Everyone can learn to be organised

June 10, 2008

in Productivity

Do you think people are born organised or that everyone can learn to be organised? Last week in GTD Times there was a post discussing research showing that intelligence is not a fixed attribute (Expandable Intelligence: the Effort Effect and Learning How to be Organized | GTD Times). Rather it is something that can be learned and

grows with effort…

The author then went on to draw a similarity with being organised.

Instead of saying to yourself

I’m just disorganised, there’s no point even trying.

imagine saying

I can be organised. I just need to learn how to do it.

The trick is finding the right “system” for you and learning it in a way that best suits you.

Find out how you learn

If we can learn to be more organised, it makes sense to find out our optimum learning style. Take some time to think about what ways you learn best. Often, the way people learn is divided into three categories (although there are much more complex methods):

  • Visual learners, who learn by watching. Illustrations and diagrams can be very helpful. Take lots of notes and draw pictures. Use visual cues like post-it-notes
  • Auditory learners, who learn by hearing. Talking things through or reading aloud can be helpful. Perhaps try an audiobook or listen to podcasts on your chosen systems.
  • Kinesthetic learners, who learn by doing. Hands on is the way to go. Think about how you feel when you’re using a system.

If you’re interested in finding out your learning style, there’s a quick quiz here with a short description of each.

In addition to being important in learning the how’s of a system, your learning style will play a role in how successfully you can continue to carry it out. Try to find a way to organise that fits with your learning style and a successful outcome is more likely.

The right system

Your organising system doesn’t necessarily need to be based entirely on one way of doing things, for example GTD or Franklin Covey or Flylady or the way your mum did it. Similarly, it doesn’t need to follow any system to a “T”. I think the trick to finding the right system is to take what works for you and leave the rest behind. Personalise it. If you find that part of one system and part of another system help, then why not combine them and see how it works. The organising police are not going to come knocking on your door because you’re mixing things up a bit.

I have tried all of those systems and probably more that I’ve forgotten. I’m finding that works best for me, but I don’t follow it meticulously. I leave bits out and add other bits in. And it changes from time to time, depending on my resources, requirements and how I’m feeling.

Of course, there’s going to be some trial and error involved. And nothing’s going to happen without a commitment. Give yourself time to get used to using your system. Let it become part of your daily routine. Remember the “grows with effort” part (above). In the famous words of a Pantene model, it won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.

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