This episode is all about getting organized! And really, who can’t do with more organization in their life? Master Certified Coach Jill Farmer talks with professional organizer, productivity consultant and speaker, Jodi Granok about quick tips you can put into practice now to get organized.
“So really what I tell people is, ‘If you can’t find something in 30 seconds or less, it’s in the wrong place.’ And there’s your red flag to say, ‘Wow, I need a little more organization here.’” – Jodi Granok, MSW
This episode is all about getting organized! And really, who can’t do with more organization in their life? Master Certified Coach Jill Farmer talks with professional organizer, productivity consultant and speaker, Jodi Granok about quick tips you can put into practice now to get organized. Jodi is the owner of OrganizingMagic, LLC where she helps busy professionals like you. In this episode, you will hear great ways to get started organizing the areas of chaos in your life. If you need some in-person help, Jodi is in the St. Louis area and she also does virtual organizing. You can also check out NAPO.net to find a professional organizer in your area.
Jodi Granok, MSW is a professional organizer, productivity consultant, and speaker. In 2008, she created Organizing Magic, LLC – a professional organizing company that works with overwhelmed people to get homes, offices, and lives organized. Services include in-person organizing to the St. Louis, Missouri area and virtual organizing to help anyone, anywhere!
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Podcast produced by: Amanda Taran
Please enjoy the full transcript below
Jodi: So really what I tell people is, “If you can’t find something in 30 seconds or less, it’s in the wrong place.” And there’s your red flag to say, “Wow, I need a little more organization here.”
Jill: Hello and Welcome to DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast. We are so glad you’re here. I’m Jill Farmer, lead coach at DocWorking. Today, we are going to be talking about “quick ways for you to get organized in the new year.” For this conversation, we brought in one of the best, an expert on organization. Jodi Granok is an MSW, a professional organizer, productivity consultant, and speaker. In 2008, she created Organizing Magic, a professional organizing company that works with overwhelmed people, just like all of our physician listeners, to get homes, offices, and lives organized. She is also very active in the National Association of Professional Organizers. She’s considered a leading expert in her field on this work and I’m excited to talk to you about it today.
Just a reminder, for our listeners, this episode is being brought to you by DocWorking Thrive, our subscription coaching program just for physicians. We have coaching support and physician peer support for you. So, go to docworking.com right now to check it out. Jodi, thank you for being with us here today to talk about “some quick and easy ways that we can keep resolutions for getting more organized.”
Jodi: Thanks for having me, Jill.
Jill: For somebody who’s at that point, where they feel like, “Gosh, I’ve been meaning to do this for a long time.” Where’s a place that our physician listeners can start if they are feeling, like, life is chaotic at home and things are not organized in a way that helps them experience ease and flow in their daily life?
Jodi: Thanks for that question. A lot of my clients that I work with, I do work with them in their homes or small business owners. I always say start with what’s bothering you the most. You can make a list of the different areas in your home or your office that are bothering you. But then prioritize it to say, “What area, if I did this today, would give me the biggest bang for my buck?” Sometimes, people will say, “Oh, it’s my kitchen, my bedroom, and my basement.” But really, the basement may not be high on the list, because we’re not hanging out, let’s say in the basement, where the storage bins are. But we are spending time in our kitchen every day. So, hone in on what is causing you the greatest stress and that’s a good place to start.
Jill: If for instance, as I hear from a lot of my clients, the kitchen has become the catch all space, you walk in, and there’s stuff piled everywhere, there’s forms that need to be filled out for kids’ camps, and mail, and bills to be paid, and projects that haven’t been completed, and broken pieces of things. I just feel overwhelmed when I walk into that kind of chaos. Even if I’m starting in the kitchen, how do I decide where to start there?
Jodi: Right. So, again, a kitchen is a really big area, especially if we’re using it as a command center, the place where people do their work or homework, and we’re eating and all those things. Again, even when you’ve picked an area, you may have to go down a step and say, “Okay, what part of the kitchen is really the most problematic?” If it’s paperwork, great. Let’s figure out a system for organizing the paperwork. If it’s that we can’t find the utensils we need, maybe we need to go through the drawers. If we don’t have any room to cook, maybe we need to figure out, “Do we need to keep everything here on the counter or should we be putting some things away.” If we can put them away, maybe it’s time to go through cabinets and organize them. So, lots of options depending on what your real issue is at the top of the list.
Jill: One of the things I saw you say and send out as a reminder recently where I was like, “Oh, yeah, this is really a lightbulb moment for me,” was, “Does everything need a home, a specific place where it’s kept quickly and easily?” The example that that brought up for me is a conversation that we’ve had actually on the podcast previously with Dr. Jen Barna, CEO and founder of DocWorking. Through some of the coaching conversations and things she was listening to, it dawned on her that one of the things that takes a lot of time in her day, every day, was searching for her keys. It was just part of life that she accepted. Sh always was like, “Where are my keys, where are my keys?” All of a sudden, she was like, “If I just put a little hook right by the back door and my keys are on it. I am getting lots of time back in my life, and eradicating frustration, and just this chaotic mindset that was happening every time she was trying to leave and looking for the keys.” As simple as that sounds, there are a lot of places in our lives, a lot of the time if we would just slow down and take the time, that if we would get better at finding a home for our frequently used items, it would really lower our stress. Can you talk more about that?
Jodi: Yes, and she is so on the mark. So, good job. I have a hook as well and it is right across the wall from when I walk in the door. We have a peg with the hook and that’s where my keys go. Really what I tell people is, if you can’t find something in 30 seconds or less, it’s in the wrong place. There’s your red flag to say, “Wow, I need a little more organization here.” You might be thinking, ‘Well, how do I make a home for my stuff, all my stuff is in my home right now?’ But you’re looking for those designated places, where you’re storing it, where you use it. Some of them are pretty obvious. We’re not going to keep the remote control in the refrigerator and we’re not going to keep the blender in the bathroom. But sometimes, we have to obviously get more specific. Not only should we store it where we use it, but we want to store it based on the frequency, and that’s what trips a lot of people up. So, think about your desk.
We use our stapler all the time. It wouldn’t make sense to store it in a drawer. It makes sense to keep it right on top, because we use it all the time. But let’s say, you have a file that you only look at on a quarterly basis. That probably shouldn’t be on top of your desk, because you don’t use it as much and it’s taking away that prime real estate. When you’re thinking about where a home should be, it’s the two-edged sword of, “I’m going to store where I use it, but I’m also going to base it on frequency.” In a kitchen, for example, the glasses, the drinking glasses that we only use when company comes over, one day company, remember that? That might be kept high up on a cabinet shelf, because we don’t use it all the time. If there’s something we use all the time, like certain kitchen utensils, we can even have those on the counter in a caddy utensil. So, we just want to make it simple and easy to retrieve things and to put them away.
Jill: I love it. Also, this was another little lightbulb moment. When you talked about storing things where you use them, for example, keeping stamps and envelopes with my checkbook and calculator. Because I will do this thing where I’m getting organized, but I inadvertently segment things out into different parts of the office or even sometimes, different parts of the house. Even though, every time I am writing the few people that I still write checks to pay my bills, there are a few out there, I need an envelope and stamps in order to make that happen. It is a funny thing that we do sometimes that we don’t take a second to pause exactly how we’re doing things, and how we’re using things, and we make life a little harder for ourselves when we put stuff away in place that it’s not easy to get to.
Jodi: Not only do we want to save the time by having it all together, but we want to avoid the distraction of, “If I go to look for the stamps, what if I get caught up in something else in the house?” You get that a lot from clients, where they started one project and got distracted, putting something where it really goes. When someone is organizing in an area, I always tell them, “Stay put until you’re done. Because otherwise it’s really easy to get distracted.” If you ever watched one of those good organizing shows in the past, not the scary ones, but the ones that talk about how you have a keep pile, and a donator giveaway pile and a trash pile, they never talked about how you should have a “this goes somewhere else” pile. I’m doing a kitchen junk drawer, I find my daughter’s hairbrush, and I know it goes upstairs, I’m not going to take it upstairs right away and potentially get distracted. I’m just going to put it off to the side, and finish the project I’m on, and then I can return the wayward items. If it inspires me to do another project, if I have the time, great. And if not, I’ve identified what my next project will be. But at least I know that I started and finished a project.
Jill: One of the other tips that you give when it comes to organizing a space like a junk drawer or in some people’s cases, the five junk drawers that have suddenly emerged in their kitchen is you say, “Don’t just go through one item at a time in the drawer.” You say, “Take everything out of that junk drawer, so it’s completely empty and then organize from there.” Why do you recommend that?
Jodi: That is so critical. I know it can be overwhelming for people to say, “I’m going to do it. I have to.” But unless you can see everything you have, you’re not going to make purposeful choices. I’ve been to kitchens before, where I found multiple bottles of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, expensive items all in use, because they were in different places in the kitchen, because someone wasn’t looking. If we were to organize one cabinet at a time, we might have missed that as well. It’s really important to take everything out. If you’re doing your kids toys, bring them all to one room. It doesn’t mean that they have to stay in the room when you’re done. They can be dispersed through the house. But you need a complete inventory to see what you’re dealing with. Otherwise, you’re going to miss if you have things in duplication or maybe even multiplication. When you find that you have too many of something that you didn’t want like 12 spatulas, now, you can look at them critically and say, “Well, how many do I really need, which one is my favorite, which one is chewed up by the garbage disposal?”
Jill: Yeah. I just had this conversation with a physician client. She had hired, at my recommendation since she was a very, very busy, overwhelmed person, a professional organizer, and she said, “What I realized is my version of organization was really just moving the same darn stuff around and I needed help really reducing the excess that was there, so that I had easier access and more efficiency to get to the things that really mattered to me.” I thought that was a powerful observation about getting that extra pair of eyes to help with that process.
Jodi: It can also help you realize that you moved on from something, our interests change. We can be going through our closets and realize, “I don’t have to dress up as professionally as I used to. We have more casual days.” But realizing that, if you’ve gotten over certain interests, maybe you’re not interested in needlework anymore or painting, that’s taking up space that you don’t need any more, and wouldn’t it be great to have space for a new interest or hobby?
Jill: One of the things I hear from my physician clients a lot is, “Gosh, I’m really good at surgery or at patient care, solving healthcare dilemmas. Why is it so hard for me to get my house organized? I’m embarrassed by just how disorganized I am at home or how much chaos there seems to be there.” Why, as a professional organizer who’s been doing this for a long time n ow, do you think it is so common? It’s not universal among all physicians, but I know a lot of physicians listening to this are relating. For people, who are so brilliant and excellent at this level of work, is it so common that they have a hard time getting themselves organized at home.
Jodi: That’s a great question. I think it’s a couple things. One is, I think it’s hard to prioritize things for yourself, especially when you’re in a field where you’re really trying to take care of other people. But we do need to take care of ourselves. We need to schedule time with ourselves. We’re really good, I think all of us, at scheduling appointments for ourselves or other family members and honoring those. We put them in our phone or a calendar, but we don’t put in our own calendar, “Hey, I’m going to spend an hour tackling this project.” So, that’s one part of it is, we need to prioritize our own needs. Put your own oxygen mask on first. But also, I think a lot of people get overwhelmed by the scope of a project. They think to themselves, “Well, if I don’t have time to get through the entire project all in one sitting, then I have to wait until I have time for that.” The truth is most of us don’t have the time for that.
Even though I talk about, if you’re going to do a project you’re going to take everything out, but you want to scale it to what you have time for. For a lot of people, I say, it’s not about finishing the project, it’s about starting. Instead of thinking, I have to overhaul this whole kitchen, well, let’s break it down. Let’s take one afternoon and let’s work on the pantry. Let’s take another afternoon and look at just all the drawers. Another time, we can look at the cabinets. We don’t have to do it all in one day. Of course, we can always bring in friends, family members, or professionals to help cut down on the amount of time that it takes to do an organizing project. But one thing I would say that the physicians out there may struggle with is the paperwork and the emails. That is definitely something that you can say, “I don’t have to do this in one day. I’m going to set a timer for 15 or 20 minutes and I’m just going to chip away at this,” because it does add up over time and you will see a difference.
Jill: Yeah, I think that’s part of it. People can be really good at scheduling their time at work and often ever decreasing amount of time allowed for each individual patient or that kind of scheduling. There’s this idea that at home, I’ll just spontaneously get to all the things that need to happen at home. I think you’ve just given us some really good key actionable items in what you just said. One is, you do have to set aside the time. You don’t have to set aside an entire day, if that sounds exhausting and overwhelming, but maybe an hour on a weekend day to just really target something. Then secondly, you say, target a specific area that you want to see a beginning, middle, and end with. Make it be the pantry, or the junk drawer, or section of your desk in the office, so that it’s a place where you can get in, and see a beginning, and a middle, and an end to it as well.
Let’s talk about what the results are. People have this desire to get more organized, but then just spin their wheels if they don’t take that intentional action for setting aside the time. What’s the results you see from either your physician clients or other busy professional clients when they do get to that place where everything does have a home and they feel there’s less chaos and more organization at home? What do they report back to you?
Jodi: Well, there is definitely a positive snowball effect. Snowball effects do not have to just be negative when you think about a rolling snowball turning into an avalanche. It could be that one project leads to another. You may feel like, “Oh, wow, I did this corner of the kitchen and I feel good about it.” But it’s just a corner. But it motivates you. You come downstairs the next day, and you see, and go, “Wow, look what I did.” Now, something else is going to go like this and wave at you, something else is going to stick out. I always tell people to go with the thing that bothers you the most and as soon as you organize that, it gives you a lift, but then someone else will rear their head and say, “My turn, my turn.” It can really motivate you to keep going. But it also can have a really positive effect on other people in the home.
I’ve had many clients tell me that, for example, their partner went and organized their closet, even though I wasn’t there, just by seeing that I had worked with their spouse on their closet. I’ve had clients and this was actually a physician that told me this. We worked on her six-year-old daughter’s closet while she was at school. The mom was really excited, she’s a busy physician, and she said, “Now, I don’t dread putting laundry away, because now I can put the laundry away.” But then she told me a couple weeks later, “My daughter came home from school and she got the award for the neatest desk.” She had arranged her desk by grouping things together, just like she had seen in her closet. The mom reported to me, “My daughter was able to independently get dressed every morning, because now, she can access her own clothes.” So, there’s definitely that effect that it can spread through the household and then people are motivated to help you keep it organized and keep going with their own projects.
Jill: Yeah, that’s great. As you said, to start just even one junk drawer at a time, it can create some momentum and stop that feeling of overwhelm, or shame, embarrassment, the reasons that we sort of avoid or procrastinate getting through these projects. Now, if you’re somebody who notices that you’ve been meaning to get around to organizational projects for years and you haven’t, I strongly recommend to a lot of my physician clients to look into hiring a professional organizer. Every single person that I’ve ever recommended that has done it says, “Oh, my gosh, I wish I would have done this sooner,” because it can, we talk about the snowball effect that really gets things rolling in a way that creates more motivation, and it can create a nice blank slate, where it’s much easier to maintain over time. So, that’s my plug for considering that as well. Jodi, any other final thoughts for us?
Jodi: I would say, don’t be afraid to take that first step. There’s lots of professional organizers throughout the country. One thing you can do is go to NAPO’S website, napo.net, and you can look up an organizer in your geographical area. That being said, there are other organizers like myself, who not only do in person organizing, but do virtual organizing. If you’re able to get on Zoom, which I think you all are, you could work with me no matter where you live. There’s lots of great resources out there, lots of organizers have newsletters, and I have a free class once a month. You can go to my website and sign up for that class. It’s free and it’s in the evening. So, it’s easy for most people to make it.
Jill: Yes, and your website for everybody is organizingmagic.com. I hope you guys will all check that out. Those free resources, use it as an inspiration, all the other tips and ideas she had, I hope you’ll go out and feel inspired to have a quick win for yourself by taking on one project in an area of greatest dissatisfaction for you so that you can shift that into a space that is more functional and brings you more peace and freedom as you’re doing the important work you’re doing in the world. Jodi Granok, thank you so much for joining us today. Thanks to all of you for tuning in for this meaningful conversation. As always, we love having you here. Don’t forget, this podcast is brought to you by DocWorking Thrive. Go to docworking.com to learn all about our subscription coaching program. It’s just a really great program and we hope you’ll check it out at docworking.com. Check out DocWorking Thrive. Until next time, I’m Jill Farmer.
Amanda: I’m Amanda Taran, producer of DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast. Thank you so much for listening. Please don’t forget to like and subscribe and head over to docworking.com to see all we have to offer.
Coach Jill Farmer
Jill Farmer is an experienced physician coach who has been helping doctors live their best lives, increase their success, and move through burnout for well over a decade.
She has delivered keynotes, programs, and training everywhere from Harvard Medical School to the American College of Cardiology.
She has personally coached hundreds of physicians, surgeons, and other busy professionals to help them be at their best—without burning themselves out. Her coaching has supported professionals at places like Mass General Brigham in Boston, Washington University in St. Louis, Northwestern University in Chicago and too many others to list.
Jill wrote the book on time management for busy people. Literally. It’s called “There’s Not Enough Time…and Other Lies We Tell Ourselves” which debuted as a bestseller on Amazon. Her work has been featured everywhere from Inc. to Fitness Magazine to The Washington Post.
Nationally recognized as a “brilliant time optimizer and life maximizer,” Jill will cut straight to the heart of your stress to liberate you from its shackles. She has two young adult daughters. She lives with her husband and their poorly behaved dachshund in St. Louis, MO.