Your hopes for your office provide far more than useless fantasy. Explored in detail, they reveal answers already rattling around in your head. Taking time to visualize your deeply desired office and make a wish likely reveal valuable like these:
If everything were perfect. . .
"I have more filing cabinets." If this is your desire, it feels like a chore to unearth filed papers. You need to make filing a lot more convenient by putting cabinets where they're withing easy reach, and putting a filing system in place that really works. ( That's coming soon!)
"It wouldn't look like this. It would be neat." Your office probably requires some deep-down organizing and decision making. You probably need to do a significant amount of discarding and rearranging. Storage space is lacking and there's no place to put things away. Neatness is good, but not if it means that things are just thrown into drawers so they'll be hidden.
"I would be able to find what I need, when I need it." A workable, reliable filing system includes master list - a guide for filing items consistently, so they can be retrieved when needed.
"Everyone would stop complaining about my office." If you have a system that works for you, clearing off surfaces will work wonders to silence the chronic grouser.
"I would use notebooks for projects and ignore the filing cabinet," or "I'd get a filing cabinet, instead of using these messy notebooks!" You need a system that works for you and suits your personal style. If you like notebooks, use them! f you hate them, don't - use a great filing system.
"I would have places to put everything." Find more space by emptying cabinets and drawers of unused items and reorganizing what you must keep. Active files and often used items need to be within easy reach - items used less often can be tucked away in deeper storage.
Now that you have some ideas, do your part.
Name something positive about your office as it is.
Write your own personal wish list of what you want for your office in great detail, perhaps using the ideas above as inspiration for your ideas. Describe everything your office would be if money, time, effort, and permission didn't play a part.
Let's take this Two Minute Organizing Quiz. Because I want you to take this quiz honestly, I will ask you to answer the questions honestly first before looking at the meaning of your scores.
This post is intended for you to assess yourself on how good you are at doing the "organizing" stuff. But if you are not, don't despair, I will keep posting DIY and Self-help organizing tips here. So you can come back or subscribe.
So, first off, let me tell you. I am not writing this because I am excellent at organizing. But I am starting to get organized and I love the benefits, I have accomplished things, way more than I have imagined. And I want to share the benefit of increased productivity mainly because, I started to get organized.
Now, take a small piece of paper and a pen or pencil. Just write "Yes" or "No" for each of the 10 questions asked. This is a simple one.
Here we go.
I feel in control of my office.
I immediately put things where they belong.
I keep a well-organized filing system.
My projects move forward well.
I keep my email in-box cleared.
All inappropriate, broken, and non-working things are gone.
My calendar or planner works well for me.
The papers on my bulletin board are fresh and current.
My furniture looks good and works well.
I balance my work and family life.
Now that you've honestly answered the questions, let's take a look at what your score means. Do you think you have what it takes to be organized? Are you already organized a person? Are you struggling to get organized?
Tally five points for each "yes".
50-40 points - Congratulations! You're doing really well! May you stop and share with this blog's readers your tricks? Please? 🙂
39-30 - Doing good! Make a few key improvements and you'll be a much happier camper, producing work much more efficiently.
19-1 - Keep this blog on your favorites. Bookmark this! But seriously, it really is your lifeline to sanity and productivity. Slowly address your areas of greatest need and your office will become your best business partner. Otherwise, you are sunk! I suggest you start here.
I have been guilty of procrastination myself, but I don't want to continue doing it forever. I need to step up and outgrow that defeating trait. So this one right here is for myself and those of you who also, most of the time, procrastinate! Let's enjoy learning and outgrowing procrastination.
We've seen how perfectionism can cause procrastination and discourage us from taking on a job until we're sure we can do it with an unreasonably high level of quality.
Boredom can also be a culprit. Sometimes we think we just can't bear the tedium of certain jobs. Most creative types don't like the monotony of keeping things organized. And let's face it - most of the organizing process is not a hoot.
But staying organized often opens the door to more creativity. Many wonderful, creative project has been derailed because creative genius gets lost in a muddle of messiness.
So why do we put it off?
Learned helplessness. Maybe you've tried your best to get organized, either in your office or elsewhere. It hasn't worked, and you don't know why. Now you've given up trying. Oh, maybe not entirely. But your can-do attitude has taken a big hit, and you find it hard to rally your forces to try again. You've accepted failure, or at least inaction, as a reasonable option. It's not.
Blame game. We may procrastinate in order to wait for a roadblock to disappear. Sometimes that's a legitimate delay, such as when we have to wait for a decision from someone else before moving forward. In other cases, we probably could have or should have anticipated the problem and headed it off in the first place. If you're procrastinating, focus on what's detaining you and concentrate on removing that roadblock.
Zapped mental energy. When we hate to do a job, we wait until some kind of deadline is upon us and ride the adrenaline wave of panic to get it done. But research shows that work done under this kind of pressure is usually inferior to work that is well planned. It is time to set a date and start getting your office into shape. You'll be amazed at the energy that will come from that!
Rebellion. Anger at the person who requires you to do a job can cause you to procrastinate. I'll show her - I just won't do it, you may be subconsciously be telling yourself. That makes procrastination a perfect form of passive resistance. Sometimes we even refuse to do something in our best interest because of an experience in the past we're still trying to resolve. Maybe you were bugged about keeping things neat as a kid, so now you're rebelling. Time to get over that and allow yourself the luxury of a well-organized life.
Busyness. If you have too much on your plate, some things are bound to fall off. Too many tasks means some will never get done, or they'll get done later than they should. In today's world, being too busy and careening between an overabundance of activities that force themselves on us keep us from giving to what's important. In short, we procrastinate and fail to do the good stuff, because we simply run out of time.
Fear of failure. How many books remain unwritten because the would-be writer is afraid to try? For some, it's better to have a wonderful book "in my head" than to put it on paper and find that it's not nearly as good in plain old black-and-white. Besides, then others can see it and might even criticize it - a good reason to put off the job forever. Right? Wrong.
The job's too hard. Sometimes, a job simply seems insurmountable. We give up before we even start. Not much potential for progress with that plan.
How many good business have died in embryo form because the creator was afraid to move ahead? If you set up your office, will others expect more of you than you think you can deliver? Don't let that stop you! You can do it! Identify the issues holding you back. It's the first step in challenging their hold on your thinking.
You know you need to get organized (I know that includes me), so let's get over this! Let's yank the rug out from under our habit of procrastinating.
Write down the task you need to do. Clarifying it in words demystifies it.
Promise yourself a reward for doing something that has stymied you.
Vow to yourself and another person that you'll take a specific step toward accomplishing a task, suggests psychologist Albert Ellis. Commit to a consequence if it's not done by the deadline you set. For example, "If I don't get this bill in the mail by noon, I will leave a P1000 tip for the server at lunch."
Get started on an easy part of the project rather than tackling it head-on.
Ask for help. Then set a time to work with a partner on the project.
Set a timer for fifteen minutes and do a little at a time.
Use the "Swiss cheese" method of author Alan Laiken. "Poke holes" in the project a little at a time by taking small steps. Buy file folders. Look up a piece of furniture on the internet. Sometimes one step that takes five minutes can be a breakthrough you need.
Now, post a picture or a written description of your goal. Break the project into baby steps. Toddle forward. Baby steps. Baby steps.
If you follow the steps described in this article one by one, you'll see change. And quickly.
(From Sandra Felton and Marsha Sims "Smart Office Organizing")
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Clutter grows in several types of soil. Identifying the characteristics within you that allow clutter to take root will help you weed them out.
You can begin to enjoy the relief that immediate improvements can bring. I am sharing to you these quick fixes for common causes of cluttering in your office or desk. There will be long-term solutions though, but it's always good to start some baby steps with these quick fixes. Just try quick fixes for these common clutter-causing characteristics:
Oblivious to the need for storage areas. Obliviously, if there's no place to put stuff, it will pile up and look messy. Interestingly, the chronic clutterer is often oblivious to the fact that lack of storage can be a major source of messiness problems. Consider Claire, who's notoriously neat, and always stops to think about whether she has room for something before she buys it. In contrast, her cousin Mike brings things to his office with reckless abandon because he doesn't give a moment's thought to where these new additions will be stored. When clutter accumulates, he blames himself for not being a neat person. But even Claire could not function in an office with inadequate storage space. Nor would she try. She would do whatever necessary to obtain the storage tools she needed.
Quick Fix:Create a place for three to five items that are chronically out on your desk. Keep them in their newly created home for right now.
Fear of forgetfulness. Ever leave things in view so you won't forget them? You're not alone. Leaving items out because we're afraid we'll forget about them is a common way forgetful people "visually cue" themselves to stay on task.
Quick Fix:Sidestep the memory issue by composing a project list to jog your memory about what you need to label containers, drawers, shelves, files, and boxes to remind you where things go.
Assembly-line thinking. Rather than putting away papers, projects, file folders, and other supplies as they're used, some people prefer to designate a time to put everything away at once. It seems more efficient to them, even though they see their neighbors in neater offices quickly return items to storage. While they wait for that designated "put away" time to come, if it ever does, their office mess mushrooms. "Stow as you go" is not a motto for them, and it shows.
Quick Fix:Resist the urge to keep things out until a big cleanup time. Instead, commit to putting things back in place in a timely manner for one day. Evaluate how that works for you, and commit to making it a permanent habit. On occasion it's appropriate to stack materials so they can be handled all at once, such as collecting patients' files to be returned as a group to the storage room for filing. But other than in these special cases, avoid assembly-line thinking.
Enjoyment of happy happenstances. Sometimes good things are unearthed in clutter. Finding an uncashed check just when you need it or stumbling across a warm note from a colleague who has moved on can make a dealing with clutter a little like opening a present. These phenomena temporarily defang the pain clutter causes, and for a time may even make it seem desirable. But over the long-term, clutter is debilitating and will negatively affect your work, your mental energy, and your personal satisfaction.
Quick Fix:Don't let an occasional happy happenstance convince you to keep clutter around. Put things in their correct places to know where your things are. When you do that, entering your office will become a happy happenstance you can count on.
Distractibility. Distractions can be like punches, and being able to roll with them is an enviable strength. Phone calls, emails, people stopping in to talk, spontaneous meetings - all can pull us from the task at hand. Sometimes we lure ourselves away from important activities by taking a bathroom break, having a snack, or moving on to a more pleasant task. We like distractions because our attention span is short and we like variety. But distractions can take over. It's always more difficult to take up where we left off than to keep going while we're in the groove. A lot of half-done jobs lie around the office and nag at us - often in the form of (you guessed it!) clutter.
Quick Fix:Commit to staying on task for a period of time - then set a time to hold you accountable. Close your office door and post a sign letting would-be interrupters know you're not available. If you can't shut out distractions at your regular workplace, escape to a library or conference room until the task is done. If that's not an option, try turning your chair so your back is facing the entrance to your space.
Indecision. Many perfectionists masquerade as disorganized people. Because our high standards, we fear making wrong decisions. So, rather than do the hard thing of, say, deciding how to handle a paper that's neither obviously necessary nor obviously trash, we place it in a pile "just for now" and move on to something easier. The "just for now" pile grows, creating a clutter mountain. Judith Kolberg, a veteran professional organizer, suggests the following game to break decision roadblocks like this: look at items in a personal way. Some papers are "friends" that we keep for sure. Some are "strangers" that are useless and easier to ditch. "Acquaintances" are the hard ones about which we vacillate.
Quick Fix:Set up an in-box "Undecided" to hold the "acquaintances," and keep them from creeping into existing piles. Then take ten minutes at the end of the day to decide about each one. Still can't decide on some? Return them to the box for the next decision session.Eventually many will disqualify themselves with age or will resolve themselves without needing our decision.
Playing the part. Sometimes the clutterer may pla the part of "the messy guy" at the office. The butt of friendly jokes, he goes along with the gentle ribbing, even posting signs with little jabs of his own over his debris-laden desk, such as "A clean desk is the sign of a sick mind." Secretly, he tells himself, I'd like to get organized. But what if I try, and I can't make it stick? I'll just expose myself to more ridicule!Fear keeps him from trying to change.
Quick Fix:Resolve to be brave! Feel the fear and follow the steps anyway. A determined effort to improve, coupled with a few new habits, will bring success. You're going to love the new organized you!
Poor time management. We all know it happens. Time slips up on us. Studies show that disorganized people have a poorer sense of the movement of time than organized people. That often means we don't manage our work schedule well. All of a sudden, we notice we have to go to a meeting, and up we jump - leaving unfinished work behind. The mess mounts.
Quick Fix:Commit to using a planner and make sure every event is recorded. Note the time of each meeting, and above it, the time you need to leave for that meeting. Soon you'll begin to respond subconsciously to the earlier time. Just feeling less rushed will help your organizational efforts immensely.
(From Sandra Felton and MArsha Sims' "Smart Office Organizing")
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