Some days, I think longingly about the times I worked for someone else. Yes, the nine to five, five days a week structure was sometimes a drag, but it was awfully nice to have my work defined for me. I recently read that the person Andy Warhol would have most liked to have had on retainer was a boss. Being told what to do takes the burden of constant decision making from our shoulders. But whether self-employed or not, as an adult we can’t get away from making most of the decisions in our lives.
Decision making is the key to staying organized, both spatially and in terms of time management. We decide where to store things, we decide how to structure our days, we decide between a nap and a jog, to work late or to go home to the family. Every piece of paper in the in-box requires a decision, even if it is a piece of junk mail—throw it out, read it, act on it.
I wrote in a previous column about being our own personal assistant; we can book our own appointments and handle mail with the efficiency of Joan Holloway Harris, the office manager extraordinaire on the TV show Mad Men. We can also be our own boss, creating the objective structure to our days and holding ourselves up to an external standard of our own creation. In fact, we can be our own almost anything (unfortunately handyman and contractor are not in the realm of possibility for me).
Carol Tuttle, the author of Dressing Your Truth, a book and accompanying program about an enlightened approach to fashion and beauty, said that she became her own best friend as a way to stop the negative self-talk she was observing with regards to her looks. Even if you have a best friend or group of great friends, wouldn’t it be nice to know that no matter what, you could first be that to yourself?
You can be your own cheerleader, your own life coach, your own personal organizer. If we all put into practice even 10 percent of what we learn by reading personal improvement books, blogs and columns such as this one, we would be extremely accomplished people! Which reminds me, I should be speaking fluent Spanish by now.
Not everyone can afford personal trainers and other luxury services, of which professional organizing is one. Many years ago, before I started my organizing business, I used to pretend that Peter Walsh or David Allen were by my side as I did my filing and decluttered my home. I even hummed the theme song from Clean Sweep, the awesome Peter Walsh organizing show.
Lately, I’ve become my own mentor. It is difficult to find mentors; high-powered people are often too busy working, traveling and mentoring a multitude of (younger) protogees. I have taken enough courses and read enough books by people like Sheryl Sandburg, the Facebook CEO and author of Lean In, to have a pretty good idea of how a mentor would advise me.
My inner mentor has suggested I create a fabulous free staff. As my own boss, I insist on personal growth time to do the thinking, dreaming or journaling and reading or listening to lectures that keep the ideas and positive influences flowing. As my own personal trainer, I get myself on the bike or treadmill four times a week and prepare motivating playlists to listen to as I exercise. As my own organizer, I buzz around the house humming the Clean Sweep theme. And as my own cheerleader, I acknowledge myself for any accomplishments each day. If only I could give myself a deep tissue back massage.
For me, there is no way to feel more abundant than to realize all the inner resources we have if we only take the time to connect to them and bring them forward. Collaboration with others is wonderful, and the abundance of a rich network of friends, family and service providers is something for which to be eternally appreciative. That network is a lot easier to develop though, if you first realize how much you already have inside.