Didn't the guy from This Old House used to say, “Having the right tool is half the job”? Even if he wasn't the one who said it, someone did! I say it all the time too.
Getting organized isn't just about clearing away the clutter and extraneous stuff from your life. Admittedly it’s a HUGE part of it, however, even when you clear things out on a regular basis, you might still feel disorganized because you lack maintenance systems.
An organizational system is comprised of two parts; tools and habits. The tool is the physical item or the software you employ to assist you. The habit is the consistent use of that tool. TOOLS + HABITS = A SYSTEM.
I've worked with many clients who have bought organizing tools over and over again, but still their lives were hopelessly chaotic. They mistakenly believed that the tool would be the magic answer to their problem, when in truth the tool was only half of the equation. The second part – a new habit of using the tool -- was missing.
Here’s how you develop a simple system.
First, identify the problem. Let's say you're tired of hunting down your keys, your mobile phone and your purse or wallet every morning on the way out the door. You waste time, get aggravated and sometimes you're even late to work because you can't find what you need. It's frustrating! You decide once and for all that you're going to create a system for getting out the door on time and effortlessly. How do you begin?
Step One: Observe. First, notice your traffic pattern as you enter your home, and your current habit of throwing your personal items onto the kitchen counter. That wouldn't be such a bad habit, except that during the course of the evening, the items get moved around and they never end up in the same place twice.
Step Two: Solve the Problem as Simply as Possible. If the problem is the location where your items end up when you walk through the door, how can you change that? The solution might be something as simple as attaching an inexpensive hook to the wall inside the door and placing an basket nearby. When you come in the door, simply hang your keys on their hook and place the other items into the container you've designated. Voila! You’ve created a system.
Remember that creating a system is just another way of saying “problem-solving” and each system has two parts – the tool or product you choose and the consistent use of that tool or product. The best tool in the world won't work unless you change your habits. If you aren’t willing to do that, don’t waste your time coming up with a new system. The magic isn’t the system itself, it’s using it consistently. However, if you are ready to make the changes in your behavior that your new system requires, you will have solved your problem permanently!
What simple systems have you created this year to improve your life?