Being organized is not about hiding everything in pretty baskets or about buying the latest organizing gadgets. In fact, you stand a better chance of being organized WITHOUT adding the baskets and gadgets. Good organizing is more of a subtractive process. It’s about subtracting barriers. It’s about taking the less important stuff in your life out of your way, so you can get to your priorities. When your priorities are fewer and clearer, it is easier to prioritize.
A few weeks back, I was working with a client when she got a long distance call from her father. Her mother was in the hospital and my client needed to get on the next plane to see her. She didn’t have a moment to spare, but she had to pack carefully because she had no idea how long she would have to be away from home. Any clothes she forgot, she could buy. Her one big concern was all the bills that needed paying. They had been mixed in with a lot of other paper throughout the house.
Fortunately we had recently organized all her current bills into one clear plastic envelope, labeled unambiguously “BILLS TO PAY.” She just grabbed it, jumped in a cab, and caught the next plane, with one less thing to worry about. Now, she could focus more on what mattered most: her Mom’s health.
There is a wide-held belief that if you can just get organized, you will be able to do everything. The truth is, the first step to getting truly organized is to recognize your most important priorities and then to take the less important priorities out of the way. In other words, to be organized you CAN’T do everything.
A great way to prioritize is to imagine your last day on earth. What would you regret not doing? What do you hope people will say about your when you’re gone? Now ask yourself, what are you doing about those goals NOW?
Perhaps you want to be remembered for bringing joy to people. Unlikely to happen if you spend all your time WORRYING about making money.
Perhaps you want to be remembered for achieving great things. The odds of this happening aren’t good if your home is buried in unfinished projects and self-help books, while you sit in front of the TV.
Perhaps you want to be remembered for giving to others. Probably not if you spend all your time, energy, and money buying more stuff for yourself.
Perhaps you want to write the ultimate book on organizing, but you waste hours with social media and blog—(excuse me, I have to go.)