“We live in a fantasy world, a world of illusion. The great task in life is to find reality. “- Iris Murdoch
As someone who has made it my mission to help people save time, create space and reduce stress by getting organized, I am thrilled to see how many magazines, catalogs and TV shows now address this topic.
On the other hand, the visions of perfect organization that are shown create unrealistic expectations of how your place should be. If you are a normal person, your home or office will never look like the pictures you see in magazines and it’s a good bet that you won’t be whisked off for a vacation while a team of people makes over your home. I call the alternate reality that is featured in the media Organization Fantasyland.
Here are some reasons why the images of Organization Fantasyland can’t be replicated in real life:
1. Uber-edited closets
In Organizational Fantasyland (O.F.), a woman's wardrobe consists of 6 shirts, 4 sweaters, 3 pairs of pants and 3 skirts. All in complimentary shades of beige or light blue. The number of pairs of shoes on the closet floor? Two. Ha!
2. Look Ma, no cords!
Whether it's a complete home office or a tricked-out media center or a kitchen filled with appliances, unsightly cords are never to be founds in O.F. Hello Photoshop, goodbye reality.
3. The paperless office
In O.F., one lone hand-written note on sumptuous stationery is the only piece of paper that graces the surface of a desk. No bills, permission slips, ATM receipts, pages printed from the Internet, scribbled notes or signs of actual work.
4. No sentimental, silly snapshots
The only personal photos in O.F. are of impossibly beautiful people shot by Pulitzer-prize winning photographers, triple-matted in museum-quality matching frames. Preferably in gauzy black and white, all the better to perfectly coordinate with the spotless sofa.
5. The toyless home
In Organization Fantasyland, children play with no more than 4 handcrafted artisan dolls, trucks or stuffed animals. Gigantic plastic fake kitchens, building sets of a zillion pieces, and arsenals of light sabers are nowhere to be found. Barbie and Mickey do not play in Organization Fantasyland.
6. Color-coordinated books
Bookcases in O.F. hold only big, thick, colorful, gorgeous tomes with uncracked spines. Books are chosen for their ability to compliment the curated knickknacks artfully displayed on the shelves, not for their content. You will never see a trashy romance or a thriller; paperback books are not allowed in O.F.
7. Television timewarps
The home makeover, which is shown in 30 minutes on a TV show probably took weeks to shoot and required a vast team of unseen experts to produce. The contractors of Organization Fantasyland never disappear in the middle of a job.
The images that you see in catalogs and in the media are just that – images. They are styled, prepped, propped, and dressed – faked to look good. But you couldn’t actually live in one of those homes. And you probably wouldn’t want to.
Let go of the fantasy of being perfectly organized. I encourage my clients to think in terms of being “organized enough.” How, specifically, would being more organized make a difference in your life? What are the nagging things that cause you stress? Searching for your keys? The pile of mail on the kitchen table? The “scary” closet that threatens to avalanche when you open the door?
Pick one or two problems that really matter to you and create solutions for them. Leave the alphabetized spice rack to Martha.
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