Getting organized: What do you really value?

If you've been trying to get organized for years -- reading all the books and articles, making lists and file cards and planner pages, but nothing seems to work for very long, perhaps you've been doing it for all the wrong reasons. Perhaps you've been doing it for all the wrong people. Perhaps you need to discover what's in it for you.

Most of us have some deep-seated values that guide our decisions. When we follow those values, we are comfortable with our decisions. It is easier to stand behind decisions that make sense. To get yourself started, write down a few of your own values. Is it important to spend time with your family? Do you value education and set aside time for study every day? Is your career important to you? List as many values as you can think of. It seems silly, but it really does help to have this list written out.

My list looks something like this, but the important thing is that it is personally yours. Use mine for ideas only:

  • I value the time I spend with my husband and children.
  • I value my friends -- online and real world.
  • I value personal growth -- for myself and my family. We make time to learn new things and go new places.
  • I value financial security -- our budget is a work in progress and I do all kinds of things to earn money.
  • I value health and safety -- I make healthy meals and provide a safe place for my children to live.
  • I value time alone -- I take some time every day to relax alone, even if it's just a long bath.
  • I value peace.
  • I value beauty.

Well, you get the idea. Some people divide their values into family, career, and home. Others into personal, interpersonal, and non-personal. Divide or not. It's your life. Seriously, it does help if you can start making the connection between what you actually do with your values. Whatever works for you.

Look at your regular daily schedule. Do you see a lot of items that relate to your values or just a lot of chores that you have to do? Think about it-count the time you actually spend directly working on your values, but also look at the tasks you do that make that time possible. Do you keep the kitchen picked up so you can spend less time digging and have time for cooking nutritional meals-possibly while enjoying the help and company of a spouse or child? So picking up the kitchen doesn't directly further your values, but it sure makes it easier for you to do the things that do!

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