I recently read this from Adrienne Dorison: “The GAP is the distance between your GOAL and the ACTION needed to make PROGRESS towards achieving it. There are 3 areas you may have a GAP and need to fill — know this BEFORE you make an investment.” Then she lists the three GAPs as knowledge, action, and belief. This is huge! Identifying your GAPs can help you to understand why you fail at organization and plan ways to fill those GAPs.
Lack of Knowledge
A lack of knowledge can exist in three different areas: strategy, tactics, and tools. Strategy is the overall big picture of what you are trying to accomplish and why. This is where you develop systems and routines, which are absolutely key to long-term success. When you lack strategy, you don’t really have a game plan. You don’t really know what you want to accomplish or have any idea how to do it. You are wandering. Applied to organization, it looks like your house falling apart, getting to the end of the day having accomplished almost nothing, and more stuff than you know what to do with, in short—a disaster!
Tactics are the step-by-step plans you make to tackle things, how you implement your strategies in specific areas to get something done. This is where you customize what will work for you and apply your systems to individual tasks. When you lack tactics, you are unable to create specific, workable plans to tackle projects. You often don’t know how to take advice and suggestions from other people and tailor them to fit your own situation. Applied to organization, it looks like buying organizing gadgets and bins without a plan for how they will be used, printing out checklist after checklist and still getting nothing done, and trying to file a bazillion papers according to a system that doesn’t really match your needs.
Tools are all the things that help you carry out your plans. They could be planners, worksheets, checklists, calendars, reminders, and so forth. When you lack tools, it becomes much harder to carry out your work. Tools cannot do the work for you, but utilizing them can make you much more efficient and effective. When you lack tools, things tend to move slowly. Often there will be a lack of consistency or quality in your work. Applied to organization, it looks like taking forever to get anything done, losing track of things, and forgetting important appointments.
Lack of Action
A lack of action often happens because you lack accountability or you need more support. Accountability helps you start instead of procrastinating. It can help you avoid getting overwhelmed, getting sidetracked, or getting paralyzed by perfectionism. Accountability means having deadlines and giving updates to someone else for your actions. When you lack accountability, there is a tendency to feel that nothing is urgent. Applied to organization, it looks like putting off cleaning out the fridge for another day, gathering materials for a project but never completing it, and frantically trying to hide your mess when someone comes over.
Support is the help of other people. Usually, this means you have a place to share your victories and ask for help with your struggles. Often it means having a partner who will ask you the tough questions or lend a helping hand. When you lack this, you can feel isolated and alone. You can get overwhelmed and frustrated because you feel inadequate. Applied to organization, it means you try to tackle organizing by yourself with no one to cheer you on. It means you have no mentor in the form of a coach, or blog, or book.
Lack of Belief
Lack of belief is that inner battle with the voice that says, “you can’t do this.” Somehow you have to believe that you can actually do this, that the skill is learnable, and that it will make a difference in your life if you do it. When you lack belief, you just give up. This often shows up as depression, stress, feeling like a failure, and mentally beating yourself up. Applied to organization, it means you believe that you will never conquer the mess, that you were not born with organization gene, and that nothing you do will ever get your life organized.
So what does all this mean to your ability to organize? You know you want to get your house and life in order. That’s the GOAL you want. Often times you even know the ACTION you need to take—read the book, make the checklist, block out the time. But the GAP is the part that keeps you from actually pushing the button—the PROGRESS. Maybe you don’t really know how to set up a system that works, or you need someone to cheer you on, or you need to believe that you can learn this. When you identify the GAP that is holding you back, you can start to make real headway in your goal to get organized.