As an organizer most of my work time is spent indoors. In a lot of the spaces that require organizing—storage units, basements and closets—there is not even a window. Still there are a lot of organizing lessons to be learned in nature and it’s worth taking time, especially in the spring and fall, to get outside and observe natural rhythms and systems.

One of the chores I love to hate is weeding. Weeds are the clutter of the garden. It’s so easy to be overwhelmed and want to give up, especially when you have mostly untamed acre and a half like I do.

The other day I saw a bee pollinating a weed and got a little ticked off. Didn’t it see the glorious pear tree in full bloom a few feet away? But to the bee, the weed was as worthy as the pear tree. Nature is definitely against me if I think I am going to control every weed on my property.

The bee lesson sent me to the internet where I educated myself a little on weeds. I’ve spent years hand weeding with no knowledge and no plan other than to eradicate as many weeds as humanly possible. I found the Joe the Gardener podcast with the title, “Preventing Weed Overwhelm,” featuring guest gardener Margaret Roach. Margaret spent years working for Martha Stewart as CEO of Martha Stewart Omnimedia, so she knows a thing or two about organizing and homekeeping as well as gardening.

All of a sudden, I felt empowered. I wasn’t alone; there were people with information who could help me change my perspective and possibly the outcome of my hard work by refocusing it more intelligently.

This was exactly how I felt when I took my first David Allen “Getting Things Done” seminar back in the 1990s. I had always been highly organized but my systems were constantly shifting situation to situation and I was always struggling to try to keep too much information in my head. I had “to do” lists all over the place, multiple calendars, an imprecise file system and had made other mistakes that are now obvious to me.

The gardening podcast taught me some key things. First, I had to educate myself about the “enemy.” I was treating all the weeds the same, but some needed to be handled before they flowered, others had to be deeply dug out to prevent underground spread, and all of them should be tackled while the ground is still moist and they are easy to pull.

I could apply mulch to prevent regrowth. I could let my grass grow longer to shade and out-compete some weeds. The podcast guest recommended enjoying the process, taking it one weed at a time. Also important, is to leave an area wild and let yourself off the hook for at least some of the space if you have a really big yard.

These “hardscape” and smarter automated or science-based systems will take a ton of work off my plate. A lot of it is timing too—getting out there and doing some prevention rather than a lot of catch-up pulling will really help prevent overwhelm.

For the first time in almost 20 years of working in my yard I bought a gardening carry-all so that I can have my tools with me as I work and not have to run back and forth to the garage so much. Having the right tools is important too. I finally bought a special tool to dig out the tap roots of some of the nastier weeds.

Are you seeing the similarities between intelligent systems in the garden and preventing paper and clutter overwhelm in the home?

Without the weeds (or mail or the children’s toys or laundry), life would get pretty boring. As a somewhat reformed perfectionist I can tell you that perfectionism is static and gets old. I certainly wouldn’t spend time kneeling in the grass observing insects, birds and the occasional rabbit with my chickens clucking around me if it weren’t for the weeds.