Our environment is a reflection of how we are operating in the world. All we need to do is to look around our environment to realize how overwhelmed we feel. There is always an urgent task that needs to get done and before we know it, the desk is full of papers, dishes are overflowing in the sink, and of course the laundry isn’t folded. For some people, that is just the home environment, there are more papers waiting on the desk at work.
I have never been great at organizing, but I could organize things just enough so I could find things when I needed them. But lately, halfway has not been working for me. I really wanted a system that worked for all the time. My things started telling me it was time to make a change. I was at my desk in my office and a closet door that was ajar opened up, pushed by the weight of the things inside. Then I knew it was time.
When I asked myself why or how things became disorganized and really allowed myself to listen, it became clear to me it was a symptom of overwhelm. Not that I was lazy or apathetic, I was just overwhelmed. I spend my days helping my clients eliminate their overwhelm, how could this be?
When we put pressure on ourselves to “do” at every moment, everything seems urgent. We rationalize that the papers and clothes will be there tomorrow, but the other tasks have to happen now. Yes the things will be there tomorrow, but so will you, so the stress continues every time we walk into our home or office. In the end, the clutter starts affecting us on a core level, it just doesn’t feel good. Functioning in an environment that doesn’t serve you and/or holding on to things we don’t need, is just another way to keep us preoccupied with feelings of overwhelm and powerlessness. It starts to distract us from the big things we want to accomplish. We know we want it organized, we just don’t know how. It’s all about a system.
Marilyn Paul has her Ph.D from Yale and an M.B.A. from Cornell. She is an organizational development consultant. She was successful at helping the firms she worked for get organized, but personally she was far from organized. Her quest to de-clutter the outer and inner sources of her disorganization can be found in her book: “It’s Hard to Make a Difference When You Can’t Find Your Keys”. She outlines a seven step system that will take you from identifying your purpose for organizing to taking action steps and keeping your momentum steady.
Here are a few tips:
- Establish Your Purpose: What can organizing do for you
- Envision What You Want: Visualize how the being organized can contribute to your life vision
- Take Stock: Be realistic about how you are contributing to disorganization in your daily life
- Choose Support: Find people who are role models and can keep you motivated
- Identify Strategies for Change: Learn how to build new systems and habits
- Take Action: Use implementation tools to put your approach into action by setting reasonable goals.
- Go Deeper to Keep Going: Take care of yourself better and free yourself from destructive habits.
There is much more to organizing than putting your stuff away. Once you identify the source of your disorganization and how it may be holding you back, you free yourself from the build up of pressure that is depleting your energy to move ahead in all areas of your life.