A recent survey reported by the Monday Morning Quarterback® showed that many individuals (roughly 34 percent) lose a large amount of time (nearly 2 full hours each week) because they are disorganized. Looking for missing papers, digging through messy files and trying to reschedule missed appointments results in a considerable loss of productivity and can limit career advancement. And if a person is in the sales profession, it should go without saying that missed appointments can also result in missed sales. Additionally, the survey showed that the majority (53 percent) lives in "controlled chaos" and although they acknowledge this condition, they do little to change.
What we will address here are some simple techniques to help you get more organized.
Don’t Rely on Memory:
Unless you are exceptional, you will benefit from the simple act of writing things down. Even Albert Einstein once said "I don’t memorize anything I can look up." Whether creating a list of activities on an ordinary sheet of paper or utilizing a more advanced time & activity management tool (hard copy or computer based), writing things down (and of course referring to your list later) will significantly reduce the likelihood that you’ll forget to complete tasks or miss appointments. I recognize that this may seem obvious to some, but if you examine the traits of successful people, you’ll find that they faithfully update their schedule and track key activities on a "to-do" list. You’ll even find a sense of accomplishment as you cross-off the tasks you complete.
File, File, File
We’ve all walked in to someone’s office to find stacks & stacks of paper. If you ask the occupant, I suspect they’ll say "I know precisely where everything is!" —- I doubt it. There is a wide variety of cost-effective lateral & vertical file units available on the market today. And since the concept of the paperless office is far from a reality, these filing cabinets are a great way to get papers & folders in order. The old adage is true – "Time is money." If you spend a lot of time hunting through papers, you’re wasting time and wasting money. It’s also worth keeping in mind the impression a disorganized work place creates. Imagine your boss is considering you for a promotion. The choice is between you (with so many stacks of folders that it could be considered a fire hazard) and your competition (with a clean, well-organized file system.) The fact is, you are at a disadvantage. Plus, if there are occasions when clients or potential investors visit your workplace, it’s wise to remember the image your disorganized office is projecting. An orderly workplace inspires confidence and can make a huge difference in both your productivity and how you are perceived by others. Oh, and remember to clearly label your files & folders. It will help make finding things much easier.
Of course, we all have "work in progress", so file cabinets are only part of the answer. If you’re like me, you are always working on several projects at any given time. As a result, ready access to information in certain folders is important. One way of keeping things from getting out of hand is the effective use of desktop organizers. As this photo illustrates, these tools are ideal for keeping information at the ready while also keeping things orderly. And here again, there is a wide variety of inexpensive products from which to choose.
Of course, even the most advanced organizational tools are of little value if we don’t have the discipline to use them consistently. Make documenting appointments and writing down tasks part of your routine. If you can master this work habit, even when you get busy, you are well on the road to getting more organized.
While it’s difficult to file materials as soon as you finish with them (although this is strongly recommended), make sure you block out time each day (or at least each week) so you don’t fall behind. Once you adopt these techniques, you soon see the positive results you desire.