A friend of mine reminded me a couple of weeks ago to stay in the moment and not dwell on past mistakes. You see, I was stressing over the fact that I was making mistakes during the filming of a video for the NAPO 2022 Conference application submission. My friend said to leave the past in the past. There’s nothing you can do about it now, so move on. This was great advice!
I did just that, focusing on the moment and doing my best at that time. That’s all anyone can ask. There’s lots of talk right now about being mindfully present. When you place yourself in the moment you give yourself permission to concentrate on what’s happening now instead of ruminating over what happened before.
The best way to fix a past mistake is to learn from it. Know what went wrong and what went right.
So often clients stress over organizing mistakes. It may be that the strategy wasn’t quite right and needed to be tweaked. Perhaps, they forgot to use it. They are so focused on what went wrong that they give themselves no room to be in the now. It’s important to know what doesn’t work but also important to leave the past organizing mistakes behind so you can move forward.
Here’s how to leave the past organizing mistakes behind.
Identify the past organizing mistakes
Recognize what hasn’t worked for you in the past. Think about why it didn’t work. Ask yourself the following questions:
Is the strategy too complicated? Maybe there are too many steps to take to maintain the organization.
Has something changed in your life or your routine to make the strategy ineffectual?
Is there any part of the organizing strategy that did work?
Can you take the part that worked to create a better organizing strategy?
Sometimes the best organizing strategies are the simplest.
Practice new habits
Be honest with yourself. Is it the organizing strategy that doesn’t work or is it that you are not practicing new habits mindfully?
Sometimes an organizing strategy requires you to change part of your routine to create a new habit.
It takes time to create new habits. You need to mindfully practice and practice until you no longer need to think about them. It can take 3 or more weeks for a new habit to become routine.
Here are a couple of ideas of things that may have gone wrong:
Did you forget that your new habit for dealing with the mail is to open everything? That means email invoices, paper invoices, and scheduling time to finish the task.
Forgive yourself and leave the past organizing mistake in the past.
Think about what went wrong. Did you get interrupted and then forget to go back to the task? This means that envelopes were left here and there. Piles of papers were left by the door, on the dining table, and near the couch.
Now you know what went wrong you can start again.
Gather those piles of papers. Recycle or shred the ones you don’t want. Schedule time to attend to the remainder. It just takes 10 minutes.
Maybe you were interrupted in the middle of going to put the laundry into the dryer. You forgot to return to your task so the laundry sat in the washer overnight and now must be re-washed. Yes. It’s a bother but no worries. It happens. Set a reminder in your phone to put the wash into the dryer. Put another reminder to take the laundry out of the dryer, fold it, and put it away.
Put little reminders (or alarms) on your phone to help you follow through on the steps to complete tasks.
There’s no time like the present
Someone said we call it the present because it is a gift. Live today and leave the past in the past. We all make organizing mistakes. It’s good to acknowledge when something doesn’t work the way we want it to. Think about what went wrong and how you can make it better.
It’s also important to leave the past organizing mistakes behind so you can start again and move forward.
Dwelling on the past organizing mistake will not change it. Tweak the organizing strategy to suit you and the way you live your life.
If this is something you would like help with, consider joining the Clear Space for You virtual support group. Jonda Beattie and I guide the participants to create organizing strategies that work for them and the way they live their lives.
Diane N. Quintana is a Certified Professional Organizer® ,a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization®, Master Trainer and owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC and co-owner of Release●Repurpose●Reorganize, LLC based in Atlanta, Georgia. Contact Diane for a free 30-minute phone consultation.