- 5 Essential Business Apps You Can’t Live Without - June 7, 2011
- Must-Have Tools to Get Work Done at Your Favorite Cafe - April 6, 2011
- 5 Must-Have Tech Tools for the Organized Entrepreneur (Part II) - January 24, 2011
Let’s face it, when things are out of control, we feel stressed out. This month, I’m running a series on my blog about how organization is a tool for living a better life. I believe this to be true, from my experience and others I’ve worked with. That’s not to say things go perfectly – we don’t live in Pixie Dust Land. Life is still life, and having a few tools up your sleeve really helps when (not if) life "happens." Not convinced? Let’s chat about this…
Order Isn’t a Stranglehold.
My mother was interacting with a client of hers, when she brought up that I am a professional organizer. Her client remarked, "Oh, I bet her house is perfect!" My mom hesitantly replied, "Uh, not exactly." Good ol’ Mom. Shocked? Don’t be. Let me bust a big, fat, hairy, purple people eater myth about organization: It’s NOT about being perfect or perfectly picked up all the time. It’s not even about clear desktops. I mean, you could sweep all the items on your desktop into a box. Your desktop would be clear, but would you really be organized?
Organized = Finding most anything you need when you need it, i.e. in about 5 minutes.
That’s it. Forget Martha. Seriously, she has a staff for crying out loud (although I do love her recipes). "Being organized" is a tool for keeping things down to a dull roar, so you can hear the tick tock of your daily life. It’s a system, it’s a process, it’s a way of life. I’m not saying you have to get all reality-tv-show about it, but it’s a way of arranging your life and work so you can get important things done. It’s also a lot about the thoughts and preconceived notions you have floating around in your head.
Put that Labeller Down, or I Will Take It Away. I Mean It.
Early in my business, I had a client call, asking to take a look at what was "going on" in her office. The day of the appointment arrived, I walked into her office and wondered, "What am I doing here?" This happens occasionally, so I asked her to show me what was bothering her. She pulled open her file drawer, which was neatly labelled. As we talked, she used the word "should" a lot. "I know I *should *redo this drawer." "I *should *really move these papers over here." "I know I *should *have sub-categories for this folder." I looked her squarely in the face, "What you have is good, even great. What’s really going on?"
Sometimes Good Enough is Good Enough.
The client then shared with me, almost tearfully, how she never felt "good enough." It showed in her file cabinet, her immaculate home and then in our frank conversation. She didn’t feel she measured up, and she was ashamed. We talked for a while, and I did my best to assure her that she was doing a great job. She needed to relax and trust her keen organization skills, and to learn when it was time to walk away. To focus on what she was doing right, and less on the "shoulds".
How Much Time is Wasted?
This client wasted time on perfecting a system that was already working – quite beautifully for her! Other clients don’t put any system into place, and waste time trying to find things (to the tune of 30-40% of their time on tasks like paper shuffling!).
Where else could that time be invested? In spreading the word about your product or service? Reading a book? Lunch with a friend? Playing a game with your child? Training for a marathon? Crossing something off your Bucket List? Organization is a tool. It’s a system. It’s not a perfect system, or a torture device. It’s a means to an end. It’s a way to live a life you love or grow a business you feel passionate about. Are you using it?