The hardest part about organizing is not the physical work, and it’s not even parting with once-beloved objects. It’s the actual decision-making. Everything is a choice, which is why organizing can be so exhausting: It’s just one decision after another.
If I had to name the single most significant characteristic that separates organized people from disorganized people, I would say decisiveness. Those who are able to make decisions quickly and accurately have a much easier time in life than those who can’t. This doesn’t mean that indecisive people are inferior. It just means that they tend to get in their own way. Luckily, this is a tendency that can be adjusted once it’s identified. Here are some techniques you can use to assess your decisiveness:
- Watch yourself for a few days whenever there is a decision to be made. Compare your speed to that of others. Look at mundane things such as how quickly you make up your mind at the drive-thru, how many times you equivocate about whether to buy that magazine from the checkout line, or how long it takes you to choose a movie from the video rental store.
- How much of your routine is the same each day? How much thought do you give to your breakfast or lunch? Do you drink your coffee the same way every time? Do you take the same route to work? Do you leave at the same time (or intend to)? People who follow pretty much the same routine every morning and evening often do so because they know what works and they don’t want to bother rethinking it every day.
- When something new comes along, how much time does it take you to process it? If someone calls to invite you out on Saturday, do you need time to think about it, or do you open your planner and give them an answer right then?
- What kinds of decisions do you agonize over? Do you debate whether to call or email? Do you usually wear the first outfit you put on each day, or do you try a few things? How are you with gift-buying? Can you choose something for the person and be done with it, or do you need to shop, compare, think, and shop some more?
- What would it be like for you to buy a car or house? Assuming there are a number of attractive choices available, would it take days for you to choose one, or months?
- What do friends and family say about your decisiveness? Do people in line behind you get impatient? Does anyone say, "Just make up your mind already" or "Just pick something, please"? Do you exasperate them by "changing your mind" again and again (which actually means you never really decided in the first place)?
If you’re not accustomed to making decisions immediately, successfully (meaning the result is what you intended), and with finality, getting organized will be a shock to your system. But, it’s my fervent belief that identifying the problem is half the battle, so if you now see indecisiveness in yourself, congratulations! You’re halfway to a solution.