Dear Kathi,

How do you get started when organizing seems like a big elephant looming in the background? I have so many things going on in my life and I have many different images. At work, I spend my energy trying to please other people, I come home to another set of people to nurture, playing chauffeur for the kids and meeting my husband’s expectations.

I guess the real question is when do I find the time to get organized and also spend time nurturing myself? I know that everything I touch at home demands thought and resolution. If it is an item in my closet, I have to think about if I need it and if not, should I donate or consign and on and on… How can I come home and approach my items without too much mental drain?

Veodia, Oceanside


You present a two-fold question. You are already a step ahead because you are aware that all your possessions demand energy. Knowing this is the beginning of controlling what occupies your time and enters your living space. That is always the first step.

Once you understand that every item within your home demands energy from you, you are much more diligent about what you let into your home environment. For example, a new pair of shoes demands much decision-making; Do you need to make room and get rid of another pair of shoes so the new ones will fit into your closet? If so, which pair should you discard? If not, where will they live while not on your feet? How much did they cost? Did you have the money to spend or was it the result of a terrible day of overspending to feel better? If so, in addition to the decision energy, it’s possible that the shoes could create a guilty feeling every time you glance at them in your closet, so in the end might not be a good addition to your wardrobe. These are only a few of the examples of how possessions can zap your energy.

The easiest approach is to take small steps on a regular basis. Make a list of your intended projects. Divide these tasks into five-minute time chunks. Try to do at least one five-minute session every day. Choose a regular time based on your family schedule. Stick to this pre-determined time as close as possible every day. Some moms can steal five minutes when they first arrive home because the kids aren’t home yet. Some moms can focus for a few minutes just before sleep because the house is quiet. Whichever time works for you is fine as long as you commit to this standing appointment with yourself every day.

You can accomplish a lot in five minutes. Some nights you might be able to focus for 10 to15 minutes and other nights it will be all you can do to focus for five. Even if it is only five per night, you will see a shift and your elephant of chaos will shrink down to a mouse. Results inevitably happen with consistent effort.

The same holds true for nurturing yourself. Commit to spending at least fifteen minutes a day doing something only for you. Maybe it’s simply a soak in the tub, curling up with a book, or sitting in the park for a few minutes on the way home form work. Again, with consistent daily quiet time for yourself, you will feel less overwhelmed. Your family will benefit greatly from your time spent alone. You will be more effective at work, as a mom and as a wife when you give yourself daily quality quiet time to nurture yourself.

I would also suggest planning a pre-designated night out with your girlfriends or colleagues. If possible, create a schedule that contains a once-a-month free night for you and a free night for your partner, taking turns spending time away from the family.

It is also very important to build in a date night at least once a month where you and your husband can spend time catching up and nurturing your relationship together. These nights sometimes require a lot of energy to coordinate but always pay off in the long run.
Thanks for writing and don’t hesitate to write with any other specific questions.

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San Diego Professional Organizer