If you want to get organised, FLOW is the most important concept to know. You must think of your home as a living thing: things come in, things go out. A room shouldn’t have stagnancy or blockages any more than your arteries or intestines should. We want motion. FLOW is also an acronym for the basic organisational strategy that you can use to tackle any area, room, or issue:
Let stuff go
Organise what’s left
I have used the FLOW method to help clients with everything from e-mail management to garage storage. Crucially, the ?rst step is forgiving yourself: you are human, and you don’t need to be perfect—you just need to be organised enough. FLOW is your ultimate tool; memorise it, make it your screen saver, and put it up on the wall. You are going to use it!
1. Forgive Yourself
You are probably worried now. This seemed like a practical, sensible organising book, but right here in the ?rst chapter I’m getting all new-agey on you. Let me assure you that nothing could be further from the truth. I’m all about efficiency and doing what works. If beating yourself with a stick were useful, I would give you a stick. But it’s not. In fact, it’s the opposite.
Here are confessions I have heard from my clients when they ?rst show me their homes: “I am sick.” “I have a real problem.” “I don’t know what is wrong with me.” These are not broken people but productive members of society, living in New York City, holding down good (often impressive!) jobs and responsibly paying their (often hefty!) mortgages. Nor, usually, are they people with terrible hoarding afflictions; they just need some help with order. That’s normal. We all need help with something.
And yet they beat themselves up for having clutter. The problem with this kind of thinking is that it becomes self-ful?lling. You think “you are bad,” which is different from acknowledging that you just have a few bad habits. Bad habits, with proper diagnosis and some effort, can be changed. Basically, this is the same advice psychologists give parents: make sure your children know that it is the behavior that is bad, not the child. Having a disorganised home does not mean you’re sick or dysfunctional.