Organize for Peace, Purpose, and Priorities
Remember 9/11/2001? Before that infamous day, I used to spend a lot of time explaining to people what it is that I do as a certified professional organizer. I would get questions like, what group do I organize, or am I part of some labor union? Needless to say, I do a lot less explaining. Right after 9/11 a deluge of media began to take notice of this amazing industry. Our society decided that since we could no longer control outside forces, we could at least find comfort in our own environments, our homes. TV shows like “Clean Sweep” and “Mission Organization” began educating the public that the world needs professional organizers. Pick up any women’s magazine, and on the front cover "Get Organized" is sure to attract attention.
Getting organized is multifaceted. Our society understands the need for productivity and goal-oriented tasks to help reach a higher level of productivity and efficiency. With multitasking mania and time tyranny, we are no better off today than we were in 2001 when it comes to obtaining that higher level of organized bliss.
Here’s a story about Heinrich to illustrate this point:
Heinrich, a 30 year-old single descendent of Austrian immigrants, was raised in the predominantly German community of New Braunsfels, Texas by his parents Helmut and Eva. Heinrich attended the University of Texas for two years, before dropping out to pursue his dream of establishing an Austrian bakery in New York City. He spent three years in Vienna training with the strudel-master Joachim, before returning to America and settling in Coram, New York, where he was employed by the local bakery.
For generations, Heinrich’s family were quintessential clippers, saving newspaper clippings of every newsworthy event, from the end of World War II, to man’s first landing on the moon, to more recently the events surrounding 9/11. In addition to news-clippings, Heinrich’s mother instilled in him the habit of collecting supermarket coupons, magazine rebate promotions, movie reviews, and baking recipes. When his father Helmut died, his mother Eva joined him in Coram, where they shared his two-bedroom apartment. Eva's relentless clipping, combined with Heinrich's fear of upsetting his mother, which was ingrained in him since his early youth,, led to a situation where his kitchen had become completely un-manageable. Shortly after his mother’s death, a mutual friend introduced me to Heinrich, and, as a professional organizer, I immediately saw the challenge before me.
As a result of the clipping habit, which he felt compelled to continue, Heinrich had lost all of the space in his kitchen to bake. Clippings were everywhere, on the counter, in the drawers, even in the baking bowls and in the pot rack under the oven. He no longer found pleasure in clipping or in sending these clippings to other family members. His habit overwhelmed everything and he lost balance in his life.
Getting him organized so that he had the proper space and equipment to enable him to bake and clip harmoniously was quite a daunting task. Setting up a new filing system in an out of the way corner of the kitchen was essential. Along side the filing cabinet, we installed a tools center that included supplies (scissors, stamps envelopes, pens etc), which would enable Heinrich to clip and address for mailing immediately the clippings. These strategies for organizing these new spaces had a dramatic effect. These efforts, combined with his mother’s passing, allowed Heinrich to start fresh. Heinrich realized that his mother had kept the family connected by her clipping hobby, to the now widespread families living in Austria, Germany, Texas and NY. The positive aspects of keeping the family connected had driven Heinrich to continue the hobby, resulting in his inability to focus on achieving his baking dreams.
With his mother’s passing, and the realization that he could remain connected as effectively with the rest of the family via cell phones and email, combined with the more effective space in his newly organized kitchen, Heinrich returned to his love of baking. Now that the space allowed him to breath, once again he felt inspired to invent recipes, and to begin a serious path toward his dream of owning a bakery, which he finally opened in 2004.
Our world only now understands the deeper values of organization – RELATIONSHIPS! An organized environment creates a greater sense of peace, and in turn, that fosters greater intimacy with those within our homes, and those to whom we come in contact. An organized space will create a greater appreciation of daily peace, purpose, and priorities, and to me that is a priceless payoff.