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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

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  174 ratings  ·  32 reviews
Overbooking? Running late? Feeling overwhelmed by clutter and to-dos? Management consultant Dr. Marilyn Paul guides you on a path to personal change that will bring true relief from the pain and stress of disorganization. Unlike other books on getting organized, It's Hard to Make a Difference When You Can't Find Your Keys offers a clear seven-step path to personal developm ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published December 30th 2003 by Penguin Books (first published 2002)
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This is one of the best books I've read on organizing. I started by jumping right into the most practical chapters (in Part II: Drawing on Organizing Wisdom), but found it so useful that I ended up reading the first chapters as well.

I really appreciate the way the author clearly explains some very obvious and foundational ideas, such as building transition time between activities. I also really like the way she encourages the reader to think deeply about the "why" of our disorganized or chaotic
A rare "organizing" book that urges you to take a look at WHY you are disorganized, rather than sending you out to buy containers.
Aug 08, 2011 Janet rated it 4 of 5 stars
So far this book is pretty good. A little hard to read...need to concentrate, but isn't that what self-help books should make you do? Talks about the issue behind the disorganization, not just a quick fix organizing book. I'll update more as I get further into the book

UPDATE: On page 205 of 287 and I've got to say that this book is great. My favorite chapters so far have been Chapter 6 (reread it twice!)--The Rhythm of Organizing and Chapter 10-Focus Your Powerful Mind. Love how the author appro
Jun 22, 2009 Jschwabenland1 rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who wishes to finally get organized
Recommended to Jschwabenland1 by: I found it marked down in the clearance bin.
Shelves: non-fiction
So far, I like this book, although I am not finished with it. If you have ever tried to get organized in one week-end or less and felt like a failure just a few weeks later, this book is for you. The author advises to deeply examine your life and observe your own clutter as an outsider. Following this observation, you should reflect on what may be the cause of the clutter. The chapter called, "Taking Stock," is a good starting place. You can skim the preceeding chapters if you want to. All they ...more
I keep my expectations low for books from the "self help" section... so often they're shallow, cheesy and generally insulting in some way. Still, I sometimes flip through them at the library out of some unexplainable, compelling curiosity. This one was better than most because it addresses the "why" behind our self-defeating tendencies to over-schedule, accumulate clutter, and live in denial about the ways that we fail to take responsibility for ourselves. It's full of "exercises", which aren't ...more
As Marilyn Paul points out, most clutter books just tell you to “just do it;” clean up the mess and decide not to be messy anymore. However, disorganization can be persistent unless you address the causes and evaluate why you’re living that way. For many, being organized is a skill that needs to be learned. Her book contains exercises to evaluate your personal organizational habits and steps to change your behavior to lead a more organized life. In my opinion, this book should be saved for those ...more
Sherrill Watson
Given to me by a friend, who remembers me when I was disorganized. I am not at all now, and don't especially know why. Can't use much of the ideas in the book, but Seven Steps is a good idea, and learning the "whys" of how I used to be that way is useful. However, at my age, it's ho-hum. Sorry.
Many organizing gurus would be disappointed with this book because it has so few suggestions and ideas on what you can specifically do to be more organized; such as where to hang your keys, or how to fit on your cleaners in a cupboard, etc.

But that is absolutely NOT what this book is about. This is a book for totally non-organized people talking to them about the whys. Why aren't they organized? Why should they be organized? What are the thoughts and behaviors that lead to organization, and diso
Nov 24, 2009 Sally marked it as to-read-library-has
Shelves: skimmed
holy cow, that describes my life....

eta: It's hard to read a book if you don't read it until it's due and on hold for another patron. Maybe 3rd time will be the charm! lol


"Becoming aware of our constant inner commentary is not easy. We talk at 100 words per minute, read at about 250 words per minute, and think at about 800 words per minute; so much of the time, we don't know what we are thinking."

I think part of my problem is that I probably think *more* than that, and talking, much less typi
I got this as part of my never-ending quest to get more organized after seeing it mentioned on someone's blog (whose? I don't know—I'm not that organized!) There's some good information in here, but I had trouble getting into it. The font used is pretty small, so I had to spend a fair bit of energy just concentrating on making out the words (even with my reading glasses on), leaving fewer brain cells available to absorb the content. The subtitle of this is "The Seven-Step Path to Becoming Truly ...more
I started this book because of a comment on a Houzz article that someone found Marilyn Paul's book more helpful than Marie Kondo's The life-changing magic of tidying up. I decided getting organized is not my problem.
Call me crazy but I loved this book. I love the whole genre of organizing books, but this one is different. It makes you question the origin of the messes to begin with in a way that gets at the sources of the disorganization. It was thought provoking and inspired me to be a bit less of a procrastinator while I was reading it. I might just read it again.
Great book, PACKED with exercises to help you become truly organized. Hint: you need to start from the inside out, it's all about your thoughts on being organized. Another book from the library I read partway through, even the first 2 chapters have gotten me started down the path of organization, very helpful!
Jul 27, 2008 Dasha rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Very disorganized people
I am generally pretty organizing but occasionally pick up things like this at the library to gain more insights and tips. This book focused on the basics of getting yourself organized but was pretty much useless for someone who is not drowning under piles of paper or is usually on time.
I am creating a "life skills seminar" for my teenage daughters. This book was not what I needed. Way too in-depth, and for people with serious organization problems--like people on Hoarders. I'm just looking for some ideas on how to keep things tidy.
Joe Luna
shitty and boring.
Jul 24, 2013 Larry added it
Shelves: sampled
Read the Kindle sample. Seemed like it was more "how to have life goals" fluff than crunchy how-to tips. (That actually probably makes it a better book, but it wasn't what I was expecting.) Doubt I'll read the whole book.
I loved this book. It's so nice to know other people struggle with disorganization, clutter, etc. And this book gave me a new perspective/motivation to tackle the problem.
Mar 09, 2007 Emerson rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People who want to get organized and understand the some of the causes of disorganization
I am not usually a step-by-step person, but this book changed my life! One of the most helpful things for me was learning to always bring things in my life "back to ready."
Sasha Rose Clifton Oxnard
the best book on organizing i've ever seen... much more a book about why you would want to add more order to your life. full of great tips and life wisdom.
It's Hard to Make a Difference When You Can't Find Your Keys: The Seven-Step Path to Becoming Truly Organized by Marilyn Paul (2003)
I am having a difficult time with all the mess in the house and I believe that this book will be of help. I like a lot of the concepts.
Feb 10, 2009 Josh is currently reading it
yeah. i'm chronically disorganized. i like the ideas so far in this book. just starting to get to the actual work...
Carol Anne Shaw
I'm pretty sure this book was written especially for me. I will refer to it forever, and I now know where to find it.
Not what I personally was looking for. Didn't seem to apply to life skills as much as workplace skills.
Apr 24, 2015 Chris is currently reading it
If I could remember where I put this book I would pick it up and finish it..,
The best thoughtful book on organizing. It gives good whys and hows
One of the best books to cross my ADHD-like brain!
i am a LITTLE more organized after this book
I keep misplacing the book. Sigh.
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Marilyn Paul, Ph.D. is an organization and management consultant skilled in facilitation, organizational diagnosis, systems thinking, and leadership development. The purpose of her consulting is to help people improve their abilities to work together to accomplish meaningful results. Among her strengths is the ability to facilitate a new perspective and original solutions to persistent problems.
More about Marilyn Paul...

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