"Organising from the Inside Out" by Julie Morgenstern

AUTHOR: Julie Morgenstern

AUTHOR: Julie Morgenstern

You have decided to embark on a new journey as an independent learner on the path to becoming a diplomat. You have all your materials ready including your Diplomatic Planner. But the environment you are working in isn’t ideal to take on a new transformation. How can you start on a new journey when your life isn’t organised? Working in chaos will lead to frustration, slow progress and a lot of distraction that you simply don’t need.

That is why we are recommending the book “Organising from the Inside Out: The Foolproof System for Organising Your Home, Your Office and Your Life” by Julie Morgenstern. This book is recommended to support Chapter 1 - “Skills for a Changing World” of the Diplomatic Planner and one that should not be missed. Being organised is a very important and sought after skill. Morgenstern provides an essential handbook on how to organise your life in a personalised and sustainable way. How are you supposed to conquer and save the world when your own world is in disarray? Say you were asked to join a mission abroad at short notice, how do you pull yourself together when your home is in chaos? Why create more stress when you can create more calm? Imagine the psychological impact a chaotic environment has on you.

Being organised doesn’t have to be a chore. Once you start, you will find that keeping things organised will soon become a positive habit. Unfortunately, there is no shortcut to clearing away clutter other than diving into the mess. The book, after all, is called ‘organising from the inside out’ and this is the method that the author remarks upon throughout the entire book. It works because this method works around your schedule.

Start by identifying the causes of your disorganisation. What is the root cause to your chaos? Like many things in our society, you can’t fix something when you don’t know why it is broken in the first place. The reasons could be something very simple. Maybe you have no time. Maybe you lack space to keep all of your things. Maybe it is the people that you live with. Also consider psychological obstacles to your lack of organisation that causes you to veer towards disorder. Having fears or unclear goals, for example, may prevent you from getting organised. Avoid being complacent because if you become complacent in your environment, you may become complacent in your career which is not the grassroot diplomat way. Be honest with yourself and remember that all problems have a solution.

Once you have a bearing on the root cause, next identify what is causing it. Start to take steps to understand your obstacles before focusing on your ability to organise from the inside out. Analyse the situation to get the most from your re-organisation. Analysing your situation helps you reach your goal by getting a clear idea of what it is. This is a much more strategic approach then diving head first and tackling every problem area in one go. To lead with a strategic head, Morgenstern offers the five-needs assessment to evaluate your organisational challenge. Firstly, recognise what works for you. The author echoes that not everything you are doing may not be wrong so retain good habits and ditch the bad. Then consider what isn’t working for you. To do this, try keeping a list of inefficiencies in your day-to-day life and how they are slowing you down. Use this list as a reminder for areas for you to improve on. Once you have identified how you can improve, ask yourself which items are essential to you.

After you decide on what you need to keep, try writing down why you want to get organised. Just like our motivation for our career, we must also find a reason to why getting organised is required which will help you stick with your goal. Finally, ask yourself what is causing the problems you see. Without an honest examination, true organisation is impossible.

When you are ready to tackle your clutter, define your activity zone. Figure out where you want to start first and only focus on this area. Take into account your natural habits and preferences. Also estimate the time it will take to get organised. If you only have one hour to spare, it might not be a good idea to tackle a very messy office. On average, organising takes up to one and a half days per room.

The author provides us with a very handy acronym “SPACE” to help us tackle our mess. SPACE stands for sort, purge, assign, containerise, and equalise. To “sort”, start by asking yourself if you need or use something. If you need, use or love something, keep it. To “purge” means to decide what to get rid of and how. If you don’t need or use something, either throw it out, donate it or pass it to someone who can use it. Put these items in labelled boxes so that you don’t spend time going through this again. If you decide on the donation route, assign it to a new home. If you find that you have many small items that have no home, add these to containers. For example, your CDs can finally live in its own stylish box instead of the bookshelf. Once you get your organisational system in place, monitor and make adjustments when necessary. After following the SPACE strategy, you will be amazed with how your space starts to transform.

The beauty about this system is that you can apply it to anything, from situations of complete chaos to those that are only in slight disarray. Organising your time is just like organising a closet. You can use your new tools to turn your chaotic schedule into one that puts you back in control. Decide what needs to be done and by when, then get to work.

“Organising from the Inside Out” is recommended for the purposes of the Diplomatic Planner. The Diplomatic Planner is a 12-month career development toolkit for diplomacy and internationals for professionals looking to explore or grow their expertise in the field. Both books are available for purchase via Amazon. For further recommendations, insights, case studies and practicable worksheets, please join the Grassroot Diplomat Online Academy via: www.grassrootdiplomat.org/register