Kids May Have Curious George, But Adults Now Have Curious Accountability!
Like Curious George, who stimulates children’s natural curiosity about the world around them, Curious Accountability offers adults a new perspective for tasks associated with getting organized; one where they embark on an exciting journey of self discovery and realized goals. This methodology turns the act of getting organized into a skill building activity. Personal ‘aha’ moments promote longer lasting effects for those who want to get organized and remain organized over time.
At the National Association of Professional Organizers conference in New Orleans last month, Casey Moore and Cameron Gott introduced the concept of Curious Accountability. They defined this concept as “a positive evaluation process based on respect and trust that focuses solely on learning from actions (or inaction). The learning in turn, raises the awareness necessary for developing new skills and tools and achieving goals. Applied consistently over time, Curious Accountability increases self-knowledge and resilience and fosters effective behavior change”.
The word accountability, for many, has a negative connotation — answering to another or a feeling of being punished. In this Curious Accountability model, the focus is on learning and self discovery. Whether the task was accomplished or not, isn’t important. What is important is what the person learns from the process of doing or not doing the task.
Curious Accountability requires a contextual shift in one’s thinking to bring unwanted habits that promote disorganization into the lime light without the usual cloak of shame and blame. If we apply the same kind of curiosity, inquiry, and learning a scientist brings to their fieldwork — or Curious George brings to his daily adventures — we can free ourselves of the ever present good, bad, right or wrong rating systems we apply to our actions and efforts. We can, instead, view our actions, results, and even the “no results” through the filter of learning and exploration. Over time, we are left better problem solvers, in action, and moving towards our goals with more joy, confidence, and ease.
In this learning-focused approach, one might ask themselves at the end of a task or project (accomplished or not):
What did I learn?
What is the value of this learning to the task or overall goal?
What hurdles or “obstacles to overcome” did I discover?
Questions like these are good for illuminating what is important to us moving forward in our organizing endeavors. Should you “get stuck” in this new model, the role of the professional organizer, practiced in this technique, is to be an/a:
Active Listener – listening for the client’s goals and aspirations — long and short term
Cheerleader — keeping the person on track
Mirror – reflecting (not judging) how effective their actions are
Reminder for Self Awareness – let client’s experience inform their next actions
Involved Learner – redefine success
A professional organizer can summarize the learning as it relates to your over all goal or project leaving you ready, prepared, and empowered for your next week of Curious Accountability.
Kids may have Curious George to reveal the magic of curiosity, but adults now have Curious Accountability to propel them forward toward their goals with greater ease.
A neuroscientist, a professional organizer, and a mom walk into a bar… Sounds like the start of a joke, but it describes a bit of the National Association of Professional Organizers conference in New Orleans this year. You didn’t get to attend? That’s ok, because you can easily find a recap or two of the conference.
Probably the most important thing, though, is one simple idea. It’s the reason you landed on this page and are reading this article. Dr. Ari Tuckman talked about it. Dr. David Tolin talked about it. Dr. Kelly McGonigal talked about it. All of these folks, by the way, are great practitioners to follow in the world of organizing and productivity.
We don’t organize because we want to organize, but to live a more full life and do stuff we enjoy. It’s way more than labeling.
What every single professional organizer and productivity consultant in NAPO will agree on is that we want our clients and potential clients (that may be you) to want something more than pretty boxes and bins. Whatever your goal is, we want to help you get it.
• We want you to be out in your garden — not doing boring filing tasks.
• We want you doing more community building—not working on a boring operations manual at work.
• We want you spending more time with your family—not worried about email piling up.
Kevin Garton, from the NEAT Company, made a point as he talked about scanning technologies. His most prized accomplishment wasn’t reducing piles of paper to bits and bytes. His most valued scan was a handwritten note from his young daughter, that he had scanned to his cloud and could re-read it anytime, anywhere he wanted.
What do you want more than your clutter, piles, and paper messes? What part of your life do you want to be spending more time on, enjoying more, and sharing more with loved ones? Are you ready to let a professional organizer show you some supportive strategies to enjoy those things more? Because the most important things in life end up not being things, but if you’re a mom (or a dad), the neuroscientist and the professional organizer didn’t have to tell you that.
Professional organizers help you bridge your old lifestyle with your new lifestyle — working with you to change habits and forge successful ones. Sometimes you need just a gentle nudge to shift from the same old ways of doing things (or not doing them at all!) to new ways. This includes seeing through refreshed eyes — seeing your space, seeing yourself, and seeing the way you use your time.
Do you feel mired? As if you can’t quite get any traction? Organizers help break the patterns and free you to start moving again. We help you handle papers differently, approach your closet from a new perspective , and work through your projects — to completion!
Professional organizers’ eyes are judgment free. We don’t look at spaces and draw down a curtain of shame; we look to help clients understand: how did things get piled on the floor? Or why are there duplicates taking up prime real estate in your home or office? Our goal is to teach new ways of handling your stuff to clear your spaces, work surfaces, and floors from clutter. And ultimately, this will help free your mind to be even more productive.
ORGANIZERS HELP CLIENTS CREATE:
• a new vision of themselves (you really can become an on-time person)
• a different script for their future life (you will finish this project)
• new habits to maintain order and calm (the pile on the kitchen counter isn’t a permanent fixture)
Break the hold old patterns have on your life by hiring an organizer. Organizers help you update your old operating system. We listen to what’s getting in your way and help you problem-solve HOW to do things — step by step — so you don’t get overwhelmed. We are cheerleaders for your successes no matter how incremental. We are confidants to your pitfalls as you learn to surmount them.
Clutter is more than a physical burden; it has an emotional claim. If you can admit that you are overwhelmed and you are open to receiving help, you have taken the first step to inviting an organizer into your life. Any space that overwhelms you probably has an organizer suited to improving the function of that area.
As a lighthearted reminder that done is better than perfect, I sometimes intentionally reverse this adage with clients as we hang a shelf or assemble a bookcase. Unless you’re performing brain surgery or submitting a résumé, perfect isn’t always necessary.
An ounce of perfectionism as we strive for advancement in life can serve us well. It works in a corporate setting. You work hard; you get ahead. It’s the way the world works. However, we can cross a line, and real perfectionism can actually get in our way, exhaust us, and reduce our productivity.
I see perfectionism often in my work, and clients are relieved that someone recognizes their efforts and attention to detail. You may wonder why a perfectionist needs a Professional Organizer. The answer is simple. Perfectionism bogs you down in detail, and can make a task more laborious than it needs to be. It can also lead to procrastination.
See if you relate to any of the following statements:
– If I don’t have time to organize the whole closet today, I’ll wait until I do. There’s no sense doing a little at a time.
– I get anxious about starting a project because I don’t know how to do it the right way? Therefore, I’ll devote an inordinate amount of time to planning.
– Once started, my projects take longer than needed because I re-think them or re-work them constantly.
– I often miss deadlines because I am unable to submit a project and be satisfied with the end result.
– I don’t like asking for help and/or showing weakness.
To get moving, ask yourself these questions:
In closing, I offer you the following new mantras:
– Done is better than perfect.
– I did my best.
– My friends are coming to visit me, not my house.
– My boss is more likely to notice adherence to deadlines than be impressed by how much time I put into a project.
I won’t lie to you. Change involves stretching your comfort zone, but it comes with rich rewards.
If perfectionism still stands between you and organization, consider hiring a Professional Organizer. We’re trained to help you clear clutter and teach you systems to help maintain order.
P.S. I always measure twice, but that’s our secret.
Escaping to Waldon Pond or traveling the country via RV are definitely options – but for most of us not viable ones. Minor adjustments that cumulate for noticeable change are much more desirable. A few time control techniques I’ve come to count on include:
Minimize Thrashing – Thrashing is the computer science term for when a system spends more time switching from task to task then actually working on the task. When we spend our time thinking about what we have to do, remembering where we were in the project, and then building up momentum to get results we are thrashing. Nothing is more frustrating than getting to the meat of a project and then having to stop. I have found the best way to minimize thrashing is to plan substantial chunks of time for a project. I’ll arrange my schedule to be able to commit 2 or 3 CONTINUOUS hours to the task. While it may be hard to find those uninterruptable hours it sure is worth it when the projects done!
Batching – Grouping small relatable tasks together to create an economy of scale yields tangible results as well. Large operations do it all the time – think of production lines, or accounts payable departments. I liken this to stopping for gas when the tank is 3/4 full. It’s just unnecessary. Waiting until you have an 1/8 of a tank or even when the empty light comes on (gasp) is more efficient. Batching work related tasks is more efficient too. Here are tasks I like to batch:
Be Ruthless – Saying NO to things that aren’t critical opens up space for the most important things. Sometimes getting frustrated is the best thing I can do for myself. I look at the mail and just throw all the stuff I didn’t ask for right into the big recycling can. I look at my email and delete things that just don’t matter. I go through my inbox and pull out the work that has to be done and ditch the rest. I find people are truly most effective when they remove what isn’t so important – and sometimes the only way to make a big enough impact is to be ruthless. Where can you be ruthless this week?
Try these techniques and see if things are just a bit easier. I bet you’ll say YES!
I am your constant companion.
I am your greatest helper or your heaviest burden.
I will push you onward or drag you down to failure.
I am completely at your command.
Half the things you do might just as well be turned over to me
and I will be able to do them quickly and correctly.
I am easily managed – you must merely be firm with me.
Show me exactly how you want something done;
and after a few lessons I will do it automatically.
I am the servant of all great individuals and, alas, of all failures as well.
Those who are great, I have made great.
Those who are failures, I have made failures.
I am not a machine, though I work with all the precision
of a machine, plus the intelligence of a human.
You may run me for profit or run me for ruin – it makes no difference to me.
Take me, train me, be firm with me, and I will place the world at your feet.
Be easy with me and I will destroy you.
I am called Habit.
Habits, once created, can be one’s best friend. Some people believe they weren’t “born organized” and therefore will never be organized. The good news is that being organized is a LEARNED skill and gets easier when practiced. It becomes even easier when the skills become HABITS.
What kind of habits?
– PUTTING THINGS AWAY instead of putting them down
– Keeping “LIKE” THINGS TOGETHER near where you use them
– ASSIGNING HOMES FOR EVERYTHING in order to find them easily
– Assessing WHAT’S IMPORTANT, rather than what’s urgent or feels good
Carve out a bit of time each day to work on making a desired process a habit. Yes, it requires self discipline in the beginning, but before long it will become, as the riddles states, your constant companion and greatest helper!