Tips and musings on organizing your way from chaos to calm

Cross the Finish Line One Step at a Time

The other day I said to my husband, who’s my sounding board for most of my organizing-related thoughts, “I have 2 kinds of clients: those who struggle to get started and those who struggle to finish.”

This got me thinking about the relationship between follow-through and clutter.   Physical clutter (the remnants of incomplete or ignored projects), feelings of overwhelm and inadequacy, and problems with time-management all result from our starts and stops.  So what is it about getting started or finishing that is so hard?  Here are some simple explanations and strategies to help you jump start your productivity and cross the finish line, one step at a time!

Problem #1

People avoid acting on tasks or goals that seem complicated.

What’s the solution?

Break each task or goal down into bite-size, manageable parts.

For example, if you want to redo your garden, you might first focus only on your backyard.  Then you might make a list of plants you like, research shade and sun plants on the computer, consult with a gardener, and sketch some draft designs.  Each of these steps, in turn, may lead to another small step (or series of steps).  Don’t get overwhelmed by the number of steps some tasks might require; focus on just moving though one step at a time.  You will get there!

Problem #2

People  avoid acting on tasks or goals if they are ambivalent or unsure about the ultimate value of the those tasks and goals.

What’s the solution?

First, make a master list (what I like to call “the mind dump” ) of everything you think you need to do – big, medium, and small tasks alike.  Leave this list alone for the moment.

Second, aside a couple of hours to work on goal-setting. Trust me, the hour or two you spend on goal-setting will save you many hours down the road.  In other words, it’s worth your time.

Begin by defining your core values in simple words and terms.  Who are you and what, at bottom, matters to you?  Then, consider what goals you have that support these basic values.  For example, setting a goal of exercising more supports your core value of a healthy life.  Now, return to the task list you made above.  Cross off anything that doesn’t support your goals and values, even if it serves others.  Prioritize the rest under a larger goal.  This will remind you of the motivation behind each task and create a more lasting incentive to bring the task to completion.

Third, now that you’ve reflected on your goals, add any additional action you would like to take in support of them.

Finally, schedule the top 5 actions on your list and honor that blocked time as if it were a doctor’s appointment.  This ensures you are spending your time on the things that really matter to you.

Word to the wise: don’t resist scheduling specific time in the calendar to work on your action items; some structure enables us to to achieve our goals in the midst of busy and distracting lives.  This, in turn, enables us to have greater peace of mind and feelings of success.

So, remember.  Simplify, reflect, and prioritize.  The finish line is in sight!

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