Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Know Thyself: The (Im)Perfectionist's Guide to Sorting Your Stuff

For more than a decade, I've been teaching and writing about organizing, using silly style names like I need to see it and I know I put it somewhere. Initially, I taught lessons and ran small groups with elementary school students, helping my kids who struggled with organizational skills to look at the process from a different angle. Mostly, I focused on helping them to explore ways of organizing that worked with what they did naturally, helping them to focus on what they were doing right instead of what they were doing wrong.

When I retired, I took my show on the road, and discovered that adults enjoyed the silly names and styles-based approach as much as the kids did. It injected a sense of humor into a process that could be fraught with self-recrimination as we struggled to do something that seemed to come so easily to everyone else.

And I do mean we. From the very beginning, I was in on this process. My students knew what my desk looked like (the opposite of clean and clear, thankyouverymuch) and they knew I was in this with them. I wasn't preaching the same old-same old; I was in the trenches with them, turning my I need to see it/drop and run styles into a system that made it possible for me to find what I needed when I needed it.

As an educator, I knew instinctively that balancing strengths and needs was key, but it wasn't until I started teaching positive psychology and exploring character strengths that I realized there was a whole field devoted to coming at things from our strengths. Discovering there was research behind what I'd been doing all along was the final puzzle piece, one that legitimized this instinctive process for me, the psychology instructor.

It was pretty early in this process that I thought Organizing by STYLE might make a good book, but it wasn't until after I retired that I started blogging regularly about it. Even then, I couldn't quite find my way in -- a way that made sense beyond a succession of blog posts.

Then last spring, with the help of Sarah Reinhard at Our Sunday Visitor, I began shaping these ideas and lessons and blog posts into a book. I signed a contract and got down to the hard work of turning my dream into something tangible.

Last week, I got an email from my editor telling me that my not-quite-a-book-yet had a name. Know Thyself: The (Im)Perfectionist's Guide to Sorting Your Stuff is due out next spring.

Know Thyself will be my fifth book, tipping the non-fiction to fiction ratio back in favor of the non-fiction realm in which I started. I'm pretty sure Marita and Bets will have something to say about that, though, and will insist on tipping the scales back to even, if not in their favor (eventually).

Meanwhile, I'm left pondering a question that I'm surprised never occurred to me before. Which of the personal and organizational styles fits each of my characters?

If you've got an opinion on that subject, feel free to comment below. I promise I'll read them all as soon as I float back down to earth.

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