I am a wife, a mom and an entrepreneur with no separation amongst these roles. My to do list is often comprised of writing a new script for a class, preparing a webinar, picking up deodorant for my husband and ordering a braided belt for my fourth grader. I also work out of my home, which means that my office is also the mudroom. I love that I am home so much and don’t have to commute to work, but it can be difficult to stay organized melding so much into a 5X10 room.

I used to be a total Type A, self-proclaimed neat freak. Being uber organized is one of the best qualities I got from my dad, and I am the only one our of four siblings that inherited it. I am the sister that visits and organizes the fridge and cleans off your kitchen counters.

Somewhere along the way of raising kids I realized that I was always buzzing around like a busy bee, doing dishes because I couldn’t stand to have them in the sink, running clothes up to the laundry room so they wouldn’t be laying around, and straightening the book cabinet so it was nice and neat when you opened the door…instead of actually reading them with my kids. That isn’t to say that I never had quality time with my kids. I certainly did, but I can admit that I wasted valuable time when I could have been more present thinking about my to do list and cleaning up. So I eased up. I played games on the floor and did dishes later. I let stacks accumulate in my office, and I occasionally had to take uniform pants out of the laundry for a second wearing. I was prioritizing time with my kids which felt very right in my heart, but something was nudging me in the gut.

I eased up until I couldn’t stand to even sit in my office anymore. I had piles and stacks, unorganized files, and jumbles of cords so big that when I grabbed them with two hands to organize, it was so overwhelming that I just decided to shove them back on the shelf. Now, most of this mess was contained to my office which I made the excuse of being my “messy room.” I was ok with this exception as long as the rest of my house was neat, or at least neat to company. I had a few cabinets and drawers that were a total wreck but nobody could see them, which made it ok…sort of.

Something about the start of a new year, and being really ready to take my business to a new level in 2015, made me say ENOUGH, and I hired a professional organizer to help me whip my house, and mainly my office into shape. I felt overwhelmed and I really wanted to get this project going, like yesterday.

We had a consultation so I could show her all the areas I wanted to work on and within minutes I was bawling to this poor woman. I was overcome with emotion and started spilling my guts to someone I had never even met before. Have you ever done that? It is strange how sometimes it is even easier to let go with a person you hardly know!

What came pouring out is how I found it hard to balance being present with my kids while keeping up the house, finding time for self care, and running a growing business. I am running a business I love and adore, that fuels me beyond belief, out of a tiny office strewn with shoes and backpacks. I write next to a huge pile of papers, and there is nothing that feels productive or abundant about that. It was obvious that I needed to find more balance in my space, and that things feeling organized and neat was crucial for me so that I could focus on more important things like my family and my work. It is almost like putting the oxygen mask on yourself before your kids on the plane. I needed to clean up areas of my life that were out of control so that I could be successful and present in the really important ones.

This project facilitated self-awareness about issues I didn’t even realize I had. I now consider taking care of my spaces to be self-care because an organized environment helps me to stay clear and open to creativity, new ideas, and the flow of life. An organized space keeps me in the present moment and allows me to focus on one thing at a time, whether it be my family, my work, or myself.

Just like I teach others to do, I exhaled all the stress I felt associated with this project and inhaled the joy in knowing I was ready to tackle it. So together we made a game plan and determined what I needed to do on my own prep wise. I certainly didn’t need the organizer to sit with me at an hourly rate to watch me clean out papers and old markers. So I spent a few days over the holidays cleaning out drawers and cabinets until my husband asked me if I was pregnant. I was on a tear in the best sort of nesting way.

Then my organizer came back and we spent four hours together in my home and one buying out the Container Store. I swear, I could spend all day in there! I also had one trip to Officemax which was less overwhelming and more affordable. The best things there are the label makers. OMG! Total game changer.

In the pictures you can see the finished product, and I couldn’t be happier. I have a place for everything, and I can see my desk. Now when I sit in my office I feel inspired instead of distracted. We also organized all of my kids “stuff” in the kitchen so that they know where to find everything, and more importantly put everything away. I am hoping that this fosters more independence in the boys, and I got their buy in on the project with the promise that they got to help with the label maker. Side note: in addition to making things look nice, the label maker is an excellent bribery tool.

BEFORE:

Doesn't this look like a great working environment?
Doesn’t this look like a great working environment?
My "business partner" Lacy is the only good thing going on here!
My “business partner” Lacy is the only good thing going on here!
Can you pass me that file? The one crammed in so it doesn't really fit.
Can you pass me that file? The one crammed in so it doesn’t really fit.

AFTER:

Streamlined, clean, and a place for everything, especially all my creative ideas!
Streamlined, clean, and a place for everything, especially all my creative ideas!
So glad that my chap stick and essential oils won't be rolling around every time I take out my keyboard to type :)
So glad that my chap stick and essential oils won’t be rolling around every time I take out my keyboard to type 🙂
The kids have a homework station and know where to find and put away all of their things.
The kids have a homework station and know where to find and put away all of their things.
I got crazy with my label maker and organized all my meditation scripts along with every other piece of paper in the office!
I got crazy with my label maker and organized all my meditation scripts along with every other piece of paper in the office!

When I gazed at the finished product my first thought was, “what took me so long?” I very well could have suffered through another year surrounded by my piles and crap, but I am so glad that I bit the bullet and got started. This is very much a metaphor for life. We can eat healthy next year, write that book sometime, or learn to meditate one day. But if we put off what we are seeking body, mind, and spirit what are we missing out on now? Obviously it hurt something inside of me to be surrounded by chaos. I didn’t want to bring that energy into one more day, month or year than I needed to. Taking the steps toward a destination can feel overwhelming, but there is no way around it, only through it, and I have three huge trash bags and a large donation pile to prove it.

What project can you tackle that will bring more calm, presence, and peace to your life? How can you prioritize your needs and desires by admitting what you need from your space and relationships? Can you make a plan to facilitate the change? I know you can. Take a moment and tell yourself what you are going to clear in your space/relationships/life to make room for what you want this year. Join me, because I still have the pantry and my closet to go!

Share in the comments what you plan to let go of. Writing it down is a sure fire way to hold yourself accountable.

18 Comments on Cleaning Out My Office Became A Spiritual Experience

  1. Alyssa
    January 19, 2015 at 7:44 am (2 years ago)

    I love that…nothing like the satisfaction of a good organization! Your office looks great – especially the homework station! I am making one today. I’ve seriously been going nuts not knowing how to handle homework/library books/forms that need to be returned. My other goal is to streamline and organize our photos & videos. I’ve got such a backlog that it makes me not want to take photos of my kids anymore (something I love doing) because it’ll just add to the “pile.”

    Reply
    • Ali Katz
      January 19, 2015 at 12:02 pm (2 years ago)

      The homework station is great. You will love it, and they know just where to find everything. That clear file came from Container Store. Let me know what you decide to do about pictures b/c I could use some tips there!

      Reply
  2. Shannon Jacobs
    January 19, 2015 at 12:10 pm (2 years ago)

    Love this! I’m inspired! Great ideas for my office at the studio and I’m inspired to tackle my home office as well! Love you! 🙂

    Reply
    • Ali Katz
      January 19, 2015 at 5:50 pm (2 years ago)

      Love you, Shannon! You have such an awesome opportunity to get your new office in order right from the beginning. I am jealous of that! It is harder to go backward so start right and keep it up. I am SO excited for you. You are going to ROCK Ohio my friend!!

      Reply
  3. Mary
    January 19, 2015 at 1:17 pm (2 years ago)

    Love this post! It’s a great way to reframe my beautiful mess! Now to put to practice & clean my home & closets!

    Reply
    • Ali Katz
      January 19, 2015 at 5:49 pm (2 years ago)

      Yes, Mary, it is all about reframing!! I suggested to Gretchen to reward yourself for completing tasks, with something like a hot tea or a bubble bath. Give it a try! Thanks for reading 🙂

      Reply
  4. Gretchen
    January 19, 2015 at 2:32 pm (2 years ago)

    Your before and after look great! I’m struggling with this myself. Heck my Christmas tree is still up. Lol. I plan on at least getting the ornaments off of it this week (baby steps). With working full time as a hairstylist being a single + co parenting Mom and getting my spiritual life coaching business off the ground– my apartment as been put on the back burner.

    Reply
    • Ali Katz
      January 19, 2015 at 5:48 pm (2 years ago)

      Hey Gretchen! I think baby steps is the way to go. Just decide what little bit you are going to do each day, or each week and check them off the list. Maybe reward yourself with a hot tea or bubble bath when you complete a task. I know someone who loves starbucks, and I suggested that she only get to go if she completes her task first!

      Reply
  5. Esty
    January 19, 2015 at 7:42 pm (2 years ago)

    Very inspiring Ali! “Cleanliness is next to G-dliness”!

    Reply
    • Ali Katz
      February 2, 2015 at 1:08 pm (2 years ago)

      Yes! Thanks for sharing Esty!

      Reply
  6. Lauren Blachman
    January 20, 2015 at 8:58 am (2 years ago)

    I can totally relate because I am in the process of gutting my home office right now and was forced in the last 3 weeks to throw away boxes and boxes of old files, training manuals, paper planners, and more. We ended up dumping enough old stuff to fill up the back of three of my friend’s pick up trucks!
    Now I am working in a small space sharing my office with my husband for the next three weeks and I have to be a minimalist. I have never been more productive! Even worked on my book yesterday for an hour, which is a goal we share! 🙂
    I love the idea of getting a professional organizer and will do that to help me make my new space just right! Thanks for always inspiring me to be kind to myself and continue to evolve and grow. xo

    Reply
    • Ali Katz
      February 2, 2015 at 1:08 pm (2 years ago)

      I love that Lauren! Paring down is such a great way to go. I am so impressed that you wrote, and thanks for reminding me to do the same right now!! XO

      Reply
  7. Lisa Strauss
    January 20, 2015 at 4:47 pm (2 years ago)

    LOVE the organized office! Love the story even more! xoxo

    Reply
    • Ali Katz
      February 2, 2015 at 1:07 pm (2 years ago)

      Thanks for reading and sharing Lisa!! XO

      Reply
  8. Ilana
    January 20, 2015 at 10:45 pm (2 years ago)

    I just read your recent article & I am SOOOOO inspired to sort out the MESS I call my desk & work-space.
    I was going to take a “before” photo before I begin, but I can’t find my camera under the piles of paperwork, bills, old holiday greeting cards, & birthday cards… Aggghhhh!!! I dislike sitting down at my desk to work on anything, because there is always “so much” going on, that has to be rummaged through. I end up getting easily distracted. Thank you for your article & inspiration Ali!

    Reply
    • Ali Katz
      February 2, 2015 at 1:06 pm (2 years ago)

      I can totally relate!! Thanks for reading and sharing Ilana 🙂

      Reply
  9. Laura
    January 22, 2015 at 7:45 am (2 years ago)

    When I got my angel card forecast for 2015, she pulled the Balance card for January and talked about how I needed to get organized. Hopefully your post will push me over that edge! Thanks, Ali 🙂

    Reply
    • Ali Katz
      February 2, 2015 at 1:06 pm (2 years ago)

      I hope so too because I think you will feel great once you get started! Thanks for sharing 🙂

      Reply

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