Overcoming Organizational Inertia

How much time do you waste looking for misplaced items – a phone number, a file…your keys…in an average day?

Chances are you squander nearly 60 minutes, yes that’s correct, sixty minutes each and every day, searching for things in your messy files, disorganized rooms, and unkempt closets. That translates to seven hours a week, a little over a day a month, or two weeks a year! If you’re one of the 60% of Americans who believes there aren’t enough hours in the day, chances are you’re simply frittering away precious hours combing through disorganized piles in your home or office, searching for “lost” articles.

Alicia on the benefits of becoming neater

“Just imagine what you could do with two extra weeks a year. You could spend an extra 100 hours of quality time with your kids, host a monthly dinner party for good friends, hit the gym for 30 minutes three times a week, and you’d still have 100 hours left over for just relaxing! For those of you who need further convincing, that’s time enough for a daily manicure, a weekly poker extravaganza, or a monthly retreat.”

Sarah on lighting that fire…

“For most of us mere mortals, the real problem isn’t figuring out how to use the time we’d gain from getting organized, but figuring out when, where, and how to get started. Yes, it does take some elbow grease to get and keep your things nice and tidy, but the truth, you’ll be relieved to know, is that it takes far less effort than you might think. The trick is to stop burying your head in the sand (most of us simply don’t acknowledge the problem until it has taken over our lives) and start doing a few, ‘bite-sized’ things every day that will have you permanently out from under the mess in no time.”

Three tips for overcoming inertia:

#1: Recognize the need to make it fun
Most of us never get started because, frankly, we’d rather be doing something else. To get over this, you’ll need to change the negative associations you many have about cleaning up and getting organized. First, put on your favorite tunes. Then cut out a few images that represent the benefits you’ll gain from being more organized and make a collage out of them on a piece of brightly colored construction paper. For example, you might want to include snapshots of you goofing off with your kids on your last vacation, a serene beach scene, or books you’re dying to read. Then post the collage in a high-profile spot, like the bathroom mirror or by the garage door.

#2: Break It Up
With your favorite tunes still blaring, write down all the areas you need to get organized on separate slips of paper. Be sure to break each area up into mini-tasks that can be completed in one sitting (30 minutes max). For example, “balance checkbook,” or “pay bills due Oct 15th” not “get finances in order.” When you’re done, fold each slip of paper in half and put each one into an appealing basket or box that you place right next to your inspiring collage.

#3: Go Fish
Each morning before you leave the house, draw a slip of paper from the hat and commit to completing the one task outlined on it before the end of the day. If you can, make it the very first thing you do. If by the end of the day you haven’t completed the task, look at your collage for inspiration, put on those tunes and get it done because 10 minutes today saves 10 hours tomorrow!