In the organizing business, I meet so many wonderful people. Whether working, speaking, networking, teaching, or casual contact in my daily life, almost all of them have a burning question to ask me about getting organized. Two questions turn up far more often than any others. The first, wondering if I have ever worked with a real hoarder (the answer is yes), and the second, questioning how to get your family on board when trying to get better organized. This answer is not quite so simple.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that regardless of how many family members you may have in your home with you, it is their home too. Although much research has been conducted on the overall benefits of living in an organized environment, some people simply are not interested. Should you happen to be married to one of these, hope is not lost, but it will be a challenge, for sure.
When asked this question, I always tell people to never underestimate the power of compromise. If you share a space with someone, as difficult as it may be to imagine, you have habits that bother that person as well. These things are your bargaining tools. Quid pro quo… I will put away your laundry if you will make the bed before you leave the house. I will not throw away your magazines if you stack them neatly in a designated place.
This process can work beautifully, yet it must be handled delicately. Take one thing at a time. When one area has been successfully negotiated and implemented, begin another. For a safe, long-term fix, I would recommend one change every three weeks to a month. It is also important to note, that your spouse should have a designated area within the home where he or she can be himself or herself without having to adhere to strict organizational guidelines. A man-cave or a scrapbook room are perfect examples.
Children are another, yet, much simpler story—clear instructions, rewards, and consequences. Take care to clearly communicate what you expect, then establish rewards for meeting or (hopefully) exceeding those expectations. Finally implement consequences when not given a genuine effort. If the effort is there, provide additional, patient training. Children of all ages love to learn, and as their parent, you are their most important teacher. All children can be organized provided they are taught and supported by an organized, loving parent.