3 Ways to Change Your Organizing Habits

The following post is from Lisa of Working Naked:

source: balanced.crafts

A good friend of mine refuses to see a doctor (she hasn’t seen one in years) because she’s afraid that a doctor will find something wrong with her. What she doesn’t understand is that if she never gets a checkup, she may not discover a medical problem until it’s well advanced (and too late).

Change isn’t easy, and some people can’t get motivated to change their habits until they’ve had a bad experience. Or they may hear about something bad happening to someone else, which finally triggers them to make a change.

When you work for yourself, a bad experience could be losing an account, missing an important deadline, or double-booking appointments with two important clients.

Bad days are part of life, but you’re a lot less likely to experience these types of setbacks if you take steps to get organized.

Be ruthless with your time

Do you know that if you waste one hour each day, at the end of the year (subtracting two weeks for vacation — you still deserve a vacation when you work for yourself!), you will waste over 32, eight-hour days? Think about how easy it is to waste time every day. If you don’t waste time directly, your friends and family may do it for you by calling you, interrupting you with questions, or asking you to help them with something while you’re trying to work.

Before you agree to take on another project, either for your business of something related to your personal life, think about how it will affect the other parts of your life. Will you need to work during the weekend? Will you have to cut short the vacation you’ve been planning for years?

For every new task you add to your to-do list, something has to give.

Create false deadlines

Last week while I was in my front yard, my neighbor ran out of her house, jumped in her car and peeled out of her driveway.

She was in an SUV so she wasn’t exactly doing 0-60 within seconds, but she was speeding and avoiding people walking their dogs. When I saw her a few days later, I asked her what had happened. She said that she had to get to the FedEx office to send a package to a client before the deadline the next morning. Instead of reminding herself of the deadline a week before, she had set the reminder for that day. She hadn’t built in any padding.

If you have a deadline at the end of the month, record the deadline at least one week earlier. You’ll eliminate the last minute rush (like my neighbor) to finish the project because you’ll have given yourself plenty of warning.

Store items where you’ll be able to find them easily

One of the best books I’ve read about improving memory is called The Memory Book. In it, the author explains “absentmindedness.” You know…you set your keys down and a few hours later, you can’t remember where you put them. When you set the keys down, your mind was absent. You may have been thinking about your latest project, what you were going to make for dinner, or how many e-mails you still needed to answer before the end of the day.

When you designate certain places to store the items you use often, you’ll save time looking for what you need. For example, keep printing supplies in one place and office supplies together, rather than stashed throughout your home. Save time looking for your keys, wallet or purse by putting them in the same place each time you come home.

Don’t wait for something bad to happen to trigger you to get organized. Instead, do something now to change the habits that aren’t working. Although it’s easier to continue to do things the way you’ve always done them, there’s always a better way.

What habits have you changed, and what motivated you to change them?

Home office expert Lisa Kanarek is the founder of WorkingNaked.com and the author of five books about working from home, including her latest book, Organize Your Home Office for Success. Lisa works with entrepreneurs and home-based employees through seminars and individual consultations, to create functional home offices that meet each individual’s working style.