A friend shared a blog posted with some quick easy organizing tips this morning and that got me thinking about productivity and organizing. I try to keep a productivity voice to my blog – it’s what I do and who I am. But, sometimes good old fashion SPACE CLEARING is the one thing you need to do to be most productive. Everything I talk about is a cross between getting organized and being more productive – they are not separate, getting organized is what you do to make yourself more productive. So in honor of Jodi’s post, here are a few tips to help you clear some space.
A PLACE FOR EVERYTHING: The greatest benefit of having a place for everything is NOT that you know where to find something when you need it (though that is lovely), it’s so you have a place to put things so they are not sitting around cluttering up your physical or emotional space. I always think more clearly when my space is clear and it only takes a moment to put things in their place. Having THE place is the secret. Here’s an example:
Unattached or Unidentified Cords and Wires – everyone has them. My solution is to create a MYSTERY CORDS and WIRES BOX. When I’m looking for a cord or wire I know exactly where to go look. But the best part is that cords don’t clutter my surfaces, if I have one I toss it in the box.
LESS IS MORE: Seriously it is. When you have too much stuff you can’t see what’s important. If you leave everything out so you can find it you won’t really be able to find anything. The #1 tip for keeping stuff under control is to have less. It’s less to take care of, less to manage, less to clean. And the reality is you don’t NEED everything you think you need. We keep stuff to make ourselves feel better and it actually makes us feel worse.
I challenge you to an experiment. Pick one thing today (pens, Tupperware, magazines, business cards) and do a purge. Divide them into 3 piles – love, don’t need and not sure. Donate the “don’t needs”, put back the “loves,” and tuck the “not-sures” out of the way for access later just in case. Let me know if it’s not easier.
START WITH A CLEAN SLATE: When you start fresh it’s so much easier to make good choices. Start planning your week with a fresh to-do list, start working for the day with a clear desk surface, start cooking dinner with a clean kitchen, start figuring out what you need for your fall wardrobe by organizing your closet. Leaving old stuff just clutters everything up. Clear your space and you WILL be more productive.
Ever wonder why some people notice clutter and others don’t? Have you been curious about why some people are comfortable going down a list while others prefer to hop around? The answer is related to who they are, not to what they chose.
In the Coaching world, we look at needs and values to help our clients create environments in which they can be most successful. Needs can include things such as Adventure, Fame, Fellowship, Freedom, Happiness, Health, Love, Power and ORDER. Just like some people NEED adventure, others NEED order.
Another powerful Coaching tool is self-observation. Have you ever observed yourself in terms of NEED FOR ORDER? Awareness around its importance can be a wonderful clue to creating the environment in which you are most at ease. With the degree of stress that most people feel, whatever can be done to create a less stressful/more productive environment should be prioritized. Where do you fall on the Need for Order Continuum?
The first step is awareness. The second step is thinking about what you can do to change your environment.
I spent some time in our storage room on Sunday getting rid of stuff. My business wardrobe from the ’80’s is now sitting on the front stoop waiting for pick up from the Vietnam Vets (www.ScheduleAPickUp.com).
Sunday morning I wasn’t aware that those suits were even in my home. Today I’m sad. It is the end of an era (NO ELLEN – that era was over long ago – no respectable women feels like they have to dress like a man today). But, I’m highly confident that tomorrow I will have forgotten that those suits have moved storage locations. I have a picture of my favorite navy suit – I wore it for a photo shoot for a hotel I managed – it’s in the brochure. That’s much better.
Goodbye skis I bought before Alex was born (soon to be 21), I’m sure you’re not safe anymore. Pack ‘N Play that I kept in case someone needed one…I suspect your not safe anymore either – but I’ll leave that up to the experts to decide. So long work bins I’ve evolved out of…it’s time for you all to go back to the universe and to someone who can really use you.
Ellen Delap (www.professional-organizer.com) posted a great Psychology Today article earlier this week about what happens to the brain when we let go of something. Letting go activates the part of the brain that is tied to identity…like you are giving away a part of yourself. Author Kelly McGonigal Ph.D. talks about how to strengthen your willpower and separate. (And for my NAPO colleagues – it’s very cool that both experts sited in this article were our keynote speakers at NAPO2013).
Interesting…I already feel better with my stuff out of the house – but it did sting for a second.
The definition of memento is “an object kept as a reminder or souvenir of a person or event.”
An important aspect of getting organized is streamlining your things – removing the things that don’t matter so you can focus on and enjoy the things that do matter. Time and time again I see clients put inanimate objects ahead of their own well-being, desiring to hold on to something, when in fact, it takes away from their quality of life.
With the end of summer around the corner I’m sure there is an item or two left on your to-do list that you had expected to get done. You’ve got one weekend left before Labor Day and that can have two good results:
Choose to relax while you can and work on the project later.
Choose to get the project done this weekend.
Seriously, the only bad result is if you waste your weekend telling yourself you’re going to get the project done, feel guilty, and don’t accomplish anything. I know you can handle the relaxing on your own, but if you go with #2 here are some tips to help you get the project done!
Step 1: Break Your Project Up Into Small Manageable Parts:
If you take on the whole project it will become overwhelming. Take it one step at a time.
Understand that you didn’t get disorganized overnight and you won’t get organized overnight either. What you need is a plan to get yourself back on track.
Look around – what do you see. A desk? Office supplies? A computer with files all over the place? Email that haunts you? Post-it’s everywhere? Those are your projects. Pick the 3 or 4 areas that stress you out the most. Plan to work on one a week.
“This isn’t so bad” is perhaps one of the more frequent statements I hear out of my client’s mouths. It doesn’t quite matter if we are sorting stuff, culling emails, consolidating post-its or any of the other numerous tasks that go into becoming more organized and productive, I hear it often…”this isn’t so bad”.
What’s that about? Could it possibly be that:
creating order and structure actually is a relief?
getting rid of excess actually feels good?
being in control of one’s responsibilities actually is a good thing?
Yes, I’m convinced of all that, and I’m convinced that having some semblance of order contributes to a better life overall.
Then why is it so hard to do it? The easy answer is because there are so other things we have to do that it’s hard to prioritize taking care of our work space. What if we were to reframe this? For those of you who love to exercise and would never miss a workout, but the thought of spending time getting your office or desk or kitchen island in shape is horrifying – ask yourself why is this any different?
Organizing is simply a workout for your space. Without the maintenance of taking care of your stuff, your space gets sluggish, inefficient and blob-like. Once you invest a bit of time and energy into taking care of it you feel lightened up, more agile and more nimble. And that isn’t so bad.
Our lives are busy and full to the extent that we are like the Energizer Bunny that just keeps going and going and going. I know I feel like sometimes I take a licking and keep on ticking? My clients share with me that they feel that way too. What if we were to hit the pause button, what would happen?
For me creating space both physically and in my calendar enables me to see what is most important. Only then am I able to focus on the things that are fulfilling and really matter. Actually, the pause is the only way I can see what matters and is important. (Can you tell I just got back from a weekend yoga retreat?) It makes all the difference.