If you find that your biggest organizing challenges come from the trials of being a mother, A Mom’s Guide to Home Organization is a great resource. It’s written by Debbie Lillard, a mother of three children and a professional organizer since 2003.
I have touched upon my system of Project Corrals in past posts, but today I am going to go into it in more detail. As always I believe a good system is an EASY system. This system involves an easy habit I call the weekly round-up, which I will demonstrate using my own projects and tasks as an example.
The most important takeaway I got from David Allen’s Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress Free Productivity is this.
A while back I described how to organize your to-do’s by comparing them to newspaper headlines. Today I want to share an actual model of what that might look like.
To summarize, the front page of a newspaper is made up of a series of short compelling headlines. Each headline may have a short blurb, but it always has a connecter to the full story inside. Much of the time, what piles up on our desks are full stories.
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.
Bound and spiral notebooks may make sense for taking notes in school or keeping a journal, but they are terrible for keeping you organized. I have seen thousands of (usually) half-used notebooks in my clients homes and not once have I seen one used as an effective organizing tool.
I would add notepads to this list and exclude binders, which can be useful for reference material.
Anyone who has worked with me knows what a fan I am of Julie Morgenstern. If you want to read the best books on organizing, start with her classic “Organizing From the Inside Out.” It begins with a story about her “day of reckoning” when she and her baby daughter missed out on a beautiful day because she was (then) so disorganized. I know from working with work-at-home moms that there always seems to be a nagging feeling of missing out, because of the tremendous challenge of keeping it all together.
When I work with clients with terminally cluttered desks, I always start by asking how much of the pile is stuff they have to make a point of acting upon and how much of it do they just need to be able to find? Not surprisingly, they usually tell me it ALL needs to get done. Well, there’s no way to focus on an amorphous pile of competing papers.
Tough goals need to be accomplished in stages, in much the same way volleyball players get the ball over the net. You may be accomplishing these goals with a team of coworkers or as a team of one. Whether your are delegating to others or doing the next step yourself, the better the set, the better the spike.
When you give your team clearly defined goals and instructions, it is more likely that you will get the results you seek.
As I see it, the whole point of getting organized is to make life as easy as possible so that you can get to the things that matter most. Your organizing energy, therefore, should first go to the items you need to find and use the most.
Being truly organized requires a balance of three limited resources: space, time, and energy. The first two are pretty obvious, but “energy” is often overlooked. You may be working in a comfortable, productive space and you may have what seems like a well planned out schedule, but if you haven’t budgeted for your energy levels, it can all come unravelled.
Originally from Matt Baier’s Organizing Works Newsletter, January 2009
January is the month we like to make a fresh start. Getting organized is a very popular New Year’s resolution and this month I would like talk specifically about how to stick to the goals we set. These goals can be as small as focusing on “simple” errands or as large as creating a website.