1. Hi Marcia! Can you start off by giving us your testimony?
Certainly. God blessed my life by giving me a heritage of growing up in a Christian family where I learned that God loved me and had a plan for my life. I accepted the Lord at the young age of four, yet I wondered what my life purpose would be.
As I ready my Bible and grew up, I knew we as Believers are accountable to the Lord at the end of our life. I was especially impressed with the 23 verses in Proverbs that talk abut the lifestyle of the “diligent’ and the “sluggard.” Even those two words tell you what they are about, and Proverbs 13:4 sums it up when it says, “The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.”
I had a frustrating moment of internal crisis when my three children were under six years old and I remembered deciding I absolutely had to figure out a way to get organized or I was going to quit. I did get organized and found I had the gift for taking complicated situations and turning them into practical, doable steps. With my love of teaching, I became a Professional Organizer and speaker on organizing topics back in 1985 and ended up on radio and TV with my tips in Women’s Day and Cosmopolitan magazines.
Personally I was alarmed when I organized non-Christians and saw them way ahead of Christians in their training and organizing skills. I wanted to bring up the organizing level of Christians to truly make their lives count and not be tripped up by the lack of skills. At the same time I was able to be a light in a dark world after organizing clients and speaking to audiences, especially to those who said, “Now that I am organized, something is missing. What is it?” I have the privilege of praying with many about their needs and pointing them to the Lord to fill that spiritual void that being successful doesn’t necessarily fill. And Christians thankfully are getting excited about getting organized to make their lives count. That is why I am so excited about what Simplify Your Life can do for women (and those who live with them) to solve their life management issues like a pro. I put it all in the book.
2. Why is it so difficult to simplify our lives today?
It is said that every day we receive 200 inputs that we need to process in our lives – that includes mail, phone calls, e-mails, voice mails, interruptions, store clerks, TV, and telemarketers. That is a lot of input and any number of rabbit trails that can pull us off course.
Because our lives are so frantic and busy, we can’t afford not to simplify our lives these days. People are so overwhelmed that stress seems like a normal part of life. That’s not normal, and we’ve got to find ways to reverse that lifestyle by simplifying our systems each day just to keep up with all the demands.
My favorite quote sums up our lives so well, “It’s not the things we do that make us tired, it’s the things left undone that wear us out!” We are living with a lot of undone things and I want readers to know how to move from chaos to control and from complex to simple.
3. What are the most common problems people have from not being organized?
The most common problem people have is not having enough time to get everything done. Early in the book I tell the story of Sue whose reputation as a good Mom, loyal friend, and dependable employee were all falling apart over unbaked cookies, a misplaced birthday present, a late arrival to work, no toothpaste, and a shirt to iron! These are organizational issues to conquer, not character flaws to sabotage her identity. Frustration, loss of respect from others, and general all around gloom and stress are the result of not being organized enough to be on top of things. It is a recipe for personal and relational frustration when someone is not organized.
4. How can we benefit from being organized?
One of my organizing classes listed all the benefits of getting organized and simplifying life. I include this in the book. Simplifying life means you:
5. Can you give us some examples of how you have helped others get organized, and how it changed their lives?
In the first chapter of Simplify Your Life, I tell stories of three clients who made different life changes. Debbie came running up to me and said she lost 100 pounds in the past three months since my last seminar. I was stunned until she explained they were 100 pounds of clutter from her closets and garage! She felt so free and we shared a good laugh as everyone around her congratulated her as well.
The second lady was an attorney who lost more than her share of sleep when she became a new Mom. So we mapped out working systems for her new life as a working professional starting with the most familiar until she could get control of her time at work and home. She was happy to know she really could balance her life and I taught her (and the reader) how to do exactly that.
In the third story, Lindsey’s marriage went from strife to calm just by cleaning up all the clutter. Her messy habits were tearing down her marriage and making her household miserable. After our class she conquered her clutter and regained her husband’s respect by giving away extra toys, tossing piles of papers, and creating cleanup systems for the household with three children under four years old.
I believe anyone can recover from self-defeating habits if they have the right tools and personal motivation.
6. What is the "PuSH" sequence?
The PuSH sequence is an acronym for my trademark system that not only gets you organized, but also helps you stay that way. The acronym stands for Project, you (the key component), System, Habit, which is the logical sequence to getting and staying and a chart at the end of each chapter shows you how to recognize how close you are to being organized.
For instance, when you clean a closet, it is a Project if you have to spend a half-day going through everything; it becomes a System if you set up a plan to accomplish it regularly; and once it becomes a Habit, you will stay organized and conquer your clothes closet for good!
The “u” in “you” is you and your style of doing the closet. Some like a closet with matching plastic hangars while others make it a showpiece with mahogany built-in drawers and shelves. It’s all up to you and your style, but the organizing principles in the book are critical to making it work for you, and not you for it.
7. What do you recommend to people who feel that it is too much for them to get organized?
Personally I can identify because I was not naturally organized. But when I realized my life was so frustrating because I couldn’t get anything done, I decided to get organized. And you know what? I discovered it was EASIER to be organized than disorganized! Really. When you can find things, when there isn’t clutter all over your house and office, and when you know how to get things done, life is definitely easier!
I felt it was a big secret that no one told me about: Life is just easier when you are organized. And when you simplify your life, it is even more fun. I want everyone to know that secret because we are working way too hard trying to keep up with all the “stuff” in our lives.
8. How does being organized affect our spiritual lives?
Getting organized is a definite plus to your spiritual life. Consider having devotions for example. When you wake up and your Bible isn’t by your bedside, your pen is out of ink, and you never bought a notebook to write out what you are praying about and seeking God for, your personal time with God will suffer. And it isn’t because you are unspiritual – it’s because you are unorganized about your personal time with God.
Yet when you always have your Bible in the same place, a working pen, notebook and a bookmark in a devotional book you are reading, you can get right into your devotional time and focus on what God has to say to you for that day.
9. What one encouragement would you like readers to take with them after reading "Simplify Your Life?"
I want my readers to walk away saying, “I have hope – and I can do this!” I’ve taken great care to make sure each chapter is focused on heart-warming client stories and principles with charts, tips, diagrams, so that each reader can find exactly what they need to get organized in that topic. And with only 14 chapters, they can be through the book in two weeks by reading one chapter a day.
The book is light, entertaining, and motivational. You can’t help but see how your personally live a more peaceful and purposeful life by using Simplify Your Life as a measuring stick of what you are doing right and what things you can “tweak” to smooth out the rough spots in your day. There is definitely something for everyone.
10. What's next?
Simplify Your Life: Get Organized and Stay that Way! carries my life message that I plan to deliver through speaking, writing, and consulting: Make your life count each day by simplifying each aspect until it works smoothly for you, and not you for it.
This book is the first in the Women of Faith Life Style product line. It will open doors to offer practical resources on other practical topics designed to connect with and encourage women in everyday life.
There are some other projects in the works for me that will unfold as the book sweeps across the country. I can’t wait to see what God will do as people become unencumbered with disorganization, and purposefully make a difference at home, at work, as parents, at the holidays, and even in life transitions. There is a way to get organized and simplify your life to get on with the business of real living.
Thank you, Marcia! I'm truly inspired to get more organized this year!