Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Organizing By STYLE: Claiming Your STYLE

I have a confession to make. This is a rewrite. One night in early March, while trying to upload the original post to my newly created organization blog, I sent it hurtling into cyberspace. Nothing in my arsenal of tech tricks was sufficient to bring it back. A Google search supplied me with the opening line, but building a bridge from that line only gave me a headache.

I went to bed in a bad mood. I woke up cranky about having to re-create a post I wrote over a month ago. 

Until I decided that was silly. With apologies to those whose comments were lost along with the post, I'm moving forward and re-sharing the key content, if not the original post.

Thanks to Pinterest, I know that I referenced the book at left, one I flipped through during a recent visit to Barnes and Noble with my sister. I put the book back for two reasons: I didn't want its contents influencing my posts, however unintentionally and, even upon a quick flip, I could tell that this was a one-size-fits-all, "use this trick and your life will be more organized" kind of book.

That's not necessarily a bad thing. Judging from the reviews on Amazon, Marie Kondo's book has proven useful to many people. Any book that improves life for anyone deserves kudos.

I just don't happen to believe that one size fits all when it comes to organization. And, for those who've struggled with organization for as long as they can remember, hailing one book as the one path to success only further damages their self-confidence if they find the path strewn with rocks and detours.

To me, the key to getting organized and staying that way lies in matching your system to your styles.
What styles, you may ask? Take the quiz below to see where you land, then check next Wednesday's post for more on the styles.

Personal and Organizational Styles Quiz

Mark each item below as true or false.
  1. You participate in so many activities that you have something to do nearly every night.
  2. The only way you remember to bring things with you is if you leave them out where you're likely to trip over them.
  3. Your closets are filled with things you no longer use and/or clothes you no longer wear, but can’t get rid of. 
  4. Your house looks neat, yet you have trouble finding what you need when you need it.
  5. Your papers -- even the important ones -- are often wrinkled and/or torn.
  6. The flat surfaces in your home tell the story of the activities you've done and the places you've been in the last few days.
  7. When given a pocket folder or three-ring binder, you may tuck your papers inside, but you don't usually put them in the pockets or the rings. 
  8. You can often find lost items by retracing your steps.
  9. You often feel bored when you have unscheduled time.
  10. You have more stuff than room to store it.
  11. You usually put things away, but often forget where you put them.
  12. You often forget things if you don't write them down.  
  13. Your bookshelves house:
a. anything and everything, as long as it fits.
b. overlapping sets of “collections.”
c. books in various stages of completion, stacked so that the titles are visible.
d. sports gear, sheet music or art supplies, but no books. 
e. piles of items, with a telltale trail from the door to the bookcase.

All finished? Now let's compare your answers to the key below. Every "true" is a clue:
  • Item #1 is true for I love to be busy.
  • Item #2 is true for I need to see it.
  • Item #3 is true for I love stuff.
  • Item #4 is true for I know I put it somewhere.
  • Item #5 is true for cram and jam.
  • Item #6 is true for drop and run.
  • Item #7 is true for cram and jam.
  • Item #8 is true for drop and run.
  • Item #9 is true for I love to be busy.
  • Item #10 is true for I love stuff.
  • Item # 11 is true for I need to see it and I know I put it somewhere.
  • Item #12: I need to see it organizers are likely to do this.
  • Item #13a: Cram and jam or I know I put it somewhere; 13b: I love stuff; 13c: I need to see it; 13d: I love to be busy; 13e: Drop and run

How'd you do? Do the quiz answers match your predictions and observations? For most people, clear patterns will emerge, and the answers will come as no surprise; what they've noticed about the way they organize matches their answers on the quiz.

Some people are “a little bit of this and a little bit of that.” At this point in the process, that's to be expected. Further observation, discussion and exploration will help you to determine predominant styles. And some people really are a mix of styles, but this can be a benefit.  An overlap can mean more strategies to work with! 

The most important thing to keep in mind right now is that there are no right or wrong answers on the quiz and that these styles are not personal or organizational flaws. Up to this point, the styles have been stumbling blocks. Moving forward, the goal will be to help you see your natural tendencies as assets rather than liabilities so you can use them as a blueprint for developing a workable, sustainable plan based on what comes naturally. 

For more on the personal styles, click here. For more on the organizational styles, click here.


  1. I need to see the stuff I love! That's my style! Now if I could only work out a kitchen and workspace that mesh with it...

  2. Also, I like the way you think here. No system that requires people to change the way they're "wired" is going to work for very long.

  3. That's where we're headed next, Barb -- it's all in the tools! And you've nailed the problem most people have with organization -- fitting the style to the person works MUCH better than trying to do it the other way around.

  4. Okay, so the post was lost, but the comments stayed? This blogging business is truly an adventure!