Who decides what is “organized enough?”
Ali is a Sales Rep
Ali works for a company as a sales rep, and so she effectively works on her own in her home office. She is often on the road, in her car, on the way to or from a client’s or a networking meeting.
Her home looks like it’s out of a magazine, her friends tell her often. Not so, her home office.
Ali is on the go as a sales rep, so constantly in and out of the office, leaving some things behind and picking up other things for the next meeting. Her tendency is to leave things out for the week, then clean it all up on Friday, ready for a clean slate Monday morning.
She feels like a fake sometimes. She can’t figure out how to manage the emails, papers, projects and inventory.
Someday, she thinks, someone will realize she isn’t what she seems to be and … would they doubt her sales results, too?
So, with her mind set that this needed to change, she looked to her friends for support. She decided after talking to several that she wanted her home office to look just like her friend Pam’s office: beautifully decorated, functional and with barely a paper in sight.
Pam works in her office every day. No travel. All her work is on the computers or on the phone with clients.
She’s very happy staying in her home office and feels quite productive this way. She can know that each day is pretty much like yesterday, with few interruptions.
Pam cleans up her desk as she finishes a project, meeting or phone call.
Her home is pretty much the same: easy to have people over at the drop of a hat, fairly scheduled about home management routines, and so forth. Pam is analytical, detail oriented and pretty methodical. Ali has often said they make a great team, because they think and solve issues so differently.
What is “Organized Enough?”
Ali couldn’t imagine working all day long in the office as Pam enjoys. Or even putting away things as she used them. Her business life, combined with managing her household and family, was way too busy to slow down and clean up things that frequently, she thought.
As we talked more about Pam, her working style and approach to organization, Ali discovered she couldn’t simply copy what her friend did. It wasn’t her. It wouldn’t be sustainable. And wasn’t that the point here?
She needed to come up with her own idea of what was “organized.”
Or “organized enough” for her to be productive and not slow her down more than she wanted to.
She needed to see, feel and believe her office environment and systems were supporting her work, instead of getting in her way so often.
Ali thought about it and realized that she is analytical, and also very creative, able to juggle many ideas, tasks and projects at the same time. She is stronger at thinking broadly, big picture, connecting seemingly disparate concepts. She wasn’t as strong with details. High energy, too, so the more going on for her, the better she felt she was using her creative energy.
The Organizing Plan
A few elements of our creative plan:
- A special space and homes for the items Ali needed on the go. We made drop off and pickup areas away from her daily work space so the running in and out didn’t clutter up her regular work space and she could leave quickly as well, confident she had what she needed for client meetings.
- We structured her weeks a bit more, not so much that it felt rigid, but with stronger limits around work and personal time.
- We decided on a daily time for her to mentally close out her day and prepare for the next.
- A quick, daily clearing up of the work and design areas so her head was also clear. She used a calendar reminder to help her brain slow down near the end of the day, so she’d have time enough to do this.
- Instead of the clean slate being only on Monday mornings, she would now clear the decks each evening. She set out the first project or appointment of the day as the one folder she’d see as she entered her office, reinforcing her focus for the early morning hours. In the past, she’d have to clear a space first, which wasn’t a motivator to get to work at all and left her unfocused, during her prime productive hours.
- She needed to be productive both in the office, and out on the road. Teaching her more about technology was a boon to her productivity. She’d been getting by, but she needed to finetune her expertise.
Results and Next Steps
She felt more organized and more successful, which showed in her attitude she took with her out the door.
Her ideas and motivation to work with me and to get these plans in place consistently were because she thought about what organization would mean to her.
To “feel more organized” wasn’t enough of a goal for Ali, because “organized” felt like a means to an end and not tied directly to what was important in work and life. Understanding her values, her strengths, her goals was what really keyed her in.
She was in sales, and numbers focused her pretty well. We used that and her creative strengths to support these new strategies. We tied organization to her productivity at work as well.
Our next steps were to focus on the internals – the systems she used to be productive at work and in her life. What were the systems. How would she remember to use them consistently. What made them really fly for her. That’s a story for another day.
Advice to Take Away
What would feeling more organized do for your life, your work, your person? How does the word “organized” hit you when you read it? Is that the word for you or is there another way to describe this, whether a phrase, a metaphor? How is this important to you; what would it mean to you?
A big question. How do you figure it out? What has worked with other big questions for you? Perhaps journaling, walking, speaking with an organizing coach, creating a mind map .
Embrace your own definition of “organized enough.” And then ask yourself…. “Organized enough for what purposes or goals, exactly?”