Screen Shot 2013-07-25 at 6.36.00 AMIt’s time to declutter. Decluttering is an art. It’s not the same as cleaning or arranging. It’s getting rid of the piles of crap that stifle your life. Sometimes it’s hard to get rid of the crap. We’re busy and we need to let go of things so we can have room for freedom and new experiences.

Truth is, I’m a disaster. Years back, I discovered a website that gives people fifteen minute tasks to organize their lives ( It’s sort of fun and addictive, because it gives numbers of things to toss, small areas to clean, and little goals. I’m self-competitive, which means if there’s a goal out there, I usually want to beat it by one or two, so the little games became a bit of a healthy addiction. The site talks about “CHAOS–Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome.” and is mostly dedicated to “Sidetracked Home Executives.” I’m not a home executive…I work, and I’m not really sidetracked. I’m off the tracks. I blew up the tracks. Sometimes the pile in the corner just doesn’t seem as critical as lesson planning, writing, or, well, eating, so I let it get out of hand. You have to be careful with clutter… if you don’t get rid of every last piece, it multiplies. It’s like mice or cockroaches…if you see one, you have a million. Clutter breeds.

And so, it’s time to declutter again. The little piles have taken over their respective areas.  I think it’s fair to say that after six months to a year, I’m not going to finish that book on my nightstand or that half-done project on my dresser. I’ve lost interest and moved on, but the piles have not.

I’m certain beyond a reasonable doubt that I will not need the freshly pressed 90’s track suit that matches the sneakers I only wear when I’m mocking students. When I don a dress people ask me if I have a wedding or a job interview–they don’t need to take up real estate in my closet. I really use a few things on a regular basis.  If I had to pick seven or eight things to keep in the case of home confinement, I could do it.

What I can’t do–sort through a pile that is threatening to take over the corner of a room.

So, I created a Learnist board to embarrass myself and show off my show off my clutter corners to the world. In a day or so, there’ll be a victorious “after” photo to show off, too, showing those corners shiny and new. If I get distracted, this could take a week, but with an audience holding its breath waiting to see the surface of the corner bookshelf, there is a much greater chance of victory.  I’ll do it for the paparazzi.

But there will always be critics.

“Don’t you have to be successfully organized to give organizational advice,” emailed my friend.

“No.” I replied. Who’s really organized besides Martha Stewart and God anyway? The rest of us are inferior by design. No one wants to feel like a lesser human being. That is precisely why you need a disaster like me telling you how to organize. If you fail, you can say, “At least I’m not like her.” You might even look at my chin-up on the bar of organization and be inspired. “If she can organize, I know I can be successful.”

We’re all on this journey together. I set up a low bar and a low-risk environment for the world.

Organizing is no different from anything else at which I suck. I’m a terrible athlete. In order to improve, I had to study and practice.  I shot a million shots, I came hours early, and worked on the fundamentals. Most of all I tried to avoid falling on my face in public. I was so bad in high school basketball I had a fan club. “We just come watch you because you’re funnier than The Cosby Show.” In my day, that was about as funny as it got. LouisCK wasn’t even around yet. He was home watching The Cosby Show.

Organizing is no different. It’s a struggle to practice and learn. Our ineptitude frustrates those good organizers who live with us. It falls under the “Don’t you have any common sense?”

So, to answer my critic, who I’ll call “Jen,” I do not have to be organized to teach about organization. It’s actually better that I’m not. It makes everyone feel they can do it, too. If I can help the nation to simplify by embarrassing myself on a Learnist board then redeeming myself later, so be it. If not, I’ll add some photos of the mountains of papers escaping the corner and swallowing up my town. Lets hope it doesn’t get to that.


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