2021 UPDATE: Getting “derailed” is one thing. Here it implies a potential for getting back on track with a little focus, some encouragement, and a few tips from me. However, falling off the trestle bridge into the canyon below, before crashing and burning, is quite another thing! This article is about getting back on track organization- and productivity-wise after common life-changes (home, work, health, events, trips, relationships). It was not meant for a worldwide pandemic with severe health, social, and financial implications, accompanied by political and civic upheaval and global warming! In severe cases “back to basics” may mean focusing on eating, sleeping, and exercising enough to recover or maintain one’s health. And, in other cases, a consultation with a medical professional, financial advisor, realtor, or government agency is called for. Even so….eventually you will find yourself either stuck in the past, languishing in the present, or ready to get back on track to meet your future.
Has your life been derailed?
Any number of things can throw us off track – travel, illness, a change in schedule at work or at home. Before you can get back on track you need to ask yourself the following questions:
Did any emergencies arise in my absence? If so, attend to those first.
Are there any bills that can’t wait for my next regular bill-paying day? If so, don’t wait; pay them now!
Is there anyone I need to call? Do you need to reschedule an appointment, or extend a deadline?
Once you have “stopped the bleeding”, if any, you can start getting back to basics!
Can you get back to basics now?
We all have systems for getting things done. But now is the time to ask yourself: Were my systems working for me before I got off track? If so, simply start using them again! If not, it’s time to rethink your systems and tweak them so they work better for you. Here are some examples:
Laundry – Put a load in the washer now. Clean clothes will help you get back on track!
Launch Pad (a.k.a. Landing Strip or Staging Area) – Gather everything you need when leaving the house — purse, car keys, shopping list, library books — in one spot. Dump your stuff here when you walk back in the door, too.
Getting Stuff Done – Add tasks and appointments to your calendar. Refer to your calendar daily. Do the stuff you need to do, like paying bills, making calls, and shopping for groceries.
For each system, ask yourself WHO is affected? WHO will do it? WHAT needs to be done? WHAT tools are needed? WHEN and HOW OFTEN should it be done? WHERE will we do it? WHERE will we store our tools for this task? WHY do we need this system?
The bottom line: If you can get back to basics, do it now!
What if, despite my best intentions, I am still off track?
If a week (or other self-imposed deadline) has gone by since you decided to get back on track, and you still haven’t managed to do so, ask yourself: Am I still beating myself up for getting off track? If so, this is the worst thing you can possibly do! The sooner you can give yourself a break and get on with it, the better. If you can’t do it on your own, or if your problems outweigh the advice that can be provided by a flow chart, ask for help from a friend, physician, counselor, spiritual advisor, or professional organizer.
OK, now that you are back to basics…
…you can resume enjoying yourself and making progress on your projects and goals. This includes work, hobbies, home improvement, relaxation without guilt, and quality time with family and friends. Schedule blocks of time on your calendar for the activities you enjoy.
Congratulations, you are now back on track!
Does this help you? I’d love to know! How do YOU get back on track? Please leave a comment!
P.S. This is the companion article to The Getting Back On Track Flow Chart, available here.
Copyright 2011 – 2021 by Hazel Thornton, Organized for Life.
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