In part two of Master the 3C’s of Getting Organized, I talked about the need to create order. In part three we will discuss how putting systems in place can help to maintain control.
When our lives, home, business, or workplace is out of control, oftentimes it is because there are no effective systems in place. Would you say you have an effective system that allows you to maintain control if your files or documents are strewn all over your desk and the file cabinet is over stuffed? Would you say you have an effective system that allows you to maintain control if every room in your home has several items that belong in other rooms of the house? Systems are not about what you do. Systems are about the way you do the things you do.
When a real estate developer is considering where to build, or a business owner is considering where to set up shop, what is always first, second, and third? It is location, location, location. Yes, location is to real estate what systems are to getting things done and maintaining control. It is first, second, and third.
There are many systems you can put in place to maintain control. I have identified three.
Are you taking too long to complete a task? Is it possible to complete a six-step task in three or four steps? Evaluate all of your procedures to determine how long it is taking you to complete a task. How effective is each step? Then determine if any of the steps can be deleted without affecting the desired outcome.
I had a client once whose responsibility among many in the family business, was to complete forms using information from checks she paid out. The forms included the payee’s name, amount, date, and reason for the payment. Once completed she would make copies of the forms, send accounting their copies, and file her copies. She would do this each time she wrote a check. And, she wrote many checks. This was her system for making sure she and the accounting department were always on the same page. Sounds simple? Well, there was a lot of stop and go to complete each form after writing each check before mailing it. Therefore, I said to her, “Mrs. H., the information you’re transferring from the check to the form is also on the check stubs. So why not wait until the end of the day, make copies of your check stubs, and then send the copies to accounting? It will save you a lot of unnecessary copying of forms, writing, and filing.” She thought about it, and then said, “You’re brilliant!” I smiled and said, “No. Just looking for ways to make your work easier.”
When setting up a system that works, create one that requires as few steps as possible. Fewer steps will give you better control.
How aggravating is it sometimes when you’re looking for a parking space and the sign says no parking zone, or no parking on certain days of the week? While it is aggravating, we know the only way the city can maintain control of the traffic flow or keep the streets clean is to create these no parking zones. Now, where am I going with this? In order to maintain control in your home or office, create zones. What kind of zones should you create? Let’s use a studio apartment for example. The studio is one room but you can create at least four zones to maintain control of your space. Create a zone for sleeping, getting dressed, entertainment/work, and cooking and eating. Because you have created zones for your space, there is no problem if things do get out of order for one reason or another. You now have a system in place where you can put items back in their proper zones. So, even when it seems out of control you can get under control with ease.
I think containerize is a professional organizer’s favorite word. If you want to find it again, containerize it. If you have a lot of similar items, or even a few, containerize them. Give these items a home by putting them in labeled folders, cubbies, baskets, canvas boxes, or colorful boxes. For items you no longer need, containerize them too – bag it and trash it, or donate it. When you do this, it gives you better control of your space.
The ability to maintain control in your professional life and personal life is right in the palm of your hands.