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It's Hard to Make a Difference When You Can't Find Your Keys: The Seven-Step Path to Becoming Truly Organized (Compass) Paperback – December 30, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Paul, an organizational development consultant, offers scattered readers a way out of the "swamp of disorder" in this smart look at the underlying causes of chronic disorganization. Though she offers concrete advice (create a to-do list system, keep transition time between appointments, get rid of things you haven't used in a year), her book goes beyond a step-by-step program to getting organized; her approach targets many of the sources of disorganization (among them: insecurity, emotional attachment, inexperience and fear) while offering meaningful paths to tackling everything from dirty dishes and filing problems to time management and inner spirituality. Hokey phrases like "the whole purpose of getting organized is to reconnect us with our soul's journey" and suggestions such as "bring your loving awareness to washing the lettuce leaves" are a little too common, but Paul artfully weaves the existential with the practical, as she shows how presence of mind can lead to a sense "of a greater Presence." Her advice is simple but important, and her reassuring tone will soothe even the most harried reader.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"[I]nsightful.... Though technically about organizing, it also provides a wonderful, non-threatening way to examine how to live your life.... [H]ighly recommended for anyone searching for deeper self awareness." —USA Today

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Product Details

  • Series: Compass
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (December 30, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142196177
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142196175
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #244,539 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

65 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Donald Arnoudse on February 2, 2003
Format: Hardcover
At last! This is the "getting organized" book for all those of us who have tried many other books and methods only to eventually fall back into our old disorderly habits. This book goes beyond treating the symptoms and gets to the real heart of the matter. Dr. Paul speaks from personal experience as she helps her readers see clearly how chronic disorganization is ultimately a betrayal of our integrity, dignity and responsibility; how it drains our self-confidence and damages our most important relationships. With humor and compassion, she makes getting organized an exciting journey of self-discovery. This is the first book I've read on the topic that deeply energized and inspired me. I couldn't put it down! For the first time, I really felt understood by an author on this topic. I have already given this book as a gift to friends and colleagues. It's a brilliant one-of-a-kind effort that I keep close by wherever I go.
This book is unique in exposing the deeper "why's" of disorganization. With her seven-step model, Marilyn Paul offers an intensely practical and easy-to-follow roadmap to transforming chaos into order. She offers a means to live powerfully with ease and calm. The first step on the path is to define one's "compelling purpose for organizing" ; the secret to staying motivated while patiently reversing years of disorderly habits. Next, she helps the reader vividly imagine how life would be if you were living that purpose right now. Then "taking stock" not only diagnoses the physical symptoms of disorder but helps the reader uncover the emotional, mental, and spiritual levels that are key to lasting and comprehensive change. The next step on setting up a support system of colleagues, friends and family is a practical method to ensure on-going success.
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Future Green Girl VINE VOICE on July 27, 2010
Format: Paperback
I ran across this when I used to work in a bookstore. You know who you are, all of you out there who never met a book they didn't like...that's me. As a result, I have a LOT of books and all the stuff that goes along with being a booklover---periodicals, notebooks full of my memoirs, you name it. I saw a PBS show on hoarders, those unlucky people mired in their possessions, unable to break the spell of "stuff", and it began to eat at me: could I be a hoarder of books? Well, further in, I decided I wasn't. (If you can't psychologize yourself, nobody can! Besides, what better rainy-day reading is better than the DSM?)

Anyway, I was hoping this wouldn't be one of the "file recipes under the blue tag, and do it all the time" breed of books, which I HATE. The preachy-sniffy-better-than-you organizational mavens out there, give getting your stuff in order a bad name! Kind of like the time management guy that says, "Well, leave on time to arrive on time." Makes me want to gnash my teeth and howl. I used to just look at all my stuff and decide getting it all in some kind of order was just too much for me, so I'd better go to the movies instead.

I made this author my BF immediately after learning she and I shared WAY too many quirks, even down to paying a professional organizer hard-earned bucks only to have them return the next week, and scowl at you for the clutter that came creeping back. Marilyn Paul is my TRIBE. She understands how it is. She gets it. Her invitation for you to examine why you make mess brought my motivations into clear focus. Her book really helped me to understand how I am benignly sabotaging my deep-down desire to live a less complicated life.
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63 of 70 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on February 2, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Paul sets out what looks like a good system for slowly organizing your life, one area at a time. However, in reading this book, I discovered that I currently lack enough motivation to get so organized. Paul's system requires that you make organization a major priority in your life, at least for the period of time when you are training yourself to be organized. If you are not ready to devote significant time and effort to becoming organized, I don't think this book will help.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By M. Miller on March 14, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have been frustrated for decades by my messy desk. I tried numerous recommended tactics to manage it, but none worked---until this book! I have finally conquered the monster by following the wise and supportive guidance given by the author. I have purchased copies of this book for many friends and they love it too. I cannot recommend it highly enough for those who feel disorganized around time, space or "stuff". It's great to finally be able to use my desk as I have always wanted to. My desk is at last a source of pleasure instead of a pain--which is handy since I work at it so many hours every day! This approach really works!!! I am extremely grateful to this author and recommend the book most highly.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Amy Merritt on February 7, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I would call this the thinking person's guide to getting organized. I was delighted by the intelligence and breadth of this approach. And, I am actually reading the book. I often buy self-help books, and then I don't read them. I am reading this every day and it is changing my life. I find good sense and inspiration on every page. I highly recommend it.
Five stars!
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