Thursday, August 29, 2013

Want to be more Organized?

I recognize that not everyone is an "organizer".  It has been my experience that people fall on a spectrum at any given moment in their (busy) lives: Over Organized, Organized, Wannabe Organized, and Who gives a #$%& (enter your favorite expletive).  I am Organized.  With a tendency to be Over Organized.  At which point I throw my hands up in the air and fall into Who gives a #$%&.  EXCEPT I don't stay in the land of Who Gives a #$%& for very long.  Mainly because organization goes hand in hand with productivity.  Productivity is important because it allows me to carve out space and time for the things (and people) I love.

Here is what I have learned from riding the Organization spectrum:

1. Don't over organize: yes, it is possible to over organize.  I have been there, done that.  Over organizing adds steps, time, thought, space which minimize the efficacy of the organizational solution.  Over organizing makes it hard to maintain your process and maintenance is KEY. Examples of OVER organization:
  • Archive folders in Outlook: I used to have archive folders in Outlook for my work email categorized by many main topics: my boss, functional areas (Employee Relations, Compensation, Benefits), and by projects.  This was overkill and took extra time to think before I archived.  Why was this over organized? Outlook has a great search feature which would allow me to search words in the To, From, Subject Line, Body, etc.  You could also sort by date, subject line, who the email is from.  Now I just have ONE archive folder per year (i.e. 2013 Archive) and I can easily search within that folder.  If it's in there, I can find it.
  • Closet Organization: Don't you just love when your closet is color coordinated?  All like colors with like colors? NO! This is over organized.  It takes too much time to maintain color distinctions and to think through what to do with patterned tops, etc.  I realize some of you are gasping right now but I maintain a more simple approach works just fine (i.e. pants, tops, sweaters, dresses).
    Color coordinated...No.
2. Don't be a perfectionist (or don't invest a lot of time in the solution): We all like when things look "just so".  Getting things "just so" takes time.  Time that can be better spent doing something you love!
  • I have spent more time than you know making sure my kids have checklists with pretty font, appealing colors, and adorable clip art (if clip art can be adorable). I like things to look pretty and if that is where you want to spend your time...that is fine.  I am not judging.  From my experience, my kids are no more or less likely to follow a checklist because it looks prettier than a black/white checklist (without graphic). They comply with the checklist because they are either intrinsically or extrinsically motivated to do so.
    Somewhere in between elaborate
    and a black/white checklist
  • I have also spent a lot of time making sure my organizational components look design magazine worthy.  If you like to do that, again, this is fine.  At some point we have to know the difference between organized, functional and productive.
    Not necessarily making a big splash
    in Better Homes and Gardens but looks clean
3. Don't be inflexible: Finding an organizational solution that works for you may take some time.  
  • You need to be flexible and open minded in your approach.  If something doesn't work, don't get defeated.    I have executed a number of organizational solutions that just did not work.  They didn't perform the way I expected, too hard to maintain, too complex for others to buy in to. You name it.  If at first you don't succeed, try try again.
4. Don't bite off more than you can chew: We ALL do this!! 
  • In a moment of disorganized hysteria, you decide everything is offending you so EVERYTHING needs to addressed NOW.  You turn drawers, closets, bins, and baskets upside down.  Now what do you have?  A big overwhelming mess! You can't see the organization through the piles of debris.  At this point you kick it off to the side and leave it for another day...maybe 6 months down the line.  Sound familiar?  Pick ONE project and execute it flawlessly from thought to finish.  Plan it out.  Mull it over.  Do some research.  Research saves REWORK.
5. Don't over complicate it: 
  • KISS - Keep it Simple Silly!  Everyone in the house, in my case this includes outside caregivers and children, need to be able to understand, get "on-board" with, and execute the organizational strategy.  This is especially challenging with kids.    
  • Most of the time an elegant solution will arise from a simple material.  Clipboards are a favorite of mine.  I have even found clipboards in the $1 section at Target.  Hang said clipboard on a push pin and voila...home office solution success. An added bonus is my kids LOVE clipboards.  If I put a checklist for them on a clipboard, they will follow it.  
  • Simple solutions tend to be friendlier on your pocket book allowing you tackle a multitude of projects.  Like me, I am sure you have no shortage of nooks and crannies that require a keen eye (and a few dollars) to organize.
    Streamlined Workstation
  • Mommy's Command Center!!

Each Clipboard is labeled with
a child's name

Keep Calm and Organize On!
Where do you fall on the Spectrum of Organization? What are some of your favorite solutions? Have a question, ask away!
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