STYLE Savvy: Tackling Your Organizational Achilles' Heel


Last week, I shared my organizational Achilles’ heel — my car. As often happens, I shamed myself into taking action simply by writing the post. When I decided to take a few minutes just to “tidy up,” I was amazed at how little time it actually took to make a noticeable difference. Writing about the problem served to get me thinking about what I wanted to do and, from there, it was only a few baby steps to taking action.

Sometimes, getting started is the hardest part. Whether we’re motivated by embarrassment, spring cleaning, or company coming doesn’t matter nearly as much as the fact that we’re motivated in the first place. Once we’re motivated, it’s a lot easier to make things happen.

Ready to tackle your organizational Achilles’ heel? Here are three keys to making it happen.

Make time. Nothing frees up time on the calendar than a desire to make something happen! Even taking five minutes to assess the situation may reveal little things that can be done in ten minutes or less to get the project rolling. For me, it was simply cleaning up accumulated papers and items that didn’t belong in the car. Most (straw wrappers from Starbucks runs, outdated flyers) could be disposed of easily, which immediately improved the space and gave me a sense of accomplishment. Getting started makes it easier to make a plan to finish the job, whether it’s blocking out time or attacking the space ten minutes at a time.

Rethink the purpose of the space. There’s nothing like reminding myself that the primary purpose of a car is NOT to store stuff to make me think about what belongs in the car (or, more accurately, what doesn’t). Sometimes we fall into the habit of doing something (or storing something) without thinking about why we do it (or store it) that way. While it’s okay to designate my car as a home for some things, they shouldn’t take up prime real estate like the floor in the back seat or, worse yet, space on the seats themselves — because that interferes with using the car for its intended purpose.

Consider your resources. I have organizers hanging from each of the seats, but they were sitting empty while my stuff was piled on the back seat. Yes, I know how ridiculous that is, but since I’m the only one who drives my car and I rarely have passengers, I didn’t really think about it until I determined to get to the root of the problem. Whether it’s a pile of frequently used items on the back seat, an accumulation of papers on the dining room table, or a gathering of accessories on the dresser, the first step to restoring order is asking whether or not those things should be there in the first place. If not, where should they be? Often, we don’t have to look very far to find the answer to that question.

Although my car is much improved, it’s far from perfect, and, if I’m honest, that will remain the case. Many of our organizational Achilles’ heels have gained this dubious distinction because they’re low on our priority list, and that’s okay. Life is all about priorities and making low-priority spaces merely presentable might very well be all we want to do.

After all, there’s more to life than organizing.

Copyright 2018 Lisa Hess


About Author

Lisa Lawmaster Hess has contributed articles to local, national and online publications, and blogs at The Porch Swing Chronicles, The Susquehanna Writers and here at She is the author of two non-fiction books (Acting Assertively and Diverse Divorce) and two novels, Casting the First Stone and Chasing a Second Chance. A retired elementary school counselor, Lisa is a lecturer in psychology at York College and enjoys singing with the contemporary choir at her church.

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