Procrastination and time-management have become a national obsession. Most of us have some area of our lives where we put off doing what needs to be done, whether making a yearly doctor appointment or keeping a daily exercise routine <insert 10 minute pause while I go make my doctor appointment>. I’m back.
What, you may ask, do time management and procrastination have to do with professional organizing? Quite a bit, as it turns out. Every organizer knows the expression “every piece of clutter is a decision deferred.” When you put off going through the mail, for example, and set it on the counter “in the meantime”, it adds up, becoming clutter because it was not dealt with at the time. The same goes for almost every object we handle: dishes in the sink? Laundry, already clean, waiting to be put away? You get the idea.
That moment of decision-making turns out to be a pretty big deal. In fact, people who suffer from hoarding disorder often have a very hard time making decisions about their possessions, and may suffer increased anxiety and difficulty discarding even the most seemingly useless objects.
Fortunately most of us don’t suffer to that extreme when it comes to procrastinating: often a simple task like putting away laundry or sorting the mail requires only that we pay attention to the task at hand to carry it through to its finish. The reward is the clearing of the nagging thought in our head of just one more task to be done.
Focus on carrying out small tasks completely so you never have to come back to them (until next time). Apply the “handle it once” method to more than just mail and paper.
If you have one task that you really want to avoid, do it first; if it’s too big to do in one session, just get started on it so it isn’t as scary.
Remove distractions, and focus on the task at hand. No multi-tasking! The most profound effect of this effort will be a clearer, calmer mind.
Keep a “to do” list in a place where you will see it: be sure to include the small things you can cross off the list once accomplished, so you develop momentum. Most of us would fall into dark despair if our list said things like “lose 15 pounds.” Instead, if your goal is healthy eating, frame it as a positive: “Eat more fresh vegetables for dinner.” It shouldn’t be a punishment.