Ask Your Guru: Mary – Overcoming Organizational Inertia

Mary “I’m a complete mess” Waters contacted her guru Nancy to help her with overcoming Organizational Inertia. See if you can offer Mary advice too!

Mary’s Question:

Hi Nancy! Nancy was my mother’s name, and it is my step mother’s name! I immediately like you. My question is, how do I overcome the battle with inertia?

I work 70 hours a week, literally, am a 30 yr old single woman with no kids but one fat cat, and my 1 bedroom apartment is a disaster. I moved in and never unpacked. Inertia is troubling me. I drive around all day, work my jobs, and all the while I fantasize about how exactly I will execute my organizational ideas when I get home. It always sounds like such a good plan, but then the second I set foot in my apartment, a cloud comes over me, I plop down at the table, surf the computer for a while, then my eyes glaze over and I go to sleep for a nap until my second job starts. I work two jobs, one is 3rd shft and the other is 1st shift. I never sleep more than 4 hours at a time and it is crazy.


Nancy’s Reply:

Thank you for choosing me – I immediately like you too! I hope I can help you out!

First, please stop beating yourself up! You work two jobs with little sleep – no wonder you don’t have the energy to focus on your apartment. Who would? But I understand the desire to walk into an orderly home; one that you can truly relax in and recharge. So here are some suggestions that may help you get over your inertia.

1. Write It Down

We know that what you write down gets done. The brain connects with the act of writing something down and seeing it in black and white. So before you try and tackle the job of organizing your apartment start by writing down what needs to be done – room by room. Then indicate which items are the top three in each room. This is following our 80/20 rule – focus on the most important things.

2. Baby Steps

Use the list you just made as your starting point. For each top three write down a commitment as to when you will get that done (Kitchen – ‘I will unpack the kitchen by Saturday’ – giving yourself several days to accomplish the task, etc.). You can even break it down further if you think it will help you get done such as unpack all dishes one day and all dishes put away in the cupboard the next day, unpack all cookbooks the next and put away; toss empty boxes. You get the idea. Just focus on the commitment and task at hand.

3. Schedule It

Schedule in the tasks so you know when you come home tired all you have to do is that one task. And bypass the computer desk all together! Do your one scheduled task, one baby step at a time and you will get there in no time! And importantly, don’t let what isn’t done detract you from your commitment and goal for the day! Also think about doing the tasks in the part of the day when you have more energy and mindset for organizing. You seem to have more energy at the start of the day so if you can accomplish just one thing before leaving the house, you will feel better all day long.

4. Buddy System

Knowing that it is difficult in your circumstance to have the energy to overcome your inertia – you really don’t have much time to tackle the house – try getting a buddy to help you! Ask for help and offer to help them back with something they need. It’s more fun to work with others and more gets done in less time. You will find you motivate each other to get the tasks done. You are not the only single woman working 70 hours a week – I bet you have a friend who would love your help too!

5. Establish Routines

I know it’s hard to come home exhausted and think about organizing your apartment. So by following these simple steps you will eventually get to your goal of an unpacked, organized home. Then the challenge is to keep it that way. The best way to do that is to establish routines. My favorite is if you take it out put it away when you are done. Less to think about and less to clean up!

Think of ways you can make coming home a routine. Maybe it’s automatically hanging up your things, changing, making a meal, checking the mail, cleaning up after a meal, then turning on your computer, and then sleeping. If you only have a small window before you have to sleep and get up for your next job, routines will help make the most of your available time and actually give you more time to do the things you want to do.

Good luck and let us know if these tips worked for you! If any of our readers have additional ideas for Mary please include them in the comment area below.

Best to you!