Overcoming Organizing 'Stuckness' and Keeping Your Gains

Sometimes when you are organizing things you reach a point where it is difficult to see how to proceed. Let’s discuss some possible reasons for feeling stuck and what you can do about them. If any of you have other reasons for feeling stuck, please let me know and the brainstorm on that can be a subsequent newsletter.

Lack of Time
If you feel you just do not have the time to do the work of organizing your space, here are some ideas that will help you find the time:

* keep a time journal – recording what you do every minute of the day will show you where there are opportunities for better choices that will advance your goals (details on keeping a time log or journal are in the Time Management materials – if you don’t have that, let me know and I will send you this information)

* think about your priorities – what do you really want? If a clean, organized home is important to you, what are you willing to set aside, at least for a while, to get it?

* use a timer – setting a time that is for organizing work only and not allowing yourself to do anything else until the timer goes off will keep you on track

Sometimes we just don’t feel like doing anything. Here are some ways you can get yourself going when you just want to vegetate.

* two words: loud rock (or any other lively music that gets you going and makes you want to move); do your work while dancing to the best

* have a friend keep you company while you organize - or better, help you

* make a game of it – make bets with yourself about what you can get done in a given amount of time (and, of course, there should be a reward for winning the bet… but no cheating by making it too easy)

* Pick an area that would give you a big morale boost to see organized (could be the area you see first when you wake up, the spot where you spend the most time, or what you and visitors see when coming in the door). Whichever area you choose, go beyond organizing to make it really nice: clean, decorated, fresh flowers or a plant. The boost you get every time you see it will inspire a wish to make the rest of your space nice also.

* Put TV, shopping, outings, etc. in the category of treats which must be earned by the amount of time spent organizing.

* Find ways to incorporate physical exercise into your organizing routine: you can march or jog in place, do knee bends, even situps while sorting papers, do many kinds of leg lifts while sitting down organizing files, work with weights while planning your systems. The exercise will keep your energy and spirits up, while your space is becoming better.

* Shake up your routine – do your organizing at a different time, from a different starting point, or using different supplies.

Don’t Know How to Proceed
Some folks have trouble with organizing because they don’t know how to set up systems after they have done their clearing out work. Here are a few ideas about how to move forward.

* Spend some very relaxed time thinking about the criteria your systems must meet for you to feel that they are successful. What do you want your systems to do for you? What do you want they to not do (such as, let things get lost)? For each point you identify, brainstorm lots of possible solutions that would satisfy that requirement, then evaluate the pros and cons of each idea and eliminate those that match the fewest criteria.

* Borrow an idea from budget wonks and set the value of everything you have at zero. Then make each item justify its retention by its use in the past year. Anything that isn't used or have great sentimental value goes. As with budgets, this is shock therapy, but very effective when nothing else works.

* Look at objects that need to be organized in terms of how they are used. What does that tell you about how they should be stored or organized?

* Invite organized friends to come over and give you ideas about how to organize your things. Ask how they set up their systems.

* Hire a professional organizer to help you figure out how to set up a good system for your needs (beware of PO’s who have a one-size-fits-all approach to organizing – it doesn’t) but save some money by doing the setup work yourself.

* Look at websites or read books and/or magazines on organizing to get ideas about what might work for you (if you are new to this list and do not know where such resources are, let me know and I will send you a list).

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