In the organizing and productivity world, there is a lot of advice on what to do and how to do it. Book after book, website after website, article after article, Instagram post after Instagram post, all telling us what to do to be our most productive and organized self. In all of that deluge of information, I seldom read or see anyone talking about what NOT to do! In my work with clients, I often see the same patterns of behavior recurring over and over again. In their zeal to live an organized life, these folks are searching for anything that they can do to help them in their quest for transformation. Often, that translates into them doing more research, more reading, more internet scrolling, and more BUYING! And ultimately, whatever they read, research, or buy doesn’t really help them succeed in their goal of living a less cluttered, more productive life, because the answer doesn’t lie in another thing. It lies in their brain, in changing how they think about stuff and time, and in making a decision to do something differently. So, along with your to-do list, consider putting these five things on your “stop doing” list!
- Stop buying more books about organizing and productivity. Reading and researching methodology and tips is only helpful up to a point. Unless you’ve managed to discover the secret to waving a wand and having everything just magically happen, reading another book is only going to delay the inevitable – taking action! The perfect time to start something never arrives. Nike’s motto – “Just Do It” – comes to mind as applicable in many areas of our lives, and especially when it comes to getting organized.
- Stop buying new planners/calendars and downloading more time management apps. If you’re always on a quest to find the newest and hottest time and task management tool, and you have a drawer full of half-used paper planners and a phone full of apps, stop right now! The only way to find something that really works is…CONSISTENCY! Use what you already have for at least three months before you decide it’s not working. Maybe it really isn’t the right tool for you, but maybe it hasn’t worked because you haven’t been persistent in really using it – day after day, week after week. Consistency is the key to changing habits.
- Stop buying containers – bins, baskets, boxes, fancy colored files, and elaborate office supplies. Until you’ve gone through every item in your space, you have no idea what you need to store and where you’re going to store it. Buying those beautiful baskets isn’t going to make you organized. Putting the time and effort into culling through what you’ve accumulated and decide what you’re keeping, what you’re letting go, what its significance in your life is (do you need it, use it, love it?) and where it will live in your space needs to happen waaaay before you buy more containers. There is no bin, basket, box, file folder, or app that’s going to get you organized all by itself. It’s not about the product, it’s about the process.
- Stop doomscrolling through social media. It’s just a huge waste of time and only serves to make you feel inadequate, envious, and becomes one of the biggest productivity killers around. If that’s your prime procrastination activity, deep down you know how it’s affecting your life in a negative way. ‘Nuff said.
- Stop equating form over function. Beautiful is not necessarily functional. While I enjoy pretty pictures of perfectly organized spaces, I know the reality underneath. It’s often “all hat and no cattle” – lovely to look at, but difficult to maintain and unrealistic for everyday life for many people. What’s the reality of how you need to organize your space and time? How do your organizational efforts serve your real life? Perhaps organizing all of your books into rainbow colored order looks beautiful, but does it help you find the book you need when you need it? Your space may not be camera-ready for Instagram or Architectural Digest, but if it serves you and your life in the most optimal way, it’s working.
What’s on your “stop doing” list? Consider what’s getting in your way, whether it’s physical clutter, time clutter, or relationship clutter, and eliminate it as much as possible. Or as Bob Newhart would say, “just STOP IT!”