No, I don’t have a baby on the way (or adopting a new pet, which is the more likely option), but I’ve been thinking about what it’s like to organize for people in the same household who have completely different ideas of what ‘organized’ means. Recently, I have had several people ask me how to get their husband or wife or kids to be as organized as them. And, I have actually encountered this same issue in my own life. My boyfriend has been spending more and more time at my place and while I love having him here, I can’t help but be a little frustrated at his version of organization. I understand that being in a relationship with an organizer is not an easy thing! While my place is not out of some Container Store catalog, I am very particular about how things should be and I know what works and what doesn’t. As much as I appreciate that he unloads the dishwasher, his idea of what goes where in the kitchen cabinets is not remotely similar to mine. This then causes me to have to rearrange the dishes, which makes more work for me and makes him feel like maybe his time would be better spend watching SportsCenter than unloading the dishwasher! So, what to do about this dilemma and those of so many people that live in a home divided by differing organizing styles (which is almost as controversial as supporting apposing political parties, or rooting for the ‘wrong’ sports team)?
My advice, is to first express what you would like, either by telling the less organized party what you want or showing them how you like things. Not everyone’s brain works the same, so what some people find logical and organized is simply foreign to others. Sometimes all someone needs is to be shown how to do something and they are happy to do it and not have to guess which way is best anymore. So just speaking up often fixes the issue. Other times, it’s not so easy because they feel like their way works perfectly well (even if a dish gets broken now and then…). In this situation having a 3rd party, like an organizer or even a friend or family member come in and give an opinion breaks through the he said/she said scenario. However, you must pick your 3rd party carefully, because if it’s your significant others mother, things aren’t going to go your way! This is why a professional is best! An organizer won’t make judgments on how or why things are the way they are, they will just get to work to make them the way you want them.
As an organizer, I like to tell people in this situation to pick their battles. This means, work on the things that are the most important…setting up a filing system that allows you to find your home insurance info quickly and easily when you need. But maybe not worry so much about the stack of magazines on the coffee table being in alphabetical order. Now you, as the ‘more organized one’,(yes, you, reading this article, because I suspect people who like to be organized read organizing blogs…yes?) need to decide what’s more important to you. Is it having everything exactly perfect? Or having help doing things so you can enjoy other things in life (that don’t include dishes or laundry or cataloging your snow globe collection). I’m being a bit flippant here for the sake of humor, but the bottom line is that having things organized is amazing and very necessary, but different people organize in different ways. The key is to figure out what each person organizes well (files vs dishes… legos vs Barbie’s… comic books vs clothes ) and let them organize that, and the rest needs to be put into a system that’s easy to follow and maintain. That’s where I come in!
As for me, so far organizing for 2 is working well! I starting by organizing my boyfriends closet (at his place) and he really likes the fact that now he can find his biking gear, and thinks that there really is something to this organizing thing! Here are the ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos of his closet. We also did some purging (mostly things with holes and questionable fit). He didn’t enjoy that very much, but was a trooper, especially since I told him that those things would be useful to someone who finds them at Goodwill!