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Productivity & Organizing Myth #1 – Born Organized

Productivity & Organizing Myth #1 – Born Organized
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    As a new guest author to lifehack.org and an experienced productivity consultant I would like to start by naming and dispelling common productivity and organizing myths. This series will be posted each Wednesday until we cover the top 10.

    Myth: Some people are born with an organizing gene or are natural organizers and others will never be organized.

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    Reality: Organized and productive people have a set of skills that lead to their being organized.

    Some people learn these skills early and in great depth. Some people learn them by circumstance throughout life. And, some people still want to learn them and struggle with disorder. The consequences of disorganization are many and varied from chronic lateness, time wasted looking for things, and messy areas which give a bad impression. On a personal level the consequences include: stress, embarrassment, and wasted money.

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    Organizing is like reading or a sport ~ it’s a skill that can be learned. And, like reading, life is easier if you have the skills. These skills also take time to understand, practice, and polish. So, take heart – if you’re learning a new organizing skill, it’s a matter of practice over time.
    Let’s jump in with a list of what specific skills you could learn and uncover where to learn them.

    Top 10 organizing skills:

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    • Perfect your use of a calendar.
    • Use a ‘to do’ list. This is a list of all the projects and tasks you have underway and would like to have underway.
    • Prioritize projects and tasks. (That includes dumping things that really aren’t that important)
    • Establish a home for your stuff. Label the home.
    • Consistently put stuff in their home.
    • Get rid of stuff that isn’t contributing to the quality of your life right now.
    • Identify your values so you can measure your decisions against a fixed target.
    • Be active. Physical activity supports a balanced life, gives you energy, and clears your mind.
    • Simplify.
    • Create routines.

    Where you can learn these skills beyond lifehack.org & books:

    From a productivity coach – the time has come for turning to an expert. Just as a golf pro helps you learn to drive and putt better, a productivity coach will help you organize better. A coach will uncover what skills you lack, what skills you have, and figure how to get you to master new organizing skills that relate to your life. Many corporations pay for this type of coaching because they know that a more-productive professional will contribute more to the company.

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    On-line courses at providers of your favorite organizing products. Some examples:

    In your company. Many corporations have workshops, online courses, and tuition support for learning. Ask your manager, the HR department, and the training department to understand what is available.

    There are lots of ways to become organized… start now an in time people will think that you were born organized!

    Susan Sabo – a traveler who has been to 47 countries. Her organized life has allowed her to go overseas for months at a time. She writes the Productivitycafe.com blog, presents to groups and consults one-on-one with individuals.

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    Last Updated on October 15, 2019

    Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

    Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

    Procrastination is very literally the opposite of productivity. To produce something is to pull it forward, while to procrastinate is to push it forward — to tomorrow, to next week, or ultimately to never.

    Procrastination fills us with shame — we curse ourselves for our laziness, our inability to focus on the task at hand, our tendency to be easily led into easier and more immediate gratifications. And with good reason: for the most part, time spent procrastinating is time spent not doing things that are, in some way or other, important to us.

    There is a positive side to procrastination, but it’s important not to confuse procrastination at its best with everyday garden-variety procrastination.

    Sometimes — sometimes! — procrastination gives us the time we need to sort through a thorny issue or to generate ideas. In those rare instances, we should embrace procrastination — even as we push it away the rest of the time.

    Why we procrastinate after all

    We procrastinate for a number of reasons, some better than others. One reason we procrastinate is that, while we know what we want to do, we need time to let the ideas “ferment” before we are ready to sit down and put them into action.

    Some might call this “creative faffing”; I call it, following copywriter Ray Del Savio’s lead, “concepting”.[1]

    Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the time spent dreaming up what you want to say or do, weighing ideas in your mind, following false leads and tearing off on mental wild goose chases, and generally thinking things through.

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    To the outside observer, concepting looks like… well, like nothing much at all. Maybe you’re leaning back in your chair, feet up, staring at the wall or ceiling, or laying in bed apparently dozing, or looking out over the skyline or feeding pigeons in the park or fiddling with the Japanese vinyl toys that stand watch over your desk.

    If ideas are the lifeblood of your work, you have to make time for concepting, and you have to overcome the sensation— often overpowering in our work-obsessed culture — that faffing, however creative, is not work.

    So, is procrastination bad?

    Yes it is.

    Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re “concepting” when in fact you’re just not sure what you’re supposed to be doing.

    Spending an hour staring at the wall while thinking up the perfect tagline for a marketing campaign is creative faffing; staring at the wall for an hour because you don’t know how to come up with a tagline, or don’t know the product you’re marketing well enough to come up with one, is just wasting time.

    Lack of definition is perhaps the biggest friend of your procrastination demons. When we’re not sure what to do — whether because we haven’t planned thoroughly enough, we haven’t specified the scope of what we hope to accomplish in the immediate present, or we lack important information, skills, or resources to get the job done.

    It’s easy to get distracted or to trick ourselves into spinning our wheels doing nothing. It takes our mind off the uncomfortable sensation of failing to make progress on something important.

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    The answer to this is in planning and scheduling. Rather than giving yourself an unspecified length of time to perform an unspecified task (“Let’s see, I guess I’ll work on that spreadsheet for a while”) give yourself a limited amount of time to work on a clearly defined task (“Now I’ll enter the figures from last months sales report into the spreadsheet for an hour”).

    Giving yourself a deadline, even an artificial one, helps build a sense of urgency and also offers the promise of time to “screw around” later, once more important things are done.

    For larger projects, planning plays a huge role in whether or not you’ll spend too much time procrastinating to reach the end reasonably quickly.

    A good plan not only lists the steps you have to take to reach the end, but takes into account the resources, knowledge and inputs from other people you’re going to need to perform those steps.

    Instead of futzing around doing nothing because you don’t have last month’s sales report, getting the report should be a step in the project.

    Otherwise, you’ll spend time cooling your heels, justifying your lack of action as necessary: you aren’t wasting time because you want to, but because you have to.

    How bad procrastination can be

    Our mind can often trick us into procrastinating, often to the point that we don’t realize we’re procrastinating at all.

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    After all, we have lots and lots of things to do; if we’re working on something, aren’t we being productive – even if the one big thing we need to work on doesn’t get done?

    One way this plays out is that we scan our to-do list, skipping over the big challenging projects in favor of the short, easy projects. At the end of the day, we feel very productive: we’ve crossed twelve things off our list!

    That big project we didn’t work on gets put onto the next day’s list, and when the same thing happens, it gets moved forward again. And again.

    Big tasks often present us with the problem above – we aren’t sure what to do exactly, so we look for other ways to occupy ourselves.

    In many cases too, big tasks aren’t really tasks at all; they’re aggregates of many smaller tasks. If something’s sitting on your list for a long time, each day getting skipped over in favor of more immediately doable tasks, it’s probably not very well thought out.

    You’re actively resisting it because you don’t really know what it is. Try to break it down into a set of small tasks, something more like the tasks you are doing in place of the one big task you aren’t doing.

    More consequences of procrastination can be found in this article:

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    8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life

    Procrastination, a technical failure

    Procrastination is, more often than not, a sign of a technical failure, not a moral failure.

    It’s not because we’re bad people that we procrastinate. Most times, procrastination serves as a symptom of something more fundamentally wrong with the tasks we’ve set ourselves.

    It’s important to keep an eye on our procrastinating tendencies, to ask ourselves whenever we notice ourselves pushing things forward what it is about the task we’ve set ourselves that simply isn’t working for us.

    Featured photo credit: chuttersnap via unsplash.com

    Reference

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