I recently spoke with a friend and client who wondered why I wasn’t active on Instagram for promoting my business. My response was that Instagram is completely based on the visual – pictures and videos – and that my business really wasn’t something that generated a lot of those things. She wondered, since I’m a professional organizer and productivity coach, why didn’t I have a ton of “before and after” photos of all of the spaces I had helped organize over the years? This opened up a very interesting discussion of what “after” really looks like, and how the visual representation of an “organized space” can differ from reality. At the beginning of my organizing career 14 years ago, I began working as a residential organizer. I helped folks organize all kinds of spaces in their homes – kitchens, closets, playrooms, attics, basements and home offices. I took a ton of “before” pictures, with my clients’ permission. I realized after a while that I had remembered to take very few “after” pictures, mostly because being totally immersed in a project and bringing it to completion was so absorbing to me that often taking “after” pictures was the last thing I remembered to do!
Over the years, I began to realize that many of those “after” pictures might not have that shiny, color coordinated, rainbow-y, perfectly “organized” look that we are accustomed to seeing in the media, anyway. Many of my clients have reached what was for them the pinnacle of their organizational goals, but their spaces just don’t necessarily display that perfection that we have come to associate with an “organized” space. Particularly in the offices – home and business – that I now spend all of my organizing time in, none of those desks are perfectly clean, empty of all but one pristine file folder and one sad pen, set at a perfect right angle to the edge of the desk. Yet when we look at the finished product of many of the images in our shelter magazines, organizing TV shows and Instagram posts, that’s what we see. And somehow, REAL spaces belonging to REAL people who actually live and work in them just don’t measure up. Those real people may all be killing it in their lives, with high fives all around, because their home and work spaces are just organized…enough. Just organized enough for them to be able to find what they want when they need it. Just organized enough so that they can be productive in their job and keep their family life going, too. Just organized enough so that their organizing systems – both for stuff and for time – help make life a little less stressful. But that doesn’t always look perfect on the outside. It’s function over form. Mismatched instead of matchy-matchy. Individual over one-size-fits-all. Productive life as opposed to Perfect life. But it’s working beautifully for each person in their own way, in their own skin, for their “life is very daily” lives. And there is no Instagram picture for that.
For many clients, the battle isn’t with their stuff. It’s with their time and attention. (And sometimes, the stuff becomes a problem because of that, too.) When you adjust your mindset and clarify your priorities, it becomes easier to figure out how your time works and where you want and need to spend it. My productivity coaching clients have finally come to acknowledge that what they’re doing isn’t working, and that if they want something different, they need to do things differently. We work on mindset and habit change, which leads to establishing systems that work better. The beauty of it is that it works for time, tasks AND stuff! Win-win for everyone. Except for that pretty picture of color-coordinated…brain cells????
So, yes, the Instagram account has been activated. And yes, I’m a sucker for those beautiful, organized, picture-perfect videos and pictures. They’re inspirational and aspirational, and so satisfying and fun to look at, right? But in the meanwhile, I’ll be here trying to figure out how to take a picture of someone’s organized brain. Stay tuned!