08 January 2007

Getting organized: Start with your brain, sort of

Now that the holidays are over and we're digging back into regular life, New Year's resolutions in tow (or tatters), I figured it's a good time to share the simple ways we all streamline our lives. So much of the time I could spend playing with my kids I waste running to the store for milk or digging through the unfolded laundry for matching socks. Seems to me that better organization is directly proportional to better, or at least less stressful parenting.

So, first things first. Mindset. This chicken-and-egg scenario has paralyzed me in the past -- Should I organize my stuff first and trust that my mind will clear? Or should I clear my mind first and an organized environment will more easily fall into place?

Here's Duane's suggestion:

Do something. Anything. That is my #1 advice, the thing that I have to keep reminding myself. The best plans in the world mean nothing if they remain plans. You've gotten nowhere if you don't DO something toward your goal. If you can't think of what to do next, then break the task up into smaller pieces. This is part of the Getting Things Done "next action" methodology. Ask yourself "What's the next thing that I can do, right now?" and then do it.

I agree; the answer is to just get started, in a small way. But only a small way -- such as by making a commitment to one simple change. ("I will do one load of laundry a day each weekday." "We'll have 15 minutes of family cleanup time after dinner.") Once you've got that habit in place, you can move on. If you instead, you simply vow to Get Organized, with all the overwhelming work that implies, you can easily fall into the pit of trying to figure out your whole life before making a single move.

What about you? Are you more motivated by baby steps or big changes?

Related: Lots of tips in the Getting Organized archive

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