“Do you really think it matters, Eddie?”

[ when organization seems futile ]

December 25th, 2015


It’s nap time at Nana’s house and the adults are taking advantage of it just as much as the kiddos. Presents are unwrapped, bellies are stuffed, and new toys are assembled. All my nieces and nephews are in one place for a week. It truly is a merry Christmas. 

One of the Morton family traditions this time of year is watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. The rest of the year the tradition is quoting it at any opportunity. Recently my sister threw a terrible shot while playing horseshoes, about which my nephew commented, “Beautiful, Clark.” "Hmm. Doesn't show," is common for failed beauty efforts, among other things. On the drive to Nana’s house from the airport the phrase, “I don’t want to spend the holidays dead,” was all too appropriate. But, by far, the most quoted line from Christmas Vacation is “Do you really think it matters, Eddie?” 

If you’re not familiar with the classic line, allow me to set the scene for you. Cousin Eddie, “whose heart is bigger than his brain,” is not what you would call the brightest bulb in the pack. While preparing to embark on an epic sledding experience, Clark Griswold, played by Chevy Chase, was listening to Cousin Eddie talk about the plate in his head. Eddie was reluctant to go sailing down a hill with nothing between the ground and his brain but a piece of “government plastic.” Clark muttered, “Do you really think it matters, Eddie?” He, of course, was mocking Eddie’s already low IQ, but Eddie went on to explain how, if that plate gets dented, his hair “just ain’t gonna look right.”

cousin eddie.jpeg

So, in my family, this line might be used in situations such as: My sister wearing an exceptionally unflattering outfit and she’s worried about her lipgloss; the kids have smeared finger paint all over the table and now they want to add some glitter to their project; or even this morning when we were knee deep in torn wrapping paper and tissue (not to mention the roller skates, Legos, and new shoes buried in the rubble) and the trash bag was full. Does it really matter if you throw one more wad of wrapping paper on the floor? The whole living room is a disaster anyway! 

You might be asking yourself what this has to do with organizing. Well, working with my clients, and even my family members, I’ve seen this attitude of “Do you really think it matters, Eddie?” rear it head many times. When you feel like your kitchen is a disaster, does it really matter if you can’t find a spot for the pot holders and you stick ‘em in the pantry with the snacks? When your floor is covered with laundry, does it really matter if you throw your shoes, books, and mail on the floor too? If your kid’s room is a land mine of toys, clothes, and trash, does it really matter if your husband just throws the clean laundry in a pile on the rocker? The room’s already a disorganized mess! Who cares?!

It’s a snowball effect. When things are already overwhelming, or out of control, or disorganized it’s hard to see the point in making an effort to put something in it’s proper place. And when your kids dismantle everything as soon as you’ve tidied it up, it’s hard to feel motivated to bother putting things away. So things pile up, becoming more and more disorganized, and the thought of organizing seems futile. 

Seeing this Cousin Eddie syndrome over and over, it’s easy to understand how people get disorganized and feel overwhelmed. It’s such a joy to be able to come in and “hit the reset button” for clients by decluttering, finding a home for everything, and setting up systems to maintain the organization. Having another set of hands (or a few!) helps tackle things quickly and often means you spend less total time on the project (because the process doesn’t get interrupted and things don’t get dismantled before they’re complete!). So try to complete the total organization makeover in as short of a time span as possible (we can do it in a week or two usually) to keep the momentum going and to save you time. It’s possible that a few good friends/family members can help, but I hear it’s sometimes difficult to find someone who's non-judgmental, not pushy, and organizing-inclined; as good as their intentions might be! But if you can’t hire professional organizers, friends/family might have to do the trick! ;) 

Whether you’re tackling the project by yourself, with helpers, or with professional organizers, the first step is to decide that it matters. It’s worth it to put your blow dryer back in it’s place instead of just dangling it from the counter or into the sink. It’s worth it to put the clothes away in the dresser. It’s matters if you let the trash pile up or just throw the mail in a pile on the counter. There's something to be said for not being too uptight/rigid, but deciding that the little things matter makes an enormous difference in reclaiming your home (or office). And starting somewhere is better than not starting at all. Remove the pressure that you have to fix it all overnight. But to have success you have to believe that life’s better when it’s put together. Really. You’ll have less stress, more time, and more sanity! Relationships will have less tension caused by the mess, you won’t lose things as often, and you’ll feel in control of your space (and maybe a little more in control of your life!). It matters!

So if you can’t tackle the whole house/project in one week set your goal for this year and start with focusing on little successes and little differences you can make until the whole task is complete. I’ll share details throughout the blog of how to attack the whole project, but, until then, here’s the basic plan that most organizers use (just my own version!):

Plan it // Sort it // Love it or let it go // Zone it // Contain it // Maintain it

We’ll dig into each of those in 2016! Until then, decide that you really think it matters, Eddie... or Debbie, or Claire...


Thanks for reading! Happy holidays to you and yours! :)

Happy organizing!

Christina + The Organizing Co.