Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What's Holding you Back?

When working with a new client, one of the first challenges I face is to understand why the client is disorganized. Our first visit together is an assessment session which helps me to understand the issues that they face and why they face them. Understanding reasons for disorganization is key to overcoming it. Without an understanding of the underlying isssues, it is very difficult to help an individual, family or business implement systems, structures, process and particularly behaviour changes to achieve a greater level of organization.

Julie Morgenstern, in her book Organizing from the Inside Out, offers a clear and simple discussion of the causes of clutter. She describes three levels of reasons and points out that "everyone struggling with disorganization suffers from at least one Level I cause, but may also be suffering from some Level 2 and 3 causes as well". I have summarized them here for you so that you might have insight into your own reasons for disorganization.

  1. Level 1: Tehnical Errors. These include the simple mistakes in your organizing systems, such things as items not having a home, inconvenient storage, more stuff than storage space, or complex, confusing sytems that are too complicated for you to use.
  2. Level 2: External Realities. These include factors in the outside world over which you have little or no control. Understanding how to manage these factors will help you to create realistic expectations for yourself. They include unrealistic workload, the speed of life and technology, life or business in transition, uncooperative partners or limited space.
  3. Level 3: Psychological Obstacles. These include hidden, internal forces that keep you disorganized no matter how much you might wish to be otherwise. Understanding these issues can help you either work around or through them to seek greater organization. They might include a need for abundance, craving the thrill of creating order from chaos, having unclear goals and priorities, being afraid of success or failure, feeling the need to retreat, having a need for perfection or distraction, and having sentimental attachments to items.

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