Here are 10 organization lessons from Organizing from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern that had the greatest impact on me:
1 – Look From In to Out
This was the first book I’ve read that took the perspective of the reader (organizing from the inside out) and not some guru telling us how to get organized (from the outside in).
This could have been a marketing tactic, but Morgenstern backs it up with sound advice that anyone can customize for their own situation.
2 – Three Organization Problem Types
Simple outline of the three common organizational problem areas helps to guide the reader to where they need the most help.
First one was simple, technical shortcomings like misuse of space.
Second was environmental problems like big life events or just lack of enough space.
Third was psychological obstacles like fear or lack of what you want your organized life to look like.
3 – What is the Cost of Clutter?
The section on getting partners organized offered one nugget of wisdom that I’ve thought about a lot during my month-long organization experiment.
Morgenstern writes that one way to get a partner to see the value of being organized is to ask them one question: what is the price of clutter?
When I started thinking about all the time I waste looking for stuff or reorganizing an area I had organized once before, I became even more motivated to get things back in order.
4 – Analyze and Strategize
One thing I tried to do during my experiment and something Morgenstern advocates is to analyze the problem before jumping in and trying to fix everything at once.
Her five-needs assessment was nice to see and helped round out my thoughts on what to think about before getting organized.
Hers include what works, what doesn’t work, what items are essential, why do you want to get organized and finally what is causing your organization problem.
The essential items question reminded me of Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and her advice that we should only keep things that bring us joy.
5 – Go Back to Kindergarten
I had never heard of The Kindergarten Model of Organization and like most things that surprise and delight, this idea made a ton of sense.
By defining what you do in different areas, mapping out your space and rearranging things (like furniture) to match both activity and space, you instantly start feeling more organized.
Kindergarteners don’t paint and read in the the same space. We should use that same guiding principle in our lives.
6 – Be Realistic
Morgenstern talks about being honest when estimating how long it will take to get organized.
I don’t expect anyone, myself included, to get organized in one month. There is usually too much to do and not enough time to just focus on it.
Being honest with ourselves and others in this regard is crucial. It took me years to get this disorganized. I should figure it could take just as long to get everything back in order.
7 – Got 1-1/2 Days?
Not sure where she got her data, but she is the expert so I trust her. She writes that on average organizing takes up to 1-1/2 days per room. I did wonder what that translates to for digital organization.
8 – Six Weeks!
This stat blew my mind. According to the Wall Street Journal the average executive in the US wastes six weeks a year looking for stuff. Wow.
9 – Explore SPACE
SPACE became my mantra once I read it. S for sort, P for purge, A for assign a home, C for containerize, E for equalize.
She seemed to be reaching on E, but I’ll accept it. It basically means to keep on top of your system going forward.
Nice acronym to help us get our head around what the process looks like to get organized.
10 – Now, Organize Your Time
Morgenstern even took her organizing from the inside out principle and argued we could use them for time management.
Just analyze your activities, strategize priorities and cut out the time wasters and group the must-do’s into similar tasks.
I didn’t think she overreached here. Once we get our lives in order I’m sure we could organize other areas like time management.
Overall, I’m a big fan of the book. It has a unique angle on how to get organized in a productive and seamless way.
I believe the 10 organization lessons I highlighted can help anyone willing to put them into action.