Paper Doll Talks With Smead About Fear & Disorganization

Posted on: November 19th, 2015 by Julie Bestry | No Comments

Getting organized can be scary.

Let that idea sink in. Usually, we talk about getting organized from the perspective of practical matters. What’s the most efficient technique? What’s products can streamline the process?

When we do talk about the psychology of getting organized, we’re often focusing on tips and tricks to get us motivated, to eliminate procrastination, or to keep us focused on a system, but we don’t necessarily dig into the idea that there are baseline fears, often unacknowledged, that prevent us from taking the steps we know will improve our lives.

This week, I sat down with John Hunt, host of Smead’s Keeping You Organized video podcast to record a show called “Fears That Keep You From Getting Organized.”


On the show, we talked about some of the fears — unspoken or even unrecognized — that cause us to back away from our organizing challenges without really considering the solutions available. Some of these include:

  • Fear of discarding something — whether tangible or informational — because you worry that you might need someday. We call this the “just in case” fear.
  • Fear of stifling your creativity
  • Fear of potential emotional distress after discarding something
  • Fear of losing personal or sentimental attachments to people and memories
  • Fear of letting go of things upon which you’ve lavished money, time, or attention — otherwise known as the “sunk cost” fallacy
  • Fear of the unknown

Of course, there are other fears that prevent us from achieving our organizing and productivity goals that we didn’t even get to, including:

  • Fear of failure —  “What if I spent time trying to create order and it turns out I can’t do it? Or I can’t maintain it?”
  • Fear of success — “If I declutter and get more organized, people are going to expect more from me and heap more work and responsibilities on my shoulders.”
  • Fear of loss of serendipity — “Right now, I’m delighted and surprised when I spend hours searching for something I can’t find, but come across something under a pile that I was looking for last week, or six months ago.”

There are all kinds of fears. I believe that when we acknowledge our fears, we’re taking the first step toward recognizing that we have control over whether to give in to the inertia of fear or break through and empower ourselves for change. I’d love to hear your thoughts on fear and disorganization.

Check out the above video, or if you prefer, you can listen to the audio version of the Smead podcast.

Leave a Reply