This is another thing that “works” for me!)

Some of my notes that stood out from the brainstorming session:

– I have a hard time finding keys, important documents, matching socks, and my workout gear. {Solution: create areas specifically to easily store and access these items.}

– I need a place to put my laundry in progress, and it would be nice to have a nightstand for my glass of water at night and my Bible to be ready to read in the morning. {Solutions: though it would be nicer to have the dining room nook area for home decor, necessity dictates I should probably use it as the laundry station and find some attractive containers for the stain removers and leave open space for folding. For my bedstand, hunt Craigslist and set aside money in advance to purchase if I find a good set for our bedroom.}

– I need to make room for my paperwork, preparing meals, and also eating on our dining room table more frequently. {Solutions: actually use my filing cabinet, and make it a point to refuse to use the dining room table as a catch-all.}

– I’m worn out from looking for things and panicking when I can’t find them when I need them. {Solution: have places for them all and put them back immediately after use.}

– I can’t relax or focus on my hobbies when I feel like I need to be working on my house and my organizing. {Solution: continue to make a concerted effort to get things to a maintenance level and then also make a point to relax and enjoy those hobbies!}

I knew many of these things already, but reading the questions in the book helped me clarify a lot of it. I’d encourage you to take a personal inventory, as well. It is amazing what you can solve when you just ask the right questions.

So, thanks, Ms. Morgenstern, for asking me those questions. They have helped me learn and grow!

{Image: Barnes & Nobles}


Filed under Books, Ponderings

2 responses to “God Bless You, Julie Morgenstern

  1. Gen

    I know Ms. Morgenstern is awesome; I clipped out an article about her from O magazine several years ago. Now I’ll look for her book! I’ve found that I can find a home for an item (scissors, tape measure, address book, etc.) by asking myself, “where do I want to find it?” and then making it live there.

  2. I love it! “Where do I want to find it?” is a brilliant idea.

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