Week 6: Stay Organized -- For Good!

Being a good teacher is very much like being a good mother: your heart swells with pride as your pupils learn and do well. I wanted all of you to know how proud I am of your accomplishments. And how grateful I am for the trust and confidence you so willingly placed in me. I have not taken my responsibility to you lightly.

Are you still feeling overwhelmed after five weeks? We're on a journey, remember? There is a good reason this was never called the Community Race to Get Organized!

Here are some quick tips you can run off and add to your Zen Organizing Journal or perhaps post on your refrigerator. It will be like having me with you when the going gets tough!

There are four things to remember that will carry you through any project. Keep these in your heart and you'll find success.

  1. Build a habit for 21 days
    Work on getting organized by repeating three simple actions for 21 consecutive days. If your home is still in total chaos but you now make your bed every morning -- that's a huge victory.
  2. The whole of anything is overwhelming. Break every project down into manageable increments.
  3. Use the magic formula:
    • Eliminate what you don't need.
    • Categorize the items you decide you do want.
    • Organize each category.
  4. Remember that just before it gets better, it may very well look like a bomb went off! Don't be scared: expect it and laugh.

These simple steps will help you whether you are going to tackle the garage or work on a high level report at your corporate headquarters. In addition, before you begin any project ask yourself these questions:

  • Did I eat a good meal before I started so that my brain can function at its optimum?
  • Have I given myself the gift of at least five uninterrupted hours (for larger projects)?
  • Am I starting my project at the time of day I know from experience works best for me?
  • Are there healthy snacks and fresh water available to me?
  • Do I have a reward in mind?

Finally, when you feel the pangs of resistance rise up in your soul, ask yourself if perhaps you need to journal about this project before you get started. We live in a cause and effect universe. We have to set new causes in motion in order to achieve new results. Very often, however, it's the inner emotional causes of chaos that have to change before the outer ones will yield lasting results. A sturdy house is the one built on a solid foundation.

Reference Points for Zen Organizers
Life will bring you challenges and emergencies. Even professional organizers look around from time to time and ask: ‘what happened?’ The great reward for being organized is that you have a system in place. It will always be there waiting for be restored. Maintenance is a fact of life. The only way to keep your home or office in order without any future work is to shellac everything into a frozen reality. Since this isn’t an appetizing possibility, remember the analogy of the garden. No matter how much time you spend there, you will have a date in the future to re-work the soil!

Teaching by example is the most powerful way to share the good we know to be true. If you find your hard work is neither noticed nor honored by your family members, it may be time for a family meeting or some counseling. Remember: There are no victims, only volunteers.

The Future
Early in the first Get Organized Challenge, one of you wrote about the power of hundreds of women moving in the world with these new skills and attitudes. It is indeed an awesome thought to consider the force for good we represent. Who knows what we will accomplish by the end of 2004? I only know our individual corners of the world will be better for our efforts.
Whether it's a family illness or death, an accident or heartache, you don't have to admit defeat in your quest to be more organized. Work with the conditions in your life rather than seeing them as opposing forces. When the unexpected knocks the wind out of your sails, take heart. It's no reason to give up. It's time for a mid course correction. Here are two ways you can follow to help regain your composure.

Enlist Help
If you are, as an example, undergoing chemotherapy or have just had major surgery, it isn't time to do clean out your closet or get rid of all the books under your bed. It might be time, however, to enlist more help from your family members and friends. People often feel helpless when someone they love is sick. Giving them concrete tasks around the house or errands to run will help them feel less powerless.

Create Realistic Goals
If you are in the middle of a crisis, you may long to have an organized home to help you deal with the physical and mental demands being placed on you by circumstances beyond your control. Take a minute to realize that you have lived with the current level of chaos for a long time. Waiting for the current crises to pass won't cause irrevocable damage to your desire to get organized. In fact, armed with the wisdom gained from the current battle, you will probably make more sweeping changes in your environment than before. Use what happens to you in life to your advantage.

Keep in Mind
The ego is always afraid of change. Keeping the status quo is vital to its security. When emergencies strike, we need to work sensibly and gently moving forward in smaller increments than originally planned. It isn't when you reach your destination that matters. It is how. Your dedication to the process will reap rich rewards.

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