The Buttoned Up Way: Cross This Off Your List

When you’re sprinting through life, scheduled to the hilt, email overflowing, cell phone ringing, carpooling and coaching, taking the time to clean up messy files, disorganized rooms and unkempt closets may seem like an impossible luxury.

What you really need is an extra hour (or three) in the day, right? If you just had that, then you could get it together!

Sarah & Alicia on Organizational Inertia

We know exactly what you mean and how you feel. We call it organizational inertia: the tendency to remain disorganized until and unless an external event, like losing your car keys or (God forbid) forgetting to pick your child up from school, forces you to change. We all suffer from it to some degree and at some points in our lives because we’re human, and yes, that includes us. Even organizational experts occasionally fall prey to the manic swirl! Organizational inertia is a condition that affects almost all (81%) of the hundreds of women we have spoken to over the past few years. It is a state that requires some elbow grease to overcome.

Here are three ideas for getting organizational momentum to work for you.

#1. Consider the facts
You might first want to consider the facts. Roughly calculate how much time you waste looking for misplaced items — a phone number, a file, your keys — in an average day. If you’re like most Americans, according to the National Association of Professional Organizers, you squander up to 60 minutes, yes that’s correct, sixty minutes each and every day, searching for things in your messy files, disorganized rooms, and unkempt closets. Imagine what you could do with that time

Sadly, while those figures are certainly enticing, they’re often not enough to get us out of the starting blocks. Even though they are true, they’re just fantastic enough to seem to be unbelievable, or at least beyond your grasp given your current state. In a lot of respects, the battle to get and stay organized is a lot like the struggle to maintain a healthy weight. Visualizing a future where you’re able to enjoy being beautiful in your skinny jeans is possible, and even fun. But the fact of the matter is we live in the here and now. All too often the scrumptious chocolate sundae today wins out over the joy of fitting into those fabulous jeans tomorrow.

#2. Identify Your Pinch Points
Most homes have easily identifiable ‘pinch points,’ or problem areas that frequently back up and spill over or otherwise cause organizational headaches, like the mail station or the family calendar. By paying attention to these critical areas, you should be able to identify the relative handful of things that you must do in order to keep things ‘Buttoned Up’ and flowing smoothly — the critical 20%. To help you get clear on your trouble spots, get a blank sheet of paper and spend five minutes writing down all of the pinch points you have in your household right now. If you get stuck, think about the most common problems: the inbox, the family schedule, chores (taking out the trash) and stuff (getting rid of items that aren’t used).

#3. Make a List, Cut it Down, and Delegate Half
Once you have this list, pick the two things (and only two!) that you feel would have the greatest positive impact on your overall sense of organization if they were dealt with right now. Since it’s much easier to tackle two things than a laundry list, focus only on those two items for the moment. Literally cross everything else off your list. Then, delegate one of those tasks to another member of the family. Give them a due date that matches the due date for the task you’re handling. Follow these simple steps, and before you know it, you will have made significant progress — and potentially added up to 60 minutes back into your day!