The Secret to Getting Organized For Real- 3 Strategies for Getting the “Other People” in Your Life to Buy In

Getting organized is hard! Trying to get the rest of your family to jump on board is even harder. If you've ever struggled with getting your family and friends on board with getting organized, you've gotta check out this post!

Well.  Here it is.  I know you’ve been on the edge of your seat, right?  Waiting for the second most burning question in regards to getting organized. 

(In case you missed it, here’s the first!)

I told you before that it was a doozy.  

You ready? 

Deep breath.

How do you get the other people in your life to buy into the whole getting organized extravaganza? 

Told you it was a big one. 

Now let’s talk for a second about who those “other people” are in your life.  Anyone who shares your space qualifies as “other people,” mainly a spouse, child or children, and/or a roommate.   Sometimes family members and friends who don’t live with you qualify as well, especially if they’re fond of giving you things you didn’t ask for and then making you feel guilty for not keeping them, or they like to store things in your space.  The ole’ “Can you just keep it for a month or two? I promise I’ll pick it up real soon” is a qualifier for sure.    

Okay, so now that you know your audience, the very first thing you need to do is super simple.  You simply need to ask for their help.  

You need to say something like this:

“Look.  I’m super overwhelmed.  I feel like our home is always a mess.  I’m tired of always feeling stressed out about it.  I’m tired of the yelling and fighting it’s causing.  I want us to have more time, space, and energy for the good stuff in life.  I want friends to come over without me feeling embarrassed.  I want to be proud of our home.  I really want to get organized, and I need your support.”

Do not, I repeat, do not do things like whining or yelling.  (A few tears are okay if they’re legit.  No crocodile tears allowed.  That’s just manipulative.)  Stay away from giving ultimatums and placing blame too.  

If you notice my example above, it focuses on “I.”  By making it about you, your audience can’t really dispute what you’re saying.  They’re not in your mind; they don’t know how you feel!  It also adds an air of responsibility.  You’ve noticed there’s an issue, and you’re willing to take the lead on fixing it.  

Now, there are three main types of “responses” to a statement like the one above.  

The Supporter.  

The supporter is all in from the get-go.  Pretty much, whatever you need, the supporter is up for it.  Financial support, emotional support, help with the grunt work…You name it.   Some supporters might be more hands on while others prefer a more distant approach.  Regardless of where a Supporter falls on the spectrum, they’re 100% in and won’t act as a roadblock.  

If you’ve got a supporter in your life, the whole process is going to be so much easier.  Unless of course, they annoy the crap out of you with their positivity, brilliant ideas, and willingness to help.  I mean, come on.  Sometimes a girl just wants to do stuff her own way. 

The Ambivalent.

The ambivalent is pretty neutral about the whole thing.  He or she doesn’t really care all that much.   The ambivalent isn’t going to jump in the trenches with you but isn’t going to make the organizing process harder than it has to be either.  They’ll probably answer pointed questions and refrain from overt naysaying.

The ambivalent’s biggest question is going to be “How does this whole organizing thing affect me?” 

The Saboteur.

Oh, the Saboteur.  Just like the Supporter, there’s a spectrum here.  Some Saboteurs are just super negative while others overtly refuse to change anything.  ANY. THING.  

The Saboteur isn’t going to want to hear ANYTHING about ANY part of the organizing process.  Not only are you in the process by yourself but you may face flagrant rebellion.  I’m talking all out warfare.  

The thing you have working in your favor with most Saboteurs?  They’re not going to want to do the work required to undo everything you’ve done which means that you’ll still have to clean up behind them but hopefully, unless they’re super vindictive and need a hearty dose of the Left Foot of Fellowship, you won’t come home to trashed filing systems and or your cabinets emptied. 

Since the Supporter is all in, we only need to worry about how to get the Ambivalent and the Saboteur to buy into this whole process.   And there are three main ways to get them on board. 

3 strategies to get support on your organizing adventure

1. Make your plans SUPER clear. 

Usually, if you hit a roadblock, it’s because a person doesn’t know what’s entailed in an undertaking.  This uncertainty often rears its ugly head as fear or anger. 

Here are questions that you can answer up front to help alleviate those negative feelings: 

What areas of the home will you be organizing?  

Where will you start?  What’s your final goal? Break it down into super simple steps.  Don’t just say “the whole house” and expect them to suddenly jump on board.  (You may want to check out the post about how to choose an appropriate space to start!)

When will you be organizing?  

Will it be on weekends?  In the evenings? 

Do you plan for it to take up the majority of your spare time or are you planning on just working for a certain amount of time a day/week? 

How long will the process take? 

Who will be involved? 

Will a friend be helping you?  Will you be working alone?  Are you thinking of hiring a professional organizer?  Will family members/ housemates be required to participate?  If so, how often?

Will you be spending money? 

How will the project be funded?  What’s the budget? (Sometimes finances are the only reason a person is resistant to pursuing a project.)   

2. Be up front with your expectations of THEM.

Another reason a person may balk at an organizing project is because he or she isn’t sure what will be expected of him or her.  Again, that uncertainty usually shows up in a negative way.  

Here are a few things to make sure the other person or people who share your space know right up front.    And let me preface this by saying that you need to set the bar low.  Like, REALLY low.  If a person is resistant to start with, you want to make the whole process as easy on him or her as possible.  

Let them know that you’re running point on this project.

Putting this out there right up front will take the pressure off, ESPECIALLY if your track record isn’t stellar when it comes to follow through.  Remember that vegetable garden you insisted on a few summers back?  The one you were furious at your spouse for not maintaining?  Your spouse needs to know this won’t be a repeat incident. 

Assure him that you won’t get rid of any of his stuff without his permission AND that it’s okay if he doesn’t get rid of one single thing.  

The truth of the matter is that the less pressure you put on a person to purge, the more likely it is that he’ll do it on his own.  Sometimes within families, it becomes a power struggle instead of just an organizing project.  When my husband and I were staging our house to put on the market a few year back, my best friend had to help him clean out his closet.  The minute I mentioned organizing that space he immediately went on the defensive because he assumed I’d make him toss stuff.  Because my best friend helped him, there was no power struggle, and he ended up getting rid of pretty much everything I would have suggested!  

Besides, most people won’t get rid of ANYTHING until they know exactly what and how much they have.  (Check out this post on sorting for more info on this!)  And even if you get rid of nothing, at least you’ll know where everything is!

Make sure that they know if you require their assistance, whether it be in decision making or physical labor, that you’ll let them know in advance and will give them a general time frame of how long you’ll need the help. 

It’s never fun to come home after an exhausting day at work and have someone meet you at the door demanding you make decisions that are probably going to be difficult.  It’s also not fun to be held captive for an undetermined amount of time sorting through piles of dusty paperwork.  Sure, instead of “powering through”  (Never a good idea, BTW!) and finishing ASAP, the process may take longer, but it’s worth the extra time and effort for the experience to be a positive one. 

3. Be consistent even when it’s hard. 

Regardless of how much support you receive from the people that share your space, YOU need to stay committed to living an organized life.  This means doing the work involved even when you’re the only one doing it.  It means standing up for yourself when someone tells you to give up.  It means looking at the long-term big picture.  

Yes, it would be a heck of a lot easier if you had a little help.  That’s a no-brainer.  

The thing is, until the people in your life see that you’re serious about it, they may not commit.  Once you’ve established that this change is permanent and life gets better because of it, they may jump on the bandwagon.  And even if they don’t, I guarantee you that living a less than stellar version of your organizing vision is way better than the chaos that’s tried to suffocate you in the past.  

So Supporter, Ambivalent, or Saboteur?  Regardless of which one you’re dealing with, I promise that implementing these three strategies will make the organizing process a little less difficult and a lot more manageable.  

And the third most burning question regarding getting and staying (hint hint) organized?  I can’t wait to share it with you!