Best of 2020: The key to being and staying organized? Learning to say no

When I’m networking or meeting new people, my occupation always triggers questions. I love talking about organizing, and discussing the various tools and gadgets I like to use myself, but most often the most important thing we do when we get organized is not what we add to the mix but rather what we subtract from it. And that applies as much to organizing our space as it does to organizing our time.  So let’s talk about the various pernicious ways we can find ourselves with a life that is too full, despite our good intentions.

Having difficulty saying no to your mother-in-law who offers us a leather jacket that she no longer wears, and which we undoubtedly know (for sure, no other outcome possible) that we will never wear it ourselves, and thus choose to say yes so that she won’t think we are an ingrate or that we simply don’t like it. Heaven forbid! So we accept the jacket, we thank her and we store it in the closet. We will see said jacket every time we open the closet and be greeted with a flush of regret or guilt. Or how about not wanting to refuse an invitation when we know full well that our weekend is already booked to a satisfying level, so that we won’t be the only people absent from a group we belong to. We accept the invitation with a twinge, and then live with the consequences: overtired kids, domino effect on the entire week and a side of disappointment directed at ourselves for not listening to what that little voice was telling us. 

The challenge is to maintain the balance between honouring our own priorities and preserving our relationships with our loved ones. First and foremost we must know our personal and family’s priorities. 

Here are three tips to ensure you don’t unnecessarily ‘’adopt’’ items into your cocoon. Let’s use the mother-in-law’s jacket as an example. But keep in mind it applies just as much to the new shirt calling you by name at the mall.

1 – Buy time

When someone offers you something, no need to feel like you must provide an answer on the spot. 

In the coat example, by buying time, the ability to have a bit of space with the object and with the person offering it allows us to distance ourselves from the emotions that belongs to the other person: regret for having spent money unnecessarily, for example, and seeking to ensure that at least it wasn’t purchased and then later donated to strangers.

2 – Flip, what are you saying YES to?

Once you’re back at home, and that you notice that you have all the coats you do need or that you have enough space between yourself and the situation to admit to yourself that that jacket just isn’t your style, a little voice might remind you that, even then, despite all this, you don’t want to disappoint the other person.

3 – Visualize your house in the state you would like it to be

You may not have reached the final result you long for on projet #OrganizedDreamHome yet, but when you have to make a choice between what comes in and what is blocked out, ask yourself if this object would make the cut in that house of your dreams. If the answer is no, I beg of you, don’t wait to have that organized house to then eliminate uninvited items; on the contrary you will GET to the house of your dreams by being very meticulous in what you allow to filter in. 

Mylène Houle Morency is a Professional Organizer, Speaker and owner of FLO Organisation, which specializes in organizing families with children ranging from newborn to the teenage years. She has the firm conviction that organized homes help parents become the parents they want to be, by freeing up time and diminishing stress. She has the privilege to lovingly test all her theories and organization inspirations on her husband and three children!