Staying Organized When It All Goes Wrong

ambulance-lights-628Being organized makes even the worst events in life better. It just requires a shift in thinking. In fact, it is quite possible to find organizing easier, when there is true adversity.

I’m always surprised how often clients greet me with apologies that they haven’t been able to stay organized because of emergencies that come up.

First, I don’t expect anyone to learn how to stay organized after just a few sessions and I certainly wouldn’t stand in judgment, if anyone hadn’t.

Second, I feel like they are missing the whole point of organizing. Organizing is not an activity, in addition to all your life’s important activities. Organizing is a vehicle to make those activities easier.

When you come right down to it, organizing is not about sorting your stuff and your time. It’s about sorting your priorities.

Priorities change, so your organizing efforts need to adjust with them.

It’s important that you don’t feel bad about shelving the lower priorities and the organizing efforts that go with them.

If you were up all night with a sick child, then maybe your clean laundry gets put away unfolded and all the mail (except the bills) gets tossed. There’s no need to stop all efforts, but because your priorities have changed, your efforts can too.

Of course, priorities are most instantly clarified when everything is lost. I always hear the same things during coverage of towns flattened by a hurricane: “Thank God everyone is all right.” And “All our family photos are gone.” After our loved ones, what we tend to value most are the things that can’t be replaced, like family photos.

A great way to organize your stuff is to imagine you have lost everything, then start listing the things you would want to replace first and figure out how to secure them. Then consider how much of the rest you really need to keep.

A great way to organize your time is to imagine you are on your deathbed and look back on what you were hoping to achieve in this life. Do you want to be remembered as a frequent face on Facebook?

To get organized and stay organized, even when it all goes wrong, start by sorting your priorities, then establish habits with your stuff and time that support these priorities. Recognize that these priorities can change and allow yourself to modify your habits to support these changing priorities. It’s not only OK to adjust your organizing efforts, it’s better.