24 January 2010
Jan 27, 2010
Organization - A Tool for Business & Life
Let's face it, when things are out of control, we feel stressed out. It's often said, organization is a tool for a better life. That's not to say things go perfectly - we don't live in Pixie Dust Land. Life is still life, but having a little organization really helps when, not if, life "happens."
Order Isn't a Stranglehold
Clients, friends and other businesses may have influenced the way you think about organization. The biggest myth around about organization: It's NOT about being perfect or having an emaculant office all the time. It's not even about clear desktops. I mean, you could sweep all the items on your desktop into a box. Your desktop would be clear, but would you really be organized? The real truth and measure of being organized: Finding most anything you need when you need it in about 5 minutes. That's it. Forget the need to be a Martha Stewart clone. "Being organized" is a tool for keeping things down to a dull roar, a way of arranging your life and work so you can get important things done. It's really a system, a process, a way of life. It's also a lot about your thoughts and relearning preconceived notions you have floating around in your head.
Sometimes Good Enough is Good Enough
Do you use the words "should" a lot when speaking about getting organized? "I know I should redo this drawer." "I should really move these papers over here." "I know I should have 500 sub-categories for this spreadsheet." In other words, if there's a label on everything and your filing is set up, then what you have is good, and might even be great. Don't go overboard, as your nature is to control everything, which we all know is not possible. When it comes to organizing, you might be surprised to know that keeping your home office in tip-top shape is really about getting and staying organized in your head. Some may have the compulsion that their efforts are never "good enough." They feel they don't measure up to some elusive business standard and feel ashamed. If this sounds familiar, you need to relax and trust your already developed keen organization skills, and thus learn when it's time to walk away. To counter compulsive tendencies, focus on what you are doing right, and less on the "shoulds".
Piles of Files and No System
On the other side of the coin, if you are not a card-carrying member of the "I Love To File Club", and really who is, make your filing system as simple and straightforward for you as possible. Line up your files into folders, consolidate your subjects and simplify as much as possible. There are no hard and fast rules about what your filing system has to look like. If you want to file in apple crates, or in a dozen buckets, be my guest. The point is, can you find what you are looking for and will you actually use this system because it matches your personal work style? Once you have decided what filing system works for you, sort through your papers and get everything in place. Next, put a date on your calendar each week, or month, to put papers in that filing system. Ten to twenty minutes is all it really takes. Keep that date with yourself and you'll find your filing cabinet will be as useful as the day you installed it.
How Much Time is Wasted?
Some businesses have wasted time on perfecting a system that was already working - quite beautifully! Does this sound familiar? - managers asking for "improvements" on business tracking systems. Other owners don't put any system into place and waste time trying to find things to the tune of 30-40% of their time on tasks like paper shuffling!
Where else could that time be invested? In spreading the word about your product or service? Catching up on the lastest trends? Or maybe having lunch with a friend? Organization is a tool. It's a system. It's not a perfect system, and it shouldn't be a torture device. It's a means to an end. It's a way to live a life you love or grow a business you feel passionate about. Are you using it?
The Key is Doing, Not Buying
You'll notice I've written very little about products. That's because the particular filing cabinet, folders or buckets you use are of little consequence. The important part is keeping the date you make with yourself to use your filing system. Develop easy-to-follow rules and protocols. Once you pay a bill, file it away. When you receive a new product catalog, put it in it's home so you can find it later. Remember, organization is about finding what you need in five minutes or less.