The most important steps for lasting organizational success
Don’t worry, wehearters, I am not going to give you 100 steps for how to do anything today. I just have been thinking lately about all of the Organizing 101 how-to lists out there (and I’ve written my share) targeting a particular area of the home or office in the hopes that you will be off and running, and able to just get organized.
I’m thinking we organizers are missing some steps…not very organized of us!
If these so-called Organizing 101 lists are effective, great! But what does effective mean? Reaching the goal? So the closet is cleaned out or the desk is cleared off. Wonderful! But does it stay that way?
To me the measure of effective means long-term, lasting results. I want people to be inspired and to have the knowledge and tools needed to achieve lasting change in their lives. Not to just clean up a few piles, a room or even the garage. But to gain insight into why their piles are piling up, why their space is getting so cluttered. Then to challenge themselves to make real changes that create what they want in their lives, whatever that might be: abundance, creativity, joy, clarity, relaxation, peace, time with love ones…and more.
If you really want to make lasting, life-enhancing change with organizational tools, I have found that it isn’t so much about the “how,” i.e. the 10 steps on how to organize x, y or z (although those steps are important to consider). After 10 years as a professional organizer what I’ve learned is that while these “how” steps are important – what is essential to lasting organizational success are the “why” steps. That brings me to today’s list.
Today’s list is about setting yourself up for lasting success. I would even venture to say it is a bit about organizing your mind for success. So, before you began any Organizing 101 project tackle these last few set up steps first:
10 Steps for Lasting Organizational Success:
91. Decide. Decide you want to make changes that last. If you don’t, then don’t bother starting. It is that important. See Seth Godin’s book The Dip for more on this subject. Godin addresses how to get through the low periods you will inevitably face when en route to your goal and how to tell if it is worth it to you to do so. (If you aren’t familiar with his work it is worth checking him out, his blog is pure genius.)
92. Expert assistance. Prepare to ask for help from experts. Maybe you will need a professional organizer or find reading their blog for tips is enough. Perhaps you will need to call an IT professional to fix your computer or hire a handyman to hang shelves. Whatever is stopping you from moving forward on your plans for world domination, consider bringing in the expert who can help you get unstuck. Do you try to fix the plumbing if it fails or do you call the plumber? Good answer, the pipes are leaking and it is time to make the call!
93. Experiment. Be willing to do things in a different way until you find the organizational solutions that work for you. You may even have to try numerous things until you find what works. This is not a one-size fits all world. Check out books, blogs, seminars, experts, and your own intuition about what feels right. You are a unique individual with unique circumstances. Experiment.
94. Adjust expectations. You are doing things differently and won’t be moving as quickly. You may be disoriented and frustrated at first. It may seem like things are worse before they get better. Be willing to invest the time and effort in yourself now in the way of sleep, healthy food and compassion. Your self will thank you.
95. Invest – slowly. Gradual change is change you can trust. It will be real and lasting if done reasonably over time. Progress is great but the full weekend projects blow us out and then the results leave as quickly as they came. Even small organizing sessions of 15 minutes a day will add up to large shifts over time. That kind of organizational change can be maintained in the long run.
96. Let go. Be willing to let go of what is not working, literally and figuratively. Have a talk with yourself about how you benefit from keeping clutter around or from keeping an over-packed schedule. See if you are willing to let those things go.
97. Slow down. Be open to a new way of scheduling time as well as structuring space. Physical clutter is often a symptom of an over-packed schedule. Cut the clutter from both, and the physical changes you make will be more likely to last.
98. Simple is best. Keep it simple with whatever new systems you look to implement. (i.e. Color coding is usually a bad sign.) You want to have more time for your life, not spend it managing your complicated tickler file.
99. Habituate. Realize this is not a brand new plan to get organized for the short term, but rather a habit you are developing that you will be working on, improving and revising to meet your growing and changing needs for the rest of your life. Bring organizing into each day in some manageable form.
100. Have fun. While organizing or even thinking about it! Re-frame it so it is less of a drag and more about how you take care of you. Really. Find a way. Play music, listen to a podcast, tell yourself jokes, sing, chair dance, throw paper airplanes…find your way – but do it. If not while organizing then afterwards as a reward.
This is your prep list; Organization Steps 91 to 100 is a primer to help your Organization 101 foundation projects last. Drop me a note in the comments and let me know how you do!
Jennifer Palais clears chaos and brings order to offices, business systems, schedules and minds and is known as an organizing expert and coach. Her approach is 10-years in the making: Inspirational, well informed and practical. It is a process filled with fun, joy and discovery. For more organizing tips, follow her on Twitter.