On March 26, 2019 I was very, very busy. It was the week of Spring Break and we were trying to get out the door for five days of respite at the Oregon Coast.

Vacation planning is my sweet spot! All those check lists and details – love them.

  • The bags were packed.
  • The dog was kenneled.
  • The car was gassed and ready to go.
  • I was super close to “inbox zero” when the…

Doctor called. I’m part of the “sandwich generation” and was serving as primary contact for my 81-year-old ailing father. His recent MRI was not good – his heart was shot and didn’t have much time left. I asked how long and the doc said “any day or maybe a year.”  Ok…

An image of Danielle sitting at the beach on the Oregon coast with only her foot showing
Relaxing on the deck of our beach rental at the Oregon Coast, 2019

Eight of us (family and friends) caravanned to our destination and arrived at a gorgeous Airbnb with panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. Within minutes my sister and I were relaxing on the deck with cocktails in hand. Ah…spring break. At last.

Later that evening, while playing a ridiculous game and doubled over with laughter, the phone rang. And my dad was gone. Our dad was gone. The kids’ “Pop” was gone. My husband’s father-in-law was gone. My mother’s sort-of-ex-husband was gone. Dad had eaten dinner with a friend, returned to his apartment, reclined in his recliner, and fell asleep forever. Not a bad way to go.

To say I learned a lot from my father would be an outrageous understatement. But for the sake of this story, I’ll share a little about his ORGANIZING. And holy moly, that guy was organized!

His shoes were polished. His suits were pressed. His bathroom drawer held nothing more than the essentials – hair brush, razor, deodorant, nail clippers. God help the child who “borrowed” his nail clippers and failed to return them. 

My mother is different. She’s creative and artistic. She keeps a clean house but doesn’t mind if a junk drawer is overstuffed with junk.

If I compiled a list of the TOP 10 Tips on “How to be Organized,” my dad was a master of them all:

  • Keep only what you use and love.
  • Place like things with like.
  • Return items to their rightful place.  
  • Use containers to keep things tidy.
  • Clear the surfaces each night.
  • I could name 20 more.

In 2004, I launched Totally Orderly, LLC and my father had no idea what a Professional Organizer was, but he was my heartiest cheerleader. He taught me marketing, sales funnels, and competitive rates. He made sure I included customer service and professionalism in my core values. He encouraged me toward leadership in the industry. But we never discussed the basics of organizing, because he had already schooled me in those skills – not overtly, but by modeling – throughout my life. I built a business on what I learned from watching my dad.

As my business grew, I learned time management, or productivity was the other side of the organizing coin. My clients wanted time. They wanted to live their values – family, spirit, health – but their closets, garages and paper piles were consuming all their hours. I studied the time management masters like David Allan and Harold Taylor and integrated their wisdom into my services.  My company mission transformed into increasing my clients’ knowledge and skills in organizing and productivity principles so they could lead more successful and joyful lives.

And lucky for me, my Dad the Organizing Mentor was a time management master as well. He did all of these things:

  • Prepare in the evening for a successful tomorrow.
  • Do the worst thing first.
  • Make your bed.
  • Unpack your suitcase.
  • Use a calendar.
  • Keep a to-do list.
  • Open your mail.
  • Pay your bills.
  • Arrive early. Every time.

Two things I do not know:

  • Was my dad naturally organized and productive or did he hone the skills over the course of his life?
  • Was he organized and productive for an intentional purpose, such as success at work or more time with his family; or was it to avoid negatives, such as stressful mornings or the burden of unfinished work?

One thing I do know:

  • My dad’s legacy will be the TIME he spent with family.
Christmas 2012, Mimi and Pops and all the grandkids
Christmas 2012, Mimi and Pop and all the grandchildren.

And I know this because my family said so. When I was preparing the eulogy for his funeral, I asked for their reflections. Not one of them mentioned his organizing skills. No one revered his productive habits. But almost all of them said he gave them time.

  • “Pop spent 1:1 time with me.”
  • “He made me feel like I was the only person in the room.”
  • “Dad was always there for me.”
  • “When I came to him with a problem, he gave me his full attention.”

So here are some words of wisdom from me, someone who is not as organized or productive as my father was, and someone who works every day with folks who struggle with these very concepts:

  • Get organized.
  • Be productive.
  • Ask for help.
  • Practice what the experts say.

I know it’s hard. But it really does work. You really will have more time. And you might just be remembered for it.

This Father’s Day I will be raising a glass (probably a vodka tonic) to my dad – my mentor in life and business – and thanking him for the time we had.

Is there someone that inspires you to get organized?

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