Becoming more productive and getting more organized doesn’t happen overnight. As you strive to make improvements, it’s important to consider what might be causing the disorganization you currently struggle with. If you ask 10 people what they think causes their disorganization, you’ll probably get 10 different answers. In no particular order, here are some of the most frequent ones I see in my consulting business:
Lack of focus – Being able to focus on one task and seeing it to completion is a wish of many. Sometimes an individual’s inability to focus is physically driven, other times it is environmental. If you’ve got a dozen photos of your children or grandkids staring back at you from your desk and you often find yourself daydreaming while looking at them, reduce the number of photos and display them where they won’t be within sight of your computer monitor. If you can’t focus on work because you constantly see foot traffic outside your cubicle, rearrange your desk so that you are not facing your cube’s entrance. Ideally it is best to have one of your shoulders facing the entrance which will greatly reduce distractions and increase your ability to focus.
Too much to do – Are you one of those people who can’t say “no”? Are you the department’s go-to-person for just about everything, including volunteer positions for the annual charity drive? Begin by identifying your position’s main responsibilities. Next, jot down the other tasks that you find yourself doing that aren’t part of your job description. If any can be delegated or reassigned do it. And begin by adding the word “no” to your vocabulary, even when everyone looks at you when the sign-up comes around for planning the department’s annual party.
Procrastination – If you are a procrastinator you already know it. You love putting off today what you can do tomorrow. The only problem is there’s too much to do when tomorrow arrives so things either don’t get done or they slip between the cracks or you find yourself working late…again. The next time you’re tempted to put something off, give yourself a reward to deal with it now. Every person loves incentives otherwise we wouldn’t work so hard to collect points on our credit cards! My favorite reward usually has to do with chocolate but yours might be something as simple as taking a walk around the building to get some fresh air.
Multitasking – Organized people tend to think of themselves as master multitaskers. Yet all the research is against them. According to the University of Michigan, every time a person multitasks their productivity is lowered 20-40%. Be aware if you tend to have 2-3 documents open while at the same time trying to complete several emails.
Sharing work or living space with others – Everyone has a different expectation of how a space will be used. Common areas shared by others – such as the kitchen counter at home or the copy area of an office – are usually hot spots for clutter, disorganization and frustrations. Clearly defining how a space will be used and having discussions around that will alleviate a lot of discontent.
Major life changes – We experience change every day yet don’t always stop to think of its impact on our ability to keep things organized and moving along. You may be facing something such as a divorce, death of loved one, getting married, having a baby, starting a new job, or facing unemployment. All these things contribute to major changes in your life. Give yourself time to made the necessary adjustments and be aware of their impact on you both professionally and personally.
Inability to make decisions – This is probably the biggest reason people have disorganization at home or at work. Think about what’s sitting on your dining room table right now or the stacks of stuff stashed under your desk or on top of a cabinet. Most clutter represents a quick decision that must be made.