Why personality matters in organization

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Kelly and Katie McMenamin are two sisters who run a New York based home and life organization service called Pixies Did It. Their philosophy: life should be easy, and if your home is not organized around your own habits and personality, it won’t run smoothly. Here, Katie talks about how she found an organizational system that works for her:

“I’ve spent much of my life envying people who seem to have it together organized, always on time, cautious, well dressed (and without cat hair, lint, dandruff, etc. upon their clothes) The kind of people who have no problem working first and playing later.

As much as I have tried, (watching television WHILE I write this, for instance) stray hairs are upon my clothes (which are, nonetheless, comfortable & stylish) and no matter how hard I try, I have never been able to be the strictly organized, on time, work before play person I have so much envied.

Turns out, those super ‘together’ people I’ve been jealous of were born with innate abilities for discipline & order. It comes EASY to them because if they don’t do these things, they get anxious, and annoyed. Life becomes hard. These people (my sister, for instance) are uncomfortable being messy, they aren’t happy unless they are crossing things off their lists, making sure their outfits are put together, the world around them ordered, filed away, clean. It’s simply who they are.

Not me. When it comes to being organized and together, I’m usually described as lazy, disorganized, forgetful, spacey, etc. And it’s mostly true. But I’m also mostly organized, usually on time, careful, stylish, and have an innate ability to finish projects at the last minute with great results. What I’ve found, and what others discovered long before I was born Jung, Meyers, Briggs, Benzinger, Kiersey, Bates, Native American Mythology is that, um, people are just born different.

We all have different personalities and preferences, and when we learn what they are and to follow and accept them, we can then put aside our preconceptions of that organized, prompt, careful, well dressed example of perfection, and become a realistic version of being organized and ‘together’ that works for us.

Yes, I like to have the TV on when I do my ‘homework.’ Yes, I usually do it after my kids are in bed and not in the early morning when my sister is hard at work and I’m often still sleeping. Yes, I don’t know where EVERYTHING is in my house, and I could stand to go through my closet again. But I know where all my important papers are, I have a list of essential numbers printed and taped to the inside of my kitchen cupboards, and I’m living the busiest time in my life (two kids under five, starting a new business, pursuing a writing career). It’s a very busy, very full, and very enjoyable life. And when I’m being myself, it’s easy.

So. When it comes to finding organization solutions for your home and your life, implement systems that work for you even if unconventional. If writing things on your hand helps you to remember things… so be it! My sister saw a certain Richard Branson on CNBC the other day and he had a reminder on his hand. Know and accept who you are. (The real you, not the one you envy.) If you do, you’ll find the solutions come easier to you. It’s not magic, but when it’s done right, your life will sparkle with Pixie magic. Trust us. Life should be easy.”

5 thoughts on “Why personality matters in organization

  1. Nov. 13, 2008
    Did you all see the Oprah show yesterday??? It’s exactly about what the Pixie’s do! I just always wonder what happens after the organizers leave. I think what happens is obvious unless the ‘organized’ comes into a new belief system. Like, i must show my respect and honor for the people i live with or just for the things i do own and treasure. That i show my respect for the purchase i’ve worked hard for by taking care of them, putting them in their places and keeping them in good shape. I think this is a great reflection of the person and their personality. I don’t think anyone really wants to represent themselves as being spacey and disorganized.
    After moving into my first office space alone, i realize how much i wanted it to reflect my personality…..especially since ever other office had belonged to someone else and now i was in full ownership. A dear friend of mine gave me a great compliment and said how it reminded her of my first apartment in Chelsea!
    So….hat’s off the Pixies! Best of everything!

  2. Katie and Kelly — this is great! Katie, you have really captured the essence of figuring out what matters in your life. I can see the wonderful results of your work in Judith’s apartment — it works for her!

  3. Great article! You two are so smart and so cute!
    My house isn’t too bad in the organizational department, but you should see my car – especially my trunk! Gym bag, overnight bag for use in emergencies – put there after Katrina – tutoring books and materials, cloth grocery bags, snacks and water bottles, blankets, maps, phonebooks, a bag of store coupons – mostly expired, reading materials in case I get stuck somewhere, ink cartridges I never get around to refilling, argh! I need you guys to help me organize all that! I could probably save a lot of money on gas if I just cleaned out the trunk of my car!

  4. This is sooo true! I find that no matter how hard I work my dresser drawers are always a disaster – my sense of order just doesn’t really count for things I can’t see!

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