WELL­BE­ING COL­UMN Dis­cover your or­gan­i­sa­tional per­son­al­ity.

What’s stop­ping you from get­ting bet­ter or­gan­ised?

In the Moment - - Contents - Words: Harriet Gri ey / Illustration: Mi­randa Sofro­niou

One of my favourite things is tak­ing just-washed, sun-dried bed linen o the line, fold­ing it care­fully and stor­ing it in the air­ing cup­board. For me, it is both lit­er­ally and metaphor­i­cally sooth­ing, evok­ing child­hood mem­o­ries of a calmly or­gan­ised home and the com­fort of a freshly made bed.

The idea that we are a ected by the en­vi­ron­ments in which we live and work is un­doubt­edly true, and this gets thrown into stark re­lief if we have to share these en­vi­ron­ments with oth­ers who are very di er­ently or­gan­ised to us. To some­one who likes struc­ture, con rma­tion of de­tail and ev­ery­thing in its place, some­one else’s spon­tane­ity, re­laxed ap­proach to time­keep­ing and gen­eral lais­sez-faire at­ti­tude can seem in­com­pre­hen­si­ble and even in­fu­ri­at­ing.

Be­ing aware and able to iden­tify how di er­ent our or­gan­i­sa­tional per­son­al­i­ties and styles can be is use­ful, es­pe­cially when it comes to un­der­stand­ing how to make any changes that might help us be bet­ter or­gan­ised. Un­der­stand­ing the psy­chol­ogy of why we sub­con­sciously choose to verge on the dis­or­gan­ised can also be re­veal­ing in terms of our in­ter­nal state. To the min­i­mal­ist, all that ‘clut­ter’ seems un­de­sir­able and alien­at­ing, but for some of us, hav­ing lots of pos­ses­sions to which we are sen­ti­men­tally at­tached might pro­vide some­thing of a ‘se­cu­rity blan­ket’ and can be very re­as­sur­ing.

My per­sonal chaos the­ory is that some of us nd cre­at­ing and deal­ing with ex­ter­nal chaos prefer­able to deal­ing with un­speci c chaotic feel­ings in­side. Some­times, con­stantly los­ing our keys is a use­ful dis­trac­tion from, or a way of draw­ing at­ten­tion to, some di cult emo­tions we’re avoid­ing. For oth­ers, try­ing to con­trol their ex­ter­nal en­vi­ron­ment could be a way of man­ag­ing anx­i­ety about things out­side their con­trol. It’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber though that, how­ever much we’d like to im­prove the or­gan­i­sa­tion skills of oth­ers, we can only re­ally im­prove our own. But in nd­ing ways to or­gan­ise our own lives bet­ter, this will have a knock-on e ect on oth­ers at home or at work. Hav­ing a set place to leave things like keys, check­ing your per­sonal diary ev­ery day and con­fer­ring with oth­ers about theirs (or about any joint plans), al­ways putting dirty clothes in a wash bas­ket and hang­ing up damp tow­els, us­ing timers or apps on smart­phones for use­ful alerts about dead­lines for work, cre­at­ing ba­sic rou­tines for ev­ery­day or weekly chores, re­duc­ing the sheer amount of stu at home through reusing, re­cy­cling or tak­ing it to the lo­cal dump; all of these will help both you and those around you to live more or­gan­ised lives.

Hav­ing a home for things – from a jar for the wooden spoons in the kitchen, to an al­lo­cated le in which you stu the re­ceipts you will need for your tax re­turn – all helps, and this sort of or­gan­i­sa­tional ap­proach can be ap­plied to di er­ent as­pects of your life. With a lit­tle care­ful plan­ning, you can soon cre­ate a bet­ter-or­gan­ised en­vi­ron­ment in which to live and work, which will help you stay on top of things and pre­vent you from feel­ing over­whelmed. And, if you stay on top of things, you’re al­ready half-way to be­ing bet­ter or­gan­ised.

I pride my­self on be­ing rel­a­tively well-or­gan­ised – my messy desk ex­cluded – be­cause it just makes my life so much eas­ier if I know where my car keys are; if we don’t run out of toi­let pa­per or milk; if I al­low enough time to get to ap­point­ments; if I save my work les reg­u­larly on my com­puter. That ve-sec­ond pause be­fore I move from one thing to an­other, a sort of mo­men­tary mind­ful­ness about what I’m do­ing and how I’m do­ing it, all helps me be bet­ter or­gan­ised. Just by be­ing more thought­ful, you can make a busy life less stress­ful and cre­ate more time for the things you want to do.

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