Organizing skill could equal math genius |

Organizing skill could equal math genius

I’m not a numbers guy. To say that I suck at math is an understatement. That’s why I was utterly shocked when Dr. Christopher Strickland told me I was probably a mathematical genius. Strickland is a mathematics postdoc research fellow at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, specializing in analysis and optimization of complex systems. I have absolutely no idea what that means, but it sounds fancy — and really hard.

According to the good doctor, this is why I may be a mathematical genius. Chaos theory studies the behavior of highly sensitive, nonlinear dynamics and attempts to develop mathematical predictability for what is commonly referred to as the butterfly effect. Some variables are just so random, so unique, and so sensitive to vastly changing conditions, that outcomes appear to exist in absolute chaos. Chaos theory simplifies those variables into manageable equations, where predictability becomes reasonably reliable. That is precisely what I do for a living. It turns out my mother was right; I’m awesome. Who knew.

As a professional organizer, it’s my job to reliably deliver order from chaos. To be successful, I must intuit, assimilate and effectively manage wildly fluctuating variables instantaneously and simultaneously as things change. A few of those variables include: the dimensions of multiple spaces in relationship to each other; the baffling variety of physical objects inside those spaces; the nuanced personalities and ever-changing emotions of my clientele; the relationship-dynamics between my clients and those around them; the opportunities to leverage assets; and manage challenges, time constraints, and budget restrictions. Take into consideration the influence of historical experience, relationship dynamics, perceived limitations, and the seemingly infinite variety of things — it’s a lot to keep track of.

It’s my job to streamline that ball of snakes into a stress-free process with reasonably predictable results, and then train my clients to painlessly apply that process when I’m not there. So, I’m not just a mathematical genius, I’m also an undercover instructor of chaos theory. Right?

C’mon, let’s be honest; I’m nothing special. How I do this is actually very simple. When you feel overwhelmed by a giant, disorganized mess, it’s because you’re probably looking at too many variables. Start with the end in mind. Close your eyes and imagine the mess is gone; picture the space exactly how you’d like it to be. We’ll call that your ideal vision. Step one is all about removing absolutely everything that does not support your vision. Subtract those things first. Then add a few items to improve on that ideal vision of your space. You’ll know whether or not an item is good to stay if it helps you to be the person you want to be and do the things you want to do. If it doesn’t, those things go away. Simplify the equation by removing unnecessary variables.

Once we’ve subtracted everything we can, we organize. Organizing is manageable with a fixed system. Try this: 1) Put like things together, so items are 2) easy to find (with a label or inside a see-through container), so they are 3) easy to reach, but 4) out of the way. To know precisely where to put things, use my formula “proximity = urgency.” The stuff you use all the time should be more accessible than the things you use less urgently. Once everything is organized, bring it to life with style and vibrancy. That will give you the inspiration to maintain your spaces thereafter. Remember, clean kitchens are easier to keep clean.

With too many variables, solving equations becomes increasingly complex. Remove as many variables as possible and you’re left with the absolute essentials. You know you have achieved perfection when there is nothing more to add, and nothing more to subtract. Once you simplify your stuff, organizing your life will become an eventuality. Then you can go about saving the world in your own unique way. Welcome to the ClutterFree Revolution.

Evan Zislis is founder and principal consultant of, delivering hands-on organizational solutions and strategies consulting for households, businesses, students, and life transitions. His bestselling book, “ClutterFree Revolution: Simplify Your Stuff, Organize Your Life & Save the World,” is available on Amazon. For more information about simplifying your stuff and organizing your life, like ClutterFree Revolution on Facebook, call 970-366-2532, or email

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