Values, Virtues and Vicissitudes of Organization By Chris King
people remark, "Chris, you are so organized! You get so much accomplished.
If I only had your organizational skills." Every time I hear this,
I silently giggle to myself. Why? Because being organized actually goes
against my inherent nature and takes a huge amount of discipline on my
part. A big majority of free agents, independent professionals and free-lancers
are "creatives" and "creatives" don't fit into focused
and organized slots. In this article I am going to share some of my tips
and tricks for becoming and staying organized.
I work on becoming organized? In my opinion, being organized has many
values and virtues. Let me list a few:
an inordinate amount of time that can be used for the important projects.
When everything that we need has a specific place, we can find what
we are looking for immediately. Time management gurus are always quoting
huge amounts of time wasted in hunting.
organization will not only rob us of our self esteem, but will also
give peers, clients and potential clients cause to doubt us and our
credibility. (The worst is to be labeled a "flake.")
breeds peace of mind. When files, drawers, closets and papers are a
mess, this realization can serve as a thorn pricking us and preying
on our production. Disorganization will work on our sub-conscious to
slow us down.
some of the steps to take on the path to organization? I will share
some of the steps that work for me. I am not going to mention the standard
steps outlined in the plethora of books on how to be organized. These
ideas are a bit different (after all, we free agents are unique) so you
may have to gear them to your situation and methods of working, but here
for a trip out-of-town. Last week I was preparing for a weekend away,
and even though I do accomplish a lot each week, I found that I was
getting caught up and ahead on many projects. You may not be taking
a trip, but if you pretend that you are and think of what you would
want to get done before you leave, you will be astounded at how organized
an organizational project for each Wednesday (or any day of your choice)
and then, even if other tasks are calling you, get to it. It is a lot
like losing weight and exercising. Once you get into the habit of setting
aside one day for organizing, you might even run out of projects. You
will find that it becomes fun to organize before long. You will also
discover a lot of stuff you forgot you had.
are organized, take a few minutes every day to put things (clothes,
papers, letters, bills, etc.) in their place. I have a simple wire file
holder on my desk with a file for "Bills," "In the Works,"
"Current Project," and "Important Contacts." Having
Fibber McGee and Molly tendencies (they were a couple who threw everything
into a closet), I make sure that I put things away neatly and add a
certain drawer or shelf that is becoming overloaded to my weekly organizational
I am not convinced that we will ever become a paperless economy, I do
love the advantage of being able to set up files and folders on my computer.
I suggest that you take the time to create a system of filing. When
I first started getting into technology, my system (not a system at
all) was haphazard, so I had a terrible time finding what I was looking
for. In the beginning, you might even want to make a chart or a map
of where you are placing important information.
love the great colored plastic holders with handles that you can purchase
at an office supply store. I have a different one for each project and
make sure that I file everything about the project there, including
all correspondence, a copy of the contract, etc.
really important? Remember, this is your organization - no one else's,
so you must decide what is important to you. If you stay organized by
creating "to do" lists and checking off the tasks completed
one at a time, do it. But if this just doesn't work for you, don't feel
guilty about not doing it. I felt almost ashamed that I like working on
several different projects at the same time, until I read Time
Management for Unmanageable People by Ann McGee-Cooper. The traditional
time management theories often don't apply to or work for creative people.
should I avoid? It is so easy to fall into distraction to get out
of doing something we know would be a benefit to us and our career. Stephen
Covey in his The
7 Habits of Highly Effective People describes his four quadrant theory
of "First Things First." This diagram will get you into the
second quadrant of doing what is important, but not urgent (and organizing
and planning definitely fall into this quadrant). Stay out of quadrant
four where distractions that are unimportant and non-urgent fall (like
watching TV, opening junk mail, some e-mail, some phone calls, etc.).
gets in the way of true organization? With the benefits that accompany
true organization, one would think that everyone would work on achieving
this goal. Even if we know how wonderful it is to be organized, we procrastinate.
Part of it is that it almost seems overwhelming and out of our reach.
My advice to you it to take it one week at a time, until you are there.
If it helps, write down how much you got done that week and/or give yourself
an award (even a colored star on the calendar can make you feel good).
surfing now, and start organizing, or plan your organizational scheme.
You will be glad you did! And do send me your FEEDBACK.
I love to hear how it's going.
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