Back in February, I reviewed professional organizer Linda Samuels’ terrific book, The Other Side of Organized: Finding Balance Between Chaos and Perfection.
Linda is a friend of mine, a lovely person and my predecessor as Marketing Director of the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization (soon to be the Institute for Challenging Disorganization). Recently, I was given the opportunity to do a Q&A with her for my blog, and I jumped at the chance.
When I thought about what questions to email her, I came up with a few that interested me, mostly about the book-writing process. In my previous life, I was a book author and I know how grueling it can be. But I was a full-time writer. And Linda wrote (and published!) this book while working full time as a professional organizer, volunteering many hours for the NSGCD (and, probably, other groups), and being a wife and mother. So I wanted to hear from her how she managed that.
Here are my questions (in italics) and her answers. Enjoy! And when you’re through reading, please consider clicking on over to her website and buying, The Other Side of Organized. It really is a terrific book.
If you had to pick one thing that your clients most often want or need your help with (even if they don’t know it yet), what would it be?
Clients are overwhelmed by their thoughts, physical possessions and schedules. They don’t always know where to begin to make things better. So while I’m hired to help them with many different types of organizing projects, the most common thread is to help them get past the overwhelmed phase and figure out where and how to start.
What is your favorite piece of organizing advice?
Be patient with yourself. Getting organized is not a destination, but rather a process that takes time. There will be ups, downs and adjustments needed along the way.
Why did you decide to write this book?
I wanted to share a message of hope for those that struggle with or know someone that is challenged by disorganization. While there are many wonderful “how-to” organizing books available, I wanted to write a book that focused mostly on philosophical ideas about organizing and life balance. Why do we want to get organized? When are we organized enough? What are we passionate about? How can organization provide a base so that we can focus on what’s most important to us?
I know how busy you are, but you managed to wedge in writing and publishing this book. Do you have any time management advice you’d like to share?
I took a long time (as in years) to write part of the book. That made it easy to fit it into my full life. However, at the point I decided to complete the writing and publishing of the book within a nine month period, I set aside very specific blocks of time to do that. Sometimes that translated into 30-minute chunks. Other times I scheduled an entire day to focus. It also helped that I hired a book coach who helped me establish a timeline and delineate what needed to be done by when. It was useful to have structure and deadlines, even if they were self-imposed.
What did you learn about yourself in writing your book?
I discovered that I truly loved writing and working on a large scale, self-driven, creative project.
What has been your biggest surprise in the process of writing and publishing the book?
My biggest surprise came once I held the first printed copy in my hand. My goal that kept getting rewritten year after year on my long-term to do list was “Write Book.” So once I did that, I thought, “Now what?” I realized that the writing and publishing of the book was only the first phase. The next phase was marketing, which required a completely different set of skills. I am still learning.
Do you have any plans for writing another book?
I am sure there is another book in my future. For now, though, I’m concentrating on The Other Side of Organized.
Do you have a mantra?
I don’t know if I have a mantra, but there are thoughts that I think about often. Be grateful. Find the joy in each moment. Stop to appreciate the beauty around you. Let those you love know it.