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Myth: Getting organized requires so much time that you won’t be productive while getting organized. There’s too much to do to bother getting organized.
Reality: Looks can be deceiving. The project might be substantial but you can do it! As the Question goes, “How do you eat an elephant?” Answer, “One bite at a time.”

Here are two proven ways to tackle a substantial organizing project. One, hold daily sessions. Two, make a day of it.

If you choose to hold daily sessions, have ones that are relatively brief. You can do anything for 15 minutes right? You probably find this is particularly true when there is a reward at the end of the time block. This approach to getting organized will accomplish the goal over time. Taking a month or two to get organized is a good way to develop new skills, standard operating procedures, and habits. As an encouragement: clutter and disorganization occurred over time and reversing that can take time.

I suggest you have a portable timer that you set for 15 minutes as you get started. The timer has a few great benefits:

  • It will help you to know the limit of your block of time, that you only have 15 minutes to spend on this or that.
  • That you can do anything for 15 minutes
  • That once your 15 minutes is up you might be encouraged to do another since ‘that went so fast’.
  • It will help you stay on task. Decluttering and organizing are your only activity for the brief amount of time – 15 minutes that the timer is running.

Daily sessions, every day, are the key to this approach. It is most successful when you do a session every day because your efforts will compound and the impact become more and more vivid. You will keep a momentum that will carry you through to completion. And, staying organized will be a natural extension of your efforts. Additionally, by approaching getting organized with daily session, you will probably not impact the typical flow of activities you are responsible to complete.

If you choose to make a day of it (getting organized) you will see great impact in a relatively short amount of time. This approach is for those who like a big challenge and have the motivation and endurance to stay with the project. You need to be able to put everything on hold so you can give your full attention to decluttering and organizing. Think of suspending things as what would happen if you needed a sick day. Calls, returning emails, and doing the work would have to wait until tomorrow. If you seem to allow distractions to keep you from devoting a full day, revert to daily sessions or multiple partial days.

On your day have all the supplies you need from trash bags to file folders available at the outset. Be sure you’ve eaten well. Take a moment to picture how terrific things will look when well ordered and efficiently laid out. Invite someone to be around. The benefits of someone assisting you are:

  • His or her being there will keep you reminded of the job at hand.
  • You can share the excitement of progress.
  • You will talk through the difficult decisions together.
  • Your partner in organizing will encourage your tossing and recycling.
  • You may celebrate the accomplishments at the end of the day.
  • By explaining what you’re doing and why now & then, you are creating a reliable standard operating procedure that you’ll carry into the future.

Then, steadily work from one area to the next. Do not put anything aside for later decisions…

Then, steadily work from one area to the next such as your desktop to filing drawers, to stuff on the floor. Do not put anything aside for later decision. Keep progressing and clearing.

Take a look at this before and after photos of significant project:

Printer Area BeforePrinter Area After

Previous Myths:

Susan Sabo is an intrepid traveler who has organized her life to be out of the country for months at a time. She’s visited South & Central America, Europe, Asia, ‘Down Under” and traveled across North America. Susan writes at www.productivitycafe.com, consults with professionals on improving their personal productivity and presents motivating productivity programs & tips (such as how to get ready for the busy season) to groups.

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