I had the greatest conversation the other day with Kevin Decker, a life and relationship coach.
We were talking about an issue I was having regarding my business. He asked me, “What are you good at?” and I told him, “I can organize anything.”
He launched into a story about how I would be breathless if I walked into his office. He explained that his system was essentially based on piles – piles here, piles there, piles, piles everywhere. However, he was very clear that the piles worked for him – he could find what he needed in any of the piles at any time.
I said to him, “Well, if you hired me to organize your office and told me the piles worked for you, I wouldn’t necessarily ask you to change that system.”
And he got very quiet.
And said, “You are the first organizer I’ve ever talked to who hasn’t immediately told me I needed to get rid of the piles.”
That’s INCREDIBLE to me.
If I’m listening to my clients – actively and objectively, without preconceived ideas or notions of ‘how it should be done’ then I’m clearly hearing what he’s saying – MY SYSTEM WORKS.
However, if he hired me, he’d also be saying: “Something isn’t working.” It would become my job to figure out that reason and create a solution that works for him.
My clients deserve to have unique systems that work for THEM. If the system doesn’t work, then they won’t keep up with it, and it won’t give them the results they need and expect.
Of course, there are some basics guidelines to follow:
1. Keep like with like. This works with things, but can also work when creating systems, processes, and organizing people or groups.
2. Resist the urge to “stuff” things somewhere. This isn’t organizing or handling the thing – it’s procrastinating. When we “stuff,” we are really saying, “I don’t have time to think about this right now – to create a home, system, process, or procedure for this.” It works with emotions, too, but that’s for a different conversation. 😉
Let’s use Kevin’s example above to test these guidelines. First, he doesn’t stuff things away – he has created piles (lots and lots of piles) but they have an order to them – a system of like with like. His piles could have labels – bills, projects, book ideas, clients, etc. But there is a system and an order to the piles. There’s no randomness about it.
By using some foundation rules, but paying attention to the details of things or people you are working with, you can effectively create a system that your client will love – and continue to use. Pay attention to these guidelines, listen to your client, and the rest of organizational process begins to flow.