Friday, September 18, 2009

It’s hard to believe that I’ve actually been looking forward to getting “back in the rhythm” of things and greeting the arrival of autumn. The randomity of summer holidays brings with it a certain unpredictable chaotic beat to life that I find exhilarating, at first.

“I don’t have enough time” rolls off the tongues a few more times than we’d like to admit. One of the solutions to not being able to get it all done in a day, is efficient planning and organization.

If you’re at a place where you would like a little more order and peace in your life, try putting these 5 steps to simplify your life to work:
1. Set simple goals. Let’s not tackle your entire life at once, OK? (I’ve tried – it can’t be done.) Narrow down what you want to accomplish. Concentrate on work or home, not both. Maybe concentrate on just papers, or just your closet. That brings us to …
2. Decide where to begin. I know – you take a look around your home, or your office and there’s so much that needs attention that you don’t know where to begin. I’ve got 2 strategies for that: either pick the one thing that is causing you the most stress right now (remember to narrow it down) or pick something easy to start with. An easy project that can be completed in a day or two gives you a feeling of success and lets you move on. On the other hand, getting rid of the biggest stressor in your life can be very powerful.
3. Use a timer. This is a sprint, not a marathon. If you approach this task like a marathon – spending hours until it’s done – you may complete it, but you’ll have no ambition to continue. Rather than spending an entire Saturday cleaning out the garage, work in 15 minute sections throughout the week. Maybe some days you can get in 2 or 3 sessions. 15 minutes is manageable without burning you out. Setting the timer can also help prevent you from starting to clean out a closet and then spending the next hour re-reading an old journal/trashy novel/love note you found inside.
4. Put like things together. Sure, you might need a pen or two in the kitchen, some in the office and maybe one by a phone, but do you really need them scattered all over the house? Is there a place where your extra pens and pencils live? If not, make one. Do the same for things like keys, shoes, and those endless plastic bags you bring home from the store.
5. Reduce what you have. Do you really need 3 copies of “Organizing for Dummies”? Or in my mom’s case – 100 rubbermaid containers with no matching lids? I have learned that yes, I really do need 3 spatulas and 2 sets of tongs, but endless knives? Not so much. Bless someone else with whatever you have too much of; it will do you both some good.
Put these steps to work – that means take action! – and look at this as a long term project. Don’t expect to finish by the end of the month. Ideally, once you get things under control, you could continue to use these habits to keep things that way.

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