How cluttered is your home? Is it limited to one room or does the clutter spread to all areas of your house?
We asked Lorie a few questions about her book and website. She also shares a few ideas on how you can remove clutter from your own office.
What was the inspiration for your book, The Clutter Diet: The Skinny on Organizing Your Home and Taking Control of Your Life?
Over many years of working with clients, my team and I found ourselves constantly referring to diet metaphors during our work. A woman would ask if we could organize her spouse, and we’d say that we can’t make him get organized any more than we can make him go on a diet… Staying organized is about maintaining habits and is a journey of personal change. Also “crash organizing” doesn’t work any better than “crash dieting” does—unless you change the habits that got your garage that way in the first place, you’ll quickly find yourself back where you started, “gaining the weight back,” if you will. So I realized that I could help people the same way the weight loss industry has done, and I set up a program that is essentially like “Weight Watchers for your house.”
Is the website an extension of the book, or is it the other way around?
The book is definitely an extension of the website (www.clutterdiet.com), since the site came first. I was actually very resistant to writing a book, because it took me about a year to write the content for the Clutter Diet site back in 2006, and I would always say that WAS my book! But now that I have written the printed book, I see clearly how some people digest information better in written form, and it gave me a way to clarify and expand a great deal, providing more examples and stories. I am so glad I wrote it, because it’s a “manifesto” on all of the philosophies, tips, and other insight I have acquired over the many years I have been doing this work.
Making it to #17 on the bestseller list is quite amazing! What would you credit that amazing rise to?
Well, my blog (The Clutter Diet Blog, www.clutterdietblog.com) has been on the Amazon Kindle as a subscription for sale since September, and has been a strong bestseller, holding #1 for quite some time and always staying in the top 5 or 10 out of about 1200 blogs available. It routinely beats the New York Times and Huffington Post! I was as surprised as anyone. And based on the success of the blog, Amazon and I thought that having an exclusive prerelease of my book on the Kindle would be a great idea given the timing of the New Year. Getting organized is always one of the top resolutions on people’s minds. Also, many people got Kindles for holiday gifts and this was a great fit for one of the first books they would buy. We’re hoping the success of the Kindle edition will spill over into the print edition, available for sale on our site now at www.clutterdiet.com/buybook and in bookstores around March.
What is the number one problem that you generally encounter with people that are unable to organize?
When you say “people that are unable to organize,” I would like to say that there are very few people who “can’t” organize, and most just “won’t.” I am assuming for this conversation that we are not talking about anyone with an illness or physical impediment to doing the organizing. Most people have trouble sustaining their motivation. In order to do something that requires significant effort, you have to have clarity on why you’re doing it and it must be important to you. If it’s important enough, you’ll do it. Really, procrastination is at the root of almost all clutter. Something else takes priority over the tasks required.
Also, when you say that some people are unable to organize, I want to clarify that your own definition of success in organizing is unique to your style. Someone who is right-brained and creative is not going to have the same result as a left-brained engineer type, and that is not only okay, it’s terrific. You have to be true to your style for organizing habits and results to “stick.”
How does the Clutter Diet help?
The Clutter Diet online coaching program and the book both help because we help people get clarity on their motivation, we give them the information they need to approach their projects, and we help them set up the support they need to succeed. In the case of our online program, we provide access to a team of organizing experts for unlimited advice and support in our message board area.
What separates your strategy from other organization resource books?
First, getting organized is not just about tips and special products—it’s a journey of personal change. And I believe there are three elements necessary for making personal change: Motivation (the “why”), Education (the “how”), and Support (the “hey, keep on going”). Most people have no trouble with the first two, but they neglect to build Support into their plan. This is true whether organizing, going on a weight loss diet, or quitting smoking—whatever change you are trying to make. You need to have people and systems set up in your life to support you when your motivational gas tank is empty. My book talks a great deal about this, such as how to make the best use of a Motivation Partner and other means of support.
Are you willing to share a little advice with us? What is the first step someone should take toward removing clutter from their office?
The first step is usually clearing the desk surface, then moving to other flat surfaces like credenzas, and then to the piles on the floor. Often paper is the biggest problem, and it’s best to work with the most recent papers and go back from there. We teach people to sort fast by using the word “ART”- Action, Reference, and Trash. Action means you have to do something with the paper, like make a call, pay a bill, or fill out a form. Reference means that no action is required, you just need to keep it. And Trash means to shred, toss, or recycle. One of the biggest mistakes people make is not separating Action from Reference papers.
What have you learned from your business?
What have I NOT learned from my business? Being an entrepreneur is a true adventure, filled with risk, victories, thrills, and setbacks too. One of the best lessons I’ve learned is to “trust but verify.” I have also learned a lot of lessons about endurance and effort. I really think you learn more about yourself being an entrepreneur than almost any other job. You have to bet on yourself and your ideas constantly.
Do you have any plans to write another book in the near future?
Yes, I will most likely write another book, but I am going to take some time to enjoy this one for a while before thinking about that yet. The next book will probably focus more on the home office, as there is so much to say about that! The home office is one of the most common problem areas. Until then, people can read a sample chapter of my current book here: www.clutterdiet.com/samplechapter