Organized Living in a Disorganized World
We are bombarded with so many factors that perpetuate disorganization. Computers, fax machines, cellular phones, and on-line services enable us to do more - and require us to do more. The speed of the microchip doubles every 18 months, with no end in sight. There is also a greater sense of urgency due to rising expectations. If I can e-mail you a question in 20 seconds, why can't you return my e-mail just as quickly?
However, it's not as bleak as it may seem. In fact, I can help you learn how to use organizing skills to survive - and even thrive. You will streamline every aspect of your personal and professional life by simply applying these skills. If you have been reluctant to get organized, perhaps you have been misled about what it means. Let me clear up any misunderstandings!
Organization is not neatness. You know that old adage "A place for everything and everything in its place." It is half right. In my experience, the stress comes - not from the clutter - but from wanting to clean up the clutter, and not knowing where to put it. A place for everything is crucial. Everything in its place depends on your needs and your personal style.
Organization is not efficiency. Efficiency is the mechanics of a task, such as "What is the fastest way to get from here to there?" If you look at your "to do" list one item at a time, you can do each item on it. The problem arises when you are trying to attack them all in at once.
Organization is not a destination - it is a journey. Frequently people become frustrated because they organize some aspect of their lives and then suddenly it's all disorganized again. Organizing is an on-going process. As our lives change, so do our organizing needs.
Organization is not a moral issue; in spite of what your mother may have told you. It is a skill. Some people are born with it, and some aren't. But anyone can learn it, if they are motivated and have the right teacher.
So what is organization? Ask these three questions. Does it work? Do you like it?" And, if what you do affects others, "Does it work for others?"
If you have trouble getting organized, you're not alone. In USA Today, a poll of 3000 people cited that next to losing weight, getting organized was their highest priority. However, we continue to make excuses. If you don't have time, could it be because you waste it unnecessarily because you aren't organized? If you don't know how, have you ever taken a course on getting organized? If you don't want to, is it because you need to try another approach?
It's time to break down the barriers that are preventing you from getting organized.
Here are some ideas to get started:
1) Decide what really matters
Identifying some things that are really important to you can serve as a great motivator to get organized. Many businesses have mission statements posted on their walls. Try writing a personal mission statement.
Take a pad and pencil and find a quiet place. List 10 things you love to do. (If eating and sleeping are two of them, write 12!) I tried this exercise, and I was shocked and saddened to discover how difficult it was to even think of 10 things I loved to do. Most of them were simple, non monetary things, like "take a walk in the woods," or "have dinner with my daughter." And most of them - to my dismay -- I had just been "too busy" to do. Ask yourself a hard question such as, "If I only had 6 months to live, what would I be doing?" If you're not doing it right now, why not?
2) Eliminate the unnecessary in your life
My favorite chapter in Taming the Paper Tiger is "The Art of Wastebasketryź." Research shows that 80% of what we keep we never use. But we are afraid to let go, afraid we might need it again. I have never met anyone who said their problem is too little stuff. Stuff is our security blanket. Yet, all the stuff in the world will not fill a hole in the heart. An old adage from a textbook in the 1600's said, "Have nothing in your home which you do not know to be useful or think to be beautiful", and I'd like to add, "or love".
The issue of letting go also prevails in our offices. A major step toward better organization in the work place is a File Clean-Out Day. I orchestrated such a day for a major association in Washington, DC several years ago. One gentleman in the office was horrified at the thought of getting rid of boxes of papers they had accumulated over the past 15 years. On my follow-up visit several weeks later, that same gentleman walked up to me, "I knew it," he said, "we threw out those old records, and sure enough someone called me up and asked me if we had them!" "And what happened?" I asked. He paused, and a slow grin appeared on his face. "Absolutely nothing," he replied, "absolutely nothing!"
When you are trying to decide whether to keep something, ask yourself: "What's the worst possible thing that would happen if I didn't have this?" If you can live with the results, get rid of it!
3) Try something different
I believe it was an old Burma Shave sign that read "Choose your rut carefully. You'll be in it for the next 30 miles." Some of us have been fighting disorganization for 30 years. Even when you do get out, it's so easy to slip back in again! It's easier to continue doing the same old thing than it is to change - even when you want to change. But if you keep doing what you've always been doing, you'll keep getting what you've always been getting.
4) Ask for help when you need it
We often do ourselves a terrible disservice by assuming that everything is competitive instead of cooperative. Recently in my own home, I rushed around frantically to take out all the trash before the garbage collectors came. I assumed my husband could see my frustration and would assist me. Finally, as I was walking back in the door, he looked up and asked, "Do you need some help?" "Not now," I answered curtly. He replied, "Why didn't you ask?" (I reminded myself this is the same man who can trip over three pairs of shoes and not notice they're there!) It is not a sign of weakness to ask; it is a sign of ignorance not to.
5) Eliminate perfectionism and procrastination
I have always been the great procrastinator. Then I had the opportunity to work with an art therapist. I had put off creating art, feeling as though I could not express myself the way I truly wanted. One day the art therapist said "Today I want you to draw an ugly picture." I thought a minute, and then felt relief. Anyone can draw an ugly picture - even I can do that. I started to draw and for a moment it looked pretty, and I started to panic, "maybe I can't even do that right". Suddenly, I realized that what I had always called "creative procrastination" was really fear. Fear that I wouldn't be perfect. If I procrastinate long enough, my fear of not getting it done would become greater than my fear of failing, thus I would have no choice but to do it.
6) Choose the right tools
My father used to say to me, "Half of any job is having the right tool." Probably 8 times out of 10, a major stumbling block to organization is not having the right tool.
Consider what happens when you don't have the right tools at the office. In my experience, most offices have miserable filing systems. How can I tell? It's easy - just walk up and down the halls and glance at peoples work space. If they are filled with paper, I can guarantee that the filing system isn't working.
One of the biggest mistakes in disorganized households is not having a "home office" - a place (you like!) to manage the business of life.
7) If a system isn't working, don't try to fix it - start over
Photographs? Filing System? (No, this isn't a mistake - just something to think about!)
8) Manage your "to do" list instead of letting it manage you
In my early days as a professional organizing consultant, I was convinced that if I just got organized enough I'd be able to get everything on that list done. Now I comfort myself with a comment made by a colleague: "A creative mind always has more ideas than the physical body is able to carry out. The only people who finish their 'to do' list are dead." When you leave work at the end of the day, identify the three most important "to do's" for the next day - and do them!
9) Clutter is Postponed Decisionsź
I learned this from clothes closets! How many items you do find in your closet because you haven't decided whether you'll ever wear them again -- "Maybe someday I'll lose 10 pounds!"
Have you ever walked into your office one morning and said, "Okay. Today I'm going to clean up this mess?" You pick up one piece of paper, then another, and another - and before you know it, the pile on the left is now on the right. There are three choices with any piece of paper: File, Act, or Toss!
10) Forgive yourself when you miss the mark and move on
Human behavior is not like computer software. It cannot be installed. It has to be nurtured.
I'm continually amazed at how much we can learn from children. On a flight from Los Angeles to Chicago I was sitting next to a six-year-old boy who was traveling alone. He was trying his best to entertain himself and was really behaving very well, but frequently he would ask me, "How much longer is it going to be?" After what seemed like the 100th time, I replied, "Only 30 more minutes. It will just take patience." He looked up at me innocently with his big brown eyes and asked, "How long is patience?"
You've already made the first step to a more organized life by reading this article. But be patient with yourself - and with others, when it comes to getting organized. Like a puzzle, take one piece at a time. Organized living in a disorganized world may only be a few more pieces to the puzzle. And then before you know it, you can see the whole picture more clearly.
© Barbara Hemphill is the author of Kiplinger's Taming the Paper Tiger at Work and Taming the Paper Tiger at Home and co-author of Love It or Lose It: Living Clutter-Free Forever. The mission of Hemphill Productivity Institute is to help individuals and organizations create and sustain a productive environment so they can accomplish their work and enjoy their lives. We do this by organizing space, information, and time. We can be reached at 800-427-0237 or at www.ProductiveEnvironment.com
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Raisio plc: Organizing meeting of the Board of Directors GlobeNewswire
Raisio plc, stock Exchange Release 19 March 2019. RAISIO PLC: ORGANIZING MEETING OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS. At its meeting held after the ...
Community organizers drive progressive policy in Longmont Longmont Times-Call
The "blue wave" many political scientists predicted following the 2016 election turned out to be more of a trickle nationwide. But in Colorado, that wave crashed ...
We Are the Organizers of Drag Queen Story Time. This Is Why We're Stepping Aside. - Houstonia Magazine
We Are the Organizers of Drag Queen Story Time. This Is Why We're Stepping Aside. Houstonia Magazine
We are the hosts and directors of Drag Queen Story Time, Trent Lira and Devin Will. Our monthly library program has become an inescapable topic of ...
Get Organized: 10 Universal Laws
The Law of the 1st StepA good first step in getting organized is to 3-pile everything:pile one is for those things to throw away, pile 2 is for those things that need immediate action, pile 3 is for those things that can be taken care of later, or filed, or both.The Law of the PastOne of the curious things that seem to hold people back from getting organized is wanting to avoid dealing with things left over from the past.
Digging out of Paper Clutter - part 2
We previously noted that papers must be sorted before they can be properly filed. Continuing from our last article, your sort has left you with two piles - 'to file' and 'to throw away/recycle.
Getting Organized For The New Year - Part 1
The following procedures will insure an organized and well run office. 1.
Creative Storage Solutions
When the things in your home start crowding in around you and you're short on cash, it's time to come up with some creative storage solutions. Don't be afraid to think "out of the box".
Organizing Solutions for the Disorganized Entrepreneur
After more than 20 years as an entrepreneur and a consultant to entrepreneurs, I am convinced that for many entrepreneurs, "organized" is an enigma. "Organized entrepreneur" may even be an oxymoron, because the very strength that makes great entrepreneurs makes for poor organizing - at least organizing as most of the world defines it.
Five Simple Tips to Get Organized Today!
Take time to declutter this summer..
Creating The Perfect Closet
Your closet is often the first thing you see in the morning, and its condition can determine your mood for the day. There is something about an orderly closet that makes a person feel stylish and in-control.
Choose Spice Racks That Help You Organize Your Home
Today you have almost as many choices of spice racks as you do of the spices they contain. Spice racks are wonderful kitchen home organization gadgets.
Does Your Storage Make Sense?
What do your storage spaces look like? Do you know exactly where to go when you are looking for something? Is your system logical? Designing a meaningful storage space requires a lot more than just putting stuff in a closet, drawer, or cabinet. You need STRUCTURE -- some proven guidelines to follow while setting up your storage spaces.
Just How Organized Are You? Take This Quiz For Individuals
The Productive Environment Scorecard?Read the statements below and rate your reactions to each pair of phrases. Decide where you rate on the scale from 1 (You rate yourself low) to 10 (You rate yourself high).
Without a Plan, You're Doomed to Failure
"My job is an endless series of deadlines, I am constantly putting out fires" You've probably heard talk like that a time or two. You may sound like that yourself on occasion.
Be More Productive at Work: Avoid These Eight Traps
Obviously, productivity involves producing. Producing widgets, events, reports, sales.
Get Rid Of The Clutter
You really can have a successful business and a great life. Often we get caught up in growing our business or climbing the corporate ladder that we put our personal lives on hold.
Organisation - Getting Back To Basics
If you look at any major organisation, there is this trend for executives to use "palm pilots" in conjunction with software schedulers such as Microsoft Outlook.What's really interesting is even with all this technology (and many of these execs are fortunate to have personal assistants) they are still disorganised.
The Natural Law of Attrition
I'm cheap and proud of it.I use and re-use things carefully.
Clutter Clearing Tips that Work
Coping with clutter is rarely easy. There's more involved than just catching up on overdue housework, and staying focused and motivated over the weeks or months it may take to get the job done can be one of the biggest challenges.
It's Spring Cleaning Time? Let's Make Room For Abundance!
I gathered some things you can do this spring while you take a minute to smell those roses. There are things we need to do to clear our space and to reflect on what exciting things we'd like to bring in.
Taking Care of You: De-Clutter
De-Cluttering our lives can be an extremely liberating exercise. There are many types of clutter than can hinder us having the quality of life we want and deserve.
Simple Ideas to Conquer Paper Clutter
Are stacks of papers, mail, newspapers, and growing "to do" lists cluttering your home? Has it been months since you've seen your countertops or have you completely forgotten what your countertops look like? Paper clutter includes bills, warranties, cards, mail, memos, sticky notes, lists, letters, advertising flyers, school papers, etc. If any or all of these items are cluttering your home and countertops, follow the simple ideas below to organize your papers and gain control over the clutter.
Balance- What Does It Really Mean?
Balance- what a popular topic these days! Finding a work-life balance, being balanced in body, mind and soul, eating a balanced meal, balancing work, play and learning. But what does it really mean? When I ask my clients what balance means to them, most have no idea initially, and find it a good exercise to reflect on.
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