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Organizing your house
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The Secret to Being Organized

Vicki Norris
Restoring Order Last month, I celebrated 10 years in business as a professional organizer. You might be thinking: “What in the world is a professional organizer?” That is the exact response my family had when I announced a decade ago that I was going to be launching Vicki Norris’ Restoring Order®. For a lot of people, the term “professional organizer” evokes visions of bins and baskets and “tips and tricks”, thanks to the marketplace definition of organizing we see splashed across every magazine cover. A lot of us assume that a professional organizer comes to your home or office and “whips you into shape.” We’ve seen the home improvement shows and we’ve read the magazines and so we think that organizing must be about the big “reveal”…the “after” picture when your work is complete. And so we feel guilty, overwhelmed, defeated, and sometimes even ashamed of our inability to organize and keep up our space and our lives.

Yet, from my very first client appointment so long ago, I learned that organizing is about so much more than rearranging our stuff or having a home that looks like Martha Stewart’s. From that first client couple, I learned so much just from observing…and I haven’t stopped observing and learning since! From the wife I learned that (for her) it’s about letting go of times gone by so she can enjoy the present and from her husband I learned that (for him) it’s about taking back lost real estate for his hobbies. So, organizing is a means to an end for each of us…it helps us clear the way for living.

As a professional organizer, and now as an author and speaker on the subject, what I really get to do is drop into the middle of a person’s “movie.” I get to see their life in its natural state…in all its chaos and frustration and beauty. I get to see the late fee statements (on the dining room table piles!), the layered kitchen counters, the mountain of toys in every room, and the entrepreneur who is buried under work. I get to see the mother who watches her children picking up her bad habits and the teenagers who don’t want to bring their friends home to the big mess. In compassion, I can see why disorganized people turn inward and stop entertaining guests and doing things for themselves. From hundreds of people since that first client couple, I’ve had the opportunity to learn some universal truths about what motivates us and what hinders us as humans.

We will rarely ever be motivated to get or stay organized by any other reason than the things that matter to us individually. Our spouse, boss, kids, or friends can’t make us get organized. Since organizing is in fact a change process, we will usually get organized for one of two reasons: we are either in pain or we are inspired by what is possible. If we’ve dropped the ball and experienced some negative consequences for our disorganization (financial or relational, usually), then we might be motivated to undertake the organizing process. Typically, however, like most things in life, we will abandon our efforts to organize once the pain has dissipated. When we are just organizing for “damage control,” we just get past the pain and then continue living in the same manner. Yet, if you can envision the way your life could operate, the good habits you could develop in your children, the rich relationships you could recapture, the re-fueling activities you could enjoy, the spiritual development you could pursue…if you can envision these things, then you can be motivated by your true life priorities. And it’s those priorities that will motivate you to dig out and set up new systems. Once you’ve created this “baseline,” then you can continue to use your priorities as a catalyst to remain organized…protecting your space and your time for the enjoyment of those very priorities.

So you see, organizing in fact is not about the trappings of neatness like those cute file folders or plastic bins. It’s not some rigid system being imposed upon us that we fear will stifle our creativity. In the end, organizing is about making room for the things in our life that are truly important: our life priorities. Take it from me, I’m a mother of two small children and a business owner in an ever-changing economy…practicing order is a commitment. I honor and practice order because it helps me to live the life I want. In my line of work, I’ve learned that if you can embrace this truth you can get a break-through: organizing is a not a chore, it’s a choice. It’s a moment-by-moment practice of better life management that will bring you freedom!

I hope I’ve helped you to push the “re-set” button on your view of organizing. If you’ve been inspired, there are more resources and ideas at and on my blog at

Here’s to enjoying the life you were meant to live!

Vicki NorrisVicki Norris is an expert organizer, business owner, speaker, television personality, and author who inspires people to live out their priorities. She is author of Reclaim Your Life™ © 2007 by Vicki Norris and of Restoring Order to Your Home, © 2007, a room-by-room household organizing guide, both published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR (available at Norris is a regular on HGTV’s nationally syndicated Mission: Organization, and is a recurrent source and contributor to national lifestyle publications including Woman’s Day special interest publications, Parent’s, Better Homes & Gardens, and Real Simple magazine.

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