“Wait…what? But I thought this was an organizing website! And you call yourself an organizer?” (That’s me imagining what you must be thinking.)
That’s right. I said it. Your goal should not be to “get organized.”
The other day I was going through some old papers* and ran across some goals I had written down, one of which was to “get organized.” Yes, I’m one of those nerdy, write-down-your-goals types. And it struck me that getting organized is not really goal material.
Pardon me while I digress a wee bit (I’ve been enjoying a Scottish TV show of late, and I love how they are always using the term “wee bit.” It’s like reverse hyperbole–is that a thing??**–and I’m sure this usage will be no exception. That’s not the main digression, by the way…) But stick with me: there is a point in here somewhere.
In our culture I think we have a few things backwards. Well, actually, a lot of things, but we don’t have all day, so I’ll just mention a few.
For starters, we eat for entertainment and pleasure. Then we exercise in order to be able to indulge in more eating. No, not you or me personally, but other people, heh heh…
A healthier mindset, and one I think would turn the health status quo in this country upside down, would be if we ate in order to fuel ourselves for the pleasure of more physical activity instead of exercising in order to eat. Nutshell version: Eat for fuel, exercise for pleasure—not that the eating part can’t be pleasurable, but that’s not the primary goal. I may have lost some of you right there… just keep reading.
A second example of backwards thinking, at least to my mind, is how we work in order to afford ourselves leisure time. As Loverboy (they were an 80’s band for either you young whipper-snappers or, ahem, those of you who were past your prime in the eighties) put it, “Everybody’s workin’ for the weekend…”
Maybe the real goal shouldn’t be working in order to procure time and resources to pursue leisure and recreation, but instead we rest, relax and recharge in order to have the energy to pursue our passions through work, or even to find joy in necessary work we’re not particularly passionate about.
Are you following me here? I’m definitely no workaholic, or exercise-aholic for that matter. And I’m not necessarily saying we should work or exercise more. I just think maybe we (I) have been looking at things from a flawed perspective. The wrong mindset.
So… if you’re still reading—I told you I’d get around to the main point after just a wee bit (It sounds like this when the natives say it: “Jost a wee bet”) of waxin’ philosophical! The backwards thinking which pertains to ORGANIZATION–this is an organizing blog after all– that surely others besides just little ole me have gotten backwards is detailed below:
First and foremost, getting/being organized should not be a primary goal, but a means to an end.
I’m not saying don’t get organized. I’m just saying maybe a change of mindset is in order for you as it was for me. More specifically, the focus should not be spending all of our time and talents getting supercalifragilistically organized so we can feel great about ourselves or post stuff on Pinterest or Facebook*** to show how awesome we are. Instead we should become organized to the extent necessary in order to put our time and talents to their proper and rightful uses.
Here’s another, more related digression: (Feel free to skip past the indented text.)
Seriously, I think somewhere in my twisted little mind I have always thought that if I get completely organized (similar concept to getting to the end of the internet…) that “House Beautiful” will show up and want to interview me about my charmed life, and all my wildest dreams will come true. What wildest dreams, you ask? I have no idea.
I have often found myself through the years, striving to get my mundane, everyday tasks out of the way so that I could get down to some much-needed organizing, as if that were the important thing. In fact, much of the disorganization in my life has stemmed from blessings, like marriage, motherhood, and homeschooling, and all the changes and surprises that accompanied my ever-evolving roles.
How much better would it have been for me to simply see organization as a means to somehow better enjoy the gifts that each day brings, even in the mundane?
The real reason I need to be organized is not simply for the sake of feeling fabulous and inflating my ego. The real reason I need to be organized is that NOT being organized holds me back from doing things that I want to do.
Being disorganized uses up time, and since we all have the same twenty-four hours in a day, if I spend a good portion of mine looking for things that are lost or doing essential chores in an inefficient way due to disorganization, I lose valuable time that I could be using in a way I want to be using it.
Organization is not a sprint, and after it’s all done you can mop your brow and say, “I’m glad that’s all taken care of…” It is a marathon, my friends. Okay, maybe an ultra-marathon. Or maybe like when Forrest Gump started running and didn’t stop for a really long time, except even longer than that.
We’re all faced with an ongoing task, which will have to be tweaked and sometimes just outright overhauled when circumstances in your life change. And we all know change happens. Period. Like it or not.
So instead of looking at organization as your ultimate goal or even as one of several life aspirations, I want to encourage you, while I encourage myself, to set real goals which align with our God-given passions and values and callings. I’m talking big stuff and small stuff. Maybe it’s pursuing an entirely different career or spiritual calling. Or perhaps it’s a project for which you are uniquely gifted. Or maybe it’s just having your act together enough to regularly have friends over for dinner and fellowship. These are “goal-worthy” aspirations.
Do some soul-searching and definitely praying and maybe even putting pen to paper (I didn’t mean all people who write down goals are nerds!) to cement a few goals. And if you have no idea where to start, do an internet search on goal-setting. There are lots of different approaches—just pick one that works for you (don’t overthink the actual process like I would).
And if less-than-stellar organization is interfering with the accomplishment of those goals, then take steps to remedy the problem, always keeping in mind your main goal:
- Focus in on your worst pain points–the areas that cause you the most grief
- Visualize what you want the end result to look like for each area
- Determine what task is necessary to remedy the disorganization (possibly decluttering, and/or setting up more workable systems)
- Break the task into small, manageable steps
- OR Hire a professional organizer (shameless plug)
If you’re not ready to bring in a pro, for whatever reason, you can probably still benefit from a fresh perspective or change of mindset. You may need to do some digging to find inspiration, and feel like you’re not alone in the journey (you’re not!). There are tons of great organizing blogs that appeal to a wide variety of personalities. I’ve found ones with inspirational stories, before and afters, and even tips and tools which I’ve used to help me along the way, not to mention encouragement!
Here’s the takeaway: Don’t get organized just to be organized. Spend time organizing your schedule, your thoughts, your systems and processes, and your possessions as a means to moving closer to accomplishing your goals.
*Yes, I have bins and boxes of old papers that I’m still working on. Don’t judge.
**Turns out, reverse hyperbole is a thing: it’s called litotes (pronounced like “lie-toe-tease”). But it usually involves a negative, like, “He’s not the sharpest tool in the shed.” I think my usage of “wee bit” is just sarcasm, pure and simple. No extra charge for that little tidbit, folks.
***I really don’t sit around judging the motives of everyone who does gorgeous posts on FB and Pinterest. I’m mostly just jealous. But, in truth, if I post something gorgeous there, I’ll probably be thinkin’ I’m pretty awesome. Maybe one day…