• One of the biggest complaints many people have in their relationships is that their spouse is totally disorganized. The adjectives they use are: scattered, flighty, disheveled, all-over-the-place, and several other choice words that I am sometimes privileged enough to hear. Often the people being described are well aware of the fact that they’re not completing their daily goals but may feel overwhelmed or just don’t know where to start. This might be a good place to begin.  The reality is that there are many conditions that can contribute to an individual’s inability to complete tasks in a timely manner. They range from various mental health conditions (like Depression, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, ADHD, etc) to a wide range of Medical and or physical conditions. These conditions are real and can create physical limitations that interfere with their ability to complete day-to-day tasks in a timely manner. While treatment (with therapy or medication) is important in supplementing low energy levels or poor concentration, it does little in creating motivation and the desire to improve. That often has to come from within. Below are some steps that anyone can take to start working toward organizing their lives. Regardless of the condition, stay clear of using any limitations as an excuse. Everyone has some condition, limitation or handicap, which makes life more challenging. Some are obvious and some are not. The trick is to put safeguards in place to assist you in making sure that you will succeed in spite of your ‘limitations.’ And everyone can succeed!

    1.  Admit that you Have a Problem – As in many of the first steps of recovery, the road to a cure starts with admitting that there’s a problem. Unfortunately, many disorganized people don’t realize that they have a problem. They’ve been getting by for so long and have convinced themselves that their world is an ‘organized chaos.’ Meaning, they can find everything when they need it and have been doing okay until now. Other people looking in may notice its adverse effects and how much time is wasted looking for items or arriving late to various appointments.  Those living in ‘organized chaos’ have to come to terms with the fact that they can use more organization and structure in their lives. And the truth is that we can all improve and become more efficient. 

    2.  Make time to Organize – The sad thing is that disorganized people are often running around in circles chasing their tails that they can’t even figure out a way to take out 30 minutes from their day to focus on getting organized. Trust me, you will not miss anything and we all have 15-30 minutes in the day where we can focus on something that is important to us. And this is! Don’t procrastinate any longer. Being disorganized costs you time, money and your health. So, there’s nothing more important than focusing on improving those aspects of your life.

    3.  Get Help – If you’re not sure where to start or are having other difficulties that may prevent you from being able to put your organization list into action then it’s time to get some help. You may want to start this with a mentor or close friend where you can support and hold each other accountable. If that isn’t enough, then bump it up to more formal and professional help as needed. Either way, sitting around isn’t going to get it done. Action is necessary.

    4.  What you Want vs. What you Need – You can’t take on the world in one day. Prioritize what’s important to you such as family, career, finances, etc. Simplify your life in regards to what you need to do right now to get back on track.  Make two lists, one short-term – what you want to accomplish day-to-day and one long-term – consisting of goals you want to achieve in the next 1-5 years. Then rank order each of your lists as you will most likely not be able to accomplish everything on your list on a daily basis. Therefore, some items may not go on your daily list and may only be scheduled once or twice a week.

    5.  Make a Schedule – Literally write down and schedule what you plan to do the next day. Your schedule can be in 15 or 30 minute increments depending on the activity. Use your short and long-term goals as a guide. I generally schedule out a week at a time so that I can at least do something (regardless of how short) to address all of my short and long-term goals. I don’t care if you use your phone, wall calendar, iPad, desktop computer, or even old school paper and pad as long as you can keep it with you and can access it everywhere you go.

    6.  Label Your World – Make your life easier and start fresh by labeling and organizing everything you come into contact with from now on. You’ll get to the old stuff at a later date when you put it in your schedule (or eventually throw most of it out if you haven’t touched it in years). For now, you’re going to turn over a new leaf and organize everything from your mail, to your kitchen and closets. Don’t let clutter accumulate– make labeled bins for everything. 

    7.  Plan and Commit – Ideas are great but mean nothing unless they are put into action. The reality is that energy creates more energy while lethargy and laziness causes more of the same.  Don’t fool yourself into believing that some people just have a better predisposition to having high levels of energy. You’re just setting yourself up to fail. Compare it to when you started working out again after you had taken a long break. It’s not fun and probably even hurt. But it doesn’t happen overnight and you have to force yourself to follow-through believing that the more you do it, the easier it gets. Everyone can improve and everyone can do it. Make your commitment and stick to it.

    8.  Set Yourself Up for Success – Using exercise as an example- If you know that it’s going to be hard for you to get motivated then prepare the day before. Set your clothes and other items needed for the next day by your bed so you’ll be read to go. I know that I often dread having to exercise every day. But I put my workout clothes in my bag for work and sometimes have to force myself to put them on. That way I have no excuse for not exercising.  Have you ever seen someone not have the time to show up and collect their lottery winnings? No? Well me neither! Therefore, we make time for what’s important to us and the rest is just fluff.

    9.  Reward Yourself – Set some time aside in your schedule to reward yourself for completing your daily tasks. This is simple behavior modification (positive reinforcement), which will motivate you to do it again. Also, this lets you know that you have some downtime at the end of your day so you don’t need to conserve energy and can ‘hit it hard’ the rest of the time.

    Hopefully, you start seeing results soon and you like what you see. Schedule organization time daily for upkeep to tweak your goals as needed. Make mental, physical and financial health a part of your daily routine. It’s ironic how often people feel like they have lost sight of their goals. Where in reality they aren’t lost at all, they’ve just been misplaced and getting organized will help you find them!