It is possible to be too organized…

As a professional organizer, I perform a good number of “organizing assessments” every year, which I’ve talked about throughout my blog.

Generally, I am going to homes of people who are struggling to get and stay organized.  But recently I did an assessment for someone who was exactly the opposite.  In fact, she may be way too organized!

In this case, our client was finding that her tendencies to over organize have led her to creating systems that are so “over the top” in detail, to the point that she simply could no longer keep up with keeping those systems up!  She stopped doing anything and now feels overwhelmed with the prospects of having to catch up after taking several months off.

For example, her photo album filing is so detailed that each trip has multiple albums…one for where they visited, and a second one for all the people they photo, which gets cross referenced to the first album.  This means hat each photo has to be duplicated, or sometimes triplicated, so that the same photo could live in each album, covering a difference subject. A photo of Uncle Fred, at the Grand Canyon, would be filed in “The Grand Canyon Trip” album, as well as, the “Our Relatives” album and then cross referenced to each other album.

You can see the amount of detail here and how incredibly time consuming this activity has become.  Not mention taking all the fun out of sorting through photos and and perhaps pasting them in AN album, as some people choose to do.

I sat with her and had a serious discussion on giving herself permission to stop over organizing start enjoying her activities a bit more.   Instead of having systems that are so complicated she can’t possibly keep them up, find ways to generalize, thereby shorting the tasks.

If you are creating a filing system for your bills, it’s perfectly okay to just have one folder that says BILLS.  The advantage is that when headings are more generalized, you are less inclined to procrastinate on the filing because you don’t have to agonize over where something goes…if it’s a bill, it can only go to one place.

Depending on how complicated your life is, you may need two files for bills, say one HOUSEHOLD BILLS and one BUSINESS BILLS.  Just try and avoid 22 files for bills.  I guarantee you that even if you create 22 files for specific bills, a 23rd is going to show up, and when you realize you don’t have file for it, you’ll drop it back into the pile on your desk, telling yourself you’ll make a file and take care of it “later”. Then the pile just keeps growing because, as we all know, “later” is the biggest file of all!


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