What’s Stopping You?
We’d all like to be more organized wouldn’t we? No rushing to get assignments in on time, no last minute cramming the night before a big exam, no freak outs when our diorama made from ice-cream sticks falls to pieces (because we have a back up diorama!), more free time to do the things we really enjoy doing, less stress, more fun…it all sounds rather nice doesn’t it? You bet it does. Being organized can truly be a Zen-like experience – if you execute it properly. Why? Because you’re always on top of everything, you’ve got it covered, you’ve got it all down pat, and you’re not rushing around like a headless chook…why would you? You’re just in a constant state of calm. You got that assignment done weeks ago. You pity the fools who didn’t. You’re organized baby! But how does one become organized? It is simply a matter of cleaning my room? Arranging my text books in alphabetical order? Deleting all my old text messages? Being on time? What does it mean to truly ‘be organized’?
What Is It?
Being organized is being aware of, planning for, preparing for, executing and completing tasks ahead of their scheduled date of delivery, or for those that have no due date, on a consistently regular basis. It requires self-motivation. It requires a desire to be ahead of the curve. A desire to keep everything in its place. But it’s more than just that. It’s really a whole philosophy on life that is borne from wanting to be in control. You see, true organizers are in control. They don’t want life to just ‘happen’ to them, they want to ‘take life on’. They want to control those factors in life that they can control (and often they want to control things they can’t control…like other people’s organization skills!) That’s what being organized is all about. It’s not about being clean or handing work in on time (although those are usually side-benefits); it’s about controlling your environment in order to achieve positive outcomes for yourself. So why then is true organization so hard to achieve? What sort of beliefs are stopping individuals all over the world from becoming ‘organized’?
I Am Not Organized!
Do you hold a belief that you are not an organized person? Pop quiz: If someone asked you ‘are you an organized person?’ what would your response be? Yes? No? Don’t know? No comment? Many people struggle to address organization purely on the basis that they hold a belief that they are ‘not organized’ or that they could ‘never be organized’. This core belief shows up in many smaller ways that can really hinder your ability to live an organized lifestyle. So, what’s hindering you and what can you do about it?
False belief #1 – I simply must keep everything. Do you have a tough time throwing things away? Do you keep all your text messages? Do you have a very full inbox in case you need to look something up later? Do you have mountains of clothes and bric-a-brac garbage you wouldn’t dare part with but have no use for other than ‘possible uses’ in the future? Keeping things ‘just in case’ is a false economy – it clutters our lives and clutters our study spaces (not to mention our minds!) This form of disorganization can easily be avoided – if you make the powerful choice of letting go. Think about what is truly useful and use-able right now. If you’re not going to use it in the next 12 months, turf it! It feels good to turf. Only the courageous have the ability to de-clutter their study areas, their bedroom and their mind. Unfortunately…most people aren’t very courageous.
The Organized You Knows: Keeping things is pointless. The more you store, the more burdened you become. ‘Stuff’ does not define you as a person. Having no stuff or lots of stuff means jack diddly squat. Humans add meaning. So stop making stuff mean something. It means nothing. If you want to spend your days doing things that matter and living an organized lifestyle, get rid of your useless stuff. It’s junk. Accept it. Turf it. Move on from it.
False belief #2 – There is just too much information and too many interruptions to be organized. The technology age has brought with it an information and interruption flow never experienced before. It is constant. It is unrelenting. The cell phone in your pocket is ready and waiting to unleash an information and interruption boom on you if you want it to. Surf the web, check your email, text or call your friends, play games, listen to music. It’s all there for you. So, do you want it to unleash on you? Even if you don’t want it to – can’t others now contact you constantly and endlessly? Not just people, computers too! Emails from non-managed email addresses, phone calls from machines, text messages from faceless companies, it’s a full on barrage of information and interruption! So knowing that, do you believe there is anything you can do about it? Or do you believe you are a powerless slave to the age?
The technology age is also forcing us to form new habits around this new information flow. Do you notice that when you have a notification in your Facebook account you simply must check what it is? Do you make a habit of checking your emails every time you hear your email alert tone sound? Do you drop everything and read a text message the instant it comes through? Or stop studying and chat on an IM service as soon as someone ‘chats’ you? The question is – what is truly driving you? Habits around information and interruption, or habits around your organized lifestyle and stated objectives and goals? If you drop everything every time someone (or some thing) is trying to contact you what does that tell you about your ambitions? About your ability to pursue what truly matters? Are you really just wasting your very precious time?
The Organized You Knows: You don’t need to address every information flow and interruption that is directed your way. Turn off your alerts for email. Put your phone on silent. Stop looking at your Facebook account (…for a while at least). Nothing at all will happen if you don’t reply to the text message from your BFF straight away. This is your life, remember? Interruptions only occur when we allow them to occur. We have to allow them into our lives for them to take charge of us. If you allow other people to constantly interrupt you, you are sending a message to them that it’s fine to interrupt you and waste your time. Your time is your most valuable and precious asset don’t forget. You can’t get it back. You should never waste it. You should definitely never allow others to waste it! You must stand firm in the boundaries you set for others and for your information flow. The problem is not the amount of information and interruptions that are directed towards you – the problem is your method of processing that information and handling the interruptions.
False belief #3 – Becoming organized and then staying that way takes up too much time. Do you believe being organized takes up too much time? As in, you believe it wastes time to be organized? Do you believe it requires more work than it’s worth? Do you believe the benefits of organization are not worth the (perceived) pain of becoming an organized person? Do you believe being organized is just ‘all too hard’?
The Organized You Knows: You have plenty of time to get organized and being organized is far easier than not being organized. You will save countless wasted hours each week by being organized (which by the way you can spend doing things you like doing – as in, not doing school work!) So, being organized saves you time and it makes your life easier. What’s your next objection?
False belief #4 – I am not disciplined enough to be organized.
Discipline is a funny thing. Many people believe they don’t have great discipline when they actually do. The fact that you wake up, shower, get dressed, eat breakfast and head off to school demonstrates discipline. Would you rather not go to school? Maybe…maybe not? If you could do anything at all with your day…if every day was a Saturday…what would you do? Would you really go to school? Most would say HECK NO (some would say heck yeah!…you know who you are…and good for you…nerd…just kidding you’re obviously awesome) which demonstrates a serious level of commitment and discipline because you’re doing something you don’t really want to do. So it’s definitely not the discipline that is lacking in wanting to be organized – it’s far more likely the motivation.
There is obviously a payoff you get from not being organized. No one ever does anything without there being a payoff. Both positive and negative behavior has a payoff. If you’re not organized it means you don’t have to be accountable and you don’t have to create any expectations. For example, if you’re always late for school, people will say ‘that kid is always late’ and therefore you don’t have to worry about it because the expectation from others is that you will be late. That’s the payoff. What are your payoffs?
The Organized You Knows: You have all the discipline and motivation you ever needed. You just need to let it out and allow yourself to push…yourself. The fact that you are reading this demonstrates you may wish to transform your behavior or even just learn a little about why you do what you do. Identifying what your payouts are may assist you in making a choice for change. You can show the discipline to be organized when you identify the motivation for doing so.
False belief #5 – I am not naturally an organized person. So, organization does not come easily to you? Big deal, it doesn’t come easily to most people! It’s a choice remember, not a personality trait. You’re not born ‘an organizer’. It’s not part of your DNA. It’s a choice you must make about the environment you live in and the payoffs you are willing to work towards.
The Organized You Knows: Organization requires a deliberate approach to getting what you want out of life via smart allocation of your most precious resource – your time. That’s it. That’s the long and short of it. Organization is about making a choice each and every day about your allocation of time. You have 24 hours in your day…and go! What are you choosing? What are you choosing? What are you choosing? Organization is simple when you have the motivation to execute it. It also doesn’t hurt to introduce all of the suggestions in Organization 1 (link to week 1). Those were some pretty darn great organization suggestions…
It’s a Choice – Not a Personality Trait
Organization is not something that only ‘certain people’ are capable of. Absolutely anybody (even you!) can become an organized and disciplined person. So give it a try. You won’t be sorry you did.
Bonus Tip: If you find yourself thinking and believing you are not organized, say to yourself, ‘I am an organized person, I am an organized person’…and believe it! Even if you have no evidence to support this assertion. Never stop saying this to yourself. If you keep doing this over and over, the result may really surprise you.