Top Takeaways On Organizing and Productivity

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This past week I spent four days in Pittsburgh, PA at the annual conference of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO). It is always fun to be with like-minded individuals, but much of what I learned is valuable to anyone.

Here are a few headlines:

Top Takeaways on Organizing and Productivity


When Fearful, Take Action

Don’t sit by and wait for things to change. Don’t make excuses. Don’t try and cover up mistakes. Don’t procrastinate dealing with the situation. Taking action lets the steam out of your mental pressure cooker and empowers you to find a solution. Not sure what action to take? Solicit input and rally external resources.


Embrace Lifelong Learning

No matter how much we know there is always more to learn. Persistent curiosity keeps us humble and broadens our perspective. We are never too old or too experienced to learn a new trick. Take a class, attend a lecture, pick someone’s brain, listen to a podcast, read a book, sign up for a webinar, etc.


Focus on What You Want to Keep

Letting go can feel overwhelming. Whether it be relationships, activities or physical belongings, it is easy to succumb to a sense of loss. However, decluttering is actually a positive process. Rather than fixating on what you need to shed, choose to hold onto those commitments and belongings that either bring your pleasure or serve a current need. Whatever remains can then be seen for what it is ­– a hindrance.


Show Your Brain Some Love

Our brains are amazing tools, but they do have limits. The best way to avoid feeling overwhelmed and to stop forgetting things is to get the information out of your brain and into a trusted system. You can go digital or use paper, but commit to using it faithfully.


Establish Efficient Processes

Often we buy tools with hopes that they will “fix” a bad situation. Tools are wonderful, but a tool will not fix a bad process. There may be an app or a container that looks like a magic bullet, but it will only work if you first define a system in which the tool will serve a role.


Accept Resale Reality

Many of us own belongings we think are valuable. Perhaps we paid a lot for them or they have been in the family for a long time. The truth is that the current fair market value of your possessions may be vastly lower than you expect. For instance, the market for “brown” furniture has dropped more than 70 percent in recent years (i.e. antiques are “out”). There is little demand for dishes and formal serving pieces that can’t go in a dishwasher. Oriental rugs are down nearly 60 percent from the early 2000s. In addition, some items may not sellable. Did you know that you cannot legally sell anything with real ivory? If you think you have items of value, seek out an appraiser. If a professional tells you that your items are not worth much, listen and consider donating or safely disposing.


Feed Your Focus

Maintaining focus can be difficult. If you have difficulty, don’t berate yourself or think you just need to “try harder.” Instead, do what you can to simplify the environment in which you operate. For instance, if you need to pay bills, but struggle to get it done, schedule both a specific place and time for this task. If you can’t keep your attention up at home, bring a file box/your computer to a library or other quiet/boring location. Then, set realistic goals for how long you can stay focused (maybe it is only 15-minute increments!) Program in breaks to get up, walk around and check your phone. The key is to train your brain to perform a specific task in a specific location at a predictable time.


Color Outside the Lines

There is always more than one way to achieve a goal. We often feel the pressure to take the same path that we see others pursuing. This can be productive, as learning from others saves us the time of figuring out a solution someone else has already discovered. However, sometimes the “traditional” approach just doesn’t feel right or isn’t succeeding. In this case, open your mind to alternative paths. Great inventions are the result of trying something different.

Below is a poem that was shared by Jeff Tobe. I hope you find it encouraging and inspiring.



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Do any of these resonates with you?