If having your stuff in constant disarray is a problem … if you lose things or spend a lot of time looking for things … if you are never exactly sure what you have on your plate … if you forget appointments or have scraps of paper everywhere … this Get Organized Challenge is for you.
Let’s take a look at the problems of disorganization first, then show the three habits we’ll need to form to get organized and keep things that way.
The Obstacles of Disorganization
There are a number of disorganization obstacles we have to tackle in this module, including:
- Procrastination: One of the key reasons we get disorganized is that we put things off. For example, let’s say you bring in a stack of mail from your mailbox. Many people have the tendency to throw the stack on a counter or desk, and put off dealing with the mail until later. Or if you open the mail, you don’t actually deal with any of it, just look at it and toss it aside. Same goes for putting away something you use, finding a place for something, dealing with emails. Solution: We’ll start to build the habit of not putting things off.
- Numerous Habits: Organization is actually a set of habits, and doing multiple habits at once can be more difficult. So when people try to “get organized”, they often don’t realize they’re doing multiple habits at once, and it can be tough. Solution: We’ll spell out the key habits, and work on them individually (though often in conjunction with each other). We’ll also realize that we’re going to have to keep building them beyond this month.
- Not being on time: You’re always running late! This is a set of habits we can shift, so that being on time becomes a measure of your commitment.
- Forgetfulness: Organization habits can come up at any time during your day, so there’s no one set time to deal with everything. It’s hard to remember to do multiple habits, all the time, so people forget, and then they forget again, then they’re not really creating a habit. Solution: we’ll have some key times to remember things, and some reminders, so we don’t forget as much.
- Being Overwhelmed: When you first start getting organized, there can be too much to do at once, and it’s overwhelming. So people often don’t even start, or give up early on, because it’s too much. Solution: We’ll do things in chunks.
- Not Knowing Where Things Go: When you have something (or a piece of information) that doesn’t have a place it should be (or a “home”), then you should find a place for it. But if you don’t have a place for it, it can be difficult to 1) find a place if you’re not skilled at that yet, or 2) remember that you should find a place. As a result, this often gets put off. Solution: We’ll focus on the habit of finding a place for everything, right when we spot that there’s no place for it. Which means we have to start by building the awareness of whether there’s a place for something.
- Wanting the Perfect System/Tools: Starting out with anything means you have a ton of questions, and a lot of self-doubt. That means you constantly question whether you’re doing things right, and that can waste a lot of time and mental energy. Solution: Instead, let’s just find a “good enough” tool, with the knowledge that the system and tools will evolve over time (so we don’t need to get it perfect now).
- No Set Time for Organizing: If you don’t have a good time for organizing things, you probably won’t do it — you’ll forget, or put it off. Solution: We’ll create times for organizing our key information and physical things.
OK, phew! That’s a lot of things to think about. Luckily, our plan will simplify things a bit.
The Habits of Organization
Let’s take a look at the habits we’re going to need to form, and then we’ll dive into the plan for this module.
Please note that while there are a number of habits, we’ll form them individually, and continue to build them even after this month is over.
- Find a place for everything: Every type of information should have a place. Every possession should have a “home”. In the first week, we’ll focus on designating those spots, and from then on we’ll focus on the habit of putting things in these spots.
- Create time for organization: Organization takes some time. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time. Designate a little time each day to start your organization, and then to keep it maintained.
- Put things away immediately: This habit is the key to keeping things organized. When you have an incoming email, a web page you want to read later, a task, a piece of mail, you should put it where it belongs. Then you always know where things are.
- Be on time: We’re going to work on our commitment to showing up on time for others (and ourselves) because it shifts a lot for us.
And some other elements of our plan to remember:
- Do it in chunks: We’re not going to let our massive disorganization stop us from getting started. We’ll break it into easy chunks, and do it a bit at a time.
- Build awareness of whether something has a place: We’ll focus on this for the first week or two, so that you’re always aware of where things belong, or when they don’t yet have a designated spot.
- Find “good enough” tools: We’ll discuss options for the various tools & buckets for different kinds of information. You can choose whatever seems good to you, but don’t get caught up in finding the perfect tool or system. Start with “good enough” and know that things will evolve.
- Reminders & key times to remember things: We need to remember to do certain habits at certain times. We’ll set up some reminders so we don’t forget so much.
- Build beyond this month: This month will just be the start — to really build these habits, you’ll need to keep going after the month is over.