The ad’s statement about being disorganized: “. . . it’s not your fault. It’s just that nobody ever taught you what to DO with all the stuff that comes into your life.” rubbed me the wrong way.
How arrogant to assume that you were never taught how to be organized. From when we are toddlers, we are taught to put away our toys in an organized fashion, we learn to put our clothes away, sorted and stored in drawers and closets. The lessons go on from there when we start school and are taught how to keep our desk organized. Each teacher has a place for materials, and we are expected to put them back in an organized fashion. As we move up the grades, we are given planner books to keep track of our assignments, and many of our classes have very specific requirements on how our work has to be organized. Literally no one is not taught organizational skills.
As you know, I have my own theory on being organized, and it’s not that we have not been taught how to do it. In fact, many of us are scholars of organization. We buy and read the books, we buy bins and drawers and file cabinets. We buy full closet organization systems. Yet, our desks are still cluttered, our closets a mess, and there are piles of stuff everywhere. Why? Well, it’s not because of a lack of education on organization.
I’m a self-proclaimed “naturally disorganized” person. I don’t have that innate ability to keep my home neat and organized. Still, I do have some organization skills, and, until recently, I believed that everyone possessed some ability to be organized. Basically, there’s a spectrum of OQ (organizational quotient) with most of us lumped in the middle, but some with almost no abilities, and some with superior abilities. I realized this when I was helping a friend move. He had to pack up his belongings and be in a new place within 10-12 weeks. The way I would approach this type of effort would be to work backwards from the target date, assigning goals to complete for every week. This way I could figure out if I had enough time, and also keep track of the progress so that I’d know if I was running behind. This, to me, is very basic organization 101 concept. But, my friend had no clue on how to plan the work he needed to do.
I’d check up on him every couple of weeks, and it would appear that nothing had been done. Sure, there were small pockets of progress, but it was obvious to me that at the pace he was moving, we would not make the target date. It was frustrating. This was a smart person, an engineer, so it never occurred to me that he didn’t have any organization skills. I mean, like almost zero. Sure, he had learned how to sort his laundry and put books on a bookshelf, but he didn’t have what I call an “organized brain”. There’s the ability to organize, there’s the actual brain functioning, and there’s the motivation to do it – if you have all of these, you are probably way to the right on the spectrum. In my friend’s case, he had the ability, but not the brain functioning or motivation, which put him way on the left side of the spectrum.
I’ve come to realize that improving you OQ is a lot like trying to lose weight. There are many theories, books, programs, online workshops, etc. to try. Maybe you are the type of person who can just stop eating desserts and will drop 5lbs. Maybe you are someone who has to workout daily or you’ll never drop an ounce. The point is, that there is no “one size fits all” weight loss method, and there is also no “one size fits all” organization method. You have to figure out what is going to work for you.
My theories, methods, and suggestions are just another diet book. I offer tips that I have found give me the most results for the amount of time put into them, but by no means does that mean it would work for you, or even if you would find it as helpful as I.
A first step for all is figuring out where you are on the spectrum. In which area do you struggle? This self knowledge will help to determine where to concentrate your improvement efforts.
When I look at OQ this way, I realize that I’m in the middle with ability and brain function, but definitely low on the scale for motivation. What’s your OQ?