Organizing things is one of my ways of coping with stress and it is how I remain productive.
- Organization and time management skills are life skills that can be developed and maintained. In this study, 67% of high school teachers surveyed, viewed having organizational skills as critical to student success. The same principles that prepare for student success can be applied to work and personal success. Realistic time management and organization skills can improve productivity and the quality of your life.
- On the other hand, disorganization can lead to a negative impression about your abilities, competence, reliability and credibility.
Factors that Lead to Disorganization
Disorganization may be a result of procrastination, attachment to things, or lack of skills. Those who want to develop or improve their organizational skills, may need to change their mindset and their expectations. Before people make a change, they need to have a reason to change, and this means a mindset shift. Think about trying to lose weight, eat healthy, or have a fitness regime, etc., first you need to be committed to doing it, and then you need to follow through. Unless you accept that it is a process and will take time, you may become discouraged. For some, getting organized may sound good for about a day until your mind goes back to, its too hard, too much work or it takes too long. You may start to feel guilty, give up and end up back at disorganized and overwhelmed.
Disorganization may be due to a mental health condition. Depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), hoarding and other mental health issues can make it difficult to develop and maintain an organized environment. If this is the case, then it is important to get professional help. Get a diagnosis from a professional in the mental health field and appropriate support like, medication, therapy, coaching, organizing, education, etc.
Ditch the Guilt and Stress
Do only what is comfortable for you to do and manage. Take small steps that you can do consistently over time. Ask for help.
I sifted through information and advice on this topic to find the common elements. The good news is that the basic components of organization and time management are the same for work and for your personal life. They are:
- Prioritize your activities for the day, week and month. Some of them may be able to be automated and some may become habits. According to a study from Duke University, around 45% of our everyday actions are made up of habits.
- Do the urgent and high importance tasks first. Some things may be urgent but not important, so learn the difference.
- Write down your bigger goals (life goals). Then break them down into manageable pieces.
- Bigger or more complicated projects requires some thought and preparation. Break large projects into manageable pieces. Delegate whenever possible.
- Build in a back up plan. Think through “what if” scenarios. This will help avoid being late on projects or not having enough money or other resources.
- Poor planning will create additional stress and cause you to go back to either refinancing, removing some aspects of the project to complete it or be on budget, or negotiating for more time to complete the project.
- Ask for someone else to review your plan.
- For Work: These are activities that can be automated, like automatic calendar reminders for meetings or appointments, or templates and processes for activities that come up frequently.
- Personal: Tasks that can be automated or delegated, like organizing your house. For example, having bins for mitts, or hats, a place to put your keys, a grocery list that everyone can write down what is needed, or paying your bills automatically by setting up an account.
- Work and Personal: Block off time to do the important things that need some thinking or do-not-disturb time. Some online calendars have features that allow you to show that you do not want to be disturbed. If you are at home and don’t want to be disturbed turn off your phone or put it on do not disturb. This feature will allow only certain calls to come through. Tell those around you that you do not want to be disturbed. Lock your office door.
- If you have children that need watching ask a friend, neighbor, parent to babysit for a few hours to complete your work.
- Designate a time to review email. This way you won’t be distracted by incoming emails.
- Don’t multitask, it is too easy to get distracted.
Making the Change
Making a change is hard, you have to be intentional about the change and fight the stumbling blocks that come up to block your progress, such as procrastination and perfectionism.
Decide what you would like to organize, then:
- Take a small step-a micro step. According to B.J. Fogg, Director of the Behavior Design Lab at Stanford, and author of “Tiny Habits, The Small Changes that Change Everything,” it means making the change as small as you can. To create a new habit, simplify the behavior, make it a tiny behavior that is easy and fast to do.
- Apply the change consistently, it means doing the same steps repeatedly (daily) until they become habits.
- Organizing one area of your life can lead to organizing other areas of your life. This will make you more productive and increase your confidence.
- Procrastination: If you keep stalling a project then the project isn’t important to you. If you want to hang on to it, start taking micro steps. If it is important, and you keep stalling, someone else should take over.
- Perfection. Some people will fiddle with a project to make it perfect. It will never be perfect; it should be a quality job and never sloppy.
Some of my favourite organizational tools:
- For work: I love mind mapping because it helps me see the whole picture, organize components and see relationships all at once. It makes the mess a message.
- For my personal life: My phone is my organizer. I use notes, voice memos, camera and calendar features to keep me organized, remind me of meetings and on-the-run notes or memos. I use the camera on my phone to take pictures of where I parked (parking level, parking number, landscaping ideas, etc.)
Good organizational skills matter because they:
- Help you become a problem solver, something that the world is looking for.
- Help you be more efficient, productive and successful.
- Help you achieve your goals faster.
- Help other have more confidence in our abilities.