Free Your Space: Make an organizing touchdown

"In life, as in football, you won’t go far unless you know where the goalposts are.” ~ Arnold Glasow

 Today is not only Thanksgiving Day, this year it is also the start of Hanukkah and, for all you sports fans, there’s a football game or two.

Wikipedia reports that the first football game to be played on Thanksgiving Day took place right here in Philadelphia in 1869. And, whether you’re a fan or not, there is something that can be learned from taking a look at the structure of an organized team sport.

I visited to take a look at some of the basic rules of football and here’s what I found out:

To start with, there is a very specific measurement for the field of play: “The field measures 100 yards long and 53 yards wide.  Little white markings on the field called yard markers help the players…keep track of the ball.”  Not a bad idea, don’t you think?  When you know how much space you’re working with it is easier to plan how you will use it.  It is also a reminder to stay within the boundaries of that space.

The game is timed: “Games are divided into four 15-minute quarters, separated by a 12-minute break at halftime.” If you are not a football fan, you might argue the apparent brevity of these times (especially when you’re not the one holding the remote). Nevertheless, limited time requires prioritizing and planning – in other words, time management.

Advancing the ball: “There are two main ways for the offense to advance the ball. The first is called a run. This occurs when the quarterback hands the ball off to a running back, who then tries to gain as many yards as possible… The other alternative to running the ball is to throw it.” Or, as they say in football, pass it.  Advancement requires action and teamwork.  Even a star quarterback is not going to win the game on his own. Whether it’s family, friends or hired professionals, if you’ve set your eyes on a big goal, involving a team is the best way to insure success.

Knowing the goal: “The object of the game is to score the most points.” Space planning, time management and movement is all for naught if we don’t know why we’re doing it.  So, before tackling any organizing project, take a moment to consider the goal. Do you want to organize your bedroom? Why?  Is it so you can feel relaxed when you walk in at the end of the day? Is it because you can never find the clothes you need when you’re getting dressed in the morning?  Is it because the clutter on the floor has become a tripping hazard? Since your answer will affect your approach, you may want to write your objective down and tape it up while you are working so you can keep your goal in sight.

All the planning in the world is not going to move the ball down the field.  There has to be a balance between planning and execution.  Knowing the limits of your space, giving yourself a time frame, taking action and keeping your goal in mind is a sure plan for an organizing touchdown.

* Annette Reyman is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO®) and President of its Greater Philadelphia Chapter. To contact her for organizing work, professional unpacking, productivity support, gift certificates or speaking engagements call 610- 213-9559 or email her at Visit her websites at and  Follow All Right Organizing on Facebook and Pinterest.

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