The Inside Out ApproACH

Organizing FROM THE INSIDE OUT is the process of creating environments that enable us to live, work and relax exactly as we want to. When we are organized, our homes, offices and schedules reflect and encourage who we are, what we want, and where we are going.


Why Inside Out vs. Outside In?

No two people are alike—therefore no two systems work for everyone. “Outside in” organizing and productivity approaches force people to change who they are to get organized, and don’t address the root of disorganization or allow for individual thinking styles. When you try to organize from the outside in—with generic rules and a limited set of tools—systems are hard to sustain. A truly productive and fulfilling life is made possible when you design day-to-day systems around your unique personality, natural habits, and goals.

Inside Out Principles

  • The purpose of organizing is to free you to make your unique contribution.

  • Organizing is learnable skill that anyone can master.

  • Breakthrough comes when you see something on the other side of the clutter that you desperately want.

  • Everybody is organized in some aspect of their lives. Recognize where you are organized and start there.

  • Small changes in both mindset and mechanics produce dramatic results.

Three steps for Organizing Anything

The Inside Out approach is a cookie cutter process that leads to customized, easy to maintain systems. The steps to attacking any challenge from the Inside Out are:

  1. 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?

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

Julie’s method is the best I’ve seen for getting from the amorphous goals to the daily to do’s on a calendar.
— Angela Hoxsey, House in Order

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.

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