When most people think of being organized they are sure that it requires you to juggle many things at once and never drop the ball. They believe that great time management means you have to multi-task at every turn. But, I would argue that being able to slowdown, allow yourself to drop the ball once and a while, not have to multi-task and to truly feel balance in your life means you are organized. If we never have time to recharge and we are always in a stressed rush then there is no way you can stay or feel organized.
This past Spring after a non-elective surgery, a wedding and a honeymoon within two months I was able to go from ultimate stress to complete Zen and it once again reminded me of some key lessons in slowing down, even when you feel that the world is demanding so much from you. Below are my top three tips for finding ways to take your time.
1. Ask yourself if you are doing and committing to too much. This is a hard reality for people. Not being able to let go of activities can be holding you back from getting some time to recharge. While everything feels important now, really examine what you are participating in, if you are getting a benefit from it, and if that activity supports your overall goals. If you are jamming your schedule to be everywhere for everyone, you are going to be running late constantly, screaming at your family members to rush and most importantly you are not going to be at your best mentally or physically when you arrive to your destination. If you can’t give 100% to each organization you belong to, then pick your favorites and do them well. You will also find you have more time at home and less commitments you can’t follow through on.
2. Take your time doing small tasks. I know it seems like a strange idea, but having surgery forced me to walk slower and lift more carefully. I found this particularly challenging. When I used to go to the grocery store I would speed walk through it, quickly bag everything and throw it in my trunk with no order just to get the task out of the way. By just walking through the store more slowly and packing the car more mindfully I realized that the dreaded task of the grocery store didn’t take much longer, I enjoyed it more because I wasn’t in a race to end it and I could feel my body relax more during and after the task. My mind was resisting it, and trying to force my way through it quickly only hurt me mentally and physically. Think about the tasks that you dread and ask yourself if you are sabotaging yourself by moving too fast.
3. Avoid Multi-tasking: While many would argue that they are so effective because they are able to complete many tasks simultaneously, studies have shown that you are actually less productive when multi-tasking. I have found that tasks take longer to accomplish and you get more stressed by constantly interrupting your train of thought. If you slow down and take your time to do one task at a time, you will feel more focused and get more off of your to do list. For example, next time you are at your computer trying to get a big project done, turn off the e-mail, put your phone on silent and shut off the interruptions for one hour. You can get to the messages later on your own schedule, not theirs, and accomplish the original goal you set out to complete.
Kristin Mastromarino is a Professional Organizer and owner of Livable Solutions Professional Organizing (www.livablesolutions.com) and The Organized Lifestyle online retail store (www.theorganizedlifestylestore.com). You can send her your organizing questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.