One of my earliest organising memories is sorting and organising the household button jar. I had great pleasure in matching like with like, sorting them into categories based on shape, colour, size or material. There were more tasks to come. Helping my Mum at the office during school holidays, putting invoices in numerical order is one that comes to mind. I think fondly on those early organising experiences and what they taught me.
Last month in my Quick Question Survey, I asked my fellow organisers about their earliest organising memories and how they were influenced by those experiences. If you love organising, these stories just might resonate with you.
Karen White from The Sorting Angel remembers tidying out the cupboard under the stairs at 9 years of age. “I loved getting everything out and finding homes for things and putting like with like”, she said.
Nikki Wagner from Makings of Home said, “I was always one to want to keep things in nicely defined sets or collection. I hated toys to have missing/lost pieces and would always categorise things carefully when putting them away, so train sets separate to cars, farm animals separate from zoo animals. I loved knowing that things were complete – one of my favourite pastimes was making up LEGO kits and then individually bagging up the instructions and the pieces. I still dislike seeing LEGO sorted by colour but have learnt that rigidly sticking to kits stifles creativity. These days our family sorts our LEGO into big collections. For example, Friends, Space, Star Wars, City and Technic LEGO. This also carries over to my pantry where I have cuisine collections – Asian, Italian, Mexican.”
Rachael Wald from Time to Tidy organised her swap cards. “They had special folders and were carefully sorted into categories,” said Rachael.
Julie Whiting from The Decluttering Co also organised swap cards. She enjoyed “sorting all my character swap cards by genre in separate albums, with the final album entitled “miscellaneous”. It just made sense for ease of reference. Also, I sold all my swap cards a few years ago and got nearly $1000! Taking care of your stuff matters.” Nice work, Julie.
Nicole Sheridan from Everything’s in Place was under 10 years old when she started constantly resetting the house, putting things away and cleaning up. She said, “It was my way of helping people and it stressed me out a little to see things getting out of order.”
Nathalie Ricaud from Get Organised & Beyond is another who started organising things in her parents’ home, this time from the age of 11. She said, “I didn’t recognise it at that age, but organising things in our home was a way to create a structure that had been missing up to that point in my life. I liked it so much that when I was invited to a playdate, I often ended up helping the parents tidy their home instead of playing with the kid 🙂 I only found out about the professional organising industry 30 years later and it was a big a-ha moment for me.”
Jeanette O’Meara from Livable Organising said, “My earliest memory is of organising my Mum’s pantry. It was very wide but not deep so every item could be seen. I loved clearing it off, giving it a good clean and putting everything back in its home. I loved being able to complete this job all on my own and knowing my Mum appreciated it. From memory I also enjoyed cleaning out the freezer too!”
Veronica Kennedy from A Hand to Help www.handtohelp.com.au remembers cleaning under her bed and coming out with just one piece of paper. Veronica said, “I was putting my things “in order”. I did it a lot during my early years in the cubby house my dad built for me. It was a big cubby house. I had categorised it into different parts.”
Leesa Kotis from The Clutter Bug has a memory from around the age of 8 or 9. “Each weekend I would empty the drawers in my bedroom and sort and rearrange the contents, from socks and undies, to boxes of hair ribbons, coloured pencils etc. I don’t have many memories of my childhood, but this is one of my clearest. Through years of counselling, I suspect it comes from a place of wanting to control some aspect of my childhood, which in a lot of ways was quite chaotic for various reasons. This sounds all a little bit sad, but the outcome has been a job that I have loved every minute of. It definitely has contributed to my caring and understanding many of my clients with mental health conditions.”
Rhiannon Kirwan from Monarch Domestic Services remembers “watching my parents removing clothing I had grown out of from my room and placing what still fit me neatly back into the drawers and wardrobe. It’s actually one of the few memories I have of my parents together in the family home. They separated when I was 3. I felt cared for. I guess the biggest influence is to know that it is ok to let go of things you no longer require and to care for and respect what we have left.” A good lesson, Rhiannon.
Not all early organising memories were in the home. A couple of organisers got early experience in a workplace setting.
Teresa Boughton from Tidy to a T said, “I was about 10 when we had friends who owned a bookstore and I spent hours sorting the miscellaneous books bin by size. I loved working by myself and making little piles. I enjoyed the process and didn’t mind that it would be messy again soon.”
Tracey Warren from Professional Organising Solutions remembers learning to organise display stock in her Mum’s shop. “It made me think about making it easy for customers to find what they wanted.”
What are your early organising memories?
If sorting, decluttering and organising comes naturally to you, or brings you joy, have you considered a career as a professional organiser? Take a look at my online training, or get in touch to chat about where you could fit into the organising industry like these colleagues of mine.