Writing & Editing

208. I’m Sure I Can Finish This without Cleaning the House First, Right?

August 14, 2023 Wayne Jones Episode 208
Writing & Editing
208. I’m Sure I Can Finish This without Cleaning the House First, Right?
Show Notes Transcript

My guest today is Cathy Perez. Among many other accomplishments and abilities, Cathy is a Worldwide Certified KonMari Organizing Consultant. We talk about organization, in the sense of being organized, and how the lack of it can have a real effect on how you feel and on how productive you are able to be. She provides information based on her training as well as on personal and professional experiences. Writers? Editors? Anyone? Is the mess around you stopping you from doing what you want to get done?

FULL TRANSCRIPT


Cathy's Facebook Page

Wayne Jones:

Hi, Cathy, welcome to the podcast.

Cathy Perez:

It's so fun to be here. Thank you so much for having me way.

Wayne Jones:

It's so fun to have you here. Because as I was just saying, this is not only of professional interest to me, but I have a very deep personal interest as well. And before we sort of get into it, I wonder if you could say, just for listeners, the things you concentrate on in the work that you do, our organization, the relationship between organization and stress being organized and being stressed. And I wonder if you could talk a little bit more about that in general, but also the kinds of clients or people that you deal with directly?

Cathy Perez:

Sure. No, thank you so much again. So I do specifically work with high-stress women. I know from experience because I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder back in 2001. And so that kind of led me so I've always been organized like you. And I've always been a neat freak. And so what I realized, at least, as I decided to take on this certification that I did with KonMari, that kind of again, I've always been into really organization. But when I got certified as a KonMari organized consultant, I realized how this can definitely help others because it helped me like I felt my own anxiety, go back to a lower neutral. And that was astounding to me. So I'm like, Holy cow, this actually works. So that's what then propelled me to say, You know, I can help other women like me. And so what I did was, you know, I did start out in just going to people's homes, but then I realized, I'm not going to affect as many people. Let me coach them. Yeah. And so that's what led me to now being a coach. And so again, I do, again, focus on women. And they are superb, multitaskers. But that's actually to their detriment. And so now it's a matter of teaching them, Guess what, I'm not telling you not to multitask, but I'm going to ask you to choose how you multitask and your environment in which you're doing it. And that is a really eye opener for them. Because they realize, Holy cow, I never realized that if I'm looking at my computer trying to get work done, but yet, there's clutter in my peripheral, that's sending my anxiety high because now my body, my brain and body think I'm in danger simply because it noticed something. And now it can't concentrate and focus on what it was first looking at, which was my work. So that's how I bring it all in. It's very encompassing to all parts of life. But in particular, obviously, when you're trying to be productive, maybe when you're trying to read write at the end of the evening or so forth. But definitely it all comes together in the fact that your brain and your body realize that there's outside forces, and it won't concentrate unless it can stay calm.

Wayne Jones:

I have 1,000 questions just from what you said there. Not because it wasn't clear, but because it was very clear. One of the ones I want to ask is, during the certification that you mentioned, whether you study things like this, but for example, is the reason that, say, if you're settled down to do a work task at your computer, but you're in a cluttered room, or you're in a messy room, is the reason or is one of the reasons that a person can't to their best ability concentrate, because they know that at certain point, this room is going to have to be cleaned up. So they have this, it's like they've got a to-do list sitting all around them all the are all around themselves. Is that part

Cathy Perez:

it absolutely can be you know, because your body of it? your brain I should say right does not know the difference between a life-threatening situation and just an annoyance. The brain just says threat, right? And so when it sees disorganization, i.e., in the form of some type of clutter or whatnot, your brain is no longer going to focus on whatever you were originally going at, meaning like maybe you were trying to type your manuscript, maybe you were dictating for the publisher. Your brain now goes to, Holy cow, I just saw that there's like a ton of laundry and I it's not on my to-do list. And instead of thinking on your manuscript, now you're thinking about the laundry. Right? Right. That's not productive.

Wayne Jones:

Are there people who are able to, if I can put it this crudely, not care about that? They'll just think, You know what, I've got a huge mess on the couch here. I've got six baskets of laundry in my bedroom that I know I should fold up. I haven't cleaned the kitchen floor in two weeks, but I'm gonna just leave it, and yet can totally focus on what they're doing. Are there, is it individualistic like that, like the way one is wired?

Cathy Perez:

It is no, you know, I will say this that all of us, right, have our have our spectrum. OCD. I mean, seriously, like, we're either on the opposite end, right? Or on the more very strict end, right. But that's where hoarding comes from. So that's a form of OCD. Yes, you're in the messiest form possible. But that's OCD at its worst, right? So, and you can be someone who is completely on the left and completely neat, but yet they can't settle down. So you have to want to be in this the middle, right? And so to your point, anyone, right, has those tendencies, but it's how you decide to work with them, right? But on on a more like just very low spectrum as a human right? Meaning like how our brain works, our brain works, and how fast can I get from point A to point B. And it's going to look for the most efficient way. So when it sees disorder, even if you are that type of let's say that, you know, you have a deadline, you're going to leave stuff, all right, you're not going to care, you want to get it done. And sometimes you can't focus but you're using force, you're pushing through, right, and your brain doesn't like that. Versus when things are more neat and tidy. Right? Your brain says, Oh, I'm calm, I'm going to focus and you're going to get into that flow state. So instead of pushing through something and forcing it, you're letting your flow state happen. And it's a lot easier on your on your autonomic nervous system.

Wayne Jones:

A lot of barriers, figurative ones, and maybe literal ones have been taken away. The other thing I'll have to ask and just let me just correct me if I'm inferring incorrectly from what you said, but you mentioned a continuum. So let's say someone is on the, let's say this is the well, I can't do this, I only do audio. So there's no point to me putting my hands up. But let's say there's a certain continuum. And at the A end, there's the the folks who tend towards organization and at the Zed end, or the Z end, there's people who tend to be disorganized. If someone is closer to the, to the to the unorganized. And can through coaching or awareness making or changes in behavior. Can they move themselves a little closer to boards, if not a at least to the GA or something?

Cathy Perez:

That's a really neat, I love how you do how you actually put that into perspective, because the easier to see that actually in my head visually. So thank you for that. So yes, the answer is yes. Our brains are magnificent. All right. And so even if you are tendency to go again, more disorganized, guess what your brain has neuroplasticity, I forget that word, but it's able to learn, right? And so it can move incrementally, right? Assuming no trauma, right, just all things being equal. Your tendency, your habit, is to be disorganized. That's a habit, right? You can train yourself to be more towards the middle, right? And then go towards.

Wayne Jones:

And is it true that some of the work you do is in fact exactly toward that to help people move, move along the continuum move closer to the middle or to the to the you know, the ideal end doesn't work?

Cathy Perez:

Right? Absolutely. Yes. And so, again, just to state, you know, I'm not a licensed therapist, and you know, I have been through therapy myself for my anxiety. So I know about cognitive behavior therapy, I know about, you know, all different methods modalities to help me lower my anxiety. What the organizing has done, though, has given me a simple way to regulate daily now. Of course, all that I learned in therapy, yes, I still use, but controlling your personal environment and even your professional environment, right, wherever that might be. When you're able, within reason to take control of the external factors. Yep, that brings a lot of clarity to your head and it feels safe. So yes, there's always a way to move more towards that middle line, so to speak,

Wayne Jones:

And you make a good point. It's a very, very practical, practical and accessible way to do it. Rather than say, drug therapy or, you know, let's say, ya know, hiring a cleaner to come in every three days to do it for you, you know, that sort of thing. Very natural. Yeah, no, I can see that. That's fast And one last thing I wanted to ask. I'm still on my first question, believe it or not, because I find it fascinating, I really do. I just wanted to ask, do you focus on women just out of choice as your clientele? Or is the division between? Is there no difference? Statistically between men who are disorganized, and women who are disorganized?

Cathy Perez:

So it is more of just a personal choice, right? You know, me being a woman, and now I have been. So I've taken this journey, so I'm not so far ahead, right, and my fellow females, and I know everything about them, because I am one. So I'm able to speak a language that they understand. And I'm not saying because one of my first clients actually was male, right? So him and his kids got involved. So I'm not opposed to-- I like helping others. But in what I coach, it's not just simply about organization, although that's a big part of it. But so there's got to be a certain amount of trust. And because I'm a woman, because they're women, were able to really get deep. And I don't know, if I, maybe I don't put enough, you know, respect in my own ability. But I don't know if I can make that same connection. Let's say you're a male. But statistically speaking, I don't think on end, men are now I would have to look this up. But you know, in general, I don't think there's one sex more than the other, that tends to be more, because I know plenty of women who need my help or otherwise, right. And I know a lot of men like yourself who appreciate organization. So I would have that would be an interesting statistic, though, to look at.

Wayne Jones:

For sure. Yeah, it would be interesting, and I'm sure there have been sociological studies done about it. But I would say the same with you. Just anecdotally, I've met both women and men, who are one or the other. So yeah.

Cathy Perez:

Yeah, my sisters are the exact opposite. There is one that literally is more organized, and I am just in a different way. And then there's my other, her younger sister, my younger sister. I don't know how she made it out of -- Oh, my goodness, I love her, Jeff. I love them all. But yeah.

Wayne Jones:

Yeah. Okay, I just wanted to ask. So, I mean, you've actually answered a lot of what I was interested in already, which is good. And the the one thing that's good to hear is that it's not absolute, in the sense of what I mean by that is that if you're the kind of person who is non-productive at work, or less productive than you could be, because you have the stereotypical messy desk where, oh, my god, I'd filed that somewhere, or I think I accidentally deleted that email, or I don't like having email folders, because I just keep I like to keep 10,000 emails in my inbox instead, that that is fixable, so to speak. I think that's a correct conclusion from what you said, right?

Cathy Perez:

I do. I do believe that there are people who choose to stay where they are. And that's their choice. But should they actually make a different decision? They could? It's absolutely possible.

Wayne Jones:

What about in a bigger, so they're like, if you think we've sort of talked in a certain way, but to two levels. Now, one very personal, let's say, your domestic space. And for example, you know, you might be doing work there, or you might be doing things like you've got a wedding to plan, say, for example, and also something very domestic, that you need to be focused on, because there's a lot of stuff to be taken care of. So I hear, I'm single, I don't know,

Cathy Perez:

But I'll take your word for it, ya know?

Wayne Jones:

Maybe I should have picked a different example. Because I'm single too. So. But what I'm getting at is that, okay, so there's that level, which is fairly domestic and prosaic, if I can put it that way, then there's the level of your career or your work, which is, if I can put it this way, again, more important, you know, if you're, if disorganization is keeping you from being the most productive employee that you can be, that's a bad thing that can have perhaps more repercussions than if you miss out on the the salad fork at the wedding planning. You know, it could be more it could be more important. And I'm wondering if it doesn't work when you pull it even further back? Are there bigger things in life like that being organized can help with and I guess, I hadn't thought of an example but maybe just off the top of my head something like, you're getting closer to a friend or improving your relationship with your father or improving your relationship with your partner or something like that. Does the same thing apply their

Cathy Perez:

Bedtime? Yeah. And it's kind of funny how, you know, you kind of, I say you kind of answered your own questions because on what people don't realize, again, is that our brains, right? All they want to do is keep us alive at all expense. So they're the most efficient computer we know, right? And so when we have disorganization, our brain doesn't feel safe, that affects all parts of our lives, right? Psychologically and physically. And so what people don't realize is when you do have disorganization, what it's doing is that it's creating internal inflammation externally into you. And in your body, your nervous system is never at rest, believe it or not, it's always working. But it's, I just learned about this action, but our alert system and our calm system are always actually on, but there's always an imbalance. So you want to be mostly hopefully, you know, using, you know, when you're digesting food, that's when you should be using your parasympathetic nervous system, right? When you're in traffic, you're probably using your sympathetic nervous system. So what I'm getting at is that our nervous system is always on. But it's the continuum of how much of an imbalance too far apart are we? That's where organizing helps. So in other words, to your point, I always look at life as everything is actually equal, in my view, so work, right, my hours at work are just as valuable to me as planning, let's say, my friend's wedding. Now, you would probably be hard pressed to find any event planner saying it's important, that fork is important. But to that effect, what we're talking about is, on average, a person dealing with whether it's work related or something that can be very stressful, like an event of some sort, understanding, your brain doesn't see the difference. It's all the same stressor. So whether you're not being productive, which, by the way, procrastination isn't about not dealing well, with time, it's more about your brain keeping you safe. Because your brain knows, Oh, this person doesn't like doing this. So guess what, we're gonna make every excuse not to have her do it. Same goes with the event. Maybe you don't, maybe, unfortunately, you know, you're not liking who's getting invited to that event, you're going to do everything you can to manipulate the outcome. So when things are organized, when you keep everything as is, and I'm not trying to go again, you know, OCD on you, but literally when you're able to keep things organized, whether that's your personal space, or your workspace, your head has space. That's the idea. Yeah, your brain thinks clearer. Thus, you have more focus, that should make better decisions. That intentionality is completely mind blowing. Yeah, like, you go up, like, so much vibration wise, when you can make clear decisions based on just how your brain is feeling about what's around you.

Wayne Jones:

You know, again, everything you say inspires about 500 questions for me. Which, which I mean, in the best way possible. I mean, it's just really fascinating. And just let me see if my old brain can can remember them all. One of the ones I wanted to say is from the little that I know about the brain and I'm not I'm an English major. So effectively I know nothing. It's quite right what you said about the, you know, you often hear but the fight or flight thing that the brain doesn't distinguish between whether it's a a dog about to come up to you and just fiddle at your calf and not really hurt you, or a lion coming to attack you. Those are the same thing. It turns on the same buttons, as I understand, right?

Cathy Perez:

100% Right, let's let that soak into your listeners. It doesn't know the difference.

Wayne Jones:

Yeah, it's I find that fascinating in itself that that's just the and the other thing I want that reminded me of when you're talking about just now about about focus and you know, everything is taken care of so you can really kind of focus is about, I know there are some I mentioned to you, I think before we started recording, that I've I've been using a Kindle for about over 10 years now. And also, the people who don't, some of the people who don't use a Kindle -- and I'm not, there's no product launch for any promotion -- let's say an ebook reader. People think that it's a, they designed them now, for example, I use what's called a Kindle Paperwhite. All it can do is read books, all I can see is books, or I can order books, that's all I can do. I can't, you can go to a very crude internet, but it forces you to sort of focus. And that's what reminded me a little, in a certain sense about, I guess, industrial design may be taking that into account: let's take away all the distractions. You know, you can't say, You know what, I'll toggle over and have a look at TikTok for a while, you can't do that. You can't do that on my Kindle, I have to either stop reading, and come to my computer or look at my phone, or continue reading. And I really like that about it. And I frankly, like a lot of but a lot of people that I talk about, it's quite -- I spent 30 years as a university librarian. And I used to routinely at events that I went to ask people of all ages, by the way, from like, you know, I was at the universities. So from the age of 19, up to the age of, you know, some of our donors were in their 80s. About whether they read paper books, or Kindle. Almost everyone preferred paper books. And it surprised me is that it wasn't age based, wasn't gender based. They all said they liked the feel of the paper. People have mentioned the feel and the smell, by the way, have a question that's coming out of this, believe it or not? And and my question. And it may not have been worth for me to travel this far! But here you go. Here's your question. I wonder if there's something that's less distracting in an ebook reader than there is in a paper book. Because a paper book has smell and pages, you can turn and you can much more easily look at the back and then go back and all that sort of thing? I don't know, maybe it's too specific a question.

Cathy Perez:

No, it's not actually, because I'll tell you books are a main category and the Konmari method of organizing. And that's because we are so attached to our books as much if not more so than some of our sentimental items, which by the way can be books. So to your point, what our brain-- so people like us who love to read or love to create words, right? For reading, we cherish the process, whether that's actually reading something, or in the writing of it, right, we get in that flow one way or another. So our brain likes flow. That's all it wants, flow and to serve. Well, to your point. I used to be one of those, Oh, I need to have the book in front of me. I need to feel it. And then I had a tiny festival, my Konmari for tiny festival. And I realized, No really, I want the Kindle now. Like, get rid all of that excess. Not that I didn't love them. But get all of that distraction out of my way. Because now I can sit with one device and go through it. Now I used to have a candle I just use now, my phone but I can, to your point, I have to put it on air mode if I don't want to be disturbed while I'm reading. Right? So to make it more clear, people have their nuances, right, everyone's different. But people can find flow, whether they're reading the real deal, i.e., the real book or in that Kindle, right. But it comes down to where you're at mentally, really, like, I totally did that: you use a Kindle and it helps you focus. But it might have the opposite effect on someone else. Whether or not you know, they need that smell to toggle them down. They need that feeling to make them sit. I hear Yeah, it's very, it's very personal. Right, very nuanced. But again, I still would, you know, put forth that when you have organization, decide where your books are going to be like yours are beautiful. I can see them. They're all together, right? We'll have a place of honour for them however many you have, and then give them a place to be safe. And your brain will thank you because then the brain knows that exactly where to go to get the books.

Wayne Jones:

That's it again, I would say maybe only 250 questions come out of that we just said, at least No, but I'll ask you one of those 250 questions, then I have a final question that sort of related to your profile that I've read about you. So the last thing was what you just mentioned about honoring. And that's interesting, because there is something an organization that has to do about honoring whatever you're organizing, whether it's books, whether it's spices, whether it's all the ingredients that you have in bottles for baking, whether it's whatever it might be, your socks in your drawer, that sort of thing. All of those in a certain way. Honor, maybe I mean, honoring socks, I'm not sure. Maybe you should see someone if you're doing that. But no, all joking aside, but it has to do with a certain kind of, I don't want to say respect, I'm not I don't have the right words for it. But maybe you know what I'm talking about?

Cathy Perez:

Well, that's what it is. And, you know, again, I'm very biased, right? I'm a sort of icon where I'm an organizing consultant, but in Japan, that method is based on their culture. Everything has a soul. And everything gets respect. Yeah. That's very foreign to the western culture. Yes, my mouse doesn't have a soul, apparently. But guess what? I do believe now it does, and it has energy. So to your point, absolutely. That when we give status, and not like ideological, like, literally, I thank you, I had granted gratitude for everything I own. What I don't require anymore, I'm going to gracefully

Wayne Jones:

We're, whatever the cliche is, we're reading from let go. the same choir book, or whatever it is, I don't want to use that one. Because it's religious. We're reading from the same book. No, I fully do that You know, give it away to someone who can use it; doesn't mean that you have to trash things necessarily. But there's lots of people who would be happy to have your frying pan that you never use anymore, and would love it.

Cathy Perez:

Give me an airfryer.

Wayne Jones:

So I had one last question for you is more sort of a personal one, in a way. But one of the things was, you mentioned that you like proofreading and editing. Yeah. Editing in general. So it's interesting: do you see any relationship between what you do as your career effectively and editing?

Cathy Perez:

I do, actually, because I can help people edit, right, how they deal with their environment. So whether that's personal, physical, mental, right? It's all related. And I would like to think that in a very non-authoritarian way, I help them make decisions that are going to best help them, right. Get to a point in their life where they're not dependent on stuff. Yeah, that they're dependent on how they feel that they understand better, what makes them brings them joy, right, so that they have purpose. And even if their purpose is just hanging out with their grandkids. That's purposeful. Sure. And to have time for that, and focus for that, right.

Wayne Jones:

Focus. Yeah. And you know, people use the term

quality time:

you want to be when you're with your grandkids, completely focused. They're not thinking about something else that you should have tidied up before you came visit.

Cathy Perez:

Exactly. Yeah. And it's not about being super neat all the time. No, no, no. It's about realizing, Where do you want to spend your time? And how do you want to spend it?

Wayne Jones:

Super awesome. Really great. This has been really fascinating. Thank you very much. And for the 1,000 questions that I didn't get to, I'm gonna send you a long Word document. And I expect it to be answered by by Sunday, if you don't mind. Thank you very much for coming on. It's actually quite fascinating. I really appreciate it. Thank you.

Cathy Perez:

Thank you so much.