How do you become pretty neat?

Authors Alicia Rockmore and Sarah Welch advise all of us to give up org porn in their book Pretty Neat.

As we discussed in our last blog post, they stress that it’s impossible for real people to live in what they call org porn—a fantasy world of “color-coordinated closets and pristine kitchens.”  They conclude that there is no way to achieve that kind of perfection “unless you have enough time to make organization a full-time job.”

What if you’d like to be just a little bit more organized? What if you’d like to be “pretty neat”? What’s the solution?

Make a conscious decision to be imperfect. Rockmore and Welch say that you have to make “a conscious decision to let go of the notion that everything must pass inspection by the organizational police, and instead permit yourself to keep the gears of your life turning in your own unique way.” The result probably will involve “shortcuts and a little messiness.”

Find a balance that works for you. You need to be able to find all the papers you need to file your income tax, of course. Think about where you want to reside on the continuum between hoarder and org porn.

Think about why you have all that clutter. Marketing plays a role. According to these authors, there’s a “toy tsunami.” The average American spends about $470 per child on toys, games, hobbies, tricycles and battery-powered riders each year.

Also, we often cling to clutter because of emotional reasons. You may associate something with a happy memory or a person you love, or you may associate stuff with status.

Ask yourself if less clutter would make you less stressful and a little more serene.

Three real-life examples

The authors of Pretty Neat offer a number of real-life examples of women who have decided to be imperfect. Here’s three:

First, Amy Hill used to compare herself to her friend until she realized that her friend’s House Beautiful home was perfect in only three rooms. All the toys, junk and clothes were hidden behind closed doors in the back of the house.

Second, Marie Adele Dennis doesn’t let her three teenagers’ messy rooms upset her. She just keeps the doors to their rooms closed.

Third, Michelle Bauman sets aside 20 minutes of family cleanup time once a week. “We crank up the music and make it fun,” she says.

Three practical hints

These authors also offer many practical hints. Here’s three:

First, use the “review” technique. If you can’t bear to get rid of a suit you’ve haven’t worn in months or a pan you never use for cooking, put it in a temporary holding bin. If you haven’t missed the item in a specified period of time, toss it or donate it to a nonprofit agency.

Second, establish a daily, weekly or monthly routine for clearing clutter from your office. Do one or two things to organize your office on a regular basis.

Third, delegate. If delegating is difficult for you, remember that it is a skill that can be acquired and mastered. “Consider the impact not delegating has on the people you love,” Rockmore and Welch emphasize.


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