Have you ever set up an organizing system only to abandon it because it doesn’t work well? And then tried to set up a different one, and then yet another one, and so on? Perhaps the reason the organizing systems failed is because you didn’t take your organizing style into consideration.
We all know that if you don’t have solid organizing systems, you spend more time than you should, figuring out what to do next. Yet, many of my clients struggle to find and stick to a system to manage all the tasks and projects in their lives. Sometimes a system fails because they didn’t use it long enough to become a habit. Other times it is because they saw someone else using a system and figured they would try it. But there is a better way to choose a system.
Types of Organizing Styles
Let’s take a step back then and look at organizing styles. There are two basic styles, visual and nonvisual. When it comes to paperwork, those who organize visually are sometimes referred to as pilers because they need to see everything. The nonvisual among us are filers because they don’t need to see everything.
The first thing to remember is that there is nothing wrong with either style; they are simply different. Sometimes people who pile things think they should put everything away because it looks messy if they don’t. If nicely labelled and organized piles work for you, then go with it. Don’t try to adopt organizing systems used by your filer friends. Interestingly, those who are stringent filers and have everything put away often give the impression that they have nothing to do.
Just to confuse the issue, many of us have aspects of both styles. You could have some piler and some filer tendencies. This means you will usually have a small pile of things you need to take care of or work on this week, and you put away everything else.
Diving Deeper into Organizing Styles
There is a slightly deeper analysis of organizing style where we determine if you are visual, spatial, or sequential in how you organize and remember things. To figure out your dominant tendency, think about a time when you misplaced something. Which of these questions do you ask yourself?
- “Where did I see it?”
- “Where did I put it?”
- “When did I last have it?”
If you are visual, you know where you last saw something and need to have important items visible. Those who are spatial will remember where in space they put something. They also like to work from a clear area and have all their supplies around them. If you remember when you last had an item, then you organize things sequentially. Generally, you like to keep things organized in sequence by date and time.
So, before you design a new system for yourself, think about your organizing style and whatever you do, don’t fight it!
What is your dominant organizing style? Let me know in the comments.