Organization is a habit. Being organized for a day doesn’t really mean much if you aren’t organized every day. For example, even though I just cleaned the apartment on Friday I somehow ended up with a bottle of power steering fluid and a motorcycle helmet on my kitchen counter next to my breakfast less than two days later.
The consequences for not being organized include
•forgetting important things and events
•losing track of time or using it inefficiently
1. Create a routine
Doing something uncomfortable is hard. I’m dangerously close to being late to work every day because narrowly missing a deadline (more on that later) is probably the most exciting part of my work day. Being on time for work is hard for me because it’s simply not exciting to stroll into work without a sense of urgency. In fact, I’ll forget to clock in if I show up too early.
We’re less likely to engage in bad behavior if there’s punishment for behavior. For example, this guy hired a girl from Craigslist to slap him in the face when he got off task. Read the full story here.
See that smile? She’s enjoying this a little too much.
I’ve come up with my own equally painful solution. Every time I catch myself being distracted by something that’s keeping me from achieving my daily focus I’ll pull these two rubber bands back and pop them on my wrist. I’ve chosen the extra skinny kind that is guaranteed to leave a welt.
For those of us looking for a more sophisticated method of negative reinforcement, the guy pictured above recently created a modified shock collar for people which is programed to give you a good jolt if you visit a site like Facebook instead of completing your tasks.
This works because the small amount of pain is all we need to become aware that we’re off course. It’s the few seconds of awareness that make us realize that we’re off track and to get back on track.
It takes about 10 days to establish a habit. After we’ve established the habit it becomes automatic. For example, it’s rare that you won’t see me in the gym on Monday or Thursday because if I don’t do anything else that day, this is something I have to do to hit my long term goals. This brings me to the 2nd point.
2. Have fewer daily focuses
We generally overestimate how much we can do in a day but underestimate how much can get accomplished in a year. Often we fall into the trap of creating long to-do lists only to check off the not so important tasks and never getting around to the things that would improve our lives such as staying in shape.
I have a long term goal of bench pressing 300 pounds. So I’m in the gym every Monday working toward that.
I’ve limited myself to one uncomfortable task that needs to get completed daily.
As mentioned in the first point establishing a new habit is hard. It’s so easy to fall back into comfortable habits when things just get too uncomfortable. By having only one daily focus that is the uncomfortable yet important thing you had to do today you increase your chance of success.
3. Create deadlines
Remember back when you were a kid and you used to see how much stuff you could get done before the food in the microwave finished heating up? Wouldn’t it be great if every other minute of your life were that productive?
The goals that we have set for ourself go to the grave with us if we schedule to do them someday or one day. Break your goal down into steps and start today.
Like I stated in the second point getting things done only matter if it’s important to your overall goals. Nothing motivates like a sense of urgency.