There seems to be two kinds of people: those that have the gift of organization and those that don’t. If you are not one of those naturally organized people, you are likely to have disorganization at best, and disaster at worst.
Folks who know me and/or have been to my office know that I am not the king of organization. Fortunately, my wife Lauren happens to be particularly gifted in this area. It’s saved my neck more than just a few times.
So with the admission that I’m still struggling with this too, here are the four D’s of organization: Do it now-Delegate it-Delay it briefly-Dump it.
Do It Now
Clearly the most preferred strategy. When something comes your way, make sure you touch it once, do it now.
It’s so easy to put it in a ever growing pile on your desk, on the counter, or in your brain, rationalizing that you really will do it later. One problem with this is that another way to spell rationalize is rational lies. This is a very fertile ground for breeding that great enemy of getting things done and simplifying your life: procrastination.
Adopting a policy of do it now has several nice benefits:
¨ it clears and prevents pile-up on your desk and in your brain
¨ it’s a sure fire procrastination killer
¨ it also prevents that fun little hallucination that comes with procrastination, the one where simple jobs seem to get bigger and bigger convincing you it will take hours to get a 15 minute project done
¨ best of all, you end up getting things done!
Here in the real world, however, we can’t always do it now. For those situations we have:
Contrary to popular belief, we do not have to do everything ourselves. Somehow, as part of the disorganization picture, we think we are the only one that can do what needs to be done. It’s just not true. Pass it on to a family member, ask friends for help, hire someone, use the resources you have at hand. It’s just silly to do things that are not your area of expertise if you have access to people that are better than you at certain tasks.
Briefly. And I do mean briefly. There are times when just can’t do it now or delegate it. The danger here is that the task could fall into the wasteland of “I’ll do it later – I’ll do it someday” never to return.
If you find you must delay something, set a time limit for when it must be completed: by the end of the hour, by the end of the day, by the end of the week, or by the end of the month. By the end of the year usually doesn’t work unless it happens to be December.
Some things that come our way can be dumped right away. It’s not something that must be done, it’s a time waster, or you just don’t need it in your life. So dump it.
There are other things that need to be dumped, though. I’m constantly amazed by the amount of junk we are able to accumulate. Projects we are going to finish, articles or books we are going to read, the box we are going to sort through, and the list goes on.
Here’s a little trick that seems to work: make an agreement, with someone that will hold you to it, that you will take care of whatever it is by a certain date or it will be dumped. If it’s important, you’ll get it done. If it’s not important, it needs to be dumped.
The four D’s are simply one system for getting organized. There are many others. Just remember that a system saves you some time, energy and money.