“The main excuse we hear for not getting or staying organised is that there is never enough time. Time optimisation has its roots in choice, which means that it is not so much a lack of time but rather the bad choices we make to fill our 24 hours that determine our true success. Focus on the long-term end result that organisation brings instead of the short-term pain of how you are going to get there. If it takes 21 days to change a habit, work at changing one or two habits at a time. By implementing only a couple of small changes, you’ll experience a huge shift in your output – but, depending on the magnitude of your current organising challenges, you might need to walk before you can run,” she adds.
Tracey warns that technology, social media, e-mail and smart phones are all great productivity tools but can quickly become time sappers. “We tend to focus on the quick, fast and easy tasks, particularly when our schedules are crowded or overwhelming, which leaves too little time for the high-priority, high-value tasks.
This is when you fool yourself that you are being productive while in truth you are just being busy.
“Technology can be a very powerful tool when used effectively – small tricks of the trade help our clients take charge of their inbox and work optimally. It’s about working smarter, not harder. The value to a company’s bottom line is measurable and astounding. Teaching our clients to use technology more productively
helps them and their teams save money and valuable time,” notes Tracey.
Tracey was working as a senior facilities designer for the Foschini Group when she discovered professional organising via an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2002. “She was interviewing Julie Morgenstern, a United States-based organiser and author. Realising that there was a profession for my passion, I managed to negotiate reduced hours with my employee before starting Get Organised as a full-time concern in 2003. Julie has since become my friend and mentor,” she says. Get Organised has experienced steady growth, increasing its number of employees to 12 and expanding to Ireland in 2010. “Today, we work with busy entrepreneurs, new and senior managers, busy teams and administration staff to help them organise their space, time and life,” Tracey says.
If you can’t afford her services, Tracey points out that Get Organised issues a monthly e-mail newsletter that includes a different organising topic each month. “The information is practical, short and easy to implement. With each free subscription, you can download a complimentary individual or business productivity e-book. You’ll also find monthly organising video tips, podcasts, a blog, and loads of information on all things organised, from kitchens to finances to time,” she
Tracey's 3-Step Plan for Getting Organised
While Get Organised doesn’t advocate a one-size-fits-all approach to organisation, here is a three-step plan for organising any space:
Step 1: Get Going
Starting off with the end in mind, arm yourself with black bags for trash and a couple of large boxes marked ‘give away’, ‘sell’ and ‘not for this room’. Don’t worry if you don’t have the whole day, week or month to dive in and get going; if 15 minutes is all you can commit to right now, it’s better than nothing.
Step 2: Sort, Store and Simplify
This step is all about weeding through your papers and possessions while deciding on what stays and where it goes. “The excuses for not getting organised range from not having enough time to feeling overwhelmed or not knowing where to start” says Tracey. Focus on the benefits that organising brings: saved time, extra money, reduced stress, increased productivity, clarity and room to breathe. Stand in front of your desk or at the entrance to your space, work your way around the room, shelf, drawer or desk, touching each item, paper and possession, while making an immediate decision whether the item stays or goes. It helps to ask, ‘Do I need this, use this or love this?’ If the answer is no, add it to your give-away or sell pile and move on. Only once you know what you are keeping can you decide how you are going to keep it. It is now that you can go out and buy containers, files or folders if you need them. Group like items together and label everything that is in a closed container.
Step 3: Establish a Maintenance Routine
After all your hard work de-cluttering and systemising, you want to prevent falling back on old habits. Implement a daily sort-through routine and use your diary, the seasons or gift-giving occasions as a trigger to help you stay on track.
Given our busy modern lifestyle, where we’re juggling a busy career with nurturing and caring for a loving family, and still trying to find some me-time in which to exercise and relax, it’s no wonder that few of us manage to maintain ordered lives where everything is perfectly coordinated, timed and filed.
“Women tend to be ‘yes’ people,” says Tracey. “As a result, we take on too many things, putting everyone else’s needs before our own, and so we run out of time and become overwhelmed and then get stuck, sometimes quite literally. Add to the mix the juggle of work and life, social media, friends, family and self, and there just seems to be a never-ending flood of to-do’s without enough time to get things done.
“While organisation to the degree that Get Organised teaches is not taught at school, it is in most cases learned behaviour. This means that with a little bit of input, direction and support, busy women can start to take better charge of their time, schedule and life. You literally have to unlearn the habits that are not serving you and introduce simple systems that are easy to maintain and that suit your organising style, lifestyle and personality,” Tracey explains.
Get Organised and Regain Focus