‘The smartest guy in your noggin’
The prefrontal cortex is the part of your brain that integrates memory, new information, multitasking, problem-solving and strategic decision-making. When it comes to your brain, it’s the smartest guy in your noggin. This is where executive function lives — the skill set that controls organizational thinking and purposeful action. This helps determine if you live like a slob — or obsess like Martha Stewart. Some of us are born with overdeveloped executive function propensities that make tend to make us annoyingly finicky, but phenomenal when it’s time to straighten up. Yes, I’m one of these people. We’re a good-looking bunch and sexy in an awkward “come over and organize my pigsty” sort of way. As such, these are my top four tips and tricks for keeping life organized, uncluttered and running smoothly.
The less stuff we have, the easier life is to manage. Ditch the nonessentials and everything gets easier. The absence of excess creates space and opportunity to enjoy the really juicy bits with more purpose and intention. Start with less and then subtract. No matter what disorganized space we start in, the process is always the same. Get rid of the stuff we don’t need first. No sense organizing the junk. Let that go. For things of value, consign, sell or trade your way to cashless bliss. I pay for the gas in my car from the income on my consignment accounts. For stuff that may be useful to someone else, donate to your local thrift store. Everything else is either recyclable or trash. Stop hoarding these things in your coveted spaces. Once things are bagged up and labeled, they get loaded up — and removed. If they sit in your car for a year, you have missed the point of this exercise.
For the stuff we absolutely love, we keep. These things make our heart and soul just leap for joy. When we organize our essentials, keep these four rules in mind. Organize (1) like things together, so items are (2) easy to find, (3) easy to reach, but (4) out of the way. Remember proximity equals urgency. So, the more urgently we need something, the easier it should be to reach. This process is about assigning intentional homes to the homeless things mischievously wandering around your place unsupervised.
3. Mail and paper processing
I recommend four stackable desktop bins. They come in a variety of styles, available in any office supply shop and in most thrift stores next to the dog crates and Dionne Warwick albums. Label the top bin “Inbox.” Everything starts here except for junk mail, which never crosses the threshold. Every three days, empty your Inbox down to the bottom of the bin. The bottom three bins are action bins, subsequently requiring, you guessed it — scheduled action. The first is labeled “Do Now.” These are items that require urgent action this week. The next bin is labeled “Do Later” whereby action is taken once a month. The last bin is labeled, “Pending” and requires a review every two weeks; these items require prerequisite action before they can be sufficiently processed. No paper processing station is complete without a nearby filing cabinet (with labeled hanging folders and labeled sub-file folders), a recycling bin, trash can, and shredder. Apply the same system for your email.
4. Time and task management keeps everything running smoothly. Whether you’re into apps, ithings, cloud-based calendars, or paper products, get comfortable with your system. You’ll need an at-a-glance monthly and an at-a-glance weekly format. Schedule appointments in the monthly, and then confirm them along with task items in the weekly at a glance. Stay on top of priorities and nothing slips through the cracks.
Apply these simple strategies to all areas of your life and teach them to your children and you will discover untold secrets of Zen mastery.
Evan Zislis is founder and principal consultant of http://www.MyIntentionalSolutions.com, delivering hands-on organizational solutions and strategies consulting for households, businesses, nonprofits, students and life transitions. For more information about simplifying your stuff and organizing your life, call 970.366.2532, email Evan@MyIntentionalSolutions.com or become a friend at http://www.facebook.com/EvanZislis.
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