I enjoy watching Project Runway because of the amazing outfits the contestants make. This season there was one designer, Patricia, who was the stereotypical creative genius. Her creativity was AMAZING and her workspace was a total disaster. In fact, the state of her space made others on the show concerned!
Patricia’s workspace and the response others had to it made me laugh with a touch of embarrassment because, like Patricia, when I start working on a project, I’m not neat. I have things strewn all over the place which really wouldn’t be bad except for the fact that I’m on to the next project before I’ve cleaned up the debris from the first one. After a few projects, my office looks like the Tasmanian devil from the Bugs Bunny cartoons has paid a visit. I tell myself that what matters is getting the next project done, but what I’ve FINALLY realized is that the general disaster area that I let my workspace become really impacts not only my ability to work, but how comfortable people (including me) feel coming into my office!
So 3 weeks ago, I had the help of an amazing professional organizer, Ashley Easley of MasterPeace Solutions. She helped me fine-tune what I was doing into a really workable process that easily allows me to be creative with my projects and keep things nicely organized. Now I feel good and energized being in my office. I’ve also noticed that everyone else is less reluctant to enter now too.
And here’s how this all matters to you. Even in the best of times, your environment plays a big part in how you feel. When you’re going through divorce, you’re even more sensitive to your environment.
A lot of the stress of divorce comes from a sense of not being in control of the situations you find yourself in. Having your surroundings unorganized adds to the general sense of chaos and loss of control. So, one way many people find to decrease the stress they feel during divorce is to organize and clean. Then there are others (and, yes, I fell into this category) who just look at the disorganization as being too much to deal with and then don’t do anything.
Just in case you’re like me, I’m going to share with you Ashley’s 5 C’s of Organizing. I know that if I had had these 5 C’s back then, the plan would have given me hope that I could indeed help my stress by organizing my surroundings OR that there were professionals available to help me.
- Categorize – Sort like items together. When Ashley was helping me with my office we had a bunch of papers on my desk that needed to be dealt with. She helped me divide everything into piles on the floor of “to be filed”, “recycle”, “shred”, “needs more work”, and “goes in another place”.
- Consolidate – Once we had the piles created (or really anytime the piles got too big for me to look at) I shredded what needed to be shredded and deposited the things from the recycle pile into the recycle bin in the garage.
- Create – Once we had a handle on what needed to stay in my office and what needed to leave, we were able to figure out where everything needed to go and create space for it.
- Contain – What I needed to help me get my office under control was file folders and letter boxes. By creating specific spots to put all the papers that I deal with as part of my work, it’s been TONS easier to find what I need when I need it and to put things away when I’m done with them.
- Continue – This is where I was really concerned, would I be able to continue keeping things in their proper places and getting rid of the things I didn’t need any more? Well, I’m not batting 1000 yet, but I’m doing pretty great! You can judge for yourself by taking a look at the before and after photos of my office. (Yes, I took the after photo today.)
You can use this same technique to tackle one area of your home or office that is adding to the chaos of your divorce. It might be a drawer, closet, desk, room or even your attic! Today’s Your Functional Divorce Assignment will help you de-stress your environment.
Your Functional Divorce Assignment:
Pick the one area you want to take control of. I suggest starting small at first. You’ve got a lot going on and being easy on yourself as you go through this process will make it more likely you’ll successfully finish it.
Schedule a block of time where you can focus on gaining control of the area. If you have kids, you might want to choose a weekend when the kids are with their other parent.
Put Ashley’s 5C’s of Organization to work. Having used the 5 C’s with Ashley, I can tell you, it’s pretty easy to follow when you have the discipline to do it and not get caught up in “rediscovering” what you’ve unearthed. I was thankful to have Ashley around to help me focus on completing the job. And, with the focus she provided, we made amazing progress in our time together!
Ask for help if you need it. It’s truly OK to ask for help to keep you focused on gaining control of the area you’ve picked. You might want to call a friend to support you, call your coach to keep you accountable, or hire a professional organizer like Ashley!
Enjoy. Yes, the last step is to enjoy the fruits of your labor and the greater sense of peace from having a little less chaos in your life.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. If you’re interested in taking the first step toward working with me, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.
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