Avoid the Causes of Disorganization

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Sometimes getting organized means more than just making sure everything has a place or that we check off our to-do list. Often times becoming organized is mainly about avoiding the things that can cause us to become disorganized, especially after we have already started the process of changing our ways. When we make ways to stay organized part of our regular habits, we won’t have a need to give in to reasons for disorganization.

Keeping Everything

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We are all guilty of trying to keep things that we don’t necessarily need. It’s usually contributed to the thought of “Well I might need it one day”. When we keep old or expired items and paperwork, we don’t realize that this can actually contribute to further disorganization rather than helping us in the future. Although we feel we have to keep everything, we can actually throw out over half of our saved items or documents without consequence. Avoid building up the clutter, also known as hoarding, by examining what you are trying to hold on to and pin point its purpose in your office area. If it doesn’t serve an immediate purpose, throw it out.

How do you determine if it needs to be kept?

  • When was the last time I used or needed this?
  • What purpose does this serve me?
  • If I get rid of this, what will happen?
  • Will I need this in the near future?
  • If I get rid of this, can I access it later somewhere else (online, office copy, etc.)?

Not Being Consistent

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Repetition is the key to learning, and these repeated and consistent behaviors are the key to developing good habits. When in the process of getting organized, we set ourselves to-do lists and actions that we take to keep ourselves organized (such as sorting emails right away or keeping office supplies close by). When we become inconsistent, such as forgetting to turn off our cell phone before starting a project or just throwing the unopened mail on our desk one morning, we are leaving room to become disorganized again. After one slip, it becomes easier to forget what we have learned and begin to fall into our normal pit of excuses or procrastination. Once we have established good organizational habits, it is important to stick to them and be consistent in our actions.

Not Following a Schedule

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For many people, not sticking to some sort of routine or schedule can cause them to become disorganized and procrastinate. Ask yourself why you need to follow a schedule, and what is that schedule meant to help you accomplish? A schedule can be simple and flexible, such as creating yourself a to-do list and sticking to it, or schedules can be more definite and set, such as outlining specific tasks and timelines. While schedules are not set in stone, they are supposed to provide a sense of structure when completing tasks, projects, and activities. If schedules are ignored or forgotten altogether, it can lead to wasted time management or prolonged duties.

Bad Habits

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Being organized is all about creating good habits that we can stick to in the long run. Unfortunately, we all have bad habits that can steer us away from getting on the right path. Habits such as leaving unused supplies on our desktop ‘for later’ or keeping every employer newsletter you receive ‘to go through’. Sometimes we do not even recognize when we have developed a bad habit that is keeping us from becoming more organized. Take a look at some of your everyday actions and determine if you have, or are developing a bad habit that keeps you disorganized at home or at work. Once we discover the problem, we can work to correct our habits and change them for the better. By making slow, incremental changes, we begin to gain more confidence in ourselves and feel more empowered to kick bad habits once and for all.

Characteristics of a bad habit:

  • Doesn’t offer an immediate benefit
  • Creates more work to do later
  • Doesn’t make us feel more confident
  • Contributes to procrastination or disorganization

Case Study

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Roberta decided to go see her friend, Charles, at his office. When she walked inside, she was amazed at the mess his office was in and how disorganized everything was. She asked how his office got this way, and he exclaimed that there wasn’t a problem with it.

“You are so disorganized! I bet you don’t get rid of anything and try to keep everything!” Roberta said.

“Only the things I think I’ll need later.” He answered. “Besides, I started a new organization routine, but I haven’t been able to do it every day.”

Roberta explained how keeping everything and not sticking with a routine can cause further disorganization. She offered to help him develop a plan to kick the bad habits and work on developing newer, better habits to get organized.

“Once you form better, more helpful habits, you’ll be more organized in no time!” Roberta said.