Overwhelmingly, authors of organization and time management books use those pages to describe their systems. It’s simple, they think – just follow these precise steps and everything falls into place. Wrong!
There’s a major glitch in this approach. All those systems were created by someone that has no idea how you live. Their system may work just fine for them, but we are all different. In fact, I'd argue that there is no simple solution that everyone can simply follow and magically become organized.
When it comes to time management, productivity and organization, I’ve found that your personality and habits play huge roles in determining the techniques that are natural to you. There are four productivity personalities, and today I’m going to walk you through the basics of each and get you started on creating a system that fits with your brain. The more you know about yourself, the easier it will be to create a workable system that will organize your life.
The Fantastical is a visual thinker. I’ve found that a LOT of creative entrepreneurs tend to be Fantasticals. If you’re a Fantastical, you excel at taking interesting problems and producing unique solutions.
Fantasticals fall farthest from the traditional files in alphabetical order organization scheme. If you’re a Fantastical, you need to have all the pieces of your work spread out in front of you. If it’s not within your line of sight, it may as well not exist. So when you organize your environment, leave space for all of your current project piles. You’ll know what’s in them. ;)
The Analytical is driven by ambition and logic. This is a person found in the board room, occupying the CEO’s chair, or in some other position of power. If you’re an Analytical, you’re able to quickly assess situations and link them to longer term outcomes, and you need information at your fingertips almost instantaneously.
You might think that lends itself well to alphabetizing, but that’s not necessarily the case. Analyticals often do well with entirely electronic systems that allow the necessary files and folders to appear with just a few keystrokes.
While the Fantastical focuses inward and the Analytical looks toward the future, the Environmental looks at the people around him or her. Are they comfortable, feeling well, and enjoying themselves? An Environmental is the person everyone goes to when they need help, advice, or a shoulder to cry on.
As might be guessed by the name, environment is extremely important for an Environmental. Sterile filing cabinets and strict systems don’t work well for you, but you will enjoy organizing by color and creating a system that’s whimsical and welcoming. You also tend to keep things indefinitely – someone might need them at some point – but instituting a toss after ten years rule does wonders to cut down on the volume.
The Structural is the final personality type, and they’re the ones writing all of those books that the rest of us struggle to implement. Organization comes naturally to a Structural. Everything has its place and everything happens on its own schedule. They don’t understand the trouble that the rest of their colleagues have with their systems.
Trouble for a Structural comes in the form of volume. Their systems are often complex, and can buckle under an increase in work load. If you suspect you are a Structural, spend some time now looking for ways to break your system. What scenarios would cause problems? Are there changes you can make to streamline and avoid those problems?
Now that you know the basics, you can start creating systems that cater to your personality instead of working against it. You’ll find that these systems fit you perfectly - they’re easy to maintain, easy to tweak and when life hands you an emergency it will be easy to pick them back up again.
We can’t solve problems by using the same kind
of thinking we used when we created them.
- Albert Einstein
Never Forgive HimShe showed up at my front door before work at 7AM this morning with the most troubled, despondent expression on her face (which is not typical of her disposition). “I’m sorry I didn’t call,” she said. “But I haven’t slept all night, and I really need to talk to someone. I just need some advice.”
I invited her in and poured her a cup of coffee. “So, what’s on your mind?” I asked.
“Last night, my husband told me something about his college years that he never told me before,” she said in a shaky voice. “And I completely disagree with his actions. It’s horrible, really… and I just can’t stop thinking about it! I don’t know if I will ever be able to forgive him.”
“Well, before you tell me anything else… Why do you think your husband confided in you? I mean… Why do you think he told you?”
“I don’t know,” she replied. “I guess he finally trusted me enough to tell me.”
“Did he commit a crime?” I asked.
“Was anyone physically hurt by his actions?”
“No, not really.”
“So, how do you feel about him right now? Do you still love him?”
“Of course I do,” she replied.
“And whatever he did back in college, do you think he learned his lesson? Or do you think he would do it again?”
“Oh yeah, I’m fairly certain he learned a big lesson,” she replied.
“Okay, so let me get this straight… Last night your husband finally felt that he trusted you enough to tell you about a dark secret from his college years. And although somewhat unsettling, he didn’t hurt anyone, and you think he learned his lesson – which means he grew emotionally from the experience. And to top it off, you’re still completely in love with him. So what exactly can you never forgive him for?”
She sat in silence for a second, made a crooked half smile, and then shook her head. I mimicked her facial expressions and shook my head back at her.
Then she started laughing. And so did I.
More About Us, Less About ThemSometimes the problems we have with others – our spouse, parents, siblings, etc. – don’t really have much to do with them at all, because these problems are actually about us.
And that’s okay. It simply means these little predicaments will be easier to solve. We are, after all, in charge of our own decisions. We get to decide whether we want to keep our head cluttered with events from the past, or instead open our minds to the positive realities unfolding in front of us.
All we need is the willingness to look at things a little differently – letting go of ‘what was’ and ‘what should never have been,’ and instead focusing our energy on ‘what is’ and ‘what could be possible.’
Because, as my friend discovered this morning, sometimes the only problem standing in our way is the one we created in our head.