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You have read time management and organizing books, you know what to do, you've even tried some of the solutions they offered and liked them, yet nothing seems to really work. What is going on? Why is it sometimes so hard to get and stay organized?  

The clients who come to me for help are usually having trouble for one of two reasons:  

Yes, biology, as in the way you brains are wired. While we are born equal, we also are born different, and that is true of our brains as well as our looks. Some people are more detail-oriented, while others are more attuned to the big picture; some people are so detail-oriented that they create wonderful but time-consuming systems, such as one of my clients did – his to-do list took him an hour a day to maintain! -; others are wonderfully creative, but mundane, day-to-day details seem to elude them; some have excellent internal clocks, while others have an internal clock operating on a different rhythm than the watch they wear on their wrist.  

Unfortunately, too many people believe that there is just one way to be organized, and desperately try to make themselves fit this solution. The same way that there are different types of brains, there are different ways to organize your life and your environment. If you try to use a system that isn't adapted to you, it will fail, since it goes against your nature.  

Negative associations:
When people have a negative association with being organized or on time, or a positive association with being disorganized or time-challenged, getting and staying 'on the wagon' so to speak, is very difficult.  

For instance, one client had memories associated with each and every object she owned, and was afraid that, if she let go of the object, the memory would go with it. It's not until she learned to dissociate the emotion and the object that she was able to let go of the clutter in her home and office. Another client had rebelled against his parents, who were attached to timeliness to the point of excess, by being systematically late. Twenty years later, he was still living his life as if to spite his parents, completely unconscious of this pattern. Becoming aware of this pattern is all it took for him to stop being late and missing deadlines, and being able to learn and use the concepts we covered together.  

So, what can you do if you have trouble getting and keeping your life organized?
•Ask yourself if it could be because you are trying to adopt strategies that don't work for you. For instance, are you trying to have a clear desk when you are "out of sight, out of mind"?
•Ask yourself if it is because you have something in the way - you can usually tell because anxiety rises when you think about organizing yourself, and when you start to do it – or, no matter how much you want to make it happen, somehow you never get around to doing it.
Once you have identified the reason why you have trouble in this area, the solution is often obvious, and you can go on your way. Otherwise, hang in there, I'll offer some solutions in my next post.  

Yours in Daily Mastery,  



Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Julie Molner wrote Jun 19, 2008
    • Great post—asking ourselves questions is always an effective way to get to the root of an issue.  Through my experience I’ve learned exactly what you say—our brains are wired differntly and we each have to find what works best for “us” which may not be shat works for others.

      Julie Molner, Certified Professional Co-Active Coach
      Co-Author, Your Life Your Way: The Essential Guide for Women

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Starcatldy wrote Jun 26, 2008
    • I am one of those people who can’t let go of things, especialy when my life is not going very well. I cling to things even more when my husband tells me I have to get rid of my junk.  I guess it is like comfort food/eating. I get comfort from my things.  How do I overcome this???


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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Karin Vibe-Rheymer-Stewart, Ph.D. wrote Jul 18, 2008
    • Hi Starcatldy,
      Sorry for the late answer, the system didn’t warn me of your comment.
      You are very right in saying that your things are like comfort food. They represent comfort, safety, so letting go of them feels like letting go of that comfort or safety. I wish there was an easy way to overcome it, but the only lasting way I’ve seen is to address the emotional reason that make you want to cling to comfort. It’s a tough, messy, but oh so rewarding process (I’m talking from experience, with the difference that my comfort has been food.) If you want to start this process, contact me directly and I’ll give you some resources. In the mean time, you can start to stop the flow of things coming in, by instituting the one in, one out rule: Every time you bring something new in, a similar, older thing has to go. - Karin

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Apden01 wrote Mar 12, 2010
    • It’s all good stuff. Very hard to get rid of. I grew up in a poor household where everything got used until there was nothing left. (including food) I can’t use everything I have and it’s very difficult to toss out. And nobody wants my junk, they have too much of their own!! Help!!!!

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