Organizing Pitfalls #13: Trying to “Get Organized” in a weekend

It’s summer time, and you might have some organizing projects that you’d love to get done while there’s bright light and warm weather. Particularly in these early summer days before it starts getting abominably hot. 

However, allow me to offer a thought to help you avoid one of the common organizing pitfalls that I see people each summer fall into: Trying to “get organized” in a weekend.

Somehow the magic of the organizing shows on TV create these lovely pictures in our mind of how much can get done in just a few short hours. So, we dig in and start getting dirty, then a whole day later we’re barely done sorting out a third of the garage and we’re out of steam. Everything gets shoved back in, vaguely sorted, and the project is left to linger for another several years incomplete. 

The problem that we’re facing in this situation is one of expectations. By expected to be “done” in a day or a weekend, we end up feeling frustrated and dejected when we discover that the process is going to take a lot longer than we had envisioned, and thus our motivation and commitment to completing it dissolves. 

If you’ve had this experience then you’re not alone. Most people under-estimate how long projects take them. It’s a fact that’s so well known that professional project managers generally add 50% to 100% more time to the estimates that people give them to account for this underestimation problem. 

While it’s certainly a good idea to improve your time estimation skills in general, allow me to offer a better approach to getting that garage organized this summer: Schedule chunks of time and just focus on making progress.

Our team likes to work in 3-hour blocks generally, so you might spend a half-day each weekend or every other weekend pushing forward on the project. Or if that feels like too much, then how about just 60-90 minutes on Saturday morning or just after lunch.

Break the project into manageable bites and focus on continuous progress toward the outcome. Then, you’re not blowing all your energy on gearing up just to get a huge let down when you don’t achieve the intended outcome in a single day. 

What’s the next big organizing project that you want to tackle? Grab your calendar and schedule a 90-min or 3-hour block in right now to get the work started. Then, when the day comes and your first block of time is up, grab your calendar again and schedule the next one. 

You will succeed and accomplish your goal as long as you keep making progress.


Photo: Stockfresh

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