While at NYU, I was studying to become an actor. So to further that goal, I took an internship at a prestigious New York talent agency (which translates to working in the mailroom). I made it my job to transform that poor excuse of a mailroom into something organized and beautiful. Everyone at the agency took notice and put me to work reorganizing their offices. My efforts even won me a job, as I jumped from mailroom to office manager and then eventually serving as the assistant to the president of the agency. The owner even offered me a position as an agent, but that wasn’t the path I wanted to take. Before I knew it, I not only had representation as an actor and helped my friends get representation, but I earned massive respect from the entire agency for my organizational skills.
I created a methodology for everything in the office: systems for incoming scripts, updating of résumés, client files, and ordering supplies, among other tasks. I also made sure to teach everyone how it all worked so it would be maintained when I was away on auditions or at class. I created manuals and one-?sheets for people to follow when I was at school and procedures for when the phone system or computers went down so there wouldn’t be a panic. Several agents suggested that I do this for a living once they saw the results of my work. Without realizing it, my OCD was morphing into its new moniker, O.C.D.: Organize & Create Discipline. But I didn’t have a chance to take their suggestions seriously because soon after graduating NYU, I landed a role on CBS ’s daytime drama Guiding Light.
Though my O.C.D. career was on hold before it ever began, I continued to help the people around me and I managed to tackle my most challenging transformation yet. While shooting Guiding Light, I was sharing an incredibly beautiful penthouse apartment near Wall Street with one of my best female friends. The only problem was that she had grown up with a mother who was a hoarder, and unfortunately, she had inherited some of those characteristics. But she was respectful enough to keep the mess to her room, behind closed doors. When I say “mess,” I mean piles of stuff everywhere, five layers deep, with not a thing in order or an inch of floor visible. She called it organized chaos. I just called it chaos.
Up to this point, I had only helped the average, disorganized person. But she was on a whole other level. When we finally organized her room, she broke down crying, not because her stuff was gone, but because by taking the mess she was hiding behind and organizing it, I made her face herself and her issues. We learned powerful things throughout the process together: never underestimate the power of a pile or getting rid of it. Most people create piles for specific reasons that need to be addressed before those piles can disappear. We also learned that in order for change to occur, someone must want it to. We were both forever changed and I realized that organization could be a liberating psychological tool. By going through your physical stuff, you are often forced to deal with your emotional stuff. Organization doesn’t just rehabilitate a space; it can also be powerful therapy for rehabilitating your mind.
Part II: Organize & Create Discipline
The Benefits of an Organized Life
Life is one big set of attachments. Some of them are meaningful. Most are not. But these meaningless or misplaced attachments are just distractions. If you can purge your life of these, not only will you have more time, energy, and space to focus on and feature what truly matters, you’ll also feel a sense of clarity and freedom. Imagine the power you’ll have in knowing when and where everything is in a split second.
That is the ultimate task of O. C. D .: getting clients open to the idea of letting things go that are holding them back from operating at their best. We help clients filter out what they really need in order to be more productive and bring fresh energy into their lives, making space for new opportunities, both spatially and on the calendar.
Reprinted by arrangement with AVERY, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © JUSTIN KLOSKY, 2013.