Do you have family members and friends who would benefit from getting organized, but you don’t know how to help them?
Maybe it’s a spouse, parent, sibling, or child. Maybe it’s a best friend or neighbor.
And perhaps you’ve already tried “helping,” but you ended up doing a lot of work that didn’t stick–or stepping on toes and hurting your relationships.
I’m sharing 5 ideas today that I have personally found to be helpful, but I want to begin with the story of one of our community members who has modeled this beautifully!
Nichole shared this in our STEP Mastery Facebook group, and she has kindly given us permission to share her photos and the experience. I know you will be inspired!
”Learning, doing, becoming… wash, rinse, repeat. Photos below are the garage of a friend. She’s had a complicated few years including starting a remodel, relocating to a different state, maintaining two households, relocating back… (much still in progress) and asked if I could help with her garage. Before STEP, I would have said yes but been overwhelmed not getting my own things done and trying to help others. Instead, I said YES YES YES and was easily able to schedule sessions with her, adapt other needs and priorities, all with no stress. Short story, they now have a fully functional garage, places for their support materials (much larger cubbies needed for construction stuff!!!), and two cars fit for the upcoming cold weather months! They are exhibiting healthy habits! (Can you say two minute rule?) I walked into session two with the Mrs. saying “Nichole wouldn’t want you to put that there” They’ve started on inside spaces (this is now a family series of projects), and I’ll be stopping in to assist for those emotionally heavy areas and items. I love love love this program and love introducing others to it! Thank you STEP and STEPpers!!! #STEPwin”
When I received this via email, from Candice, who is on our team and helps collect success stories for me to share, I replied with, “This one brings tears to my eyes!” Candice then replied, “Ditto!” We love our community members, and it means so much to see you helping one another and those inside your circles of influence.
Because Nichole modeled this so well, I wanted to pull out five principles from this story that all of us can apply if we want to help someone we love to get organized:
(1) Make sure they have the desire.
With a young child in your home (and even teenagers), yes, you sometimes have to be the one with the desire. But when we’re working with peers, partners, parents, etc., trying to go in and “fix them” simply doesn’t work. Unless you’re going to do every ounce of the work and maintain it for them and make all of their daily decisions (which isn’t healthy or desirable), the mess will come right back.
But if they ask and are willing to put in the effort, your support and love will make a huge difference!
(2) Do a microburst together.
Sometimes the person who’s overwhelmed simply needs hope. They need to know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. You could say, “I know it feels overwhelming when you look at everything at once. How about we set the timer for 10 minutes and just do the very next thing that needs to be done.”
This could be 10 minutes of picking up trash, 10 minutes moving a piece of furniture, 10 minutes sketching what you want the area to look like, 10 minutes pulling clothing or other items out that need to be donated, etc. Most people can wrap their minds around 10 minutes, and having a friend beside them can help overcome the temptation to procrastinate.
(3) Teach simple skills.
Skills like identifying Next Actions, the 2-minute rule, working in microbursts, and basic project planning can provide someone a framework in which they can move forward independently. We have lots of training materials here on the website, and we’ll link a few down below! But whether it comes from us or a great video on YouTube or from a book you’ve read, when we can teach others to “fish,” they’ll know how to “keep fishing.”
(4) Balance “working alongside them” with “leaving the ball in their court.”
I was so impressed with how Nichole got her friends started, but then left them to work on their garage some more and continue working throughout their home. She’s willing to go back to help with more emotional items, and I’m sure she’s happy to answer questions and offer moral support, but she’s not signing herself up to do all of the work in every room of the house…all by herself.
(5) Love and encourage.
No one wants to live in a mess. I grew up moving piles around in circles. I didn’t know how to clean a bathroom. Besides vacuuming the center of my room and making my bed, I didn’t know what it meant to keep my room clean. I never once emptied a refrigerator or cleaned under furniture or took more than a few steps into our garage. I didn’t know how to put things in a bag and take them to a donation center. I didn’t know people actually bought cleaning supplies. I didn’t know that bedding needed to be laundered.
And when I went to college and then got married and had a home of my own, I didn’t know it was possible not to feel overwhelmed.
I was too embarrassed to talk about my problems with others–and I just figured they were magic when it came to keeping house. And when we tried to start a business and navigate all the financial responsibilities of adulthood, in addition to raising children and volunteering in our community and everything that comes with life, I would swing from total anxiety to “just watching TV for hours.”
Most people are living in overwhelm. Sometimes it emails and digital tasks that feel like too much. Sometimes it’s the house. Or parenting. Or navigating those really tough parts of life we rarely discuss. It was the love I felt from the authors of the books I read that changed my life. I read and read and read–and then I applied what I learned, and then I got out of the overwhelm. It’s been nearly 15 years now that I’ve been teaching this to others.
We all need love and encouragement, and sometimes it’s difficult when those we love aren’t ready for change. But when they are ready, if we can meet them where they are and guide them with simple steps that leave us both feeling empowered and replenished, I believe the results will be life-changing.
Much love! (Please share in the comments how you’ve helped your loved ones to organize! We’d love to hear from you!)
Links to share with friends!
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