The Inside Out ApproACH
Inside Out is fresh approach to organizing that works for people of every personality, age, and background. It's based on the profoundly simple idea that an effective approach to organization and time management begins with the individual.
Why Inside Out vs. Outside In?
Everyone has a unique contribution to make—a vision that only they can bring to life. Organization should free you to make that contribution. But “outside in” organizing and productivity systems don’t address the root of disorganization or allow for individuality. When you try to organize from the outside in—with strict rules and a limited set of tools—you end up feeling even more frustrated than before. A truly productive and fulfilling life is made possible when you design day-to-day systems around your personality, natural habits, and goals.
Inside Out Principles
- Organizing and time management are learnable skills that anyone can master.
- Breakthrough comes when you see something on the other side of the clutter that you desperately want.
- Small changes in both mindset and mechanics produce dramatic results.
- Each person is an individual with a unique contribution to make.
- Organized systems can bring out your unique contribution, while disorder can prevent you from making it.
- Organizing systems involve life skills many of us are not taught.
- Everybody is organized in some aspect of their lives. Recognize where you are organized and start there.
- Never fix what isn't broken. It's important to accurately identify what you want and what's getting in your way.
- Always start in the place with the least difficulty and the highest potential impact. We are all motivated by a sense of accomplishment!
Three steps for Organizing Anything
The Inside Out approach leads to a process, not a prescription. It's a simple process that leads to carefully customized solutions. The steps to attacking any challenge from the Inside Out are:
Analyze: Take stock of where you are, where you are going, and why it’s important to get there. What’s holding you back—technical errors, psychological obstacles, or external realities?
Strategize: Map out a specific plan of action to tackle the project that includes visible, dramatic results as you work to stay motivated through the end.
Attack: Methodically transform your space, schedule, family, or team from chaos to order in a way that reflects the way you think.
The Inside Out story
I was once a chronically disorganized person. The Inside Out philosophy began as a very practical solution to a very tangible problem: It took me over two hours to pack for a simple outing with my new baby daughter. While I had gotten by with my chaotic lifestyle for decades, I refused to let disorganization affect my child. But I also refused to let organization crush my spontaneous personality or take the joy out of life.
The method I used to organize my life was so successful for other people that I soon became known as America’s Organizing Queen. Over the years, I submerged myself in the worlds of diverse clients—from Type A executives and high-profile celebrities to free-spirited teenagers and stressed-out parents. Many clients had begun to believe there was something wrong with them. Why else would they still struggle with something as “basic” as organizing their desk? Others believed they must be lacking the perfect tool or, more often, enough willpower.
A pattern emerged from the lives of everyone I encountered: Every person was struggling to build a system that worked for them. I knew I needed to articulate the solution I had found in a way that was easy to understand, simple to implement, and flexible enough to address the endless variations in goals and challenges that people work with everyday.
I realized that my method was effective because it was a collaboration between right- and left-brain thinking, a fusion of psychological insights and practical skills.
After incubating for 15 years, I articulated the Inside Out philosophy in Organizing from the Inside Out, originally published in 1998. Two years later, Time Management from the Inside Out proved that the very same principles could create organized schedules and a better relationship with time. I have since used the Inside Out philosophy to effectively address a range of topics in the workplace and at home, from productivity and leadership to work-life balance and parenting.