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Rate Your Organizing IQ

Ever wonder if you’re as organized as you think you are? There are a lot of natural tendencies that make a person organized, but you can learn to think and behave in ways that create order. You don’t even have to have Virgo lurking in your astrological chart like a critical parent—I’m proof that even a creative Aquarian can be orderly.

Give a little thought to the following scenarios and rate your organizing IQ.

1. Do you relentlessly research every single purchase, from big purchases like a vehicle to small buys like a bottle of hand cream? An organized person intuitively senses where to spend their time and energy. You might spend time over several weeks researching cars but could ask one or two beauty product-savvy friends what their favorite lotion is and be done with it.

2. Good enough is perfect. An organized person, over time, is able to identify how much time, money and energy to spend on a project before declaring it finished and moving on to the next thing. A less organized person either obsesses about perfecting details and misses the big picture or pulls the big picture into a semblance of perfection and hides any mess. For example, she might spend three hours on a French pedicure but not bother to launder and iron her outfit. At the other extreme, a less organized person’s living room could be ready for Architectural Digest but closet and cupboard doors hide complete chaos. It’s a case of “outies” versus “innies.” Do you see your disorder, is it hidden or are you pretty orderly through and through?

3. Organized people designate homes for everything. There’s a place to put the keys and the hand bag. There’s a place for exercise clothes and they are separated from other clothes. Chances are, the kitchen drawers have dividers in them.

4. Organized people learn to delegate and ask for support. No one stays organized alone. In an organized family, everyone has tasks they are responsible for so that neither Mom nor Dad have to be Super Spouse/Parent. An organized entrepreneur learns when to let go and allow others to take on parts of the business or growth is stunted. We let go to grow.

5. If you can’t walk away from a sale empty-handed, you may not be organized. Have you heard that Steve Martin joke about investing in cardboard? He had to keep only two tons of it at his house. If a good buy (and another… and another…) start to overwhelm your space, is it really worth the pennies you saved?

6. Making decisions is not (usually) an agonizing process for organized people. Somehow, an organized person has gotten over the hump that blocks a lot of folks, which is thinking that every decision is going to be life-altering and permanent. Whom to marry, what job to take and where to go to college, demand the writing of a pro and con list at the very least. But if you weigh the pros and cons of everything from what to have for dinner to what earrings to wear, you’ll have trouble getting out the door, and habitually running late causes a landslide of organizing problems.

7. Sentimentality is a super sticky wicket. I’ve observed that the mostly highly organized people error on the side of anticipating the future over reviewing the past. They tend to be planners, not memorializers. An organized person might create the fabulous photo album immediately after the vacation, but then he turns his attention back to work and planning the next big thing. If you can’t part with your Led Zeppelin concert T-shirt (and you’re 65) or your baby’s burping cloths (and your baby is 35), you might be more organizationally challenged than the person who’s been drying their car with those kinds of things for 30 years.

There are a lot of tendencies and habits that make being orderly easier, but these are the biggies for me. How do you rate? Understanding what underlies your organizing issues is a big part of overcoming them, so start with number four and ask for help.