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The Organising School - How to Follow Through and Stay Organised

How to Follow Through and Stay Organised

Thursday, January 11th, 2018

I’ve been helping people become organised for over a decade now and one big difference I’ve noticed between levels of disorganisation is the impact follow through or lack of has for many clients.

While a lot of emphasis can be placed on the need to have organised spaces, it’s important to remember the role we play in making sure the areas stay organised.

No space will stay organised if we do not invest the time to maintain it.

One easy way to keep areas organised is to make sure we follow through and complete tasks and chores.

So for example at home when we bring in the laundry making sure we follow through by folding and putting the washing away.

When dishes are clean, following through with drying and putting them away.

After working on a project putting associated items and paperwork away before moving to the next task…

It can be easy to get distracted and taken away from the task at hand.  But not following through is one sure way to find ourselves in a chaotic mess which can have a huge impact on the state of our mind and homes.

There is also the bigger picture with these traits likely to follow through to bigger life changing goals.

I was reading an article by James Clear on Akrasia.

Quoting James  ”Akrasia is the state of acting against your better judgment. It is when you do one thing even though you know you should do something else…Akrasia is what prevents you from following through on what you set out to do.”

He talks about “time inconsistency.” And goes on to explain “When you make plans for yourself…you are actually making plans for your future self. You are envisioning what you want your life to be like in the future and when you think about the future it is easy for your brain to see the value in taking actions with long-term benefits.

When the time comes to make a decision, however, you are no longer making a choice for your future self. Now you are in the moment and your brain is thinking about the present self. And researchers have discovered that the present self really likes instant gratification, not long-term payoff. This is one reason why you might go to bed feeling motivated to make a change in your life, but when you wake up you find yourself falling into old patterns. Your brain values long-term benefits when they are in the future, but it values immediate gratification when it comes to the present moment.” You can read his full article here

Five ways to follow through and finish what you started:

  1. Make mindful decisions and remove temptations– this will help with distractions.  James Clear gives the example of taking games off your phone if this wastes a lot of your time. “Find ways to automate your behaviour beforehand rather than relying on willpower in the moment. Be the architect of your future actions, not the victim of them.”  Less is more, watch what you bring into your home and office, stop potential distracting clutter from entering into your space.
  2. Don’t dismiss the little stuff – put the washing/dishes away; finish answering that email or paying all your bills. You may think it is insignificant, but the little things you are not following through on is clogging up your brain (and space), making it harder to concentrate on larger more important goals. If you are getting too many emails, remember rule number one and start unsubscribing from distracting emails that aren’t helping you.
  3. Simplify! It’s usually the biggest hurdle. Build simple routines and rituals that support you and help you follow through.  Get clear on what needs to be done.  Maybe you don’t follow through because one step feels impossible.  For example, putting the washing away may seem impossible because your drawers and wardrobe are bulging full.  Set a time to declutter! And if that really feels impossible to achieve put your unused clothing in a container to sort later, it’s not ideal but it will make it easier to keep your home organised on a daily basis.  But do me a favour, please set a date in your calendar to go through the unused stuff (follow through on this task too!)
  4. Get comfortable being uncomfortable. You may not enjoy completing every step even if it’s for a goal you are passionate about.  Think of the long term goal and keep going. Be clear on why you want to achieve your goal.  Put little reminders up, messages to yourself to help motivate you to stay on track.
  5. Remember the benefits of following through and the liabilities if you don’t. For example, picture your home tidy versus having to put a whole day (or more) aside to rectify all the little small jobs that could have easily been taken care of in the moment. Think of the $$ involved if you need to hire someone to help.

If you are feeling overwhelmed over following through on a big project, like decluttering and organising your home, break the job down into small manageable steps and take it one step at a time.  My e-course will walk you through the process.

Don’t delay, start today


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