One of my highly creative clients (I’ll call her Kate) used to think she could never be ... She had always believed getting ... meant that she’d have to give up her ... ...
One of my highly creative clients (I’ll call her Kate) used to think she could never be organized. She had always believed getting organized meant that she’d have to give up her creativity, self-expression and spontaneity and become a rigid and compulsive person. She had decided long ago that she would rather stay disorganized than to use systems and stick to boring routines that she believed would squelch her creativity.
Kate’s work required high creativity – something she had developed quite a reputation for. Her employer counted on her to deliver quality work, and she did…but usually at a great personal cost. She typically had to work late into the evening and on weekends in order to meet deadlines without compromising the quality of her work. These late-night working sessions frequently consisted of spending several minutes to several hours each day frantically searching for important information that contained critical specifications required to complete her work. But in the end, Kate always met her deadlines and delivered a quality product.
All was well with the world…until eventually Kate had taken on more responsibility than she could handle. She began running late, missing appointments and deadlines, and not returning clients’ phone calls. And things were no better at home. The stress was doing her in, and she knew that something had to change. In essence, the weeds were choking off nutrients to the fruit-bearing plants she had been cultivating in her garden, and she was no longer able to produce the same quality or volume of fruit.
As much as Kate wanted to preserve her freedom of self-expression by NOT getting organized, she realized that she could be much more productive at work and at home if she didn’t waste so much time looking for things. Kate was ready to make some changes, so she read some organizing books and tried to implement the ideas on her own. That didn’t prove to have lasting results, so she hired a professional organizer to help her gain control of her work area. But by the end of the following week, her desk had reverted back to its original state, and her email and phone messages were out of control, too. The weeds were starting to sprout again and choke off the fruit-bearing plants! Kate felt very discouraged and defeated.
By the time Kate contacted me, she was ready to do whatever it took to turn things around. Once she quit viewing “getting organized” as an enemy to creativity, she began to discover that creating some systems and routines actually freed up her time and thoughts so she could exercise more self-expression and creativity. This time she started pulling the weeds from the roots so they wouldn’t grow back…and the nutrients began flowing again to the fruit-bearing plants. By organizing from the inside out, Kate was able to begin making lasting changes in habits that had been costing her a lot of time and energy.
How did Kate and I get started? We used the 7-step process below. We went to the root of the problem instead of just pulling up the tops of the weeds.
7 Steps to Lasting Change
To demonstrate these steps, I’ll use examples related to getting organized, although you can use this process in other areas of your life, as well.
1. Identify your motivation. Answers to these questions might help you identify motivations for getting organized:
· If you were to get and stay organized, what different results would be possible?
· What will getting organized enable you to do that you are not doing now?
· If you don’t get organized, how will that affect your future?
To read more about motivation, visit my April 2002 newsletter titled Getting Motivated to Get Organized at http://www.orgcoach.net/newsletter/april2002.html.
2. Visualize your success. Imagine that you are already organized. How do you feel? Imagine going through your day and your week being on time, feeling in control, getting home for dinner with your family, and finding what you need with ease…or whatever it is that you want to experience as a result of being organized.
Behave like someone who has already arrived where you want to be. Claim your desire to accomplish a goal by affirming your joy in having already achieved it. For example, repeat to yourself, “I love being organized!” several times a day. By focusing on how pleasurable it is to achieve a desired outcome, you'll begin to install new beliefs in your subconscious, which will increase your chance of staying motivated and inspired.
3. Identify your obstacles. What’s getting in the way of you having what you want and being who you want to be? What behaviors or habits need to change? If you’d like assistance identifying your organizational obstacles, check out my organizational assessment tool at http://www.orgcoach.net/assessment.htm.
4. Identify new strategies and habits, and state them as your intentions. A powerful intention keeps you focused on where you want to go. To keep you on track, create an intention statement that you can put in writing and keep in view. Here are some examples:
· I intend to review my mail daily by choosing one of these three options for each item in my Inbox: file, act, toss.
· I intend to return phone calls within 4 hours.
· I intend to check email only twice daily for no more than 20 minutes each.
If paper is a challenge for you, I offer many free tips and free teleclasses that provide concrete ideas you can begin implementing right away. Visit www.orgcoach.net.
5. Create a plan to support your intentions. Start small, and be consistent. For example, if your inbox is overflowing and you have an intention to go through it daily, schedule dedicated time to do it daily. My De-clutter Your Life teleclass series posted at http://www.orgcoach.net eleclasses.html#de-clutter will provide concrete tools and a planning process to help you follow through with your intentions.
6. Maintain your success -- build in accountability & support. Sharing your intentions with someone else will increase the likelihood of you following through. Ask a friend for support, or hire a coach.
7. Acknowledge and celebrate your accomplishments. Reflect on the positive changes you make…even the little successes. They are stepping stones that will provide the foundation for lasting change. Celebrate that you tossed that piece of unwanted mail immediately instead of allowing it to collect on your desk, or that you kept that appointment with yourself to go through your inbox. By acknowledging all your accomplishments – no matter how small -- you train yourself to appreciate steady progress rather than expecting overnight success.
Kathy Paauw, a certified business/personal coach and organizing/productivity consultant, specializes in helping busy executives, professionals, and entrepreneurs declutter their schedules, spaces and minds. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website at http://www.orgcoach.net and learn how you can Find ANYTHING in 5 Seconds - Guaranteed!