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Blog: Can We Have Some Order Here?
The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized: A Is For Awareness

So you're attempting to craft a more orderly existence on this planet -- good for you! But do you actually know which habits and behaviors are creating the chaos in your life? What the root problem is? Remember, the very first rule of organizing is you have to be aware of what's not working to make effective and lasting changes.

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

Disorganization is not just about an excess of paper, too much to do, and piles of clutter taking over your home -- it's caused by a combination of thoughts and actions that cause you to sabotage your own best efforts at creating order. You wish that your desk were clear -- but you've learned to dread receiving bad news in the mail, so you ignore your in-box until the stack is three feet high. You would like to invite friends to dinner -- but you've allowed a decades' worth of unfinished scrapbooking to overwhelm both you and the dining room table, leaving no time for fun and no room for socializing. You really do try to be on time for appointments -- but you have a tendency to get distracted trying to just get "one last thing done" before you head out the door.

What's the secret to righting these wrongs? Making yourself aware of where the behavior is coming from. Disorganized habits are there for a reason -- and if you want them to go away, you have to understand how you're benefiting from those behaviors. Granted, some of the benefits may seem counter-intuitive at first. For example, you might be a chronic procrastinator when it comes to bill-paying because you're scared of facing your spending habits, of what that end-of-the-month bottom line will be. Well if you're so worried about money, why on earth would you intentionally rack up late fees and interest charges? Sure, setting up a system that allowed you to pay your bills on time and working on a budget to that kept you from overspending in the first place would do you more good in the long-run -- but the instant feeling of relief at being able to walk away and ignore the problem is more immediately gratifying. The benefit you get from this is akin to the very temporary pleasure an over-eater derives from that clandestine candy bar -- it's a fleeting guilty pleasure that just ends up compounding your problems.

So what's the key to replacing these "less-than-constructive" habits with more positive ones? Start by taking a look around you and identifying common patterns -- "I'm always running late for class" or "the kids never put their toys away" or "I can't seem to get caught up on my reports for work." Then for each pattern, identify the hidden benefit, even if it sounds sort of crazy -- "I get to put off dealing with that obnoxious professor who always picks on me" or "not making the kids clean up after themselves avoids an argument" or "when I always look busy I seem more valuable to the company and they can't lay me off." On the flip-side, describe at least one way (if not more) that this situation causes you stress or frustration, an example of how this behavior is actually making things worse -- "the professor gets angry when I'm late and he picks on me even more" or "I'm not avoiding an argument when I end up yelling at the kids anyway after tripping over their toys" or "spending all my time 'catching up' is keeping me from going after that promotion I want." Just sit with those for a while and let them sink in. You don't have to change anything yet. Just recognize that doing things differently would ultimately make life better -- that the very small and transitory "benefit" you get from disorganization is nothing compared to the joys you would experience if you got things in order!

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posted on: 8/30/2012 11:30:00 AM by Ramona Creel
category: General Organizing Tips

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Can We Have Some Order Here?

by Ramona Creel

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About Ramona:

I have been a Professional Organizer for more than 10 years, I am a NAPO Golden Circle member, and I was the original founder of OnlineOrganizing. I have worked one-on-one with scores of clients and have trained dozens of newbie organizers as they got started in the industry. I provide both hands-on and virtual coaching to help clients improve their organizing skills and simplify their lives. I invite you to visit my website at http://www.RamonaCreel.com, and I challenge you to find one new idea that you can put into practice in your life, to help you become better organized, starting TODAY! I am passionate about coaching folks toward a more balanced, productive, and enjoyable life -- and I firmly believe that if I can do it, so can you!

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