How To Get Organized For Real: Figuring Out Your Zero

Tired of the overwhelm and guilt with the state of your house? Do you need help organizing your space and dealing with clutter? Ready to implement a proven system to help get and keep you organized? Here is a new way of thinking about how to get organized. Check out these four ways to get you to "Zero" that will set you up for organizational success.



(If you’re not sure whatZero is, you wanna read The Paradigm Shift to Zero.)  

It’s a great concept, right?  Describing your space in the same terms that you describe pain. Being able to quantify something that’s seemed so nebulous in the past.  Pretty dang revolutionaryif I do say so myself!  

And the ripple effect of the seven basic premises of Zero is HUGE.  

1. YOU decide what Zero is for each space.  

WHAT?  Yep!  You decide what organized looks like.  Not your mom or your sister or your messy 16-year old son.

2. When your space is at Zero, you’re not stressed out by it.  

Uh huh.  I said it.  The gut-wrenching angst your space used to induce?  Gone. 

3. Zero is NOT perfect because it’s REAL.   

Giving perfectionism the boot. Always a solid call. 

4. Zero allows you to work in layers.  

What’s that you say?  Layers?  Meaning manageable chunks that still let me live my life and watch TV AND make progress.  Absolutely. 

5. Zero will allow you to ask for and receive the specific helpyouneed. 

I can’t even…Help?  Seriously?  Seriously. 

6. Zero enables you to successfully cope with life’s messiness.

Finally.  FINALLY.  Acknowledgment that life IS messy and is gonna be messy.   Living an organized life doesn’t mean never having to deal with messy again.  It means taking away messy’s power. 

7. The concept of Zero is the perfect daily reminder that we must decrease so that He may increase. 

Whewwwww!  A reminder we all need, for sure!

And you know what else?  Once Zero is established, you NEVER lose it.  No matter how crazy or messy or out of control your space may get, Zero is always under it.  Just waiting to be rediscovered.   Exhumed, if you will.  

Think about the sky for a second.  

Yup, the sky.  

If we think about a brilliant, clear blue sky as our Zero, then it doesn’t matter what type or how many clouds roll in.  It doesn’t matter what storms obscure that brilliance because the blue sky that we love is always waiting beneath it. 

With Zero, the same is true for your space.  

My beloved friend, Zero.  You are the apple of my eye. Using you is a no lose situation.  If it came down to choosing between you and my Kid Rock T-shirt quilt?  Well, I guess I’d have to kiss ole’ Bobby g’bye. 

There is one tiny hitch though. 

One hiccup, if you will, that will absolutely ruin the philosophy of Zero for ya’. 

And that hiccup, ladies and gentlemen, involves keeping your expectations for YOUR Zero realistic.  

Yes, you decide what Zero looks like for each space in your home. 

Yes, you get to decide what kind of space you feel good in.  

And yes, thinking in terms of Zero-- instead of organized or disorganized, neat or messy-- WILL change your life.


Because, y’all, it’s IMPERATIVE that Zero is doable.  That it’s REAL.  

Let’s look back at that sky for a second.  

Now I don’t know about where you live, but here in Nashville a perfectly blue, cloudless sky is a little bit of a rarity.  Don’t get me wrong.  We have beautiful weather here, and even when we don’t, no one really freaks out because it’ll change in about twenty minutes.  But absolutely cloudless?  If that’s what I’m banking on for a day to qualify as awesome, I’m gonna be disappointed.  Often.   

Making a cloudless sky our goal, or our Zero, is gonna make life tougher than it has to be.  Especially when I find a brilliant blue sky dotted with clouds--wispy and ethereal, billowy and beckoning--just as beautiful .  And you know what?  If I make THAT version of the sky my Zero, if I adjust my expectations to something that’s more realistic, I’m gonna have significantly more “LOOK AT THAT GORGEOUS SKY” days.   

So howdo you figure out Zero for your space?  How do you make sure you don’t sabotage yourself from the start with unrealistic expectations?  How do you adjust that cloudless sky expectation for an equally beautiful and tremendously more achievable cloud-inclusive one?

There are four things you need to keep in mind when it comes to establishing Zero for ANY space.  Four considerations you need to examine that will help keep you on the road to realistic.

1. An understanding of the type of environment in which you feel the ‘best’

Do you take comfort in the coziness of collectibles and photographs, or does that stuff make it feel like the walls are closing in?

Is your heart made happy by openness and clear surfaces or does that type of space feel too sterile and impersonal? 

Are you somewhere in the middle? 

There’s not a wrong answer, but you do need to be aware of your preferences so that your Zero can reflect them.  You’re not going to buy into something and commit to the work it takes to maintain it if it doesn’t feel like you, no matter how beautiful it may be. 

2. The amount of actual square footage available

I frequently say to clients who live in larger homes that their road to establishing Zero would look drastically different if they had less space.  Simply put, you’re limited by your square footage because it’s imperative that you leave room in your space to actually live.  To “do life.”  

It may seem silly to have to point this out, but the number of items included in your room are going to be proportionate to the overall size of that room.  If you have less space, there needs to be less stuff in it. 

3. The amount of time you have to maintain that space

Regardless of what The Rolling Stones may say, time is NOT on your side.  Most of us are in a constant race against the clock between work and family and friends and kids. The list goes on and on.  

And if you don’t have a ton of time available to maintain Zero in a space, then the space needs to contain fewer items.  Fewer items means there’s less opportunity for them to get messed up which means righting that mess takes less time and effort. 

4. Your current season of life

This is perhaps the most important consideration when establishing Zero.  And it’s also the one that people struggle with the most.  

If you have three kids under five, your Zero is going to look drastically different than it will when they’re teenagers.  Or when you’re an empty nester.  

If you have pets,  your Zero is going to look differently than it would if you didn’t have pets. 

Ifyou’re fresh out of college and working your first job, your Zero isn’t going to look like your friend’s Zero who’s ten years your senior.  

Taking the time to ponder these four things before jumping into a project is more important that I can ever adequately convey to you.  The type of surroundings you prefer,  your available space and time, and your current season of life all influence the bottom line when it comes to Zero. 

 It doesn’t matter that your answers are different from someone else’s because this whole thing is about you.  About your space.  The name of the game is not to keep up with the Jones’; it’s to set yourself up for success.  To set yourself up to face messy head on and know you’re gonna come out on top. 

Ultimately,  decreasing the regular level of chaos in your life allows you to focus on bigger things, on Kingdom things, things that will matter for eternity. 

Ready to start reflectin’ on those four areas?  Grab this printable to help organize your thoughts!

Tired of the overwhelm and guilt with the state of your house? Do you need help organizing your space and dealing with clutter? Ready to implement a proven system to help get and keep you organized? Here is a new way of thinking about how to get organized. Check out these four ways to get you to "Zero" that will set you up for organizational success.