How to Stop Being the Person Who Organises Everything

Person in blue jumper carrying a pile of blue books with a mug balanced on top

One of my favourite motivational quotes is ‘Just Start’. Stop thinking about it, and just do it. Embrace the uncertainty. Huzzah. I hope it works for you too. But I have been wondering of late whether ‘Just Stop’ might resonate with me just as clearly. You see there has been something that I have been trying to do a bit less of in the past six months. And that is being the person who organises everything.

Organiser in Chief

Over the years I seemed to have become a one-woman events team. At home that has meant organising every activity, booking, appointment, gift, lift, outing and holiday. Since my eldest kiddo started pre-school 7 years ago I have been on some committee or other helping to put on Christmas fairs, fun runs, quiz nights and cake sales.

A staionary flat lay image, including a wooden ruler, notepads, pens and pencils on a blue and white background.

I do love to make sure things are lined up and ship shape

It’s easy to see how it became this way. I needed to feel useful and stimulated. It helped me to connect with other people and gave me something to do with my brain.  I’ve always treated being a full-time mum as a job during the week, it gave me purpose. And if I do a job, I try to be good at it.

It can also feel great. Organising is a people-pleasing pass time. It makes everyone happy and grateful, and you get a big pat on the back. You can’t deny that it’s a control thing too. If I’m organising something (see, holidays!) then ultimately I can push my own agenda.

The Grump

But honestly, something shifted, and I wasn’t enjoying it anymore. I’d started to become a bit of a miserable old grump, which is not a look to love. I resented spending so much of my time doing things for other people. I wanted to be The Organised for a change. Someone tell me where I need to be and what time it starts and I’ll just turn up and enjoy myself.

A flat lay image of ladies jeans. A mix of blue, black and white denim.

These days I’d mostly rather be organising a flat lay photo

Read about my Granny, Margot, who’s 101 and has never done much she didn’t want to

It can be difficult to see how to just stop doing things when you have taken responsibility for them for so long. Of course, there are things that need to be done, that just, need to be done. But I reckon that list is far shorter than we think it is. There is plenty that you can…

Just stop

There are two ways to work at this. First, say no. For me, that mean’s that the committees are gone for now. I’m on bit of a roll and recently refused to get involved with organising my parents-in-law’s anniversary gift. I mean, what a rebel (and do you know, they’ve ended up with something better than I had in mind). Second, shut up. Zip it and sit on your hands precisely at that moment when you would usually say ‘I can sort that out if you like’.

Other people will either take things on, or they won’t, and maybe some things won’t happen. And then you may realise that it wasn’t so important in the first place. Or things will be thrown together at the last minute, less perfectly, and that’s fine too.

And then you can start

I don’t want to be the person who never sorts anything out leaves all the graft up to others. I’m a pretty good fixer, and it’s nice for things to be nice. But if you want to make room for something to change in your life, you need to create the space for it. You can’t do that when you are organising everything.

Tell me whether you feel you have the balance right in the comments below, I would really love to hear from you.

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14 comments on “How to Stop Being the Person Who Organises Everything

  1. Natascha mc Gregor on

    It’s hard and it’s a ongoing process. I try to keep my world small. So that the things that I do I can do with the attention they deserve. And take breaks inbetween. And I say no. Every time I say it I feel guilty but I think that’s a women thing? When I read your story, you seem to be on the right way!

  2. Scarlett Roitman on

    You’re quite right, Helen. Just shutting up, saying no can be quite liberating. I’m getting better at it with age, but I’m still lil ol’ control freak me. So my kids say anyway. ?

  3. Caroline on

    Ooooo loves this one H. I’m not sure that for organisers it’s even a conscious choice, you hear there’s a need and inherently feel the desire to fix it / make it happen!
    You’ve already put yourself forward before you think “hang on a sec, I wasn’t going to do this anymore”
    Need to practice sitting on hands! X

  4. Gups on

    Another great blog! It’s the same in our house. Jules takes on all the organising, buying, sending etc tasks, while I just mooch about in the background making unhelpful comments. Not really sure why or how this happens. I want to say it’s a gender thing but that will get me in trouble. I think I have just learnt to be lazy in that department. Must try harder.

  5. @not_about_the_kids2017 on

    Hi Natascha, I think that we need to stop feeling guilty about asking for other people to help out with things. That’s my new theory and I’m trying to stick to it! Thank you so much for reading, Hxxx

  6. @not_about_the_kids2017 on

    Ah Scarlett, the problem is we know how to get things done right don’t we? But I do think we can be guilty of creating jobs for ourselves and taking on a bit too much in order to please other people. Thanks so much for stopping by for a read, Hxx

  7. @not_about_the_kids2017 on

    Practice makes perfect Caroline, and a little bit of organising makes us both happy I think 😉 It’s just a case of making sure you are leaving time to do to the things that are important to you too. Also, sometimes people need to help!! Lots of love, Hx

  8. @not_about_the_kids2017 on

    The thing is that in a lot of ways we like to take control of all of this organising stuff because then things are within our control and happen exactly the way we want them to. In many ways a situation of our own making! Thanks for reading Gup, H

  9. Kate Scott on

    Hit the nail on the head Helen. Well done – a subject which I identify with wholeheartedly and definitely food for thought! X

  10. @not_about_the_kids2017 on

    Hi Kate 🙂 How does it happen, one day you look around and think…why am I doing all of this stuff?? For me, it’s been a good moment recently to adjust/re-balance my obligations! Thanks for stopping by, it was lovely to see your comment pop up. Hx

  11. Samantha Nagtegaal on

    Great blog post as always Helen ? I am kind of a mixture of two extremes. I am very, very organised (and have been criticised for this in the past, very unfairly as it happens because I needed to be especially organised during the years of having one child in nursery, having short blocks of time in which to do things, then second child starting nursery whilst older child starts school etc. You know how it is – I couldn’t have negotiated that time of life without being organised). I am also very organised with my meals (surprise!) and I meal plan every week. I put everything I have arranged in my phone calendar and set multiple reminders. I am constantly clearing out and reorganizing in general. However… I do love to arrange events and I *totally* get the whole “If I do this then I can influence things in my desired way”! LOL ? But I am also a big “no” person, entirely due to my admitted selfishness. So what I actually need to do is say yes more, continue to.be organized, but chill out a bit. Not easy…

    XXX Sam

  12. @not_about_the_kids2017 on

    Hi Sam, I love that you are a big ‘no’ person. In many ways, I think that just means being an honest person! And yes, I was beyond organised when the children were younger. They were born 19 months apart and it was all that I could do to keep my head above water. As always, thanks so much for reading 🙂 Hxx

  13. Anna on

    This resonates with me and I, too, am practising the art of saying no or remaining silent. I have to fight my every instinct, but it WORKS and it’s liberating when it does. I identify with your realisation that you had become grumpy. I start every family weekend break feeling frazzled and resentful that I’ve done all of the packing and organising, and yet I’m still the only one ready to leave on time. Better still, i then get to endure endless questions about whether “we” have packed socks/the dog/the kitchen sink. On our next trip, I shall be asking other family members to pack for themselves…

  14. @not_about_the_kids2017 on

    Oh Anna, the packing!!! Why have I let it become my job to do 95% of it? The way I see it we have a choice, carry on being a grumpy martyr or get everyone to pitch in. Thank you so much for taking the time to pop by, have a read, and leave a comment. I really do appreciate it, Hx

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