Order from Chaos

This past month has been a challenging one for me.  I’ve found myself getting completely overwhelmed by a million little things demanding my attention, each of which seems to take way longer than it should.

An artist/jeweler I work with recently described a similar experience. “I go to grab a paintbrush and I see a phone message I never returned, then I reach for the phone and spot a piece of jewelry which reminds me that I need to send an e-mail and on my way to the computer, I remember…”  Long story short – she never gets back to the paintbrush or the phone message or the e-mail and at the end of the day she’s been busy every minute but hasn’t accomplished much.

It wasn’t until she relayed her story that I realized the core of the problem I’ve been struggling with.  I have been so busy for so long that my normal organizational tasks – filing papers, organizing e-mail, going through the piles on my desk and, Oh My Lord, throwing stuff away – have been put off for so long, I’m no longer able to function efficiently.

This past week, I back-burnered everything I possibly could and focused on getting my systems in order.  What a difference!  I am more energetic, I am more optimistic – it’s like every piece of clutter I clear lightens my mental load.  Sure, I’m going to have to work like hell to catch up but at least when I do, I’ll know where to find everything I need and I’m willing to bet dollars to donuts that it’ll take me less time and I’ll feel less frazzled.

From now on, I will do my damnedest to stop treating organizational tasks like the ugly step-children of my business.  They are as vital to my company’s well-being as the money-making work and without them, the money-making work doesn’t get done as well, as fast or as profitably.

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6 Responses to Order from Chaos

  1. Vanie Poyey says:

    For the last few years I’ve been doing about 5 minutes of organizing a day so that those tasks don’t pile up. That doesn’t mean however, that I still don’t do “Spring Cleaning”!

    • 2goodthings says:

      Great idea! Maintenance is so much easier than digging yourself out from under. Once I get through this backlog, I’m gonna do my best to stay on top of it!

  2. Great post. I can totally relate. I swear I feel like I have some sort of adult-onset ADD when it comes to time management. I start a million projects and then my attention is drawn by the next shiny thing and the first million projects never get finished! I am going to work on maintenance a little better so that I don’t feel like I’m dropping so many balls or letting so many plates in the air come crashing down. Thanks!

    • 2goodthings says:

      I know how you feel. I don’t think it’s ADD, though, I think it’s just living in this crazy digital age. Because we’re able to do so many things that we couldn’t before, they’ve all become obligatory. The number of balls we all have to keep in the air has grown substantially in the past 10 years.

  3. Do a quick overview of ADDHD (that’s me, by the way). Because of my handicaps, I have to be efficient..heehee. So, you don’t need to understand it, just skip to the how to work with it stuff…and skip fast. Some of the main things that help are having things placed in the same place everytime….don’t need to remember my clever reasoning for where I place things (esp keys). For the most part I did mine the hard way. There were no articles for me (I’m old :) Basically, it’s systems; create them and use them.

    • 2goodthings says:

      Great advice – it really is all about creating and using systems. I love kinesthetic systems (e.g. always putting your keys, glasses, etc. in the same place) too – couldn’t survive without them!

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