Making Organizing A Priority In Your Life

Like anything worthwhile, being organized has lots of competition: work, relationships, entertainment; most of these seem more interesting or essential than being organized. The real purpose of organizing is to facilitate and make more time for those more important things. Organizing should be the infrastructure that makes everything easier and more effective, and just like for the infrastructure for an organization or a political unit such as a city, state, or country, it needs thought, planning, attention, and, yes, a little budgeting.
So how do you make time for organizing among all those competing demands? I think the first thing is the realization that all organizing efforts should be geared toward making the other priorities easier, not organizing for organizing's sake. Little cutesy baskets are not what it's all about. Clear surfaces are not even necessarily what it's all about, if what your best functionality really needs is to have the elements that support a given activity immediately at hand. The important thing is to be clear about how best to organize your space to make carrying out the priority activities in your life as easy as possible. So planning is a key element. How to fit that in? I usually find that my mind is clearest and most receptive to inspiration first thing in the morning. Other people might have other times, such as while listening to music, while actually doing the activity, or while soaking in the tub; the key, as I said in class, is relaxation so that you can be open to new ideas. Whatever, wherever works for you is great. Taking a little time to plan how best to go about organizing will save time during implementation and will make the organizing process easier and smoother.
Having identified how you need to organize (congratulations; that's not a small thing), you need to find the time to do it. This is where multitasking is such a boon. Maybe you can organize an area while you are actually doing the activity associated with it (ex., rearranging your desk while you are sitting there thinking or writing - the other hand is relatively free while you are writing by hand; even on the computer, there are pauses while the machine keeps up, while you are thinking, printing, or booting up programs). Another way of combining activities is to attend to your relationships while organizing, that is invite a friend to keep you company or help.
The next step is to identify your time wasters and be prepared to give them up. Everybody has them, and if you look, you will see that you do too. Giving them up is another matter. You may need to remind yourself every time you fall back on that behavior about your priorities and why this isn't the activity that really matters to you. You may want to allow yourself the time-wasting activity but in limited amounts, say by using a timer to restrict your indulgence, or by only allowing it after you've done your big activities for the day.
Finally, the easiest way to make organizing a priority is to train yourself to take an extra minute or five or ten every time you move from one area of your home or office to another or every time you switch from one activity to another, to neaten or organize the area before you move on. Part of the reason that this works so well is that having been in the area or doing the activity for a while, you get an idea of what works and what could be better. Another reason is that you are there, you don't have to go out of your way, and you can just reach for things.

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