When Organising Hits The Exit

I'm a visual creative (read: messy), I can find what I need in a couple of seconds, and smash my deadlines. But what to do when organising hits the exit?


It’s no secret, I’m organised. Despite being a visual creative (read: messy), I can find what I need in a couple of seconds, generally arrive on time and get things done when they are due. I have simple systems in place to support my crazy wonderful life of meetings, speaking, mommy, wife, boss, errand runner and general dog’s body … you know the drill.

Dare I get off my throne and mention the days where I am in an overwhelmed panic, nothing is going according to plan and I arrive late to fetch the kids wearing mismatched shoes (I have photographic evidence). The examples are extensive and generally leave me in a fit of reflective giggles although, at the time, nothing seems funny at all. Panic, embarrassment and frustration usually sets in and I’m left with a strong urge to turn my Productivity Playground t-shirt inside out, or cower behind the steering wheel of my branded car.

Regardless of your level of organisation, as a human, life will happen and that means even your perfectly laid out plans, up- to-the-minute schedules and sublime systems will de-rail from time to time.

What to do when organising hits the exit?

Instead of running in the opposite direction, you might want to:

  1. Breathe: highly underestimated I know, but when things start going wonky, take a moment in your panic to breathe … deeply.
  2. Think big picture: it’s easy to get caught up in the here and now, reflect beyond the immediate and ask: “In the bigger scheme of things, how critical is this to my …(fill in the blank)”
  3. Pull yourself back: hovering around in disorganised panic mode doesn’t do you any good so don’t hang around. Once you’ve realised you’ve de-railed, put time aside as soon as possible to pull yourself back on track.
  4. Make a list: now that you have pulled yourself towards yourself, dump all your to-do’s out your head into one place. No numbers, no order, just a list of things one under another.
  5. Prioritise: scan your list and ask: “What’s critical?” These are your high value, high return tasks and are all you should be focusing on right now. Choose 1 or a maximum of 2 things from your list to tackle today. It’s a start.
  6. Set a timer: working to the clock keeps you focused and minimises the procrastination. Ready, set, go!
  7. Ask for help: my hubby is brilliant at asking for help, I tend to shy away from it, thinking I should be able to do this myself. Asking for help is not an indication of failure; allow someone to gift you with their time, resources and/or expertise.
  8. Have fun: stop taking yourself and your work so seriously. Sure, there are vital roles we play but getting silly and having fun at work stimulates creativity. Hand out wigs in the brainstorming session, work with colour markers today or have a hopping competition on the way to the canteen – silly, for sure, but it’s worth the giggle.
  9. Take a break: often, the reason things go from organised bliss to disorganised chaos is that you’re tired and overloaded. Take a break, put your feet up, have a power nap or book yourself a technology free weekend away. Taking time out to recharge will renew your energy to restore the order.

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