Have you ever felt so overwhelmed with steps or tips and tricks or different options to solve a problem you don’t know where to start? Today we are focusing on our own struggles with information overload and general mental clutter. It is time to get past the “research” phase and actually get things STARTED!
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While Bethany has slowly been going through her paper, she found a binder full of plastic sleeves containing organizing articles. This collection of tips and tricks from various magazines and newspapers hales from before the days of Pinterest. Remember when we had to do all the heavy lifting to create a collection of ideas and tips, instead of simply pressing the “Pin It” button,
As awe inspiring as this collection is, it goes hand in hand with the sad realization that more time was spent compiling and managing the information than actually was put into following the organizing advice that was being collected.
There comes a point when we all have to ask ourselves, Is the gathering of information, getting in the way of doing?
I am not going to sit here and pretend that I don’t do something similar, it only looks different. I don’t struggle with articles and a desire to read everything but when it comes to making a big purchase or starting a project my analysis jumps into overdrive.
Yes, we can argue that it is important to do your homework and make informed decision but many times we can get stuck in the uncomplicated phase of collecting information. We never get to the next step, to take action.
It is not hard to see why we collect all this information. It is enjoyable to read, to browse visually stimulating pictures, and the rush of satisfaction that comes as we fill up our Pinterest Boards. When it comes down to it, it is easy.
Easier to collect, easier to delay, easier to wait for motivation to strike, easier to make an excuse that you don’t know enough yet, easier to reason you haven’t found the perfect solution. Getting started is hard. Taking that first step can be scary and so we retreat into research mode.
So HOW do you pick out what information is going to help you? How do you take action?
We have 5 steps to help you stop researching and start doing.
Step 1: Decide Why
Why are you collecting information? What is the point?
- Are you looking for inspiration or motivation as you collect ideas?
- Are you looking for action steps to follow and put on your to-do list?
- What is the problem you are trying to fix?
- What is your goal?
Focusing on the “why” brings you back to your main goal. For example, Bethany’s goal is to cook at home more. She found herself wanting to collect recipes, read cookbooks, and organize the recipes she has collected. All of these are worthwhile tasks but they don’t move her closer to her goal. They only move her towards organized recipes not food on the table.
That is why it is so important to focus on your “why.” Bethany has recipes she already knows how to make. So her 1st step is to jot down those handful of recipes that are in her toolkit already and choose one to start cooking tonight.
It comes back to the question, what is your actually goal? What is the 1st action step you can take? Let’s push ourselves to do the hard work!
Step 2: Simplify the Solution
Many times we are trying find the perfect solution and we keep looking for answers instead of just experimenting with a solution, any solution. Especially if we feel like it is a complicated problem, we gloss over simple solutions. Let’s start with the simple solution first!
When you find an idea you like, try it. If it doesn’t work, then you can go back to a new idea, but don’t let the search for solutions keep you from moving forward. It is probably not the perfect solution but often times it can give you clue about what solution will work better. Then you can tweak the solution as you observe what works and what doesn’t.
Many times this is when people start to get down and say, “Oh, I am just a disorganized person, this will never work.” And give up too easily. I am here to tell you, that option just didn’t work for YOU. Keep tweaking!
There is no solution that is going to be perfect from the very beginning. It is all about trial and error!
An example of spending way too long look for a perfect solution occurred with our family chores. I was looking for the perfect system, a cute checklist, a rotation schedule, an adorable chore chart… we tried them all! Not only were they too complicated to maintain but I wanted to the “perfect system” to help my kids actually do their chores.
Sadly, there was no perfect system that was going to take the place of the parenting that had to take place. It is never easy to get kids to do their chores joyfully without complaining and no chore chart is going to make that happen.
So I stopped looking for the perfect system, (this is after a year and half of trial and error, mind you!) and focused back on the goal- to teach my kids responsibility, good habits, and overall skills to become independent adults. I simplified the system. I wrote it out on a post-it every week to handed it to them. It was inefficient but I needed a temporary way to tweak our chores around until we found what work. After a month or two we nailed down what work for us.
Step 3: Focus on what IS working
So often we are focused on what isn’t working, we forget to take stock of what is working! We forget that there are parts of our life that are flowing smoothly.
Think of organizing as problem solving. Just like a science experiment that tries to find possible solutions, you take clues from the environment around you to help solve your current problem.
When I come into a client’s home I want to hear what they are struggling with so we can fix those pain points but one of the first questions I ask is, “Show me a space/system that is working?”
I might have possible solutions in my mind for a troubled spot but first I want to know what is working well in their home. Once I see what IS working for them, it gives me clues to a try a strategy that is similar and works within their strengths.
So look around, what is working? What areas, although not perfect, do you feel like you have a handle on. How did you organize it? What strategy do you put in place? Can you take that same idea and replicate it for an area you are struggling with?
Step 4: Make a New Habit
Now it is time for the Getting Started piece to really come into play! Once we have looked closer at our goal and focused on simple solutions, choose a small habit to put into practice and move you one step closer to the goal.
These are tiny little changes but seem hard to incorporate in your life unless you work slowly on habit formation one day at a time. For example, clean your sink at night, make your bed, record your tasks as soon as they pop into your head. The examples could go on and on. My current habit I am working on is before I leave a room, take a quick scan to see if I can grab anything to put away as I go.
What habit are you going to focus on?
Step 5: Take a Challenge
A challenge is taking it one step further to really jump start you into action. We love a good challenge around here to get you moving!
We have done the 10 Minute Organizing Challenge where we found a space to organize once a week for only 10 minutes. We have also done a daily decluttering challenge with the Minimalism 30 Day Challenge.
As we have found, you don’t have to be perfect to get results from a challenge (do you see a theme yet?). No matter what you pick to challenge yourself, you are sure to find a hidden gem or two to keep you moving forward toward your goal.
What are you going to challenge yourself with?
In fact, Bethany even used the 10 Minute Organizing launch lingo, “I can do anything for 10 Minutes!” to conquer a box of random items in her classroom. Before our challenge, it would have been easier to push it aside and delay action. However, she had the tools to take it on. And when I say random, we are talking about little things that always seem to be floating around, if you have kids, this might look familiar too.
How do you get past information overload?
We would love to hear what motivates you to take action when you are feeling overwhelmed with information. You can tag us on social media #atobpodcast, or send us an email Hello @ AtoBpodcast.com. We even have a voicemail line (858) 480-7722!
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But before you go, I have to share my Pinterest fail. In this podcast episode, we briefly discussed the “tried it” feature on Pinterest. Although my Pinterest boards are referenced often, I hardly ever press the “tried it” button. Do you use it? I would have a hard time pressing it when I made something this frightening while tring to duplicate a cupcake caterpillar.