You may have made attempts to get organized in the past only to hit an obstacle that seemed insurmountable. You may believe that your very nature inhibits you from getting and staying organized. It is true that some people are more naturally organized than others. But it is a myth that if you are prone to disorganization you are destined to a lifetime of chaos and clutter. Organization is a skill that can easily be learned by anyone. The following are examples of behavioral obstacles you may experience as you attempt to get organized and their solutions:

1. “I am someone who saves everything.”

You may save everything, but there are two important questions to ask yourself:

a. Will you remember you’ve saved it? You might have heard yourself utter these words, “I might need this (fill in the blank, i.e. grass skirt) if I ever . . .” Any sentence that begins as such is a recipe for clutter! Among all the other things in your possession, would you remember that you saved it?
b. Let’s say you distinctly remember saving a grass skirt you acquired on a trip to Hawaii thinking to yourself, “I might need this if I ever have a luau to attend here on the mainland.” In that case, will you know where to find it when you need it?

If you’ve answered “no” to either question, then it is likely that you will have to go through the process of wasting time looking for the skirt or actually spending money procuring one when and if the need for it should arise. When deciding what to keep as you are getting organized, ask yourself, “Do I have an immediate and/or specific use for it. If you find yourself uttering, “I might need it if I ever . . .” then throw it out! If you feel wasteful or guilty about throwing certain things out, consider donating them to someone who might benefit.

2. “Regarding paper, I need to visually be able to see it to remember I have it.”

Perhaps you keep piles of papers around you to act as triggers to call a certain person, start a particular project, etc. Chances are, there are so many papers that are cluttering your desk that you can’t see them anyway. You may have used a bulletin board to post important pieces of paper but it too became so cluttered that you ceased to notice what’s there. Many people make the mistake of thinking about organizing in terms of where you will put something. Instead, especially for a visual person, think of where you would find something. This reverse thinking is the first step to creating an effective filing system. For instance, if you were inspired by a design idea in a catalog, file it under “Design Ideas” rather than the name of the catalog. If you pulled another idea from a different catalog, you wouldn’t want to have a separate folder for the name of that catalog – you’d want all the design ideas in one place because that is the way you would use the information. Once you have created an effective system whereby your papers have a logical place and you feel confident that you know where information is when you need it, you won’t feel as compelled to have everything in sight.

3. “I’m a creative person. I need the chaos around me for inspiration.”

Samuel Beckett said, “To find a form that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist.” Clutter does not make you more creative. Your creativity is a source that springs from inside you and inspiration comes in the most unexpected moments and forms. Clutter actually inhibits your ability to be creative by weighing on a part of your mind, even if subconsciously. You may have become so used to a chaotic environment that you don’t even notice its draining effect on your creativity. If you seek visual inspiration, hang a bulletin board near where you work with images and words that inspire you. Change the contents of the board frequently so it remains a visually stimulating and dynamic tool.

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Author's Bio: 

Breathing Space Professional Organizing and Coaching was established in 1997 by Stacey Platt. With an M.B.A. from NYU¹s Stern School of Business as well as an 8-year daily ashtanga yoga practice, Stacey brings a unique mix of attributes to her profession as a professional organizer and life coach. Breathing Space is dedicated to helping clients with all aspects of life coaching as well as home and office organizing with special emphasis on setting up paper management systems that are easy and fun to use. For a do-it-yourself guide to office organization, click on www.breathingspace.us/products.html. To find out how coaching can improve your life, e-mail us at: ahhh@breathingspace.us.