Slipping isn’t the Same as Failing

That’s not a typo.

Have you ever successfully used a system to take notes, manage paper flow, handle email or keep your office looking decent and then one day you realize that not only are you not using the system anymore, your notes, papers, email or entire office are out of control?

What usually follows this realization is, “Argh!  I can get organized why can’t I stay organized.” Or, “That system didn’t work for me. Need to try something else.”

Yeah.  You’re not alone.

There are a few things to keep in mind with regard to this scenario – and every one of them takes the heat off of you. It’s not that you’re doomed to never attaining the level of organization you desire, you just need to switch up your thinking so you can find some contentment during the change process.

Be monogamous.  There are dozens of systems you could implement to get the results you want.  Those systems are out there because they worked for somebody and in theory they could work for you.  But you’ve picked one and now you need to stick with it.  Don’t even read about or listen to other ideas right now.  It’s tempting to keep researching, but it’s not a good idea and even counterproductive to do so.

Be patient.   Give it some time.  You’re trying to establish a new routine so you need to allow sufficient time for it to take hold.  That old “21 days” thing is bunk.  Give yourself a month or two at minimum and expect to establish a routine, not a habit. There may even be some minor tweaks along the way.  Glitches don’t mean the system doesn’t work for you, you just need to refine it to meet your individual needs and preferences.

Be supportive.  Help yourself remember your new routine.  If you’ve decided to use a certain type of notebook or electronic device to take notes, remove all other options from your space.  Including sticky notes. If you have nothing else to write on, you’ll pick up the right thing. Implementing a new day-planning routine? Put reminders to follow the new routine in your calendar or on notes in places where you’ll notice them.  Often we’re not refusing to do this new thing, we’re forgetting to do this new thing.

Be realistic.  Even if you have a system that works, you still might slip.  Slipping is not the same as failing. Slipping means you got off track and stopped using your system so things got out of whack.  All you need to do is get back on the system. Being organized isn’t about never getting off track, it’s about having a track to get back on after a minor derailment.

Useful? There's more where that came from.

The No-Nonsense Guide To Ditching Time Management Stress

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