In the warm weather we’ve been enjoying I recently remembered a trick I used to use when traveling in the summer, or in hot locations.
Rather than carry socks in my already minimalist carry-on, I took a small baggy of talcum powder. Sprinkling it into my walking shoes kept them cool and comfortable and reduced friction.
And reducing friction is a very good thing, right?
Much of getting organized is really about staying organized. And much of what may block you from that is recognizing the little things that make it hard to keep up.
Those little things tend to get in the way of what you may want to tackle as a project. They create an amazing amount of friction.
If you walk into the kitchen to a sink full of dishes, it’s unlikely that your enthusiasm for clearing out the pantry will last very long.
If your bedroom has become carpeted by clothes in various states of wear-ability, reviewing and donating the ones you don’t wear will turn into a laundry marathon. Maybe.
If your desktop is buried it may serve as a way to run or slink in another direction, anything but toward filing. If you keep 15 windows open on your computer desktop you have provided yourself with at least that many reasons to avoid the bill-pay program.
You get the picture. All these situations produce friction which has to be overcome if any real organizing is going to happen. A solution is possible!
In his blog, A Year of Productivity Chris Baily describes an approach he calls returning to neutral.
When you leave an activity try to actually complete it. This returns the environment to a state of readiness for use. More important, you have reduced the friction involved in having to come back and finish a task later, when have already moved on to something else.
It looks like this:
- Clean up after each meal – you will enjoy the next one so much more!
- When you take off your clothes either put them away or into a laundry bin. Even if you have some sort of in-between place for wearing them again…fine, that should be a place, not the floor.
- When you stand up from your desk, return both the digital and physical desktops to a state of readiness. This doesn’t have to mean empty, just so you can see what should happen next.
All these behaviors can become habits that save you from procrastination. They also create an environment that supports you to tackle the more challenging organizing tasks.
Baily even goes so far as to suggest these other ways to return to neutral:
- Resolve your issues with people, family friends and co-workers before they become blocks.
- Before going to bed set up what you need in order to walk out the door in the morning.
- Get enough sleep so that waking up is not a struggle.
But really, wouldn’t it just be nice to face less friction on a day to day basis?