What Happened to Me? I Used to be Organized
If you are currently super organized and have no clutter in your home or office, you can quit reading now. This is for those of you that used to be organized at one point in your life and now barely recognize yourself. You used to be the one with the color coded “To Do” lists completely checked off at the end of the day, returning library books & movies ahead of time (yes, it might have been THAT long ago). You were never late to an appointment and certainly never forgot a birthday.
What happened to that person? Was she a mirage? Is my memory just failing? The answer is a four letter word: more.
Today you have more and most of it is good. Technology advancement is great, you may have a family with children currently living with you, and information has never been more prolific or easy to obtain. However, more means more responsibility, accountability, and accumulation.
You may have more people living with you because of marriage and kids. That’s definitely a good thing! But, it means there is more stuff for all of those people. You no longer are responsible for just yourself.
With little ones especially, there are more clothes, towels, food, books, furniture, papers, etc. Typically the one who is producing all of this additional stuff is not caring for it or putting it away so it on you to manage it. So you have more stuff in your home than you did when you lived by yourself, even with roommates.
More is expected of us from work. Laptops, cell phones, scanners, and the inter-webs mean that the office has been extended to our home. Employers expect us to produce more because we have these wonderful tools that make it all easier, right? Not so fast. You produce work faster so there is just MORE of it.
Or maybe you are an entrepreneur working out of your home. If so, your home is your office. If you are your own boss, I bet you hate your boss sometimes. He or she is the most demanding employer!
It’s harder if you work at home all or even some of the time. All of the papers and paraphernalia associated with your work are in your home. You’re lucky if you have a dedicated space for work but very often your work papers and personal effects are co-mingled. More + more = even more
There is now even more to distract our attention. We have countless channels of television shows, audio podcasts, music, radio, and movies available at any time.
Numerous social media outlets exists, solely designed to draw our attention and suck time away. Ads in every form imaginable popup silently (and with crescendo) to draw us away from what were doing. And the notifications stimulate the prefrontal cortex part of our brain that just LOVES new information.
And I haven’t even talked about fast fashion and how we can buy something new in 3 clicks on our phone while waiting in the carpool line that will be delivered tomorrow by 8pm.
All this to say, “of course you’re disorganized.” You have more to do and more to distract you from doing it. When my grandmother was tending sheep on the farm in New Mexico there was no Instagram story to distract her from her task. Her mind wandering was probably the biggest concern regarding the safety of her charges.
So how do we fight the battle for more? Learn to say no and to set boundaries.
- Set limits for the time spent online both with work and fun
- Schedule time for social media
- Create systems for managing digital and physical mail
- Create systems for organizing work and personal papers
- Use containers to set limits for things that have a tendency to overflow such as kids’ artwork or magazines or clothes
- Say “no” to requests that don’t excite you
- Create routines that eliminate decision making such as weekly menu planning or designing a work uniform
- Uncheck “add me to the list”
- Schedule a lot of screen-free time
My brother, who is CTO of a large corporation so not living off the grid somewhere, doesn’t have his voicemail set up on his cell phone. If you need to leave a message you either send a text or call back. While I was shocked the first time I heard that “this voicemail has not been set up,” he achieved his goal to limit the number of ways people can reach him. This makes him more effective because he’s not spending time listening and responding to voicemail, yet another new form of information to process in the late 20th century. He can respond quickly via text or email or call a number back when he has time to talk.
Ultimately, you have to set up systems that work for you to guard your time and energy for you. Never has “Less is More” been more true words to live by.