As we all know, it is possible to share space with others who do not hold the same values or wishes as you do when it comes to organization.
That may mean a neat-freak sharing space with a messy one, a “piler” with a “filer” or any combination of things. Or you may also find that, while your spouse respects your wishes for organization, your children do not.
So how to bring a messy, divided house together?
The reality is that it’s more about sharing and communication than the organizing systems you implement. Sure, those are important, but they will get you nowhere until everyone is on board.
If possible, resist the urge to nag, bribe or blackmail. This rarely works and can often fall on deaf ears, since there is no lasting emotional or physical incentive for change.
Instead, call a Family Meeting. Taking the time to express how you are feeling and exploring possible outcomes gives accountability to all members of the home, and will help move the focus away from you and onto the family working together as a unit.
Get a large blank pad and some fun markers so that you are able to produce a physical result from this conversation that everyone can read or refer to later. During the meeting, divide the conversation up into two segments: current state, and future (desired) state.
When discussing your current state, take turns going around the room and have everyone describe their experience in the house. This is not about blame or pointing fingers. Chances are, if you are frustrated with the lack of organization in the home, other people are too!
The key to this activity is asking lots of questions. Here are some good examples:
- When do you feel most stressed out?
- How do you feel when you are late?
- When things are messy, it makes me feel ___________.
The idea here is to unify everyone under the common experience of pain
When we live in chaos, lots of things happen as a result: chronic lateness, lost assignments, work reports, keys and shoes. People snap at each other in frustration, or blame one another when things go wrong or missing. By talking about these things – everyone, not just one person, can begin to get on board with finding a solution.
Which brings you to the second part of the conversation: Discussing your future or desired state. This time, focus questions on what can be done to alleviate the pain expressed during discussion of the current state. This should come easily, as everyone will be warmed to the topic and poised to create change.
Try discussing the following topics:
- If I could have one room in the house be tidy, it would be _____________.
- What is something that I could do for ten minutes that would make a difference in the house?
- When would be a good time of day to do that one thing?
- Helping keep things organized would make me feel _____________.
Again, the goal here is to come together as a family. By the end of the conversation, you should have a list of action items that each member can do to contribute to working together on household organization.
The challenge is not over once this family meeting has ended. In fact, it has only just begun! The hard part is keeping up the work. Most family members will stick to the commitments they made for a few days, then grow lax as work responsibilities, school and sports schedules take over.
To sustain the work, you must do two things:
- The first is to NOTICE when people help out with organization tasks around the house. Say thank you and express how much it helps. This reinforces the good that they are doing, and will help to keep it going into the future.
- The second is to sustain the work by continuing to have those family meetings. Checking in to see how everyone is doing and updating the tasks as needs change will help to continue this work into the future.
You can continue to use the future state / desired state framework if that seems to be working, or change it up by simply checking in with questions of your own. Commit to once a week, once a month, or however often works for your family. This is the only way to keep your family’s hard work and organization going into the future.
Here are some posts that may help:
The 3 Best Ways to Keep Your Organized Space… Organized!
Here Are 6 Tips That Will Make Any Organizing Project Successful
Four Great Products for Back to School Organizing
Top 5 Garage Organizing Solutions
“GO” Organization Tips: Handling Piles of Papers