The Joy of Organizing Interviews Organizing Guru Julie Morgenstern
Matt Dewkett: Welcome to “The Joy of Organizing,” practical tips and tricks for busy families. Brought to you by the Joyful Organizer. Welcome every body to this week’s edition of “The Joy of Organizing” on Diva Toolbox. I’m your host Matt Dewkett and your co‑host, Bonnie Dewkett is here.
Bonnie Dewkett: Hello!
Matt: Today we’re so pleased to introduce Julie Morgenstern as our guest. Julie is a New York Times bestselling author and everyone’s favorite organizing guru. USA Today recently called Julie the “queen of putting things in order.” She’s been featured in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Time, O the Oprah Magazine, and Redbook and makes frequent appearances on national television and radio programs including the Today Show, Rachael Ray, and NPR’s Fresh Air. Julie also writes a monthly organizing column for Redbook, helping one reader per month conquer the chaos in their lives. Julie’s books, “Organizing From The Inside Out” and “Time Management From the Inside Out,” have been made into popular PBS video specials. Her book, “Never Check Email in the Morning,” is used by Fortune 500 companies around the globe to boost their team’s productivity.
“Shed Your Stuff, Change Your Life” is Julie’s latest book. It helps readers to discover how letting go of clutter in their lives can generate the energy, clarity, and insight to discover what’s next. Her company, Julie Morgenstern Enterprises, provides one‑on‑one coaching, corporate training seminars, and speeches to help individuals and their employers enhance performance, maximize impact, and find fulfillment.
Since 1989 she and her staff have worked with clients, including Federal Express, McKinsey, Glaxo‑SmithKline, the Miami Heat, the New York City mayor’s office, and Hearst Magazines. Her website, juliemorgenstern.com, is home to a global classroom community with members from over 36 countries who gather to set goals, view videos, make friends, and share their victories and challenges in getting their lives in order. She also has a line of products with FranklinCovey. Her non‑judgmental inside‑out approach to problems offers incredibly smart, practical, and insightful solutions that transform the way people and companies function. Please welcome, Julie Morgenstern.
Matt: Hey Julie!
Julie Morgenstern: Great to be here!
Matt: Great to have you on the show today.
Julie: More than my pleasure. Nice to be here.
Bonnie: Thank you. You know Julie, all of my clients top New Year’s resolutions is getting organized. What suggestions can you give our listeners going into the new year to make this year different than ever before?
Julie: I think a lot of it has to do with having a realistic and practical plan. Because getting organized is a very big, broad statement. And I think it’s really important to sit down now you know, even before the new year. If you get a chance right at the beginning of the new year, and define specifically what you mean by getting organized. Organize what? Which rooms of your house or is it your paperwork? Or is it your time? And if it’s your time, what aspect of your time? And you have to get very, very specific in what you mean. What is it that you want to organize in particular? And then you really need a very specific plan for each one of those things you want to organize. How long is it going to take to do that? And when are you going to do it? I think getting organized one room per month, or one room at a time or one space at a time is really wise, and it’s really the only way. We know, as organizers, you know we can’t organize anybody in a day. You can’t do it. Right? It doesn’t work.
Julie: Clients need, individuals need, to know that as well. You have to sit down and map it out and do a time estimate and tie it to the calendar. You know, we’re going to spend eight hours in January organizing my living room because that’s the room I spend the most time in. And I’m going to spend two hours every Saturday for four weeks, or four hours every Saturday for the first two weeks, and then enjoy it the second two weeks. And then in February I’ll do the kitchen.
Bonnie: It’s setting the specific goals is very important.
Bonnie: Now what advice could you give our listeners on making those approximations on how long things are going to take. Because I often find, as I’m sure you do as well, clients have a very difficult time making those time estimates. So what advice do you give them on how to go about those approximations?
Julie: Yeah. I do find clients, all of us, nobody has any real perspective on how organized or disorganized they really are. Because I think we all have a different tolerance for disorder. Some people I’ve worked with, I’ve worked with clients who say “oh my gosh it’s horrible, it’s so disorganized.” And you go into their home or their office and its you know, 80 percent is perfectly in place and 20 percent is a little out of order. But to them it’s a very low tolerance for anything not being organized. And then other clients who are like “it’s not so bad” and it’s just you know, every system is in chaos but there’s only like a little bit of it that bothers them. So I think that’s why people’s time estimates are off. I found in 20 years of organizing very consistently, organizing from the inside out has these time estimates. But the average room in the house takes between one and one‑and‑a‑half days to totally organize from start to finish. From everything from the analyzing, to sorting through everything, and you know purging whatever you’re not going to keep and getting containers and labeling. It’s a day to day and a half per room. Which you know, it’s not two weeks, but it’s also not three hours. An average closet is, I think, three to six hours to do. So those, I think, are helpful to people. Maybe more than they hoped, but it can also be much less than they fear.
Bonnie: Absolutely, when they set the expectation ahead of time I find that they find the project much more manageable. Because you know, we’ve all been to the clients home where they’ve taken everything out and it sat there for weeks on end. So those manageable time limits I think are very helpful.
Julie: Right. I agree. I agree.
Matt: Julie, with National Get Organized Month coming up in January, if you could give our listeners one tip that will change their lives in the new year, what would that be?
Julie: One organizing tip, wow. Big question. I think it’s to keep…that is such a good question, you know and I know you sent me some questions in advance to think about. It’s just such a big, big question. I think we’re coming out of 2009, I think 2009 was a shake‑up year for everybody. It was just a total shake‑up year which made you realize what’s truly important to you. In every single aspect of your life. Because everybody’s finances got shaken up, everybody’s job security got shaken up, relation…everything…money. And I think if you could pull one thing, one lesson from 2009 forward, the real valuable lesson, is like to keep things very close. You want to just focus on what’s truly valuable to you. And stay away from all that excess which is not the stuff that really matters. And I mean that in everything from what’s inside your closet, to what’s inside your filing system, to how many bank accounts or credit cards you have, to how much you put in your schedule every week. Focus on the things that give you the highest value. And let the rest of it sort of go away and that gives you less to organize. It’s just less to work with, right? Because you just going to focus on what’s really valuable. Less parts. It’s going to free up an enormous amount of time because you’re not losing time to manage so much information and so many belongings, and and you’ll be richer for it. You’ll just, it’s just what really counts. So I think that that’s the life lesson of 2009 of the Great Recession, and I think as things start to get better and I believe that they are, don’t lose that lesson, don’t get back into this abundance thinking. And it’s not about deprivation thinking, it’s about knowing what is most valuable in every department of your life and taking care of that and letting everything else go. Don’t get caught up in things that don’t really mean something big to you.
Bonnie: Absolutely, I could not agree more. Julie, this is a question that we like to ask everybody who comes on the show. How did you become a professional organizer and why?
Julie: Well, I’ve been at it for 20 years so I started 20 years ago. [laughter] How about that? Math are us.
Bonnie: Good on the math.
Julie: So, I guess in a nutshell, I grew up a very, very, very disorganized. Very disorganized, very right brain creative. I was a theater person and a dancer and I’d like, everything seemed important or like you could make a character out of this. And save the menus from restaurants that I went to when I was a kid. Like everything could be turned into something. I was very creative person and everything had creative possibilities and I really could not find anything. I was a mess. And I had a baby, my daughter is now 24. I had my comeuppance and I realized I had to get organized in order for her to have opportunities in life.
Because it was one thing for me to take forever to get out the door, it’s another when you can’t get out the door, you can’t find the kindergarten application and you don’t get your kid her booster shots. Like you got be organized when you’re raising a kid. So I decided I was going to get organized even if it meant I wasn’t going to be creative anymore.
And I really had feared that. I thought I’m disorganized but I am creative and if I get organized, it’s going to squelch my creativity. And that was my hesitation for years. I was like, craved order but I was afraid of it. But when Jessie was born, I was like, OK, I may be a boring person but this kid is going, I’m going to serve my daughter well.
And that is how I got organized and I realized shortly after that contrary to what my worst fear was which is this is going to squelch my creativity. Getting organized fueled my creativity. And I did not know that. I literally was willing to become a flat, dry person if I had to. But I suddenly could find the information to implement all of my creative ideas and I could get dressed really quickly in the morning.
I mean everything just opened up for me once I got organized and so that was my own journey. And then when she was around three, I got divorced and I could no longer afford theater hours or theater pay. Theater hours are in the evening which worked great when I was married parent, right?
Julie: Because she could be with her dad at night and I could be with my daughter during the day. And then the money in theater was, it’s ridiculous. You’re not making ‑‑ you do it for the love, you don’t do it for the cash. I couldn’t afford either one of those and I felt, what I can I do? And I can help people get organized because I know what it feels like to be in utter chaos and not be able to figure your way out as much as you crave it. And that’s when I started the business and I feel that my, from day one, I feel like my purpose, my mission, of my company and all of the work that I do is to just tame the chaos in people’s lives so that they can make their unique contribution.
And I do believe that every individual on this earth is a very unique individual, unique set of skills and talents and sensibilities and perceptions and interest that combine into a person that is going to make a one‑of‑a‑kind contribution in this world. And when you are disorganized, you can’t make that contribution.
You can’t. You stop looking for your keys or you can’t find your ideas or you write them down and you can’t find, you have to do them again. That’s really what the purpose is and I do that through physical organizing. I do that through time management, that led to a lot of productivity in working companies and for companies, helping whole companies change their time management culture.
And it just keeps shedding now which is really de‑cluttering which is very different than organizing.
Julie: It is about managing change. But it’s all geared to that same purpose. It’s helping tame the chaos in people’s lives so that they can make their unique contribution.
Bonnie: And that’s a lesson we hear from our clients all the time that they’ve wanted to lose weight or they’ve wanted to write a book and they took the time to stop and get organized. And by doing so, they freed up both the space and the time and the mental clutter to accomplish their long‑term goal. And they didn’t even realize that was going to be a result of cleaning out the closet or cleaning out the guest bedroom. So it’s a very valuable lesson to look ahead at the long term, not just cleaning out your space but making room in your life for those more important things.
Julie: Well, I have found in my 20 years that no matter how high the piles or how chaotic the life and how long that’s been going on. Breakthrough comes for every single person when they see something on the other side of the clutter that they desperately want. It is not when they are looking at the piles or the mess that they can find a solution. It’s when they see something on the other side that they want. So, in my case, I was disorganized for years and as many weekends as I spent trying to organize and failing. I was just looking at the piles. When I had a kid, it was no longer about the piles. It was about I wanted to give my daughter a good life.
That was what was on the other side of the chaos. And then all of a sudden I could figure out a system because I saw the goal and I think that you have to stop looking at the mess and identify what every single client, I always ask when you are organized what are you going to be able to do that you cannot do now?
We have to focus on that and then the system comes from that and serves that goal. That’s the whole point. Stop looking at the mess.
Bonnie: I love that.
Matt: Yeah, Julie, people are so overwhelmed with making to‑do list and following through with it. Do you have advice on basic steps on starting to organize your to‑do list and how to make sure that you’re able to follow through on the to‑do list that you put together.
Julie: Sure. So, I think the number one mistake people make in creating a to‑do list is only asking one question. And that question is what do I need to do and that list of course can go on for seven pages. I need to, I need to do this and I need to do that and I have to organize this and I have to register my car and I have hire a handyman and I have to update my resume and blah, blah, blah, blah. It just can go on for seven pages. What’s missing from that is how long will each of those things take, which is question number two. And question number three is, when will I do it. So a to‑do that is not connected to a when rarely gets done.
Julie: Right, right? So if you just have a to‑do sitting on a master to‑do list that is not connected to a when in a week, when in a month, what day, what time are you going to do it and how long is it going to take. You’re not going to get it done. It is so rare because how are you going to get it done? There is no time set aside to do it. And things don’t happen in our free time or our spare time because the truth is you show me one person who’s got spare time. There’s no such thing as spare time. Right? Spare time happens when somebody cancels an appointment but that’s not…are you even going to remember where the list is at that time?
And then when you find it, it’s seven pages long. You’re going to spend that 90 minutes, your surprise 90 minutes, you’re going to spend half of it looking through your seven list page trying to pick what do I do now that I have some free time. So I really don’t believe in master to‑do lists. I don’t think they work. I think that every to do, as you think of it, you should ask what is this to do, how long is that going to take me, that’s an hour, that’s a half an hour, that’s ten minutes, and when am I going to do it? Turn to that page in your planner and write it down on the day you’re going to do it. You know, I’m going to make this phone call on Thursday. It’s going to be probably 15 minutes.
And, you tie your to‑dos to the date that you’re going to do them. And then, you really need to look at your planner every day at the end of the day. Like at the end of every day you have to plan tomorrow plus two, which is look at what’s on your list for tomorrow plus two days beyond that. I think like a three day arc is very important in our fast changing world.
You know, it’s like surprises come in every day and you have to sometimes reshuffle things. So, you need a three day arc to get perspective when you’re reshuffling you’re not like just pushing everything until tomorrow, but oh, I forgot, tomorrow I’m in an all‑day workshop or I can’t really do things tomorrow. So, you need a three day arc.
And, I think it’s that discipline. And then, you have to become a master at time estimating. And, that’s hard for people. It’s hard for people to do.
Bonnie: That’s a great tip. Now, Julie, you mentioned the planner. You have a new planner out called the Balanced Life Planner. I was able to take a look at it this week and I love it. This planner really has everything that, you know, previous planners that I’ve ever seen kind of lacked. Can you tell us a little bit about the planner?
Julie: Yeah, sure. So, I designed this planner with FranklinCovey. And, it’s based on my many years of working with clients. And as you said, Bonnie, it’s like everything that wasn’t in planners. It was like all of the blind spots of all the planners that existed, which is…
Bonnie: Because all of my clients carry one planner and then three other planners to make up all of these components. So, you combined them all in one.
Julie: That’s exactly right. So, you know, I think of every day as kind of, you know, it’s a closet, right? You’ve got a limited amount of space. It’s only going to fit so much. So, when many, many planners are just a tiny little, skinny little place or a small little block for each, you know, for the day. And, this really spreads out. You’ve got like two pages per day. And on the left side is the morning and the afternoon spread out. You’ve got plenty of room to write and fill in what can you do in a half an hour, what can you do in a quarter hour.
It really like opens up the day like a closet and you can arrange everything inside it.
And then there’s also on every day, you can record the tasks that you’re going to do that day. And, I have it blocked out, and I used to always tell clients, batch your calls and batch your to dos because it’s more efficient, right?
If you have to make a bunch of calls, it’s better to do them, it’s more efficient if you do them in a row.
Julie: Power out. I’m going to spend an hour making phone calls. Bam, you do it. And to dos take a little bit more focus, usually a little more time. And so, the pages are laid out to group to dos separate from calls so that you actually, you have a coach in every page. So, it’s saying batch your calls, batch your to dos. And then, there’s a time estimating column next to every single to do and call. It encourages you to put a time estimate.
And then, this is just what I’ve always coached clients in, and now do the math and see if it’s going to fit, right? If you have four hours free tomorrow, do you have four hours of to dos, or do you have eight hours of to dos? Right? Is it going to fit?
Bonnie: And, most of the time people are very surprised that it won’t all fit, but they’re insisting it will. So now mapping it out is a very, very useful tool.
Bonnie: You have the actual time map notepad in here. Can you give us a tip on how to use that?
Julie: So, a time map is a template for your week that carves out regular times for each of the big departments of your life because most people feel it’s very hard to stay in balance. You know, it’s hard to balance your time between work and personal. And in your personal life it’s very hard to balance your time between your family and yourself and maybe your community or your friends. And it’s very hard to stay in balance. So a time map is a fundamental tool that carves out regular time for family, for work, for yourself that is routine time just like when you were in kindergarten and used to have reading time and arts & craft time and free play time.
And you can create a time map for the week that carves out the big blocks and you can insert that. There is a plastic sleeve. And it becomes a little bit of a guidepost as you are planning your individual days. So if you decide that, I don’t know, seven to nine a.m. every morning is family time, what is it that you are doing in that time. You can write that down on the daily but in the time map you know that that’s family time and you shouldn’t be doing business calls between seven and nine am because that’s family time, keep it pure.
You know nine to noon if you work, or have a business, might be, I don’t know, client development time. And you should only be focused on that from nine to noon and not be stopping every five minutes to just check email randomly or stop and do your expense report because late afternoon is when you do all of your administration stuff.
And it kind of creates a flow that enables you stay very focused on the moment knowing that you have a time set aside already for all the other departments of your life. It is the best way I could describe it. The time map is like a guide to your week that keeps you in balance.
Bonnie: I think it’s such a valuable tool because so many times I work with clients who can’t stay focused and they say “well, I am trying to make a call and then I am getting a call and I am trying to write an email.” And it’s developing of focused times that will really produce results.
Julie: Yeah, but one of the things that I have found is in recent years, as the world has gotten more, with the Internet and email and global economy and just global communication, it’s a 24/7. There are no edges to the days and it is very hard to set up boundaries and people feel there is a kind of like opportunity overload. We all talk about information overload but there’s opportunity overload. And there is so much that we can do in any given moment that it’s so overwhelming that there is an enormous amount of procrastination that takes place. And a lot of the new technologies are really convenient procrastination devices, right. Email is world’s most convenient procrastination device. You know, the Internet, and web surfing, and now Twitter, and Facebook and all of this. And it is because people don’t have their days chunked up into doable modules in a way, and so they don’t know what to do. So they just disappear into the easiest distraction. And a time map subdivides your day into sections that are much easier to stay focused and concentrated on.
It is like for two hours I need to work on my, I don’t know, this is a plan on my writing or my communication time. And then it’s easy to plan for two hours worth of communication. Then you don’t procrastinate, because it is like well I have ten calls to make, or I have four letters to write. And that’s going to take two hours. So by subdividing your day it’s easier to plan and it eliminates a large portion of the procrastination that people fall into because they are so overwhelmed.
Bonnie: Absolutely. Now one of the things in the monthly calendars and helpful tips section that I really like is the monthly results tracker and the life categories and goals. Can you tell us a little bit about that and how listeners can use that?
Julie: Yes. So in order to really achieve anything you have to be pretty clear on your goals, right. And you’ve got various life categories. You’ve got work and self and family and friends. And then you may have other things like community or finances, friendships. I never encourage anybody to have more than six categories of their life. Like you should be able to, just like your closet shouldn’t have ten categories of clothes when you keep it pretty simple. You’re trying to juggle your time between five or six broad categories. And every month, there’s a section for you to write down for each category, what is my goal for this month when it comes to work? What is my goal this month when it comes to myself? What’s my goal when it comes to family or friends?
And you write down what your goal is for the month. And then beneath that you can say, now that’s my goal, what are my activities get me there? Because a goal is, I want to feel closer to my kids. That’s a goal. What are the activities to get you there? It’s to read to them every night. It’s to have dinner together three nights a week. And it’s to spend 15 minutes of one on one time with each kid, every single day.
Activities take a certain amount of time and have to actually get put into your schedule. When are you going to have that one on one time? But, you write that down at the beginning of the month, and then you can track what your results are, you know, how did it go for you. At the end of the month, you go right back to it, and these are my goals, and these are the results. So, at the beginning of the month, you put the goals and activities.
At the end of the month, you stop and reflect on those goals. And what was my results? I spent that time with the kids. I feel like I so understand Johnny now. Like, I didn’t understand what was going on with him before. I get why he’s struggling in school. That’s great. And what are my next steps? And it gives you a monthly way to keep all of your activities tied to your goals and track the results and make next steps out of it.
Which really creates a very fulfilling meaningful days and weeks in a sense of accomplishment. And being on task and on goal, rather than, I have goals, but I’m too busy with life to get to them.
Bonnie: And that’s what I like the best about where it is. Is that it’s in the planner, so, it’s something you’re going to have with you. Because a lot of people will write down goals and put them on their wall at home, or put them on the mirror in the morning and things like that, on a Post‑It note. But, these stay with you all day. So, your daily actions can impact these goals. And you’re constantly reminded of them. That’s something I really like about it’s location in the planner.
Julie: Yeah. Great. That’s exactly what it was designed for. Yeah.
Bonnie: One thing I love about this planner is that you actually are able to change the month out every single month. So, you’re not carrying around this big heavy, heavy planner that you can change every single month out. And one other thing I love is the leather case that you can purchase as an accessory. Can you tell us what helped you design these components?
Julie: Well, you know, working with clients over the years, I found that actually more clients work well with paper planners than with electronic. You know, a lot of people are very visual tactile. Their thinking works better paper to pen. They write things down, it helps them think things through, and remember them. And they’re paper and pen people. But, planners, paper planner systems were so bulky. So, you know, who wants to carry around like this giant, ring‑bound thing? [laughter]
It was weighing people down. And all this technology was coming out which, you know, you could have all that information in the size of something the size of your hand. It’s so much lighter, but it didn’t actually work for people’s mental process. They do better when they write. So, I wanted to create a planner that would give them ‑‑ you could capture everything, but it’s slim and light weight and super mobile.
And that’s what this spiral bound is. So, there’s one spiral bound booklet that captures the monthly planner for the whole year and the monthly goals and the monthly results. And that’s sort of your big road map. And then each month has its own booklet which is the Daily View. And it’s like 30, 31 days, two pages per day. So, at any given time, you could be carrying around two very slim booklets. And then the leather ‑‑ you could do it just like that ‑‑ you don’t even need the leather, if you really want to be slim.
But, if you want to encase it, having a beautiful leather case that feels good when you pick it up and open it up. And you’re proud to take out. I wanted something that people were excited to use, to house it. Because I think order, it’s what makes our life run. So, you want to house things with not just dignity, but style and make it fun to use. I think it has to be fun to touch and fun to use. And, so there’s color and great quality materials. And it looks good in a meeting.
Bonnie: Absolutely. That’s what our listeners can’t see right now, is that it looks, it’s a natural beautiful exterior to the planner. And one of the other things that I really like, is that it comes with detailed instructions. So, if our listeners are interested in the planner, and they’re thinking, oh my gosh, I’m never going to remember how to use all of these pieces. You’ve given out instructions on how to best utilize and even how to assemble it in the carrying case if they choose to do so.
Julie: Yeah. And that was actually an improvement. When we first came out, we didn’t have the how to assemble piece. We got so many people asking, “Well, how do you assemble it?” So, we created a really beautiful, full color, full of graphics, how to assemble it has solved our problem. And it really shows people how to use pages and how to take advantage of every single one of the features. And it doesn’t take a long time to learn.
Matt: And another thing, one of the biggest thing is, a lot of people, at least when I was going to college, I brought a planner, and then you really have no idea of how to use it. And that’s just a nice way to… Because people who are buying planners are not conceptually very organized in some cases. And being able to have that type of a road map is so critical to actually making it a useful tool for them to excel in their daily lives.
Julie: Yeah. And, I think, that, yeah, that’s one of the problems with a lot of the products. There’s no instructions, no how do you use it. And, so, I really wanted to solve that, so, people can be independent.
Matt: Right. Now, Julie, where is the best place for people to pick up one of these planners?
Julie: They can buy it from where ever they are in the world. They can get it on line at franklincovey.com. And then, you can just either type in my name, and you’ll find it. Or, type in “balance life planner,” it will come up. Or, you can do franklincovey.com/julie, and then you’ll get to the page.
Julie: And it’s ecommerce. They ship everywhere.
Bonnie: Great. Can you tell us about your other books, and how those can help our listeners meet their organizational goals?
Julie: Sure, so, let’s see, so, we talked a little bit about organizing from the inside out, right? Which is really, it’s all about how do you organize your life and your spaces. It mostly focus on physical organizing based on your unique personality and goals, so that your system is so organic to you can’t mess it up. That’s the fundamental principle behind that. That was my first book. And, I think, it’s still considered a bible of organizing to many, many, many people.
Julie: And time management from the inside out is really the basis of this Balanced Life Planner. And it teaches you how to view time. Like a closet, it’s build on that metaphor, it’s limited space, it’s only going to fit so many things. So, what you put in is really important. And how you put it in is going to make a difference between how much you get out of your day. Just like how you organize the stuff in your closet and group things makes it easier to make better use of the space. I wrote a book called “Never Check Email In The Morning,” which is focused exclusively on productivity at work. And it’s a series of very counter‑intuitive strategy to be more productive and efficient in a fast moving 24/7 workplace. A lot of the advice is the last thing that you think will make you effective, but it’s actually what will work. There’s nine different competencies in that. And that book has been translated into training programs that are taught globally in Fortune 100, Fortune 500, companies around the world, train their people in the contents from that book. That’s very powerful and effective.
And then, “Shed,” my latest book, is on de‑cluttering. On how de‑cluttering is very different than organizing, and it helps people actually succeed. It’s the hardest thing to do. It identifies what’s the right moment for de‑cluttering, which is really the moment of transition, when you are in transition in your life. That’s when you want to get de‑cluttered. You can’t organize, but you can de‑clutter.
And how do you do it in a way that is going to actually propel you forward? It’s not painful, but it is actually a self‑involving process, that you really grow from; and it’s actually pleasant, believe it or not.
And fast. And “Shed” is something we do purely by coaching; we rarely are hands‑on with the shedding. And I am telling you, I’ve had clients who have spent years with clutter and stuff that’s obsolete. It’s not stuff that needs to be organized, it’s “stuff” that needs to go. And they were stuck for years, and I had one client, in four hours, went from 50 inches of files, to five, after years of not being able to go anywhere near her filing cabinet without getting lethargic, and then going and taking a nap. When she had been trying to clean them out for years, and couldn’t even open the drawers. In three or four hours, 50 inches to five, with no effort. And client, after client, after client.
It’s about changing the way you view what clutter is. Change your relationship to what you’re even calling clutter and then going through a series of steps that make it very easy to release, and it’s very powerful. I’m very excited about “Shed” because, for years, I always said that you can get organized without throwing anything out, and that’s true. De‑cluttering has nothing to do with organizing.
What is it, and what makes it so hard? There are times when we need to get rid of the old. How do you do it in a way that enables you to succeed, and you’re not paralyzed? And that’s what this book has been doing because that’s what we do in the field.
Bonnie: Absolutely. What I love about your series of books is that it breaks things down into manageable tasks for the reader that it’s not a topside view; it’s small, manageable, daily things that they can do and change to meet their goals, and it’s working with the way they already live to meet those goals. It’s not a complete reversal of their existing habits. That’s what I think makes these books really different, in my opinion, from a lot of the other organizing books out there.
Julie: Right, right. It honors the individual. And it’s designed to take a process so that you can express your individuality. So we’re not going to change you, but these are the practical steps. And I guess that’s what I’ve done for years. We work with clients, and then I study, what are the steps, what are the repetitive steps that are taking place here? And then I’m able to document that. And that’s what the books are. They’re a documentation of the process that happens in the field and, I don’t know, it’s a talent that I have, or a skill, to be able to extract it, and observe, oh, this is what we’re doing over and over and over again. This is mechanics, and I can really identify what the mechanics are, while honoring what the emotions are. But you don’t just try to cheer somebody on; you show them what they need to do, too.
Julie: Yeah, yeah.
Matt: Now, Julie, do you have any other closing thoughts on helping our listeners with time management?
Julie: The way I see time management is it’s much less about just managing the tasks. I think the tasks are a piece of it. But really good time management is about managing your energy, and your brainpower, for peak performance, for peak enjoyment of life. And you want to make sure you achieve the right balance, because balance energizes us. When we’re out‑of‑balance, we’re not getting all the fuel we need. We’re getting some of the fuel we need, but not all. So, we see that we’re not operating efficiently, and we’re kind of pushing against exhaustion, and that’s sort of self‑defeating. And then you have less energy. And when you strike the perfect balance, your energy is soaring; because your whole machine, the body of you, is getting all of the nutrition it needs, right?
Family, and work, and self, and you just feel whole, and feeling whole gives you energy, and then you can do more, and you’re more engaged in the world. So balance is in the service of energy, grouping similar tasks in your day is in the service of energy, and brainpower, that you’re more efficient.
And planning these realistically, Bonnie, As you were saying, when you wake up to a day that is doable, you jump out of bed in the morning. You don’t want to hit the snooze button 10 times. You hit the snooze button 10 times when you have a day that is so unrealistic, you don’t even want to get out of bed. You know?
Julie: So, when you plan your days realistically, and you bite the bullet, and you look at how long things take; and then, now you start really choosing what’s most important because it’s not all going to fit. So now, if it’s not all going to fit, now, these are the five things that I’m going to do because those what really count. You get excited, you wake up, you knock down all those “to do’s”, you check them off, it makes you feel great, gives you more energy, and it enables you to focus on everything you’re doing, and you’re not distracted. And that’s all about what’s full engagement in life. And I think that’s what good time management will do for you. And it’s just a skill, and it’s all very learnable. The Balanced Life Planner focuses on five core time management skills; that’s what it teaches you. It teaches you them; there’s a few pages of teach in there, and then all the pages are designed to have you implement and run your life around these five key skills. It’s just mechanics and it works.
2010 is an exciting year, I think. We’re coming out of darkness, [laughter] and I’m so happy about that. And I think, bring forward the lessons of this year; and now the opportunity moving forward, and organization is the great enabler. If you’re organized with your time, your space, you can really feel anything you want. And it will be fun. So invest the time to get organized. It’s really worthwhile.
Bonnie: Absolutely. And I think that’s something our listeners are very steadily learning, is that organization and time management is a learned skill. It takes time. And if you fail once, keep trying. Using this planner every day will teach you those skills over time. So if you fall down once you don’t necessarily have to throw your arms up in the air and give up.
Julie: No, not at all. I learned the skill, right? And I know many, many people have learned the skill. It’s not just an innate talent that some lucky people are born with. You can learn it.
Bonnie: Absolutely. Now, Julie, how can our listeners get in touch with you and see your other products?
Julie: Well, they can come to my website, which is juliemorgenstern.com, and Morgenstern has an “e.” But, I think if you misspell it you’ll still end up at the right place, thanks to the gods of the Internet and programming. All our contact information is there. We have, I think, a “Hire Julie” tab, where if anybody’s interested in more information or anything, they can fill that out. Or call the number that’s on the website. I think the website is the best starting place.
Matt: Well, Julie, thank you so much for being on our show today. We really appreciate you taking time out of your busy day to talk with our listeners here.
Julie: It was my pleasure.
Bonnie: Thank you so much, Julie.
Matt: And happy holidays, everyone, and thanks so much for listening. [music]
Matt: This concludes this week’s installment of “The Joy of Organizing” on Diva Toolbox. Your hosts are Bonnie and Matt Dewkett, of “The Joyful Organizer.” You can learn more about “The Joyful Organizer” by visiting www.thejoyfulorganizer.com. Be sure to tell your friends to tune in Wednesdays from eight to nine p.m. Eastern Time for more organizing tips to help you create your joyful home. Thanks for listening. Good night.
Transcription by CastingWords