Let’s address some commonly held beliefs about organizing and productivity which could actually be holding you back. There are a lot of negative ideas out there conspiring against us. Let me dispel these myths so you can get organized and be more productive!
1. Organized people are born with a special gene – there’s no hope for the rest!
Organization is a skill. True, some people have a propensity for it but everyone can learn new skills. It’s no different than the fact that some of us are more tech savvy than others. It doesn’t mean we give up learning new technologies, but we may need to put in some extra effort and get help along the way. Organizing is about finding a way of managing things that works for you, then making it a routine or habit.
2. There's only one correct way to organize.
Wrong! The options are limitless. What works for one person might not work for someone else in the same situation. Some people like a very simple, high level system of organization and some like a lot of detail. As I mentioned above, it’s what works for you.
3. Purchasing fancy organizing supplies will get or keep you organized.
Nothing can be further from the truth – it's the wrong approach and can even add to your clutter. The first steps are to sort your things into like groups and purge what you don’t need, like or use. Then determine the best place to store the things you keep. Only then can you determine what size and style of storage you will need. I encourage you to use or re-purpose things you already have, and splurge on supplies that will be really useful or inspirational. It’s your effort that gets and keeps you organized, not the supplies!
4. Getting organized means getting rid of everything.
Not at all! It’s about getting rid of what you don’t need, like and will never use. This will reduce clutter and free up space (both mental and physical) for things that are really important to you.
5. Organization = Neatness
It’s not about how it looks, it’s about how it functions for you. Everyone has a different tolerance for clutter. Some may have a messy desk but know exactly where everything is and do not consider themselves disorganized. On the flip side, a neat looking house doesn’t mean it’s organized - closets or drawers may be full of clutter. The point is, you should be able to easily find what you need and you shouldn’t feel out of control by lack of organization. The goal is not a picture-perfect space like you see in magazines. You have to live your life and living is messy at times!
6. Once you get organized, you’re finished…whew!
Nope. This idea will set you up for disappointment! Organizing is a process of maintenance and adjustment. The good news is that once you’re organized, it’s easy to get it back in shape when it gets out of order because everything has a place or “home” to be returned to. Clean up time is quick.
7. Multi-tasking is more productive.
Studies show that people who multi-task are up to 40% LESS efficient than those who focus on one thing at a time. You lose time switching your attention between tasks and regaining your focus. Not to mention it creates stress and can be dangerous, like talking on the phone and driving your car. Important tasks require your undivided attention to avoid costly and time-consuming mistakes. Be in the present moment and try to resist doing two things at once.
8. You should only touch paper only once.
This isn’t practical! True, you should sort your mail over the trash or recycling bin to immediately get rid of junk mail. However, bills and other things you need to follow up on typically have to wait a bit. I recommend “action” files, temporary files to hold items that require action (for example, “to follow up”, “to pay”, “to read”, “to file”, etc.). As far as getting these done, see #9 below.
9. You’ll get things done if you have good lists and files.
False. You can have prioritized lists and well-organized action files to hold items that need your attention, but that doesn’t mean it’ll get done – for the same reason that purchasing containers won’t make you organized. You have to schedule time to do the things on your list. Putting a task on a list isn’t a commitment; blocking time on your calendar is.
10. Being organized will stifle your creativity.
On the contrary, a disorganized space causes distraction and forces you to waste time and energy looking for things. Imagine what you can create with freed up time and mental space!
11. You need to use the latest technology to be more productive.
It’s true, technology can save time and make tasks easier. However, if this doesn’t come easily to you, you have to consider the time and expense you will need to invest to learn it. If you’re not technology savvy, don’t force yourself.
Keep in mind… the goal is to have spaces that are inviting, where you’re surrounded by things you love and where you’re able to find what you need quickly and easily. Hopefully, this information will give you the motivation to get started and a boost of confidence to ensure your success. Now go tackle that goal you’ve been putting off !