Being Ruthless with Your Organization
Ok, so we’ve talked about being ruthless with our schedules. (Way #1)
And we’ve gone over how too many tools can possibly bog us down. (Way #2)
7 more ways to go.
This week, I have a question.
What does organization mean to you?
I have defined it personally as “the method I use to arrange my life/work in an order that works – for me.”
Does it always work? Well, no. I have little ones, a rainy season and a “meh” Internet provider. Even though I’m grateful for them all, because none of them are predictable, clockwork doesn’t always happen. That’s when I have to be flexible.
There is a phrase I like to say. “I crave organization. I don’t always get it, but I crave it.”
You would almost think I am a “type A” in a “type B” body. Somedays, I am so on top of everything, my elders are impressed. Other days, I am a fly-by the seat of my pants type of mom.
However, it is a planned effort. I plan to be on top of everything just as much as I plan to be flexible and fun.
But believe me, I was (and still am) far from being a Stepford Wife.
Way #3 – Ruthlessly Organize Your Day
I had to be taught how to look at a calendar, how to set S.M.A.R.T. goals, and how to make small, accumulating steps to become better.
There is reason highly successful entrepreneurs tend to have more than one thing going for them. The same goes for most millionaires that have approximately seven different streams of income. They ruthlessly organize their days. And they surround themselves with people who are great at organization.
That doesn’t always mean they have their calendar scheduled down to the minute. In fact, one of the most prominent speakers on productivity chooses to Theme his days and months. As a single homeschooling parent, that’s something I’ve chosen to do. I want to take that model of organization and apply it to my work, home management, and homeschool. And I want to be able to get to it with a good attitude – not begrudgingly.
I’m convinced that a lot of the grumbling we exhibit is not solely based on our attitude, but because we have not found the right system for our unique situation.
I have worked through several organizational systems. And though they were great, they were never quite right. So, I found myself juggling three different planners based on what my needs were at the time. And, believe it or not, having to switch planners periodically was never a big issue for me. My problem was losing focus daily – which then led to weekly, then monthly. And the whole system went kaput.
What I needed was something to help me maintain my daily focus. Then, the weeks, months and year could go as smoothly as possible.
Here is where Themes and Routines came into play.
I did some more research and found (of Strategic Coach) Dan Sullivan’s method of theming his days. Of course, I personalized the method so that it could fit a working homeschool mom’s daily routines. I decided to theme my days based on the work that I do. I knew that I needed quiet time for marketing, researching, and writing. So, I made sure to designate those themes to a co-op day.
Placing a theme or motive to my day helped me to keep it together and not run around in circles. If I look at my calendar and see the day is set for all things Homeschool, I do not allow “work” on that day. While I do check my emails, I don’t take a meeting, schedule a webinar or even read business-related articles. (I will, however, save them to read later.) The same goes for my Marketing and Research Days. As much as I would love to, I save the homeschool prep for its themed day. And because I know how I can get (ahem, ahem), I also have themed days just for home projects, family and rest.
Again, does it always work?
I know it can be difficult to organize your day when you have little ones in the house. Things can sometimes get random. But here is where routines can help. Begin to set up some household routines for them so that a good daily rhythm can develop. Keep them in line with your themes. For example, if you have a day themed for work obligations, you can choose to clean the dishes after breakfast while the little ones have free play. Then, maybe some one-on-one time with each child just before you check your work emails. You could designate one of your email check-in times as quiet time. There are many options to where you can fill their emotional baskets before you check-in.
Way #4 – Ruthlessly Organize Your Workspaces
I used to go between work-life balance and work-life integration. I’ve read some say the terms have the same meaning. I’ve heard some say they are entirely different. Unfortunately, I chose not to choose between them. At any given point in my day or life, one term eked out a better result than the other.
In one term, I held separate items in both hands (or at least, juggled them). In the other term, there was no clear distinction where one ended and the other began.
Which is probably why neither term triumphed over the other. Some days it all got tossed together like a salad. Other days, there were distinct lines of separation.
However, not deciding caused chaos in my household.
And (as my youngest likes to quote Thomas the Train), “caused confusion and delay.”
Staying on top of work, home and homeschool take some thought and organization. None of these can be done successfully if they are done haphazardly. For this reason, we must be ruthless with how we organize our spaces.
From experience, I know it can be a challenge focusing on your business when you have Letter of the Week lessons falling all over your keyboard. And it’s hard finding a client’s hard copy information if it’s jumbled among housekeeping checklists. So, clearly designating our spaces is crucial.
(Getting over my fear of digital filing was also helpful.)
Knowing where you are going to work and where you are going to file the work you’ve completed is important. Give it a home.
The same goes for your home and homeschool spaces. And it’s ok if space is limited. I moved from a 5-bedroom house to a 3-bedroom “casita”. The alphabet chart is on the side of the fridge and our learning texts have their own section in the entertainment system. We have a rolling cart with 8-colored drawers to put our supplies. And the printer is housed on the top shelf of my bedroom until it is needed.
So while it may seem like one overlaps into the other (Where my single parents at? Hands up!), each has its own home. And when we no longer need them, they are put back in their designated spaces.
Now, is my home always neatly arranged and in place? Sorry to say, it isn’t. People live here. Experience has also taught me that rigidity is not the same as ruthlessness. And I must take care not to confuse the two. Not allowing for flexibility can hinder productivity and peace of mind.
But that’s how theming my days and planning some buffer time (another Dan Sullivan nugget) helps me to stay calm and flexible.
So, your assignment for this week is to begin to get your days and spaces organized. This probably will not happen in one week. But if it does, high five!
As you are working through the one calendar you chose to commit to for 60 days, see how you can theme your days to keep you from chasing your tail.
If you like taking small steps, here is a site that promises to help you begin to declutter and organize your home in 15 minutes a day. Take a look at it! It’s good stuff.