Dealing with Roadblocks

Dealing with Roadblocks
At some point during almost every organizing project, roadblocks are bound to pop up: boredom, the sinking feeling that the end of the project will never come, scheduling conflicts that make it difficult to sustain progress, and sometimes even the sense that you're worse off than you were when you started.

Though it may not be possible to avoid roadblocks altogether, rest assured that you can get past them. Put these four tactics to work the next time you're faced with an obstacle on your path to organization.

Focus on the end result
Let's face it: many of the tasks that organizing requires--sorting and weeding, making decisions, categorizing, and so on--can sometimes be downright tedious. Do them enough times and they might even start to feel endless. Focusing on the actual process of organizing can be enough to make even the strongest willed person want to throw in the towel.

So try shifting your attention to the end result instead. Rather than thinking only about what it will take to finally be done, give some thought to what "done" will mean: a clearer desk and a less stressful workday, perhaps, or a living room you're not embarrassed to have others see. Remind yourself of why you started your organizing process in the first place, and keep your end goal in mind as you work through the project.

Break it down
If you've ever tried to reorganize an entire closet (or desk, or kitchen, or basement) in a weekend, you know that tackling a project that's too large can make things feel even more disorganized than they were when you started. To avoid feeling overwhelmed by the scope of a project, break it into reasonable chunks. When organizing your bedroom closet, for example, don't take everything out at once; instead, work through one particular type of clothing first (pants, say), then move onto the next type only after you've finished.

Time limits can also be helpful here. Rather than spending an entire exhausting Saturday trying to overhaul your home office, aim to spend a few hours on the project Saturday, a few on Sunday, and 20-30 minutes a day during the week. You'll keep the process moving forward without burning yourself out.

Stay realistic
Here's an insurmountable fact: organization never happens overnight. It takes time, effort, and dedication. But here's another fact: disorganization doesn't happen overnight, either. It tends to be the result of months, if not years, of accumulation, delayed decisions, life changes, or a combination thereof.

So while it's important to keep realistic expectations as to how long organizing projects will take, it's just as important to remember that you're by no means a failure if you're not able to undo years of disorganization right away. It took time to get where you are, and it'll take time to get back, but you will get there.

Maintain, maintain, maintain
No matter how dedicated you are to an organizing project, you will likely find, sooner or later, that everyday life conspires to slow your progress. You might have a particularly busy week at work that allows almost no time to weed out the papers piled on your desk, or you might come down with a cold that keeps you confined to bed for several days, unable to work on deciding which items bursting out of the hall closet should be moved elsewhere.

During those times when it's just not possible to focus on moving your organizing project forward, cut yourself some slack and focus instead on maintaining the progress you've already made: don't add any new papers to the stack on your desk, for example, or spend a few minutes of each sick-in-bed day sorting through the mail that's arrived so it doesn't gather into a critical mass. When work slows down a bit or you're feeling better, aim to ease yourself back to where you left off with your organizing project.

The next time you hit a roadblock when organizing, don't let it stop you completely. Put the four tips above to use, find a workable detour, and get yourself back on the road to organization.

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