Step 3: Control Disorganization
There’s a theory in mathematics called “chaos theory.” Mathematicians and scientists study systems that react to small changes which create large, but unpredictable results – the “butterfly effect.”
I propose an additional theory: “screaming meemie effect.”
Failure to make small, daily efforts to organize your office quickly leads to a predictable result – a hair-pulling, nerve-wracking search for a name, a file, or a location that you need right now, all while screaming, “Where did I put that *&%#$@ thing!”
Disorganization is one way we hinder our success, whether we run our own business or work in Corporate America. The good news is disorganization can be managed. Whether you are a piler or a filer, you can deal with your personal paperwork predicament.
Pilers – I have good news and bad news. The good news is you can stop trying to morph into a compulsive filer. The bad news is you still have to do some filing, but in a way that makes use of your piling personality.
File in piles. Four to be exact. Dedicate a bin, shelf, basket, or drawer to each pile. Label them:
(1) Today (urgent).
(2) This Week (pressing).
(3) Soon (pending) Includes planning, possibilities, long-range planning and important reading.
(4) Whenever (get-around-to-it) Includes interesting, but not important reading.
Buy a 3 x 5 inch spiral notebook. Keep it with you. Use this to write down ideas, contact information, to do’s, one page per item or topic. At the end of the day, tear out the sheets. Put them in a small “in-basket” where you also put the day’s sticky notes, envelope backs, or note pages that you scribbled on throughout the day.
Each morning, transfer all items from your in-basket to the appropriate pile. Next, select things from the This Week bin that need to go in the Today bin.
First thing Monday select items from Soon that belong in This Week or Today. Then Tuesday through Friday transfer notes from your in-basket to one of the four piles and select items from your This Week pile for your Today pile.
Once a month, peruse your Whenever pile. Is there anything that should to go into Soon, or that can be discarded? This will take a little longer. Give yourself 30 to 45 minutes.
Filers, you already know what to do. You just have to do it! Make a 10-minute appointment on your calendar every day to file. Also, make a weekly 30-minute time to do more extensive organization. Every month, schedule a 60-minute time slot. Do it consistently, and you’ll keep chaos at bay.
Pilers or filers – the key is to simply use your natural organizational style. Daily.
Just one other thing. Take your mother’s advice: “Put it back where you found it and the next time you look for it, it’ll be where it’s supposed be.”
So, cage those screaming meemies and unleash the beautiful, bountiful, and well-behaved butterflies!
ADDED FEATURE: Interested in a free worksheet to help you make use of your natural organizational style (pilers or filers)? Click here to download it.
Coming up next: Step 4 – Defeat Discouragement