Confessions of an Organizing Junkie

While I was packing away some of my winter gear I noticed a stack of neglected files in my front hall closet. Deep down, I knew they were there, but I just wasn’t prepared to admit it yet.

The problem is, once I had those files in my sight, other images started flooding to mind.  My file drawers are begging to be culled and my To Do list is due for an overhaul. (Seriously – did I really think I’d get to those tasks that had been sitting there for months?)

Confession #1: Productivity Consultant and all – my office organizing systems are starting to run amok. (Don’t even get me started about my garage.) This spring weather has opened my eyes to things I chose to “ignore” for a tad too long.

It’s come time to admit it: I need to get organized.

Usually I am organized. Honest. I just slipped a little over the winter.

Now I have always prided myself on being an organizing junkie. (Hey – we all need something to brag about.) It’s just that somehow things started to slip over the winter.

Confession #2: I like organizing. True statement. I like to put things in their place and to have calmness around me.   Judge me if you must, but I think that organizing is fun.

Unfortunately, a few really good excuses enabled me to fall off the wagon.

Fortunately, I am a pro when it comes to busting excuses. Here they are – with the reality check accompanying them. Hopefully my painful journey will help you to avoid plummeting into the same pit.

Excuse #1: I’m too busy working to spend time organizing

Reality Check: I can fit anything into my life, if I deem it to be important enough. And clearly yes, lots of things do not make the cut. (Case in point: I’m not doing too many sit-ups these days.)

So what I needed was a reminder that being organized is important. It saves me time (otherwise wasted looking for things), keeps me thinking more strategically (and less buried in the weeds) and helps me to be more proactive about my deadlines. (There is nothing less productive than always working in crisis mode.)

Excuse #2: I don’t have any spare time to get organized

Reality Check: I need to make the time.

After weeks of denial, my office manager realized that I needed help and took matters into her own hands: “Ann: we’re going to take 10 minutes to clear this credenza.” I tried to protest – I had a workshop that afternoon and countless other urgent things to do. But deep down I knew that any attempt to resist organizing was feeble.  She is one of those people who it’s hard to say no to. You know the kind. Anyhoo, it was the best thing for me.

Excuse #3: I know where everything is. I’m not losing any time by being disorganized!

Reality Check: I was wasting time (and impact) looking, sorting, re-printing …

Yes, there is a chance that I am an exception to the abundance of research out there indicating how much time people lose on a daily basis from being disorganized. But I’d probably have more luck with the lottery.

Excuse #4: It would take too long to set up – who has the time?

Reality Check: Getting organized doesn’t actually take that long.

I have helped countless clients organize their office. In most cases it has taken somewhere between 2-5 hours. And the beauty of this project is that you can break it down, and get a big visual payoff at each stage.

Excuse #5: Getting organized is painful (ok – this wasn’t my excuse, but I hear lots of other people say this)

Reality Check: Getting organized is one of the quickest returns on your investment. And there is nothing better than a good pay-off.

It is a simple activity that reaps immediate benefits. Turn on the music, recruit help, bring in some yummy snacks and make it fun.

Excuse #6: My job is more strategic; I don’t have to worry about the details

Reality Check: When I am not organized I tend to get caught up in the weeds and reactive (versus proactive). I also run the risk of becoming a bottleneck to other people (who are focused on the details).

Being organized is an important part of being able to see the bigger picture, staying proactive and staying focused on our goals.
Excuse #7: My job is simply too busy to stay organized

Reality Check: If it isn’t easy to maintain, it isn’t the right system for me.

There is no ‘one size fits all’ model here. There is no shame in trying a new system. (And even the best systems out there need to tweaking occasionally.) Figure out what isn’t working and adjust accordingly. Keep it simple though. When things get too fancy, they become too hard to maintain.
Excuse #8: A clear desk will make it look like I have nothing to do

Reality Check: No one seriously uses this excuse anymore, right?

It’s very easy to let the systems slip. So as the sun shines outside, I’m putting the spotlight on my trouble areas. No more excuses, it’s time to get organized. On that note, I am going to update my To Do list. Feel free to ask me to show it off the next time you see me. It will soon be a beauty.

By | 2017-07-08T15:50:02+00:00 May 9th, 2011|Time Management|1 Comment

One Comment

  1. Charlotte Davis May 22, 2011 at 9:20 am - Reply

    Good article, Ann. You certainly cover all the familiar excuses and provide solid reasons why it’s all worth it in the end to get organized. (I came across this while taking some time to clear out my inbox.)

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