Tag Archives: habit

Are You Putting Things Away to Stay Organized?

One of the single most important habits that will help you stay organized is to put things away

This is what can happen when things aren’t put away. You lose the use of your kitchen table.

all the time. Putting things away after use is insurance that you will be able to find those things again when you need them. It also keeps your home feeling good, clear of the clutter of things left out in the open.

Everything is alive with energy, positive or negative. A jacket might have positive energy because you love the color, fit and style. However, the energy of that jacket changes when it’s thrown over a chair instead of put away in a closet. It takes on negative energy because it has landed where it is not supposed to be because it’s irritating to see it out of place. It’s energy is similar to that of litter — irritating and therefore negative.

This is what is available if you take the time to regularly put things away. Which space would you choose?

You may know it’s better to put things away, but you keep leaving things out. What are the reasons that you do that? Following are some common reasons that things don’t get put away.

  • It’s easier to leave things out and/or not put them away.
  • You tell yourself you will do it later. But, do you?
  • You think it will take a lot of time to put away.
  • You tell yourself that there are other more pressing things that need to be done.
  • You think putting things away is tedious and boring.
  • You are unaware that you’ve left things out because your attention has shifted to something else.
  • It’s a habit to drop things without thought.
  • It’s a habit to leave things out.
  • It’s not easy to put things away because where they belong is too full of other things.
  • The item doesn’t have a home, a place where it can be stored.

What does it cost you to not put things away regularly?

  • You can’t find things when you need them.
  • You create a space that over time feels chaotic and uncomfortable.
  • You attract criticism from others.
  • The negative energy of the space causes increased irritability between family members.
  • You waste money because you buy things you already own but can’t find.
  • You are less productive because you can’t think clearly in a messy space.
  • As your space becomes more cluttered, negative energy increases and your self-esteem dips. You feel bad about yourself and your space.
  • You create negative energy blocks that distract you from what it most important.
  • You create negative energy that blocks good things from coming to you.

Can you really afford to wait until “later” to put things away? The longer you wait to put something away, the harder it will be to make yourself do it. Make putting things away after use your “must do” habit to keep your life more peaceful and productive.

If despite your best efforts you cannot seem to develop the habit of regularly putting things away, it’s time to seek support to change your behavior. A coach can help you tease out what is preventing you from making the change you want, and can provide support and accountability as you try on new behaviors. Schedule a free 30-60 minute Back on Track phone coaching session to explore how you can develop new habits to keep you organized and on track with your goals.

ADD/ADHD and Procrastination

“I’ll do it later” is the mantra of many an ADD/ADHD client. Postponing action is a habit. At the time they say they’ll do it later they may fully intend to do it. But, because time is fluid for people with ADD/ADHD brain wiring, no particular time is set to do it, and often the task vanishes from awareness. “I’ll do it later” is a process that can build a nightmare of incomplete actions on a desk and or a brain packed to the brim with to do items of varying importance. Either state can lead to overwhelm and paralysis.

144What’s the “I’ll do it later” mantra all about? People with ADD/ADHD have executive function deficits that make decision-making, consistently engaging in action and completing tasks difficult. Their frontal lobes are under-stimulated. Urgency and bling (things that are new, exciting or crisis-driven) motivate them to act. The “I’ll do it later” tasks typically are those that have no urgency, or are boring or overwhelming. They don’t hold enough emotional charge to ignite the frontal lobe of the person with the brain-based disorder of ADD/ADHD. So, non-urgent tasks are set aside until some type of urgent need brings them back into focus. Postponing tasks until they absolutely have to be done is a way to create urgency, to create the condition that the brain needs to engage. 

Last week I was helping a client pay his bills and manage the paper flowing across his desk. As we worked he set aside two folders of bills to review. “I’ll do it later,” he said. He has ADD. I wondered if he would remember to do the task and be able to accomplish it alone. Since it had been delegated to the amorphous “later” category, I feared it would slip from awareness.

When I returned a week later, the folders were still there. He may have lost sight of the folders in his busyness. Or, looking at the reality of money flowing out of his company may have been an overwhelming task he’d rather avoid doing. Completing the task also required a kind of focus that is difficult for people with ADD, especially an emotionally charged task like reviewing bills.

When I returned this week to find my client’s desk overflowing with paper plus those folders I suggested he review them while I was working beside him. In my company, with my support, he was able to focus and complete the task. My being there provided the stimulation his frontal lobe needed to be able to As soon as they were off the desk he was able to get traction on other actions he needed to take. He was able to get re-organized.

The lesson? If you have ADD/ADHD, know that “I’ll do it later” really means “My brain is not up for this now” or “I don’t want to deal with this now because it’s too boring, overwhelming, etc.” It is also a good way to plant the seeds of negative energy. Tasks that are incomplete, especially those that you tend to avoid doing, are sources of negative energy. That energy becomes a block to being able to complete other tasks. You may not be conscious of the negative energy blocks you’re building, but their energy keeps you distracted and feeling lost in having too much to do. The energy of those “I’ll do it later” tasks gets more overwhelming with time, making them even harder to face and complete.

Most professional organizers advise “do it now!” But, that can be hard for people with ADD, especially for those boring, overwhelming tasks. Tasks like that are best done in the presence of or with the help of a supportive other. “I’ll do it later” can then become “I’ll do it with Debbie” (or some other person). Listen for your own “I’ll do it later” tasks with curiosity. What tasks do you postpone? Which ones can you make yourself do now? And, which ones are best done it support?  

Remember, “I’ll do it later” is not your friend!

Staying Clutter-Fee: Postponing Instant Gratification

sleeping womanWhen you’re tired at the end of a long day, it’s much easier to come home, drop your coat, keys, bags and whatever you carried from the car, plop down on the sofa, and rest than it is to put things away to create a new order. After all, putting things away is more work.

If you recognize yourself in the description above, have you ever noticed what happens in your space when do the drop and plop routine over and over again? Unopened bags and mail accumulate. You lose sight of your keys. And, gradually over time the order in your space melts down to an overwhelming mess. The worse the mess becomes the more overwhelmed you become, and the less inclined you are to take action to restore order.

Another option is to resist the urge to drop and plop. Delaying immediate gratification of your need to rest by even 15 minutes accompanied by important maintenance behaviors like hanging up your coat, unpacking your bags, putting things away, and sorting mail could pay off more than you realize.

When you follow through on a new commitment to settle in at home in a way that does not create new clutter, you are likely to experience more pleasure from the rest you eventually get because your space remains orderly and is a place of supportive positive energy. And, your actions will ensure that your environment does not become a source of stressful, negative energy typically associated with clutter and visual disorder.

It’s your choice. Drop and plop or invest 15 minutes or less to maintain order each time you come home. I challenge you to make that investment for at least 30 days. It takes 21-30 days to form a new habit. Congratulate yourself each day you successfully resist the urge to drop and plop. Notice how your space feels along the way. Awareness of the improvement in the energy in your space will show you that those few minutes every day are well worth the effort!

Being Organized: What It Takes to Find What You Need When You Need It

Set Up Homes for Everything!

The other day I was thinking about what it takes to be able to find what you need when you need it. Yes, we professional organizers are a strange lot, daydreaming about what it takes to find things! But, alas, that’s the way my brain works!

The three keys to being able to find things on a regular basis are setup, habit and memory.

Setup–The best way to ensure that you will be able to find things is to create a “home” for everything. A home is the place where an item is stored so you can find it when you need it. Homes don’t just magically present themselves. They have to be set up. Setup takes time and careful thought to determine the best home for each item you own so you’ll know where to go to retrieve it when you need it. You will need to set up all the storage areas in your home, your car, your purse, your garage, your shed, even your wallet. When you create homes for everything, you’ll be creating an initial order. In so doing, you will be laying the groundwork for being able to find what you need when you need it. Setup is an initial action that will likely need evaluation and adjustments over time.

Habit–Having a home for everything is great, but if items aren’t returned to their homes after use, all your work to establish homes will quickly melt down into a mess. The essential habit you need to ensure you’ll be able to find what you need when you need it is to routinely return things to their homes after use. Retrieve things. Put them back. Retrieve things. Put them back. The repetition of putting things away will help you remember where everything is located in your space.

Memory–To be able to find things, you must remember how you set up your space. You must remember the homes you designated for each item. That is no small feat! Homes and offices are filled with thousands of items. If your memory isn’t the greatest, being able to find things will be a challenge. One way to build the necessary neural pathways to be able to remember where things live in your space is to work very hard on the habit of retrieving things and putting them away. If you are conscientious about putting things away immediately after use, that repetitive action will help create the neural pathways for remembering the homes of your things.

Setup, habit and memory. Where do you get hung up in this process of finding what you need when you need it? Do you struggle with setup, either because you have no clue how to do it or because you have difficulty making time for setup? Is your “put things away” habit weak? Or, is your memory your weak point? Perhaps you set up your space nicely but struggle with the habit of putting things away. If losing things is a constant challenge for you, identify where you struggle–with setup, habit or memory, and take steps to address your problem.

If you are at a loss for what to do to make real progress to improve the odds of finding things on a regular basis, remember that help is available from both coaches and professional organizers. Being able to find things on a regular basis is a great way to lower stress and feel empowered. It’s worth the investment of your time and money to improve the conditions for finding what you need when you need it!

© 2012 Clutter Clearing Community | Debbie Bowie

“Author, Organizing Expert and Feng Shui Practitioner, Debbie Bowie, is a leading authority on clutter clearing to attract more of what you want in life. If you’re ready to clear clutter and move your life forward, get your FREE TIP SHEET, “Feng Shui Tips for Instant Success” at http://www.clutterclearingcommunity.com.

Putting Things Away: The Aspirin of Staying Organized

What can happen when you don't put things away!

Are you a person who routinely puts things away when you’ve finished using them? Or, are you a person that uses something and leaves it where it landed when you were finished using it? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to guess which person would be most challenged with staying organized. Regularly putting things away as you move through your day is one of the most important behaviors necessary for staying organized.

 What is the benefit of putting things away?

  • You restore visual order. An orderly space is peaceful and feels good. It has positive energy.
  • You snuff out a bud of clutter. Anything left out of place immediately creates a negative energy that will attract more of the same. Once one thing is left out, it’s much easier to leave other things out.
  • You’ll be able to find the item when you need it.
  • You maintain order in your space and a sense of control in your life.

Why doesn’t a person put things away?

  • You were never taught the habit of routinely putting things away. It is a habit to use something and leave it where you last used it. It is also a habit to use something and put it away!
  • You have attentional issues that keep you bouncing from one task to another, leaving object litter in your wake.
  • You haven’t created a home for the item. There is no place to put it away.
  • The home you created is not convenient enough given how often you use the object.
  • The home you created has become so cluttered that putting it away is a hassle.
  • Putting things away seems boring to you.
  • You are rushing and putting an item away will take time you don’t think you have.

I could go on and on with reasons why people don’t put things away. Whatever the reason, you pay a heavy price when you neglect to regularly put things away. Over time you create your own nightmare of clutter and chaos in your space.

Putting things away is a behavior over which you have complete control. It can take only seconds to do if you’ve created convenient homes for everything. Being faithful to the behavior requires self-discipline, but it is one of the best ways to stay organized and directly correlates with feeling in control in your life.

Watch yourself today. Are you taking those extra few seconds (yes, seconds, not minutes) to put things away when you are finished using them? Remember, your peace of mind, stress level, productivity and success are affected by what you choose to do. Make putting things away a priority every day! If regularly putting things away isn’t a habit, make it the next habit you acquire in your effort to stay organized, manage stress, and have the life you really want.

Conquer the Paper Challenge! Process Paper Daily!

Some of you are thinking, “Duh! I already do that. Doesn’t everbody?” And others of you are going, “Ewww, I’d rather die! It’s overwhelming! It’s boring!”

For those of you who already have the good habit of corralling paper daily, keep up the good work! Being conscious of the daily flow of paper and deliberately controlling its flow is the only way to win the war on paper.

A casual approach to paper is a guarantee that you’ll create your own personal paper nightmare. Paper is relentless in its flow into your space. You need to be relentless in your handling of it.

Do it daily! It really only takes minutes! Minutes of agony are better than hours and hours of excavation that will be required if you procrastinate and let paper accumulate.

Here’s what I mean by PROCESS PAPER DAILY:

1. Make sure paper follows a specific route. For example, papers may arrive from a mailbox or kids backpacks to all many different locations in your house. Teach family members that papers either go to their space to be dealt with (like homework or the spouses business papers) or they should end up on the kitchen counter to be sorted and deliberately distributed to places where they will be acted on, stored or referenced, like the desk, filing cabinet or home office. Paper should not float from room to room. It will take over if you let it stray from a defined route.
2. Sort incoming papers into categories. I recommend these categories: trash; refer out to someone else; action; filing; reading; holding for later reference or action; and possibilities of things to do, buy, etc.
3. Distribute papers by category to their appropriate locations. For example, trash goes to the recycling bin or trash can. Action papers are moved to the desk or countertop where action will take place. Filing is filed or stored in a filing tray until you have time to file. Reading is taken to the location where you do your reading, perhaps a basket on your desk or next to your sofa.

You’ll notice I don’t recommend that you complete all the tasks associated with those papers on a daily basis. That would take more time than you have every day. I am just recommending that you control the flow of paper coming in, sort it and distribute it to the place where it will be acted upon or stored. If you do that much daily, you will find your stress goes down and your productivity goes up.

© 2012 Clutter Clearing Community | Debbie Bowie

“Author, Organizing Expert and Feng Shui Practitioner, Debbie Bowie, is a leading authority on clutter clearing to attract more of what you want in life. If you’re ready to clear clutter and move your life forward, get your FREE TIP SHEET, “Feng Shui Tips for Instant Success” at http://www.clutterclearingcommunity.com.