I meet a lot of intelligent people in my line of work. One might think that being disorganized is a sign of a lack of intelligence but since organization is both an innate and taught skill set, it has nothing to do with intelligence. In fact, I find that intelligence and disorganization often go hand in hand. I think it has to do with the fact that many intelligent people I work with love a great challenge and it's their love of a challenge that gets them stuck in the disorganization in the first place. They think something isn't worth doing if it's easy so they complicate everything to keep it interesting for themselves. However, what ends up happening is that they get bogged down in the easy stuff, grow quickly frustrated and never give themselves an opportunity to focus on the really complex stuff that could produce great changes in the world.
For those of you who love a great challenge but struggle with disorganization, here are some tips to help you get out of your own way so you can start solving real problems:
- Save the Struggle for Something Real: Challenges are fun for the complex thinker but isn't it more fun to focus on an actual complex thought and solve it rather than wasting time focusing on creating a challenge in what should be a simple task with a simple solution? Your mind shouldn't be wasted on finding your lost keys (again) or that paper that was just in your hand or that other mindless task that is needlessly preoccupying your mind and time. Stop reinventing the wheel and focus on a real problem. Organizing will allow things to run smoothly and help you focus on the complex matters.
- Systematize the Easy Stuff: Many highly successful people like Barack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg and the late Steve Jobs all own a few outfits that they wear over and over rather than having huge wardrobe of items to choose from. This helps them have more time to focus on running their business (or the country) rather than wasting time in their closet deciding what they feel like wearing that day. Why waste time on menial tasks when there are far more interesting, complex matters to be dealt with?
- Make Your Own Life Easy: Life is complicated and exhausting enough without us getting in our own way. Personally speaking, after suffering through a long and debilitating illness, my energy levels are now incredibly precious to me. I know what it is to be without any energy and it is terrifying and limiting. Basics tasks became major challenges so as a result of my experiences, I have developed easy systems to help me utilize my energy more efficiently. I realized I had a question to ask myself every day: Do I want to feel energized and continue to contribute to making a difference in this world or do I want to be exhausted just tending to menial tasks? I now focus on tackling the hard stuff first and then create systems to let the easier stuff handle itself as much as possible.
- Chaos is Not Inspirational: If you find that you're currently thriving on chaos, trust me, you'll burn out quickly and dramatically. If you need inspiration, then take a look around and see what's happening in the world. There's plenty of stuff happening all over the place that is chaotic and dramatic or inspirational and beautifully simplistic. You only need to open your eyes to see what's in front of you so take a walk, read a book, visit a museum or meditate. Just don't allow actual dysfunction be judged as inspiration. While tough times and bad experiences can be inspirational, usually it only can be used that way after you've learned to step away and become an observer of the chaos, rather than a willing or unwilling participant.
- Getting Help Isn't Giving Up: We all think we should be able to solve our own problems and achieve our own goals without any help. Often we think it's a sign of weakness or lack of intelligence to ask for or appear to need help but that erroneous way of thinking gets us stuck and bogged down in useless clutter. Ask for help. Delegate. Outsource. If you look at a truly successful person (happy and healthy and wealthy) they got that way because they surrounded themselves with a team of happy, healthy, positive, supportive people who helped them stay focused on what was most important to them. Hire a coach, a therapist, surround yourself with loved one's and appreciate those who help you along the way - this team of people will allow you to become the greatest version of yourself you can be, so don't be afraid to ask for help and support.