Thursday, 28 June 2012

Organisation for the Terminally Disorganised - Part Two

So what do you do if you don't know where to start? If the house is awash with organisational nightmares that would take days rather than minutes to sort out, how on earth do you find the time? And what comes first?

Well, first of all, you don't need to do it all at once. Any task that takes more than 20 minutes is more than one task and needs to broken down further. And if you're only likely to get ten or even five minutes to spare, break it down to that level. This way you don't get overwhelmed by starting an unrealistic task and after 20 minutes you can pat yourself on the back for a job well done!

The next point is small victories. Little things can make a big difference, take no great time to implement, and are very satisfying. You don't need complicated solutions or to go shopping for lots of kit.

At this point, I should probably blab on about the 80/20 rule and how understanding it will change your life. Well, here goes. The 80/20 rule says that generally you spend 20% of your time on 80% of your work (tasks / chores / etc). So conversely, you spend 80% of your time on only 20% of your work. So take a moment to be pleased that it is human nature to be massively inefficient, most of the time.

It is actually a useful thing to get to grips with, though I wouldn't recommend spending too much time on it. Much better to have a nice cup of coffee and some cake. Or even better, do that while you're pondering the mysteries of the 80/20 universe. All you really need to take away is that it's good to figure out what are the most important things you need to achieve and spend your time on them, rather than the fluff of life that gets in the the way most of the time. Who needs to hoover under the sofa anyway?

My recent small victories have been in the kitchen. They were born of utter frustration with my inability to maintain a tidy, let alone organised, kitchen which is the room I seem to spend most of my time in. So I now own a whiteboard and maintain a running shopping list on something I would find hard to lose. At least I used to own a whiteboard but that's for another post, and isn't the fridge just a giant whiteboard anyway? The result is more efficient shopping trips less often and much less time scratching my head trying to remember what the hell it was I was going to put on my shopping list. 

My second improvement is so basic as to be almost embarrassing, but is a good illustration of just how my brain does not do organisation. For too long I spent my evenings doing a massive kitchen clear up while sulking and generally being quite bad tempered. One morning I had a revelation and seeing as the babe was happily playing with a jug and a wooden spoon, I unloaded the dishwasher, loaded in the breakfast things and washed his placemat and bib, ready for the next meal.

Oh the shock of empowerment! I could load up the dishwasher throughout the day...not have to run around before each meal washing bibs and placemats...not spend each evening tackling a days worth of dishes! Bet you feel better about your own disorganisation now, don't you? I really am that bad. I can now get the kitchen clean and tidy in much less time, which makes me less resentful and able to swan off to a giant bathtub where I eat flakes and drink wine.

These sound like very small and basic changes but they've made a real difference to my day and have encouraged me to look at other small changes I can make.  Confidence in your ability to become more organised is key, just do it one piggy step at a time.

1. What are your most important tasks and what do you spend most time on? Do these match up?

2. Think of a task you need to do but that you find annoying or frustrating. Can you find one or two small changes to make them easier?

3. Have another slice of cake. It makes the brain work better.

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