Disorganization & Self-Judgment: Why this Toxic Duo should Unfriend Each Other


How does it make you feel to walk into a disorganized space in your home or office — to think about trying to find something in there, or having to work in there? Overwhelmed? Anxious? Angry? Those are answers that we hear a lot as professional organizers. Now, what about feelings like guilty, or ashamed? It can get pretty heavy when we stop and reflect on it all. We judge ourselves so harshly, and we suffer so greatly under the weight of negative thoughts and feelings.

At Ease Up, we’re concerned by how much self-judgment we encounter in our work with clients.

I have a story for you, if I may:

Before I started this company, there were about 10 years where I was unknowingly living with depression. I had thoughts in my head every day that told me over and over that I was no good, that I wasn’t going to amount to anything. It was horrible. But I developed various coping mechanisms during this time, and one of those mechanisms was becoming skilled at organizing.

Getting organized brought calm and peace of mind to my life when I desperately needed it. Organizing became something I could lean on when my stress and anxiety levels went up. It helped me feel more at ease.

Through this very personal experience, and as I’ve transitioned this skill into a professional operation, I have discovered the most powerful benefit of organizing: it ensures that our most valuable resources aren’t wasted. These resources being our time, our space, our money, our energy, and more than anything else, our sanity. Our mental wellness is a finite resource, and if we live in chaos, constantly withdrawing from that particular account, we will feel depleted.

Now, we all know that historically women have been chiefly responsible for domestic maintenance, which includes creating and overseeing the organizational systems within a household. Until around the midway point of the last century, women were able to hone their skills and become undisputed experts at cooking, cleaning, mending, etc. They were masters of home organization.

But times have changed, and so have gender roles.

New technologies reduced the time needed to perform household duties, families started to have fewer children, and employment opportunities increased (1). The feminist movement also picked up serious steam. Women began to work outside the home, as well as pursue higher education in greater numbers. From the early 1950s to today, Canadian women’s participation in the workforce (meaning they have a job or are looking for one) has risen from 25% to 82% (1), and the majority pursue higher education, too. Much to my personal excitement, 2017 figures show that 60% of post-secondary students in Canada are female (2).

One result of all this advancement for women is that they have less time available now to devote to becoming experts in household organization the way they used to.

We live in a fast-paced, ever-changing world these days, and women wear a lot of different hats to survive and thrive in it. We need to move quickly when changing our hats, sometimes resorting to wearing several at once: professional, parent, volunteer, student, friend, caregiver, and on and on. Over the past 50 years, the time that women have allotted to the development of “domestic” skills has decreased, while expectations to be extremely organized and efficient inside and outside of the home are higher than ever.

This is the reality of most women today.

Unfortunately, with all the bonkers technological advancements we are seeing all around us, somehow a method for adding more hours to the day so we can become experts in EVERYTHING has not yet been developed. We are busy pursuing our dreams, our educations, and our careers. We are becoming experts in other areas, but the demand for our organizational expertise has not subsided.

Which brings me back to my original point.

How do we respond to this impossible equation of too much demand and not enough supply? Why, good old nasty self-judgment, of course! We judge ourselves in the worst way — it’s heartbreaking and so unfair. I’ll let you in on something that may or may not surprise you: practically all our clients apologize to us when we start working with them. They’re so guilt-ridden about their unsatisfactory organizational systems, and they feel so ashamed that virtual strangers are not only witnessing it, but coming in and fixing what they believe they should be able to handle on their own. But it’s not their fault.

Our society has created unrealistic expectations that women can HAVE IT ALL!!

But as Gloria Steinem brilliantly asserts, “Women can’t have it all if we have to do it all”.

At Ease Up, we want to unburden our clients of this harmful self-judgment, and empower people to seek out support where they need it.

There’s no shame in our game, and we don’t want you to have any in yours. Our team is made up of magnificent, kind people who organize because they sincerely want to help people find more ease in their lives. Everyone at Ease Up approaches a client’s needs with compassion and non-judgment, with full understanding that being cluttered and disorganized is not a reflection of who a person is or their abilities. Instead, we recognize a fellow human being struggling to fulfill yet another expectation, wear yet another hat, and we feel privileged to offer support and guidance in this practical way.

Our name is Ease Up Organizing, but we don’t sell organization, per se. We use organization and efficiency solutions to provide ease of life to our clients. It’s important that they know that we’re in this with them —no apologies necessary. So, let’s kick self-judgment out the door along with all the other stuff cluttering up your space and holding you back from living your life with ease. It’s what we’re here for.

References:

1. Canada, G. O. (2017, March 03). The surge of women in the workforce. Retrieved January 26, 2018, from http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/11-630-x/11-630-x2015009-eng.htm

2. Cooper, L. (2017, March). The State of Women in Canada’s Economy. Retrieved January 26, 2018, from http://www.rbc.com/economics/economic-reports/pdf/other-reports/Women_Mar2017.pdf

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