There is an old Henny Youngman joke where the patient goes into the doctor’s office and says, “Doctor, Doctor! It hurts when I do this.” The doctor says, “Then, don’t do this!” Disorganization hurts. It hurts when we lose a client because of disorganization. It hurts when we miss out on a promotion because we are disorganized. It hurts when people draw the wrong conclusion about us because we are so disorganized. It hurts! So, don’t do this!
Disorganization can be compared to being caught in an undercurrent. You struggle to get out from under, but you’re going nowhere fast. The current will only pull you farther and farther out into the ocean. How does disorganization have the same effect? It has been estimated that a disorganized executive loses two hours of productivity every day looking for misplaced documents. Monthly, that is a loss of forty hours. That is an entire workweek! That sounds like someone caught in an undercurrent. Because of disorganization, the more you do to get close to completing your tasks, the farther away you get. The opposite of an undercurrent is flow. A flow is one directional. To get organized and in control of your workload, create a flow – a workflow.
Try these organizing principles:
- Set your desk up for workflow control. Work to be done – Work in progress – Work completed
- Plan your workday. When your workday is planned, you will always know who’s on first and what’s on second
- If you have to handle a piece of paper more than once, make sure it is moving closer to its destination
- Containerize, containerize, containerize. Keep documents in color-coded folders. When task or project is completed then file it, scan it, or store it in the cloud
- And, of course always remember – A place for everything and everything in its place