Going Deep: How Organizing is like Scuba Diving

My first experience with snorkeling was on my honeymoon. I had never done anything more than swim in water, so to put on a mask, snorkel, and fins and watch the world below was amazing!

During one of our snorkel excursions, I remember looking down into the water at a sunken airplane. While I marveled at the remnants, I also noticed some people swimming in and out of the aircraft. Scuba divers. I knew right then and there that snorkeling was not going to satisfy my fascination with the underwater world.

At that moment I pledged to go deeper and learn how to scuba dive.

While I had many opportunities to dive over the years, it took 23 years for me to become a certified scuba diver. Although I missed a lot of time, finally completing my training was a dream come true for me. Why? Because life under the water is unlike anything you can imagine.

For me, going deep is where the beauty is found. It’s where you discover the most incredible sea life, see the most vibrant colors, and swim in the calmest waters. Every excursion below the surface is different from the last, a new experience of memories to cherish.

Organizing & scuba diving – more alike than you think

So what does all of this have to do with organizing? In truth, scuba diving is just like an organized life. It can’t be done on the surface. It requires you to go deeper:

You have to learn the mechanics. Scuba diving is more than just breathing underwater. It’s about equilibrium, pressure, and balance. If you don’t know how to do all those things properly you will have a short, possibly fatal, trip.

Likewise, if you want to have an organized life, you have to learn the principles, the steps and the habits that will help you get there. Without them, you will stay stuck in the clutter and chaos.

You have to prepare yourself mentally and physically for the task. Scuba diving can drain you mentally and physically. From being constantly aware of your surroundings (sharks!) and your oxygen levels to swimming for long periods of time, scuba diving isn’t for the faint of heart!

Gaining an orderly life requires mental and physical strength as well. Not only do you need to change your beliefs about organizing, but you’ll also need to put in the effort to declutter and organize your space. For some, that can often be taxing.

You have to face challenges. Every dive is a challenge for me. I’m prone to seasickness, so if we have to take a boat ride in rough waters I don’t do well. Once I do get in the water, I struggle to get down. If I don’t have the right weights with me, I just bobble on the surface. If I were to let these difficulties deter me, then I would never get in the water!

Although your organizing challenges may not include seasickness or weight issues, you are likely to encounter some opposition. Many people are confronted with time restraints, lack of support or understanding, or fall short in their attempts to find lasting success. But these challenges are what allow to you rise up and have the peace and order you long for if you don’t succumb to them.

You won’t regret it. I’ve never been on a dive that I’ve regretted. Sure, I’ve had dives where I didn’t see a lot or experienced troubles, but just being underwater is always an adventure. It’s where the most spectacular life is found.

In the same token, I’ve never met or helped anyone who’s regretted getting organized. The only regret clients have mentioned to me is that they wish they had done it earlier. Time and time again, those who have committed to the process, put forth the effort, and rose above the obstacles have said that it was worth it. The peace and joy that has been afforded to them are unlike anything they’ve ever experienced before.

The truth is most of us long to go deeper. We long to see the beauty that type of life can offer. Whether it’s scuba diving or getting organized, going beyond the surface can offer us a life beyond what we could ever imagine. Are you willing to take the plunge?












My Break-Up Letter to Clutter

Dear Clutter,

We need to talk.

We’ve been together for a really, long time. But I’ve come to the realization that this “thing” we’ve got going on isn’t really working for me anymore.

I think it’s time we broke-up.

Now I know this isn’t going to be easy for you to hear, but you need to know that it’s hard for me to let go of you, too. You’ve been a source of comfort for me, like a warm, fuzzy blanket I could wrap around me and feel safe. When I needed a reminder of my glory days, you were there strolling down memory lane with me. And you’ve been a faithful companion, always there.

But despite your never-ending presence in my life, I’ve opened my eyes to a few things about you that I never noticed before.

For example, when I’m with you I sometimes get anxious and uneasy. Even though you don’t realize it, your constant company makes me feel as if I’m suffocating. I don’t like feeling that way.

In addition, I often feel guilty when I know I should deal with you and I don’t. I’ve tried many times to ignore you and act as if you don’t exist. That’s no way for a relationship to function.

And being with you has kept me from building relationships with others (goodness, when was the last time you saw me bring someone home or invite a friend over?). While you probably didn’t mean to, you’ve isolated me from the rest of the world.

But not anymore. I want more to life than what you have to offer.

So today I’m declaring my freedom from you. I’m reclaiming my life, my identity, and my home. I’m kicking your butt to the curb and going to start anew.

Just thinking about it makes me giddy!

I would love to say that it’s me and not you. But since I’m being brutally honest here, it’s really you.

I’m tired of your messy ways, your demands for more, the lack of space you give me, and the chaos that follows you everywhere, and sucks me in too.

You’ve made me late for or miss meetings altogether, you’ve hidden things from me, made me forget about the things I really care about and cost me more money than I can count!

It doesn’t really matter whose fault it is for this unhealthy relationship. What truly matters is that I’ve finally seen you for who you are really are – a greedy, joy-robbing thief.

So, Clutter, it’s time we go our separate ways. Make no mistake – we’re not just “taking a break”. This is the end of the road for us and I never want to see you again.

Please don’t ask me to think this over because I’m not changing my mind. I’m moving on to bigger and better things. You, my friend, are a thing of the past.

Good-bye, Clutter. I am so over you.

Giving Yourself Permission to Let Go

This is the 4th post of this series.  To read the other posts, click here.

Jane held the glass jar in her hand, her fingers slowly tracing the pattern etched into the glass.

“It was my mom’s,” she said.  “She always put candy in it during the holidays.”

She blew the dust out of the inside, a sign she hadn’t used it in awhile.

“What do you want to do with it?” I asked.

“I’m not sure.”

Sensing her reluctance, I asked her a series of questions to help her decide whether or not she really loved, used, needed, or wanted it.

“Until you came here to help me, I didn’t even know I had it.  I just feel bad letting it go,” she said.

It was a sentence I’d heard time and time again.  While I wasn’t going to tell her what to do, I was going to let her know it was okay if she didn’t want to hold onto it any longer.

“If you decide not to keep it, nothing bad will happen.  In fact, you might bring a smile to someone else’s face by donating it so they can share candy in it just the way your mom did,” I told her.

“You’re right,” she said.  “I just thought my mom would be mad if I didn’t keep it.  I think she’d be madder if she knew I’d forgotten about it and never used it. She’d be happy to know someone else was using it!”

She placed the bowl in her donate pile and we continued working.

While letting go was a struggle, what my client really needed was permission to do so.  To know that the world wasn’t going to end if she gave an item away. Permission to let go of what she no longer cared about so that someone else could benefit.  Once she had that, placing that bowl in the donate pile was much easier.

Maybe you need permission to let go, too.

Why it’s so hard to let go

It can be hard to let go.  I understand – I struggle to let go of items just like you do! It’s something everyone struggles with at one point or another.

Why?  Because of

  • guilt
  • sentimentality
  • cost
  • fear of hurting someone’s feelings
  • worry of the loss of the memory
  • ______________________________ (any other reason you might have)

But the truth is we can’t hold on to everything.

You see when everything is important than nothing really is.  We have to let go of the unimportant so that the important can have space and value in our lives.

So how do you let go?  It starts with giving yourself permission.

Giving yourself permission to let go

Permission is defined as “consent or authorization”.  Often times we just need someone to tell us it’s okay to let an item go. To give us the consent that we aren’t willing to give ourselves so that we can remove:

  • the unnecessary
  • the unwanted
  • the unloved and
  • the burdens that weigh us down (this includes not only physical burdens like stuff but also emotional ones such as anger, unforgiveness, and resentment to name a few)

At times a professional or a trusted friend can help us with that.  But eventually, you and I have to learn to give ourselves that permission so that we can truly have the organized life we long for.

Will it be easy? Probably not. You will likely find it a battle every time you have to make the decision to let something go.

Will it be worth it? Most definitely! You’ll never know how light your life can be until you make the decision to let go of everything that weighs you down.

Your permission slip

While there are no steps or formulas to giving yourself permission, you can start with this:

Download your permission slip to let go by clicking here

Hang it up where you can see it while you’re decluttering or organizing and know that it’s okay to let go.

You’re not just giving yourself permission to let go, you’re giving yourself the gift of an orderly life.

Do you struggle giving yourself permission to let go? Why?

How can giving yourself permission make a difference in your efforts to get organized?

Leave a comment and let me know!














Finding the Perfect Binder for Your Student’s Organizing Style

The binder. That ubiquitous 3-ring folder found on almost every back-to-school list.  Whether it’s a slim binder or one that can hold thousands of sheets of paper, every school locker is bound to house one.

But just because binders are a staple in the education arena, does it mean that your child needs to be using one as a means to stay organized?  It’s a tricky question to answer.

A tale of two sisters

When my two girls where in middle school and high school, every teacher they had chose binders as “the tool” for paper organization.  My older daughter would have a different binder for every subject and loved to punch holes and order her papers in between her tabbed dividers.  I would dare to say she had a slight binder addiction!

My younger daughter, however, never embraced binders like her sister.  Everytime I checked her backpack, the papers in her binder would be a dishoveled mess, sticking out on every side.  She hated all the steps required to keep her papers tidy in a binder and would rather shove them in the binder hoping they would hold.  They didn’t.

It took awhile for me to realize that while binders are great organizational tools for some students, not all students love them.  In my younger daughter’s case, she found the task of punching holes, opening the rings and sliding the papers in was just too much work.  She preferred a much simpler system to keep her papers organized.

Once I understood this, I needed to find a tool that fit her organizing style.

A binder for every organizing style

Depending on your child, binders can be a great school supply or the worst thing ever.  It really rests upon your child’s personality and organizing style.

Looking at my own children, I understood that my oldest daughter could use any binder – colorful, plain, slim or chunky – and she would be happy.  On the other hand, my younger daughter needed a binder that would allow her to simply slide her papers in and keep moving.

Some children will only use binders if they are colorful and whimsical (to match their personality, of course!), while others want something that might be a mix of everything – color, simplicity, and structure.

When we don’t take our child’s personality and organizing style into account and “force” them into the standard binder option, we’re setting them up for organizational failure in school.  It’s not that, as parents, that’s what we’re trying to do; we’re just buying what the teachers asked for.  Unfortunately, that isn’t always as helpful for our students as we’d hope.

So what’s the solution?

The Samsill Answer

While there are many binders out there to fit almost every need, Samsill binders offer a wide variety, sure to meet any child’s personality and organizing style!

For the child who wants to keep it simple…Samsill’s value ring storage binders comes in 13 different basic colors and 5 ring sizes.  These are perfect for those students who favor functionality over form.

Samsill Value Storage Binders

For the child who is motivated to use a binder because of it’s fashion sense…..Samsill’s fashion print round ring storage binders are a guaranteed winner.  Who wouldn’t want to use a binder with dazzling styles such as dots, diamonds, or mazes in an array of colors?

Samsill Fashion Print Binders

Does your child prefer a hybrid of the binder and the folder?  Then the Samsill Duo is the perfect solution! This versatile binder is a 3-ring binder and a 7-pocket accordian folder to make it easy for those students who find they need both styles of binders to keep things organized!  And with 6 different colors to choose from, it also provides the flash of style creatives will be drawn to.

Samsill Duo 2-in-1 Organizer

When we look at our children and realize that they are unique individuals with their own organizing style, then we better understand that not all binders are created equal.  Luckily, Samsill understands that as well and has an entire line of binders and portfolios to help us navigate the binder maze.  They’ve created binders and folders that are unique as your child to help them stay organized all year long.

Before you head out to the store and purchase a binder hoping it will miraculously keep your student organized,  I encourage you to think about your child’s personality,  his or her way of organizing and the best products to fit their needs.  By doing this, you’ll be helping your student find the organizing success you both desire!

How could understanding your child’s organizing style help keep them better organized?

Which Samsill binder would be a good fit for your student?


** While I was not paid to promote Samsill products, I did receive the products at no charge for review purposes.