As the summer comes to an end and you start thinking about starting a new season, ask yourself some questions: Is your life, or your home, encumbered with too much stuff? Would you like to organize yourself but feel overwhelmed by the task? Are you having trouble just getting started?
As I have been teaching a course called “Getting Organized” for some time now, and am now coaching people individually, I have learned a number of techniques that can help you get where you want to be. Here are seven:
- Break a task into small, achievable parts. Who wouldn’t be overwhelmed with piles of papers or, even worse, a whole garage? The quote is called “eating the elephant one bite at a time.”
- Know your style. Some people can only work in the morning, while others are more motivated as the day progresses. Some individuals work in short spurts of time, accomplishing a small amount day after day. Others can work tirelessly for long periods of time to get a job done in one shot. It helps to identify your style.
- Buddy system. Some people make a commitment to themselves and keep it, like working for an hour at organizing a stack of papers. Others are not good about commitments they’ve made to themselves but are better at keeping commitments they’ve discussed with a friend. If you are in the second group, it will help to tell a friend what you plan to accomplish and arrange to talk to that friend at a specific time later in the day to follow up. Here’s how I use this buddy system: a friend and I pick a date and time and put it on our calendars. We each stay in our own home and work on a specific project that we’ve been avoiding. Then we report our progress to each other. Accountability is a powerful tool.
- Use a timer. Any timer will do. Use the one on your phone or in your kitchen. If you’ve been avoiding a project, set the timer for a bearable amount of time and commit to work without interruption until the timer goes off. I sometimes set it for as little as 15 minutes. When the timer goes off, I can usually continue working, often surprising myself with how long I stick to the project.
- Set the stage. Gather together all the materials needed for the project. When you are actually ready to start, you can just dive in, as opposed to spending energy going from room to room to assemble what you’ll need.
- Prioritize. Some things will give you a lot of bang for the buck, others? not so much. Decide where you most want to invest your time. Go for projects that are important and that will give you the most peace of mind.
- Reward yourself. When you’ve accomplished what you set out to do, pat yourself on the back, praise yourself, and do something fun or relaxing.
Just do it. Think how good you’ll feel when you’ve accomplished what you set out to do.