We all want a quick fix, but tips and challenges won’t help you get organized, or keep you organized.
Most challenges are designed to create a buzz and get you excited about the process, but not lasting results. Tips and challenges most often fail to tie the reason for them to your big picture wants, core desired feelings or deeper values.
In other words, they are someone else’s should and how tos based on arbitrary numbers.
The first week of the New Year is always full of tips tricks and secrets for getting organized. A few year’s ago someone realized that humans love a challenge, and that overcoming a challenge can help you create change. So, a lot of online advice revolves around 30 day challenge games. Lose weight, get fit, get beautiful, transform your relationship and of course get organized.
There are 3 reasons the challenges won’t work:
- The problem with gamifying a life skill is that it doesn’t solidify the habit. The game itself has set up a time line that has an end point. In reality, being organized is a constant and ongoing process of editing the things you own and what you say yes to.
- In 30 days it is possible to change some habits, but more likely it will take longer. What happens on day 31 when the online celebrity is no longer available for motivation? Who do you have in place for accountability?
- Research shows that the average American home has over 300,000 items. No wonder it doesn’t feel like you are making progress when you are only getting rid of one item a day. Without visual progress, it’s easy to get discouraged. Are there any whole categories of things you can eliminate for a quick visual difference?
And one reason that get organized tip won’t work either:
- A quick tip doesn’t take into consideration your desires. They often only work if 12 (that is an arbitrary number I just made up) other things are already in place. Organized people often assume that what works for them will work the same for others. The fact that you might not already have a trash can under your desk to catch the pieces of paper you no longer want can tank the effort to clear your desk before you even get started.
Would you rather feel great for about 2 weeks by putting everything away until this becomes jumbled in everyday life so that you have to reorganize everything every couple of months, or spend a little more time up front so that you never have to reorganize again – ever.
I thought not.
For long lasting and easy to use results you will need to do a bit of work.
The first thing you want to do is to think about WHY you want to get organized. Then write it down. When you want to change your behavior it really helps to know why you are doing it. Tie your actions to a desired result and you make real progress.
The best reason for getting rid of clutter and simplifying your work or life is to make your dreams accessible. To create the foundation of nurturing support to do the things you would rather be doing.
Next, use your why to keep you motivated and your projects moving forward. Clear the study of all your old work materials to make room for the painting supplies and spend your retirement slapping some color onto canvas. See, you want to clear so you can do.
Then, leverage your time by creating systems and routines that will keep your day-to-day maintenance efforts to a minimum so you can enjoy the thing you do. You can also tie the reason you are doing the maintenance to your why. Do the laundry so you have your favorite shirt available to wear on the day of your big presentation.
The problem is that it is arbitrary. Working really hard for a short amount of time to get your clutter down to a certain number, stored in a certain container, in a certain room, might work for you. It might not.
The real trick of it is to know exactly what items you need to arrive at the life you want to be living. Keep those things, and let the rest go.