If you are feeling overwhelmed by an organizing project, whether you want to organize a room, an entire house, or even a single drawer, it helps to think of organizing as a process. Rome was not built in a day, and neither does a perfectly organized space need to be accomplished in a day. If an area is particularly neglected, it may take several ‘passes’ through the space before it is truly at the level of organization that you want. A ‘pass’ is each time you spend a session organizing the area.
Let me run through an example, this could change based on what you are organizing, but I wanted to get across how chipping away at a project will get you results!
1st pass – decluttering visible spaces
2nd pass – decluttering nonvisible areas
3rd – Sorting everything you have left – decluttering more
4th pass – Organizing by putting items back where you think you might like them, in temporary storage solutions if needed
5th pass – Assess the solutions, are they working? What do you need to change? What do I need to buy, if anything, for storing?
6th pass – Purchase any storage items needed, put in place and do final labeling.
The amount of time between passes could be an hour, month or year – it doesn’t matter. However, each step in the process is a win and should be celebrated. This method of organizing is particularly helpful if you find yourself getting lost in the details, thinking about where things will go before the decluttering is actually done, or if overwhelm keeps you from moving forward. Just take it one pass at a time!
It is that time of the year – registering for school and buying school supplies. Spend some time preparing now to make the first week of school smooth for everyone. Here are some tips:
Before you go school shopping:
- Clear out all the clothes from your child’s room that no longer fit or that are not liked. Also clear out old backpacks, notebooks, pens and pencils that won’t get used. Donate anything that won’t get used or worn.
- Make a list of all needed clothes and supplies before leaving the house, this will make shopping a lot more focused.
Prepare for the first week of school:
- Start now getting the family back into a routine – a great trick is to schedule appointments or activities for your kids in the AM hours, helping them to ease back into an early morning wake up time.
- Take some stress out of the first week by preparing a few meals now for the freezer for easy meals during that first busy week.
Have some last minute Summer Fun
Right now make a list of the fun activities that you really wanted to do this summer with the kids, but didn’t. Pick two or three and spend these last few days having some fun as a family before school starts again.
January typically is a time of excitement for a lot of people. Beginning a new year brings a clean slate and a renewed sense of determination to take action on a highly desired goal. People can be excited about beginning a new healthy eating or cardio program, making travel a priority, creating a happier life, or even changing their career. The first dimension, using the tried and true SMART approach to setting goals (make the goal SPECIFIC, MEASUREABLE, ATTAINABLE, REALISTIC, TIME-ORIENTED) is helpful as not knowing exactly where you want to go can inhibit your progress. However, I have been thinking lately about all the people that have the best intentions on January 1st, but have thrown in the towel by February 1st. As a coach, what could I do to help them get back on track? Many years ago I learned about the The Transtheoretical Model (also called the Stages of Change Model), developed by Prochaska and DiClemente in the late 1970s. While it sounds scientific, it is an easily understandable six-stage process that people go through when a change of behavior is desired. It can be a helpful reference tool for anyone wanting to make a change (or wishing and hoping someone else would make a change). I believe bringing the dimension of the Stages of Change into New Year goal setting will help people better prepare for and refocus after those inevitable setbacks.
Below are those stages and what a person might say in a particular stage:
- Pre-contemplation – “I don’t have a problem and I don’t need any help”
- Contemplation – “I really should do something about this, it is affecting my life negatively.”
- Preparation – “How can I realistically tackle this challenge and what will need to happen to be successful?”
- Action – “I am changing – today!”
- Maintenance – “I have coping mechanisms in place and I am able to resist temptation and maintain my new behavior/situation.”
- Termination – “My old way of life is no longer desirable and I don’t even have to think about maintaining my new behavior.”
How can these stages help you? Some things to keep in mind about the stages: You PROGRESS through stages. For example, you can’t go from Stage 1 to Stage 4. (So, if your spouse doesn’t see an issue with their lifestyle, they are not going to make a change, and if they do, it won’t stick). Also, key to be aware of in goal achievement, people can move through these stages forwards and backwards. When you reach goal achievement, setbacks can occur and you may have to double-up the determination and start again at the contemplation and preparation stages. This is a point where people typically give up. It is important to remember this and know it is very normal to go backwards at times. These setbacks are actually very important learning opportunities that help you get to Termination stage.
It is very common also for people who have decided to go after a goal after thinking about it for some time (Contemplation), even going through the SMART process to ensure success, and then immediately declare it publically and jump into action. Skipping the Preparation stage can cut your chances of success as you haven’t thought through the possible challenging situations and how to prepare for those. Most challenging goals require preplanning to think about the steps required for success. I like to think of a challenging goal as a project. Every project needs all the steps and tasks detailed out so one knows what EXACTLY needs to happen for success. Then, once it is detailed out, you can just follow the road map as your mind gets busy with life while achieving your goal.
Another area to consider is that you do what you do currently because it is rewarding to you in some way. You might say “How is being in a miserable job rewarding myself?” On some level, some value of yours is being fed – like a sense of routine, security, or financial security. If you have long wanted to begin a new behavior but haven’t, it is extremely important to ask yourself why. There are specific reasons- we are not willy-nilly creatures. As a coach I have learned it is important to vet out those roadblocks as part of the planning process. You have to be prepared and figure out ways to meet these incredibly important needs that you have, while working on attaining the goal. They ARE important as they have created the life that you have, and cannot be ignored if you want to reach the Termination Stage.
One last dimension, be aware of the Stages of Grief. Each new behavior usually means the loss of some old behavior or a particular lifestyle aspect that you may have truly enjoyed. You will most likely experience the stages of grief for each tiny change you make. No wonder achieving New Year’s goals are tough! For example, getting healthy is a compilation of many behavior changes made consistently over time. Each change could mean a loss of something, kicking off denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and hopefully finally acceptance. With each small change, you may go backward and forward in these stages also. Be aware of what is happening and don’t give up on those small changes, as they are what take you one step closer to the big change that you desire.
Setting and achieving goals can change your life – that is why the process is so desirable. Using the three models discussed in this article as progress measurement tools will help to ensure your success. Always remember when the going gets rough or even if you have failed at moving forward, you are still learning, experiencing, and growing in your goal and that is progress! Don’t give up. Dust yourself off and know that you got this.
Whether your desk is the dining-room table or is in a dedicated location, setting up a paper filing system is crucial to your success. If you work from home, it’s important to separate business from personal papers. A quick start would be to sort your personal files into the following categories:
· Financial—tax related papers, bank statements, investments, home contracts, insurance and bills—basically anything to do with money
· Household items—manuals, home projects, improvement ideas, etc.
· Family items—birth certificates, marriage license, and other important documents
· Reference materials—address list, schedules, school information, and medical information
For general category files that end up to be large after your initial sort, break those down into further categories that will help you to find items faster. For example, you may want a file for each family member or a file for just insurance documents. While this is a listing of personal files, you can do the same type of sorting with your business files. Start with general categories and see what files need to be broken down further.
Consider using a colored filing system (green files for financial, brown files for home, blue for business, etc.). This will allow you to quickly locate the section of filing you are currently needing.
A filing system can be helpful in keeping papers under control and maintenance to a minimum. Keep the system simple to maximize your results.
Having trouble focusing on your organizing project? Everyone has periods where their brain has difficulty focusing on the tasks at hand. Take a moment and examine your thoughts and try to uncover why you are not focused. Are you tired? Worried? Anxious? Take a moment or two to address whatever feelings you are experiencing. This may be as simple as deep breathing to relieve stress or maybe you need a short snack break. Once your feelings are addressed, re-examine your organizing goal and your motivation for completing it. Begin your organizing work again with a newly focused mind.
Is your mind wandering too much to accomplish your organizing tasks? One important step is to minimize or eliminate all distractions. This means to find a quiet place or time in the house where you won't be interrupted by others. Turn off the obvious distractions like the TV, house and cell phones, and shut down your email and computer. There are less obvious distractions though also that can steal your attention like chores around the house that need to be done or a window view to the outside world. Be aware of these distractions and do what you can to minimize your focus on them before you start a project and you will be successful.