Organization & Task Completion

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Investigating the link between
Organization and Task Completion

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
An article in the Org&Task Series
In support of The Challenges Inventory ™ Series

It’s no good running a pig farm badly for 30 years while saying,
‘Really, I was meant to be a ballet dancer.’
By then, pigs will be your style.
 ~ Quentin Crisp

graphic thanks to Phillip Martin, artist/educator

Happy Brand New Year!

Hey – last January – did you make any Resolutions for the upcoming year?

Or are you someone who is more comfortable Setting Intentions, making a Vision Board, or coming up with a list of S.M.A.R.T. Goals to live into?

Maybe you’re a real go-getter who does all four!

So let me ask you the Dr. Phil question:
How’s that workin’ for you?

What’s your success ratio?

Did you lose the weight, get in shape, stop smoking, finish your degree, clean out the garage . . . or any of the other things you hoped to complete in the years that came before this one? (um . . . like “Get redesigned and up and running again,” Madelyn? And, oh yeah, those books you keep meaning to get published?)

Like me, is Déjà Vu all over again the best description of many of the items from your yearly resolution ritual?

Or are you one of the many who have given up and given in, convinced of the futility of making resolutions you never complete anyway?

Doing Things Differently to Produce Different Results

Before I went to jail, I was active in politics as a member of South Africa’s leading organization –
and I was generally busy from 7 A.M. until midnight. I never had time to sit and think.
 ~ Nelson Mandela

I think I know just what he means – and I ALSO know that it is also because he (and I) never TOOK the time to sit and think. Day after week after month after year, we allowed what was important to others to overshadow what was important to US. (see Priorities-101:Yes means No for more about that!)

Seriously committed to fully implementing my own D3 Principle in my own life – Doing, Delegating or Dumping  many of the items on my own long list of To-Dos in the coming year, I will be spending the first weeks of January reflecting.

I have been taking a serious look at the combination of dynamics that continue to create what I say I don’t want, to see if I can come up with an organizational principle I can use to refuel resolve and move confidently into the direction of my dreams.

I am planning to share my process with the rest of you — what I learn, what I accomplish, and what gave me fits  — in future articles of the Org&Task Series.

One of the biggest aha!s so far is the observation that one of the primary bottom-line reasons that so many of our “resolutions” fall by the wayside is because our systems and structures fail to adequately support our agendas.

That little failure of support is sometimes (but not always) the result of attempting to fit our square peg lives and functionality into someone else’s round holes — simply because one system or another works for them and we are clue-free as to what might work for us.

IMHO, that aha! is a more accurate (not to mention helpful!) way to think about what other people in our lives tend to phrase another way: You’ve GOT to get ORGANIZED!

TurtleWinning_Cartoon_12Staying in the Race to the Finish LineRabbitRunning_Cartoon_20

Regardless of how you look at the idea of starting anew in a New Year, have you given any thought to what you will need to stay on track to completion?

Have you ever really thought about the cost of lack of organization to the actuation of your goals and the fulfillment of your dreams?

Ironically, those of us who claim we don’t have time to get organized, fail to note how much time gets thrown under life’s bus as a result of our failure to set things up to support our objectives.

The TBI Advocate blogging at The Brain Injury Self Rehabilitation Site (BISR) just posted an organizational article where she underscores one of the core benefits of organization to any of us who struggle with cognitive focus: so we can THINK better!  

It’s difficult to impossible to accomplish much of anything when the minutes of our lives are filled with searching for what we need, picking our way through the detritus of unfinished actions and activities, and overcoming the brain-drain of energy required to shut out what doesn’t work for us.

Simple tips understanding how disorganization can be disruptive: comparing ADD and brain injury

A few of my favorite points from the article linked to the BISR website above (and the title of this little info box) are these:

Clutter overwhelms the brain and may cause “brain drain” or increase “brain fog”.

Changing life by teaching or learning organizational skills keeps these survivors improving and working on other essential skills. It’s hard to get past the basic points in life with your brain feeling cluttered.

Disorganization and environmental clutter are things that make it difficult to move-on into one’s day.  Fatigue may occur quickly, and disorganization causes mental fatigue.

Brain injury survivors may find it difficult to move past the clutter. Organization will help these survivors focus on areas that increase cognitive awareness [as] it decreases environmental stimuli.

Managing a Moving Target

In the library’s worth of books on organization, time and clutter management that most of us have read (and many of us collect), one of the things that is rarely mentioned is that organization is like eating and grooming (and housework!) it is impossible to handle it once and for all.  

Treadmill TaskNot only is “getting organized” another of those seemingly endless recurring compilations of stuff-to-do I call treadmill tasks, the goals and objectives change from time to time — because life itself changes periodically.

What I frequently observe, in my own life as well as in my clients’, is that our failure to dedicate the TIME to do the job, setting things up to fully support what we are up to, results in a situation where we are forever tethered to the treadmill.

Aha! #2

Perpetually partially organized, we are loathe to stop and reassess whether the state of “organization” we are moving toward will actually work for what we are doing with our lives NOW.

Actually, somewhere deep inside, we probably know that it will not, so our subconscious fights us every time we attempt one of the steps on the path to what we consciously consider “getting organized.”

  • Rather than live with the conscious awareness of the anxiety state created when we feel like we have “wasted our time” or “failed to complete,” as we retrench, we push it all down in one masterful stroke of denial.
  • We decide that “getting organized” is simply not part of our personal skill-set, and attempt to soldier on without the systems, structures and tools we need to win our personal war with time, clutter and disorganization — so we can turn our full attention, we tell ourselves, to moving forward into successful lives we LOVE.
  • That works?

Making THEM wrong doesn’t make US right

While we secretly envy and admire those who have figured out, in the organizational realm, what to do and how to do it, in true black and white fashion, we tend to allow the fact that their way is not 100% OUR way to justify our own resistance to change.

We project all sorts of terrible things onto those organized souls who seem to be able to do what we cannot, and sling all sorts of nasty labeling arrows in their direction:

  • They’re OCD or anal-retentive
  • They are overfocus on Trivial Pursuits – which only makes it appear that WE are chronic procrastinators.
  • They’re willing to make their children miserable in the name of organization and order
  • They have nothing better to do with their lives

If you are like me, you do it with humor —
How many of the following quotes are among your personal favs?

  • Organized people are just too lazy to look for things.
  • A clean desk is the sign of an empty mind.
  • There is no need to do any housework at all. After the first four years the dirt doesn’t get any worse. ~ Quentin Crisp
  • I find it helps to organize things into categories: things I won’t do now, things I won’t do later, things I’ll never do. (gotta’ LOVE Maxine, right?)

HERE’s a helpful quote to replace those funny-but-not-very-motivating ones above
(from the website of Sue Rasmussen:  “Making Room for What Really Matters”)

“I’ve been getting rid of some clutter —
anything that doesn’t serve a positive purpose in my life —
and making room for things that feel happy to me.

Because I get to make my life whatever I want it to be.
I get to make the room feel however I want it to feel.
I get to make the closet as full or as spacious as I want it.

And, if I have more clutter to get rid of after Christmas,
I’m not going to wait a year, or two or three to do it.”
~ Jan Denise

How about YOU?  

  • Are YOU going to wait a year, or two or three to set yourself up to WIN?
  • Think about playing along with me this year.
  • Instead of wishing and hoping that this year will be your year, how about setting things up to make it highly likely that it WILL be?

Leave your efforts, responses and aha!s in the comments section below, and with the articles to come.

If you have a website or a blog, consider writing articles on this topic right along with me, and cross-linking our efforts for the benefit of ALL.

You could also write a guest post to be featured on this blog (if you’re new here, jump around and read a bit first, so what you write supports the tone, format & come-from on

STAY TUNED — there’s a lot more to come in this Series in the coming year (as well as the other Series in process).

IF there is enough follow-through from the rest of you (that I can see, remember), I may even be persuaded to organize a monthly Org&Task Support TeleClass — a sort of Kick your Life in Gear MasterMind Group.

  • Your feedback in the comments is what it will take to move the item from “a good idea” to actuality.
  • As with everything else in YOUR life, it’s all up to YOU!

As always, if you want notification of new articles in the What Kind of World series – or any new posts on this blog – give your email address to the nice form on the top of the skinny column to the right. (You only have to do this once, so if you’ve already asked for notification about a prior series, you’re covered for this one too). STRICT No Spam Policy

IN ANY CASE, stay tuned.
There’s a lot to know, a lot here already, and a lot more to come
Get it here while it’s still free for the taking.

Want to work directly with me? If you’d like some one-on-one (couples or group) coaching help with anything that came up while you were reading this Series, click HERE for Brain-based Coaching with mgh, with a contact form at its end, or click the E-me link on the menubar at the top of every page. Fill out the form, submit, and an email SOS is on its way to me; we’ll schedule a call to talk about what you need. I’ll get back to you ASAP (accent on the “P”ossible!)

You might also be interested in some of the following articles
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(subtle, so they don’t pull focus while you read, but you can find them to click when you’re ready for them)
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BY THE WAY: Since is an Evergreen site, I revisit all my content periodically to update links — when you link back, like, follow or comment, you STAY on the page. When you do not, you run a high risk of getting replaced by a site with a more generous come-from.

About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

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  9. Jean Latting says:

    Great article, Madelyn. Decluttering is definitely an uplifting exercise!


    • JEAN! How wonderful to hear from you. In the spirit of this article, my first reaction to seeing your name was to make it mean that you are MUCH farther along than I on the organizational pathway.

      I am setting a new intention to get over to your site to check out what you have been working on LATELY – and I hope more than a few of my readers will join me!

      check out an article here on on my take on Jean and her organization here ===> Reframing Change for World Leaders This is a woman who is changing our world.


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