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You Don’t Need a Better Organizational System


One of the main topics in my office is stress. Stress around getting things done, doing a good job, or being a good person. Stress infiltrates much of our lives from work to home to everything in between.   Frequently, I will have clients come into my office and say, “I just need a new system.”  “If I could just find the right organizational system, everything would be ok.”

Well, I am here to say from experience: You don’t need another organization system.  Because most of my clients are Type A, highly organized, in control people, they already have a system or many systems that help keep them organized. Now don’t get me wrong, organizational systems are necessary and needed. In fact, I love organizational systems. Just ask my nearest and dearest. I love researching apps and buying new planners. It is when we get stuck on the idea that the next organization ‘system’ will take away our stress and make everything better that it becomes a problem.

The perfect calendar won’t

  • make our to-do list smaller
  • make perfectionism less of the end goal
  • help us say no when needed.
  • offer compassion when we fall short
  • quiet our inner bully

Usually when we believe a new calendar or organizational system is the key to all our problems, we have run up against one of our biggest bullies:

Good Girl Gail, Perfection Paula, Running Rita

Good Girl Gail convinces us that a good girl is on top of everything. If she can see everything written down she will accomplish more and therefore be a better person overall.  Good Girl Gail believes her worth is connected to checking things off her to-do list.

Perfection Paula convinces us that a good organizational system protects us from failure.  The sneaky thing about Perfection Paula is that all the time we pour into re-writing our to-do list or entering in our new structure into our handy app keeps us from tackling any of our really challenging projects (therefore keeping us perfect). Perfection Paula could be replaced with Procrastination Paula. Because by creating this fancy organizational system we are justifiably procrastinating so that we won’t ever fail and Perfection Paula can keep her unblemished name.

Running Rita convinces us that we need to stay as busy as possible and an organizational system will allow that to happen in an easy efficient manner. Running Rita wants us to stay in full out run mode so we don’t have to turn around and a look at our life, double check our priorities and/or ask,  “Is this the stuff I want to be doing?” “Is this the life I want to be living?” Running Rita convinces us to just keep keep moving and all will be well.

These three inner bullies keep us believing that an organizational system will ease all our woes. That something outside of us will make it all better. They keep us stuck in the hustle, the stress and the perfectionism that keeps us miserable and exhausted.

So if we don’t need another organizational system what do we need?

We need to listen to our wise self: Compassionate Clara and Slow Down Samantha.

Compassionate Clara: Reminds us that we don’t have to be perfect.  We don’t have to get everything done. Life is bigger than checking things off our to-do list. Compassionate Clara reminds us that we are perfectly imperfect and trying the best we can at all times (even when we are feeling lazy or unmotivated). Compassionate Clara is that whisper of a voice who says, “It’s ok sweet thing, you can stop pushing so hard you are valuable, lovable and worthy no matter what you check off your list.” Compassionate Clara reminds us that a happier life is lived within messy imperfection.

Slow Down Samantha: Reminds us to slow down, look up, check in and breathe. She reminds us that Life is more than what we can check off our to-do list. She reminds us to check in with our values, monitor our glasses and break the rules if necessary. Slow Down Samantha whispers, “Slow down, look around and notice the little magic in every day.”

So no you don’t need another organizational system to combat stress what you do need is Compassion and Slowing Down…2 things we struggle to give ourselves.  So this week I challenge you to welcome the whispers of Compassionate Clara and Slow Down Samantha.

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