Reading My Other Pants’s recent blog post got me thinking. How do I keep myself organized?

This is something I continually struggle with. I have tried several things. And some of those things sort of work for me. And I think I know what the problem is. It’s a lack of motivation and accountability.

First, motivation. It’s hard to see results quickly when you first start using a new organization method. You’re still getting used to it and you don’t know how to be fully efficient with it. You have to actively think about it to even keep your organization up. When first starting a new method, I feel excited about how amazing life is going to be and how easy it will be to keep life in order. I even enjoy setting up my new “thing.” But when I’ve been using some method for a short time and I’m not yet seeing results but it’s still a lot of work to keep up, I lose the motivation. Why keep wasting time and effort for nothing?

That’s when you have to work the hardest to keep it up. It seems like you’re putting in all the effort for nothing, but it will pay off later.

How do you keep up the motivation? Accountability. But that’s just the thing - how do you hold yourself accountable for keeping up the organization? You need someone whom you care about that you’re going to let down if you don’t follow through. It should be enough that you’ll be letting yourself down, but it’s hard not to rationalize and say “I can handle the disappointment” or “it’s worth putting off.”

A popular idea is to have your spouse or even close friends hold you accountable. I believe this would work best if you hold each other mutually accountable. In this case, everyone has stake in your goals, one of which is to help each other achieve their goals.

I think that’s a great idea, but it’s not always practical. Instead (or in addition), you should hold yourself to a certain standard of integrity. Recognize that what you do and don’t do affects others. Take a stake in your own action and inaction. Be disappointed in yourself when you fail. Be proud of yourself when you succeed. Remember that feeling. Strive to get that feeling again.

This may all be obvious to some, but I’m finally getting the idea. And now I know how I’m going to get myself going.