Over the years that I have been in business, I have taken many classes on how to be more organized. I thought that their would be a magic solution to my constant state of messiness and disorganization. Each year my son’s school has put on a “how to help your disorganized student” seminar, that I faithfully attended to learn how to help him be more organized. Though, I have commented that they should change the title to “how to help the disorganized parent.”
I learned that I like to procrastinate. I get a bit of a rush of adrenaline by leaving something to the last minute. Sometimes this is great, as I become creative, have lots of energy and excitement towards my tasks and have the focus of, well, the focus of someone really organized. But I have learned that I can’t always procrastinate. MY to do list becomes many items long, I get panicky and begin to get anxious about my ability to get it all done. The adrenaline becomes fear, and instead of focusing that energy into productivity, it becomes paralyzing. I find myself saying “I have so much to do, I can’t get everything done”. I am not a fun person to be around during these times. But I am slowly learning. As I head towards 40, I am learning a lot.
A tool that I started using a few years ago is to prioritize. Not just, this is due tomorrow, better get it done. But to take my long to do list, and the pile of paperwork sitting on my desk awaiting my attention and is being neglected and start intentionally identifying what needs to get done.
- On my floor, I make a big + sign with tape. One corner is URGENT/IMPORTANT, the next is URGENT/NOT IMPORTANT, the NOT URGENT/IMPORTANT and NOT URGENT/NOT IMPORANT.
- Assess each quadrant, in less than five seconds decide if a task will take more or less than 5 minutes to complete.
- You now have 8 piles. Scoop up all the items that you have identified to take less than 5 minutes. And do them. That’s right. File, reply to that email, put the stamp on the envelope. Just get it done.
- Now you are left with 4 smaller piles that have been prioritized. Put each in a folder labeled with their title, and start on the URGENT/IMPORTANT tasks and work your way through.
I have found that since I implemented this system a few years ago, I have had to do it less and less frequently. The piles are lists are getting smaller, because I am tackling my tasks, instead of procrastinating.
Next week, I will tell you about the next step in how I have discovered becoming a bit more organized.
Until next week,