The Art of \’Zen Organizing\’
Someone once said that we are not physical beings having spiritual
experiences but rather spiritual beings having a physical experience. I
believe we each come here with unique talents. Just as the world is
waiting for your gifts, your soul is waiting for you to create an
environment that literally nurtures your best efforts rather than one
that sabotages you at every turn.
Imagine a large orchestra. The conductor brings the musicians to
attention. Suddenly he realizes that one of the violinists is missing.
The orchestra can continue and the audience will be pleased. But the
music cannot live up to its full potential because someone has not
shown up. It is just so with you: the world will not be the same
without your unique and special contribution.
For me the art of ‘Zen organizing\’ is establishing outer order so that
inner peace can reign. When I first became a professional organizer
over 16 years ago, I noticed that a finished project quite literally
felt different from the rest of the home. I wondered how I would
describe that palpable difference in words so that everyone would
While few have studied Zen as a spiritual philosophy, everyone seems to
identify the word with a feeling of serenity. I so loved this idea that
I used it as the title for my first book “The Zen of Organizing:
Creating Order and Peace in Your Home, Career and Life.” It is my
belief that with such a ‘Zen organized\’ home environment, you are in an
optimum position to hear the still, small voice of spirit directing you
to the work that is yours. And, once known, its fulfillment will be
easier in this environment.
The Magic Formula
What are the practical steps you might ask to achieving this
feeling of peace and calm? There are three and I call them The Magic
Formula because you can use them to organize any challenge you face
from an unruly closet, to papers in search of a file system to the
completion of a project for work. In fact when I teach my classes, I
challenge my students to offer a task that will not surrender to this
formula. I have yet to find one.
The first step is to eliminate what does not belong. Here are a few ways to eliminate the old or unwanted from your closet:
• Some items will be earmarked
for a charity. They will have a new lease on life while you receive a
tax deduction. This choice is truly a win/win for everyone involved.
• Other items will need to be tossed.
• Some things may need to be
taken to the area of the home where they belong. I frequently find
items like fans, hobby supplies and workout equipment on the floor of a
closet occupying valuable real estate that rightfully belongs to things
like shoes racks.
• Perhaps you have some things
that belong to a friend or family member? This is a wonderful time to
As we go item by item in quest of things to eliminate, you will
automatically be working the second step of the magic formula if you
place all the items that remain into categories. I like to use the
example of a closet because we all have them and the categories are
universal. Ergo, please keep your slacks, blouses, suits, shoes and
evening wear in distinct groups.
The final step of the Magic Formula is where you organize your
categories. Here you may need the assistance of a professional
organizer or a book like “The Zen of Organizing.”
Using a closet as our example, here are some practical tips to help you organize your clothing:
• One of the most efficient ways
to keep clothing categories in order (and easy to find) is by color.
Every section in a Zen organized closet goes from white to black
following the same color progression.
• All of the hangars are the same. Wooden hangars are now my personal favorite.
• The clothing faces the same direction.
• Shoes are off the floor and on shoe racks.
• If you have a lot of shoes, you
may want an over the door canvas shoe rack for your sporty shoes.
• You can also consider plastic shoeboxes with pull drawers.
• If you have lots of sweaters,
consider placing them in acrylic drawers on a shelf or in individual
plastic bags with zipper closures.
• Ladies handbags look prettiest
and maintain their shape when stored with a few pieces of rumpled issue
Just about every store now has a section for closet organizing supplies
so be sure and check out what\’s out there that will work best for your
particular needs. One word of caution: don\’t being home containers that
attract you because of their unusual shape or color with the idea that
‘one day\’ you will find ‘something\’ to put in them. This can result in
new clutter. Be sure and purchase just what you need and can use right
Reality: What a Concept
My best friend has a wonderful button collection. The one that
says: “Reality! What a Concept” has long been my favorite. Reading
about ‘Zen organizing\’ will hopefully stir within you the desire to
create a home that is not only a haven from the world but also a place
where you are free to express and nurture who you are at your core.
Achieving these results is possible with a little know how and some
elbow grease. Whatever has been in place until now is but the prologue.
There\’s no time like the present to begin this wonderful journey.