Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Organised Or Tidy?

A month or so ago I went to a de-cluttering workshop. It was quite interesting and worthwhile. So I thought I would share some of my thoughts about it. 

I've alluded to the fact before that I struggle with housework and organisation. However, I'm trying to be somewhat better at it.  Or, at least, as good as I'll ever be.

The workshop was held by my local council. There was a professional organiser who spoke for about two hours. Her name was Susanne Thiebe. You can visit her website here and her Facebook page here

One of the most interesting things I picked up was that de-cluttering, organising, tidying and cleaning are all completely different things. This should seem obvious, but to a scatter brain like me it was a revelation.

In fact, you could say I had a bit of a light bulb moment. I realised that while I am not tidy, (and probably never will be) I'm relatively organised. Or, at least much more organised than I originally believed. 

Now, I'm not saying that I'm organised in quite the same you may be. My version of organised probably looks like a horse's arse or dog's breakfast (or insert whatever hot mess you can think of) to the more anal efficient among us. 

However, I have to take into account the fact that I am an Aspie. This means that I struggle with executive function issues. Additionally I believe I have ADD.

Therefore I'm a person with ASD and ADD who is in charge of running a very small house with five people living in it. You could also argue that all five of us have varying degrees of ADD-like personality traits, plus a tendency to be borderline hoarders.

Not to the point where we need to climb over all the clutter or require a massive intervention, but still... we have semi hoarding tendencies. But I've always told myself it's NOT hoarding if it's books...ahem...

Anyway my point is, I now believe that I'm reasonably organised when all this is taken into account and I'm not comparing with others. 

The analogy that was used in the workshop to demonstrate how tidy and organised are two different things was this: 

If you have a bucket or crate full of shoes sitting in your front hallway, is it tidy or is it organised? 

The answer: it depends.  For some it would be neither. For a family who is always looking for their kids shoes, if it works and they can find them there most of the time; it's organised. Not particularly tidy, but organised. 

Another example Susanne gave was of her own mother. She explained that she uses her coffee machine two or three times day. Every single time, she cleans it and puts it away in a cupboard, only to have to lug it out again. See? Tidy, but not organised. 

She also voiced something I've thought in the back of my mind for many years: the lifestyle programmes (Better Homes & Gardens, The Living Room etc) do as much damage to our minds as looking at the supermodels in fashion or women's magazines.

Realistically you know that the model is a freak of nature to start with. Furthermore the images are retouched. But there's still that little part of you thinking: but wouldn't it be great to look like that? 

Likewise with lifestyle programmes. We're all seduced into thinking that our homes should always look like the homes we see on these shows.

According to her, (and she is an industry insider) these de-cluttering 'gurus' have a team working with them.When a segment is filmed it often takes input from the entire team and a good week (at least) of work. This is all edited into a neat little nine minute segment where we see before and after shots.

The infamous KonMari Method was also brought up during the session. This is a de-cluttering method that was invented by Marie Kondo. I had borrowed her book  The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up from the library and started reading it the day before I attended the session. I was trying really hard to keep an open mind about it, hoping to give the method a red hot go.

But only a few chapters in I was already beginning to see flaws in it. I know there's a whole community of eager converts who'll heartily disagree with me. I suspect there's a reason I never make any mum friends. Or any friends, really. Sigh. 

First of all, Susanne pointed out that Marie Kondo is a Japanese woman with no children. (Although a quick glance at her wiki page reveals that she does have one child). The simple fact of the matter is, the more people that live in your home the more stuff there will be and the more mess. In saying that, it doesn't mean that I totally give up and raise my children in squalor. But it does mean that any expectations of gleaming white perfection are unrealistic. For me.

Truth be told I'm not a fan (of gleaming white perfection) anyway. We visited some exhibition homes recently and I honestly didn't like all the bright shinyness. I don't know if it's a Ness thing or an ASD thing. but it makes me seasick and headachey.  Anyway, I digress. 

Secondly, some of the Konmari advice is a tad dubious. The idea is that you keep only the things that 'spark joy'.  The thing is, my boys passion for Lego has never particularly sparked any joy for me. But it does for them. So whose joy are we supposed to spark?

Plus, apparently when you're de-cluttering you're supposed to not tell your family or let them see. How does that work? They live here. Suffice to say, I don't quite get it. But considering that this book and method is a sensation and all the rage at the moment, I guess I'm the weird one. Oh well, nothing new there...

Moving on from the Konmari Method...

Another notable piece of advice during the workshop was that storage systems/solutions WILL NOT make you organised.

We were told DO NOT go out and buy more containers/stationery/pretty bits and pieces thinking they're the answer. Also don't buy any of the books out there on the subject.

Just like the Konmari method, a lot of these books are written by people in different circumstances and cultures than we have. For example, Americans typically have basements and attics which are generally not a thing in the majority of Australian homes. 

We were given an information booklet covering these areas: 










You can find out more about these workshops and where you can attend one over here. This is not sponsored at all, I just found it interesting and thought others might as well. 

Meanwhile, I suppose I had better actually take some of the advice and JUST START!

Right, I'm off to shift some stuff! 

Linking up for IBOT. 

What do you think?

Are you tidy or organised? Or both?

Do you believe they are different things? 

Do you have any de-cluttering tips? 


  1. I've never thought about tidy and organised being separate things before. I do consider myself an organised person however but I am not always tidy so I guess it makes sense!

    Re the KonMari method. I admire people who are able to implement it but it just wouldn't work in our household of 5 either!


    1. I think people who are able to implement it might be aliens. But that's just me...

  2. Ness, you will love my post today then on butler's pantries. For the love of god, WHY!!!! You'll be proud of me - I de-cluttered my wardrobe on the weekend - ie took out all the clothes that don't fit and folded them neatly until I lose weight. Now I just have to put them away somewhere! Oh, and there are 2 piles to go to the charity bins but I still have to bag them up ... meh ... might go have some chocolate instead ...

    1. Ha ha I like the chocolate idea better than the butler's pantries!

  3. This is fascinating! I love it! I'm clean and organised, but not always tidy. I like to think of my house as periodically tidy :-) My mum, on the other hand, is all of the above and her house always looks like something out of Better Homes & Gardens. I just can't keep up with that level of housekeeping!

  4. I've been going through my house like a whirlwind for the past few weeks organising, declittering and cleaning like a fiend. I love the feeling of getting rid of another bag of stuff from my home, although I maybe becoming addicted to it lol

    1. Goo thing to become addicted to! Go for it.

  5. Oh I have to think about this.... I hate clutter and dirty / cluttered surfaces but am naturally messy. Usually the living space of my house is clean and my walk-in robe is a mountain of clothes!

    1. Ah yes, the old 'floordrobe'. I've only managed to avoid it because I don't have a walk-in wardrobe!

  6. I love tidy and organised and I am decluttering at the moment, but I also think KonMari is just a bit over the top.

  7. I am in desperate need of a declutter! We're doing the Garage sale trail this weekend so hoping to offload quite a bit. I do like the idea of decluttering lessons. I think that would be very popular in my small town ;) Hope you're making a dent in the cleanup xx #teamIBOT

    1. The Garage sale trail sounds interesting. Thanks it's progressing slowly.

  8. OMG...I NEED to attend this workshop! Pre kids I used to think I was tidy and organised, I probably was, but that's all gone out the window and bring a smaller house than we used to have into the piece and it's tough. I've been trying so hard but nothing seems to make me happy and I don't think it will unless I chuck a lot of stuff out, cold turkey. The thing about the basket of shoes at the front door, I'd do that and I'd call that being organised. :)

    1. Me too! It's whole different ball game with kids that's for sure!

  9. Hi Ness, thanks for the nice write up ( giga alerts found it for me) and back links. Seems like I will see some of your readers at my workshops, soon. So happy to hear about your light bulb moment - because this is my mission, to find individual solutions and get people excited and motivated.

  10. Organised Christmas Really impressed! Everything is very open and very clear clarification of issues. It contains truly facts. Your website is very valuable. Thanks for sharing.