Thursday, March 21, 2019

3 Keys Thursday: 3 Keys to Dealing with those Piles

Dodgerton Skillhause via Morguefile
Yesterday, I wrote about my ubiquitous piles (and not for the first time). Though I'm pretty sure as an I need to see it/drop and run person, I will never lead a pile-free existence, I also know there are strategies I can try to keep the piles at bay or under control. Here are three of them.

Pick up as I go. When I'm tired and/or overwhelmed, I have to work a lot harder to overcome my drop and run organizational style. Knowing this, I also know that I need to make it a point to pick up as I go or finish one thing before beginning another, so piles don't get started in the first place. If my night owl self can't manage this when I drop a pile onto the table before I go to bed, my next recourse should be to pick it up and put it where it belongs as early as possible the next day.

Play to my strengths. If I'm going to start a pile (and, let's face it, as someone with an I need to see it personal style, it's pretty much inevitable that will happen sometimes), I need to keep them as under control as possible. Keeping the piles small (and therefore easy to attack) and/or minimal keeps things looking neater. Even better, choosing a brightly colored and/or labeled folder or container in which to house my pile(s) keeps things looking more organized and still calls out to me to tackle what's inside.

Give it five! When piles emerge, as they inevitably will, chipping away at them a little at at time can help keep things under control. Taking just five minutes to sort and/or consolidate piles can help to ensure that they don't take over all of the flat surfaces in my house.

I wish I could make the acquisition of piles in my house a zero sum game, but that's just not realistic. Knowing this is the case, I need to make sure to do all I can within my styles to be the master of my piles rather than letting them take over.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Who Knew Piles Could Be So Loud?

Now, if my piles looked like this....
(Photo: tookapic via Pixabay)
Last Friday morning, I realized that my house was screaming at me -- or, more specifically, things that needed to be done were calling out to me. The I need to see it piles that had popped up seemingly everywhere hadn't been a problem the week before when winter break left me feeling as though I had time to do something with them. That week, the piles murmured, talking among themselves, occasionally encouraging others to join them when I wasn't looking. Oh, sure, one might periodically call out to me as I passed by, but I could successfully shush it. After all, I had a whole week to get to the piles.

Until I didn't. 

By last Friday morning (the end of my first week back at work), the piles -- most of which were small stacks of things to sort through or attend to -- were loudly protesting my lack of attention, causing me to feel overwhelmed and more than a little bit grouchy. 

Sure, I have lists. But as someone with an I need to see personal style, my piles supplement my lists. Add to this process my drop and run organizational style, a little too much busyness and not quite enough time (don't even get me started on daylight savings time) and voilĂ ! A problem surfaces.

Or takes up residence. Potato, po-tah-to.

By the end of the weekend, I'd sorted through most of my little reminder stacks, doing, filing, paying, tossing. To make this sorting process easier, I set up a tray table in the family room.

Yes. It's still there. 

But it won't be for long. This afternoon, as soon as I post this, I'm tackling those last two piles. It should take me less than 15 minutes to put the papers and reading material on that table where they belong (and put the table away), yet it's fifteen minutes I didn't manage to carve out yesterday or the day before.

Our default styles are double-edged swords. They can point us in the direction of organizational systems that work, but when we get busy or tired or simply overwhelmed, old habits die hard. Dropping and running, cramming and jamming and putting things somewhere safe become the norm again. Lured in by the ease and comfort of old habits, we do what works.

Until it doesn't. 

Once we set up systems that work, we need to use them consistently. When life gets busy and we fall back into old patterns, we need to catch ourselves before things get out of hand. Then, step-by-step, one pile, crumpled piece of paper or stashed away item at a time, we need to set things right. 

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a table to clear.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Now Available for Preorder! (Plus a Bonus)

Organizing and tidying up has become a national obsession. We are on an endless quest for the perfect containers, boxes, totes, bags, bins, shelves, files, folders, and labels to tame our closets, corral our clutter, and eliminate chaos. Books and television shows promise the magical secrets to getting and staying organized. "So," you think, "if I just buy these things and follow these instructions, I will finally be organized and joyful!"
Author Lisa Lawmaster Hess is going to let you in on a secret: that doesn't work.
Why? Because you have been chasing one-size-fits-all solutions. But you are not a one-size-fits-all person. You're unique. (Just ask God, who created you!)
Know Thyself is an effective and fun way to discover your personal and organizational styles, and will help you own your style. You'll take what you might have thought was a flaw and learn how to make it a strength. And that, plus Lisa's help and a sense of humor, will guide you toward an organization method you can really stick with.

Preorder from Barnes & Noble

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Want more? Use the contact form at right to request FREE PDFs
 on organizational myths, goal-setting, 
and using your personal and organizational styles. 

Thursday, March 14, 2019

3 Keys Thursday: 3 Ways to Add Organization to Your Spring Cleaning

Dodgerton Skillhause via Morguefile
My mom was one of those people who actually enjoyed cleaning. My massage therapist, also named Joy, revels in cleaning as well.

I am not one of those people. I find joy in many things, but cleaning is rarely one of them.

I love to organize, however, and, I must admit, these two activities make a pretty good team. Whether you add a little organizing to your cleaning, like my mom, or add a little cleaning to your organizing, like me, here are a few ways to use one to boost the benefits of the other.

  • Clean and toss. There's nothing like being in cleaning mode to make it easy to toss things that are worn, outdated, broken or unnecessary. Not only does it make organizing easier (fewer items, fewer things to store) but it eliminates things that need to be cleaned (or moved so you can clean around them) as well.
  • Buntysmum via Pixabay
  • Clean and contain. As you clean, you're sure to come across items you want to keep that are either homeless or simply in the wrong place. Pile-ups are a clue that an organizational system is not working or is missing entirely. Once you put things where they belong, what items remain? How can you contain them so you can do away with the piles permanently?
  • Clean and brainstorm. There's nothing like having to move stuff before we can clean to make us rethink how we're storing our stuff in the first place. Besides getting rid of things, what else would make cleaning easier? Is the bin that's storing your stuff full of nooks and crannies you have to dust? If you put those piles of papers into something -- a file cabinet, a stacking file, a drawer -- could you clear up space and save yourself the step of moving things before you can dust anything?  
Whether you clean every day, every week, every spring or only when the dust bunnies threaten to overtake your desk, pairing cleaning with organizing can give you twice the benefit for the same expenditure of time. 

And, whether you love to clean and/or organize or equally dislike both, you're probably a fan of anything that makes life just a little bit easier.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Routine and Regulation

GDJ via Pixabay
Yesterday, my daughter and I had a conversation about routines. She's studying abroad this semester and distractions loom larger than ever in a place where she has not yet established a routine. At school, she knows where to go if her dorm gets too noisy, whom to hang around and whom to avoid if she seriously wants to get work done, and how to budget her time. In a different country, with different roommates and even a different philosophy about a student's role in the educational process, she's having to re-establish all of the habits she's come to take for granted. The push to create a sustainable routine is at odds with the pull of exploring and taking advantage of all a semester abroad has to offer.

Though my daughter has always been a routine-oriented kind of kid, I thought I was pretty flexible and that, for me, routines were more of a choice than a necessity. Then, this afternoon, I sat down to work on my blog posts and spent half an hour trying to get a working Internet connection. Because I am an adult, I did not throw a toddler-style temper tantrum, but if you can picture a hungry two-year-old who has missed her nap, you have a pretty good idea of how I felt on the inside.

Several restarts and a phone hotspot later, I got back on track. But by then, instead of being motivated and energized, I was grumpy and feeling pressed for time. Both my routine and my flow had been interrupted and I could practically see time ticking away.

Sometimes, routines are the things we get stuck in. We've-always-done-it-this-way thinking squelches both novelty and creativity and the same old same old can become mundane. Monotonous.


Other times, routines are the things that save us from ourselves and the distractions that threaten to be our undoing. Not doing what we 're supposed to be doing feels awkward and just plain wrong, so we stay on the path, follow the yellow brick road.

Get stuff done.
K-images via Pixabay

As much as I like to think I'm laid back and flexible, it's become clear, to me at least, that I need some semblance of a routine. One element of proof is how much more on track I feel now that my classes start at the same time every day. Though I've always loved having at least a little variety in each day, starting at the same time creates a rhythm I find helpful and, some days, even soothing.

The need for routine is a key part of temperament. Some people thrive on routine, while others are more go-with-the-flow. Circumstances can tweak this but, as is currently the case with my daughter, they rarely reverse our natural tendency.

As for me, I like a little bit of both. Without some sort of predictable flow to my day, I fear I won't accomplish what I set out tot do, but I also feel trapped when a day is so regimented as to not leave itself open to pleasant surprises. I try to adopt an "I am where I'm supposed to be attitude" and to employ patience.

At least until the cable goes out.

How about you? Are you more routine-oriented or go-with-the-flow?

Thursday, March 7, 2019

3 Keys Thursday: 3 Keys to Getting Organized and Staying that Way

Dodgerton Skillhause via Morguefile
Even though we might never be perfectly organized, most of us are satisfied to be just organized enough. Just organized enough to find what we need when we need it. Just organized enough not to panic when last-minute company is headed our way. Just organized enough for things to run smoothly.

Most days, anyway.

Luckily, this isn't an impossible dream. Here are three key ingredients to getting organized and staying that way.

Styles. Identify them. Embrace them. Use them. Once we identify our styles, we automatically pay more attention to them, which leads us to experimenting with strategies that work for us. Embracing our styles allows us to let go of the guilt and shame that often accompany organizing in non-traditional ways. Once we do this, we can channel that wasted energy into actually getting organized instead of lamenting our organizational struggles.

Habits. Identifying our styles and putting them to work helps us to build new habits -- habits that take what we already do and use it to our advantage. Knowing that I'm a drop and run organizer helps me to catch myself in the act. Choosing tools that embrace this tendency (bins without lids, for example) leads me to dropping things where they belong. VoilĂ ! A new organizational habit. Best of all, each successful habit can form the foundation for others just like it.

Confidence. For those of us who've long struggled with organization, this can be the toughest of the three. Luckily, the first two ingredients are the catalyst for this one. Once we embrace our styles, viewing them not as stumbling blocks but as something we can use to our advantage, we become more confident in the way we do things. The more our strategies work, the less we care about what doesn't work, no matter how many other people swear by those strategies. Confidence in yourself is the fuel you need to succeed, in organization and in everything else.

And, if I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times.

It's a process.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Does it Have to be Perfect?

The other day on my Facebook page, I raised a question. If you were going to interview me about my new book, what would you want to know? 

I got some really good questions, but one of my favorites boiled down to this: do you practice what you preach?

Yes, I do. In fact, it's become so ingrained that I can't imagine how I did things any other way. After more than a decade of leading with my styles, I've become a lot more organized, and a lot more sure of what works and what doesn't -- at least for me.

But I'm not perfect and I don't believe that long-term perfection is achievable. The nature of life is such that we must manage a constant flow of "stuff." No matter how good I get at this, there are still days when I look around and wonder if this pile or that stack will ever find a permanent home.

Luckily, being organized isn't about being perfect. No matter your styles, here are a few things to keep in mind.

It's a process. Organizing takes time, and complete and total organization is not a realistic goal. There will always be some spot somewhere that's not quite right, and you may always be questing for the just right container that will take you one step closer to that elusive perfect solution. But imperfect is still workable and perfectly capable of instilling some order.

Celebrate successes. There's a reason is the first letter of the STYLE acronym. Our successes -- the tools we use, the routines we develop -- are the foundations of our organizational systems, and the first step on the road to Easy upkeep. When we find the things that work for us, we can stick with them and see where else we can duplicate the same solution. That's how good habits are born.

You can't make someone else love your style -- or adopt it. Organizing by STYLE is based on the idea that we each organize best when we work with what comes naturally. While I'd love to make my husband a little less I know I put it somewhere and he'd love to make me a lot less I need to see it, that's not the way it works. The best we can hope for is a better understanding of and a healthy respect for one another's default styles.

And when you think about it, that might be even better than perfect organization.