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Productivity & Organizing Myth #8 – Getting Organized Takes Too Long

Productivity & Organizing Myth #8 – Getting Organized Takes Too Long
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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.

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    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:

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    • 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.

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    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…

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    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 Before
      Printer 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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        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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