Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Harnessing Habits
Last week, I flipped the page on my Happiness Project calendar and was greeted with some interesting questions about habits. The first asked, "If you could magically, effortlessly, change one habit in your life, what would it be?"

That's easy. Procrastination. Wait, no, perfectionism. Or perhaps staying up too late, but I think that's connected to both of the first two.

Hmm. Maybe not as easy as I thought.

And it was about to get more complicated. The next question asked, "If the people around you were able to change one of your habits, what would they choose?"

That one really was easy. It's my piles of papers that are everywhere they're not supposed to be.

If you're thinking that these answers don't align, you're not alone. It was only after giving it some thought that I realized that all of these habits are connected.

My papers are a form of procrastination. If I just do the thing when I first come into contact with the paper, there are no papers to leave around and nudge my I need to see it style into action.

But sometimes, I need to think about things, or I'm too tired to do them well, and so I set them aside. Piles become clutter, which becomes a habit sure to annoy all those around me.

When we talk about organizing by STYLE, we talk about trusting and valuing our default styles and building our systems around them. But the more we think about these default styles and how they connect to our personalities, the easier it becomes to understand them.

And the better we understand them, the easier it is to incorporate them into our organizational processes.

Organizing by STYLE is not now, nor will it ever be, about asking you to change who you are; that's what sets it apart from all of the lectures on organization you've read in other places. If you make a discovery about a connection between your personality and your styles, that's just one more piece of information you can use to tailor your systems to fit your needs. The better you become at this, the more organized you will be.

So, how do these discoveries inform my organizational systems?

Knowing these are my default settings, so to speak, I need to create systems that are visual, flexible and one-step. I need to limit the number of places where I allow things to pile up, and build in safeguards like space limitations. Without such safeguards, clutter can expand to fill all of the available space, robbing spaces like kitchen counters and dining room tables of their intended purpose.

Whether or not we choose to tackle the underpinnings of our styles is up to us. But, if we begin by working with our styles and our personalities, rather than against them, we're more likely to find successes. These successes can propel us toward ways of fine-tuning our systems so that we find the sweet spot where STYLE and organization meet.

And that is a very sweet spot indeed.

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