This post is a teeny bit self-indulgent as I just completed my first, and definitely last, marathon. Thanks to my fragile, attention-seeking knees, this rainy 26-mile jaunt through California’s wine country took me five and a half hours, which gave me plenty of time to come up with some running-related metaphors for getting organized:
1) You don’t start from being a couch potato and try to run a marathon; you begin with a bit of walking and build up to jog maybe a 5 mile race. Similarly, if you’re extremely disorganized and messy, don’t try to be Martha Stewart. Just pick one small area of your life and focus on improving that.
2) Not many people end up running a marathon by accident: they make a plan, based on their starting fitness level, the pace they want to achieve, and an anticipated race date. When aiming to get organized, it’s also a great idea to assess your starting position, what results you’d like to see, how long it will realistically take you, and how you’re going to make the time.
3) Sunday’s 26 miles were no picnic, but they’re not actually the hardest part of a marathon. I would argue that months of regular training, including hauling myself out of a cozy bed into rainy darkness at 5:30AM, is in fact much tougher. During the last 12 months, I’ve covered more than 500 miles and spent over 100 hours simply putting one foot in front of the other, even when I didn’t feel like it. To get, and stay organized, you probably don’t need quite so much dedication, but small, regular sessions, several times a week, for many weeks or even months, will do the trick. It doesn’t – and shouldn’t – all happen suddenly, one Sunday morning when you spring out of bed and decide to get things sorted out.
4) Especially for a beginner, there are times in the marathon when you feel like giving up. There’s the famous “wall”, for example, which typically occurs somewhere in the mile 18-22 range. That’s when you dig deep, think about how much effort you’ve already put in, and realize how far you’ve come. Guess what? When you’re knee-deep in trying to organize paper piles, toys or random clothing, you’ll probably feel like giving up, too. Don’t: you’ve come a long way too and you can finish what you started.
5) Runners need a support crew, and not just at the start and finish lines. The best supporters are noisy, cheer wildly for people they don’t even know, and position themselves strategically on the hill at mile 22 to offer a boost to the runners who need it most. Those who came out in the rain on Sunday in wine country lifted my spirits more than they will ever know. And I was doubly lucky: I had the companionship and support of my husband, who selflessly reined in his natural pace to accompany me every step of the way. Who do you have in your organizing support crew? Who knows you are hoping to make a change, and is willing to pitch in with you, watch your kids, cheer you on, or at least pick up their own socks?
6) Marathon finishers celebrate their success, whether the race took them three hours or eight. They get a foil blanket, a cheesy medal, lots of photos, and about a week’s worth of respect from all who know them. You should celebrate your organizing successes, too: take before and after pictures, and enjoy the glory of what you’ve achieved.
If you would like friendly, confidential Professional Organizing help to turn chaos into calm, contact me to take the first step toward a sorted, stylish space.