Were You Born Organized?
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In my early days of blogging, back when I was still a professional organizer, a reader asked me, “I just wanted to find out from you if you were organized from the beginning? Do you believe that some people are just born organized?”
I responded to the first question with an excerpt from a speech my sister Kathy made at a party in my honour.
After working as a secretary and a career counselor, she became what our dad would say she was destined to become. A professional organizer. Why would he say this was her destiny?
Well, how many children do you know who carefully arrange their green beans in tidy rows – on their high-chair trays – before eating them, and who, years after they’ve grown to maturity, still line up french fries on their plates, in order from shortest to longest? Perhaps I exaggerate. But our dad did ask Janet recently, “Have you ever enjoyed a hot meal?”
I wasn’t aware of this tendency until I was in my 20’s, but this was still long before I considered organizing as a career. I do remember visiting a friend in her university dorm room, and she had all her shelves labelled as to what belonged on each shelf, and I thought that was pretty neat (no pun intended). In the 1980’s, I bought Bonnie McCullough’s book, Totally Organized and found it very helpful for getting my house in order, and when I went to re-read it some time later, I was pleasantly surprised to realize I had already incorporated most of the ideas into my life. I continued to read and enjoy organizing books for several years after that.
While working as a career counselor, I learned about personality type and discovered that I am a “Judging” type. In True Colors or Personality Dimensions, I’m considered a “Gold.” What this basically means is that I was born organized, and I prefer things to be orderly and scheduled. For a more detailed explanation, read my series on Organizing for Personality Types.
My short answer would therefore be “yes” some people are born organized, and I am one of those people.
However, this does not mean that if you’re not born organized that you can’t acquire the skills. In fact, I remember a very enjoyable discussion at a POC Conference about “born organizers” and “born again organizers.” A “born again organizer” is someone who has learned to become organized and now helps others to do the same.
I had the pleasure of working with an organizer who lived with chronic disorganization as a result of multiple sclerosis, and she used her experience to assist others in similar situations. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to continue with her business as her MS symptoms worsened, but she was a shining example of how someone who wasn’t born organized can become a professional organizer. Since that time, I’ve come to know many other organizing consultants who are successful because, having walked in their clients’ shoes, they have a thorough understanding of what it’s like to struggle with organizational challenges, and have developed specialized strategies for overcoming those challenges.
Keep in mind that fitting into one category or the other doesn’t necessarily mean you can help others effectively. If you’re a naturally organized left-brained thinker, systems that seem straightforward to you may not make sense to a right-brained creative person. The key is always to develop a solution that works for your client. Fortunately, there are now plenty of educational opportunities available for anyone wanting to learn how to help others get and stay organized.
What about you? Are you a born organizer, or a born again organizer?
This post was originally published in 2007 and has been updated.
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