“A place for everything, and everything in its place” – Mrs Beeton
Recently a friend frustratingly said to me “you’ve got to write a blog on organisation because I’m sick of wasting time looking for things.” Although it’s not always recognised, disorganisation is often the Achilles heel hampering progress for many at home and at work.
I find people either have a natural slant for either being organised or not. Why is it 1 of my children's room is constantly messy when the other 2 aren't? Disorganisation is a result of either not knowing what to do or knowing what to do but not taking action ie. not seeing the importance in it, being disciplined to stay organised or just can’t be bothered to make the effort. Cleaning up via a “spring clean” from time to time doesn’t really help because disorganisation will quickly follow if there’s not a system, behaviours and discipline embedded.
Without organisation we:
- Unnecessarily overtax our brain by trying to remember everything
- Remember things at the most peculiar times (like waking at 2am or recalling information while we should be focused on something else)
- Waste time due by forgetting where we placed something
- Forget to action within required timelines
If you’re still not convinced then consider this research on how disorganisation impacts people at home and work:
- Removing clutter eliminates 40% of housework in the average home
- The garage is the most frequently used room in the house, yet 50% of homeowners’ rate it as their most disorganised room
- Executives waste 150 hours a year (almost 1 month) searching for lost information
- Time management can be improved by 38% by using the correct organisational tools
- Office workers waste an average of 40% of their workday due to not being taught organising skills to cope with increased workloads and demands
The biggest mistakes workers make with organisation is either not having a system (with any piece of work you need to be able to easily answer the question what happens next?) or designing a system that’s too complicated to maintain. The key to success is structuring an organisational system that’s scalable and sustainable but importantly works for you without fail.
5 tips to help you maintain an organised approach are:
- Have 1 place – scattered information makes it too difficult to remember what’s where ie. don’t record some items in a paper based diary and other items in a notepad.
- Paper based – structure based on logical groupings (customers, employer, personal etc). Consider overlaying with Active (frequently used and current), Filed (not needed as frequently but sometimes required) and Archive (necessary to keep for historical reasons or to satisfy financial records requirements).
- Electronic – it’s usually the stuff we think we might need or would like to keep for reference that we’re unsure what to do with. Evernote’s a great tool to either add information or clip articles for future reference. For me, it’s sort of like my electronic brain that is available on all my devices. The notebook and tag capabilities make it easy to find whatever is stored. It’s a tool that hoarders love.
- Email – is managed poorly by a large percentage of workers. Have a system that’s easy to manage for emails to be responded to, stored and retrieved.
- Time sensitive – the power of when is critically important to understand what needs to be done within a specific timeframe. Use either an electronic calendar or paper based diary to schedule appointments, meetings and actions to be done ie. tasks, bills to be paid etc.
If you don’t know how to become organised then get help as doing so is likely to significantly increase your clarity while unlocking you in such a way that you’ll get more done. Do you prefer calm or chaos? The choice is yours to make.