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Start with Organization

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Through the years, people have commented, “You are so organized! How do you do it all?” Unfortunately, this is another misconception about me, much like how I deal with balance as we discussed in yesterday’s post, Start with Balance. This is the fourth post in the series, You have to Start to Finish.

Organization is definitely one of my goals and I occasionally give the appearance that I am organized with my ever-present Day-Timer and my colored pen lists. I even write posts on topics such as how to keep track of your resume in Where did I put that resume? or how to make organized decisions as in A Little Decision-Making Tool. But right about when you think I have it all together, I admit to failing in posts such as Achoo! Allergic to Mail.

How am I going to start with organization in 2011?

What is my goal to get organized and at the same time keep my life in balance and make myself accountable in the area of finances?

  1. Creating the colored pen list is key. My to-do list reads like a mini-resume with action statements like “write blog post” or “Process Mail” or “Update QuickBooks.” I have three standing reminders in black ink on the top of each list. Two of the 3 almost always happen: Read Bible and Exercise. The third is a specific reminder to ride the exercise bike with ____ Minutes ____ Miles ___ Calories Burned, but that one gets ignored — a lot! Red is for the urgent and important things, usually client-related. Purple is for my office projects like Process mail. Green is for financial related items: Update QuickBooks, Mail Check to…., or Pay mortgage. Blue is for household chores such as Vacuum living room or Sort laundry.
  2. If I make the list wisely and then follow it, the client projects will get done, mail will get processed, my bills will get paid, I will stay on top of my financials and the household projects.
  3. Kindergarten rules like put away what you take out are so simple but this concept is one many adults struggle to follow. You need to have a place for things to go first but assuming you do, putting things away when you are done with them will help you stay organized. In your office or workplace, when you work on a project and then file it in any easy to retrieve place or label your computer files in a way that lets you find things, then you make progress in this area. In your home, the same principle applies. If you take it out, put it away.

Here’s some projects I have on my list for the next few days:

  1. Set up invoice files for 2011. I still keep paper files for invoices for tax purposes. I have a set of labels I print with the tax categories and year on them.
  2. Organize client files and enter into database. I struggled with this one all year but now have a basic database that I can expand on to track clients and better manage them.
  3. Clean closets. I have two large closets with office things in them. The former office downstairs really needs some organization and purging. Getting rid of things you don’t use any more makes you feel better and helps you stay organized.

More tools for organization:

  1. Jason Alba’s JibberJobber is a great career management tool for job seekers and for lifelong career management. Jason is continually refining JJ and it only gets better.
  2. Flylady has been a help to disorganized people everywhere. Marla Cilley with her many associates has motivated and led people to solutions for household cleaning, dinner planning, exercise, and overall organization. I have used many of her tools through the years and still find that her “You can do anything for 15 minutes” coaching coupled using her timer gets me moving through projects I procrastinate.
  3. I’ve used my Daytimer since 1982 and still prefer writing those lists to Blackberry’s or PDAs or even Outlook. Something about the writing helps me get things done.
  4. Oh, and those colored pens? I use Pilot G-2 gel pens from Staples.

Whatever you decide, I think you will find that if you Start with Organization, it will help you move forward!

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12 Responses to Start with Organization

  1. […] People still hunt for receipts at tax time to complete their returns. Many people seem to be organizationally challenged. […]

  2. I used to be really keen on organization and keeping things nice and neat, but I got so obsessed with it, I lost track of what was really important.

  3. Organization is something that takes continual effort for me! I find that a to-do list is not enough; I need to actually schedule that I am going to do something from this time to that time to have a greater chance of it being completed.

    I need to make a point to really delve into Flylady. I’ve looked at the site in the past, and there are lots of great suggestions there.

    My favorite organizer is a free electronic scheduler on It works well for me and my family because each person gets a specific color and it’s easy to see if something I want to plan would conflict with the needs of another member of the family. Plus, with Windows 7, I can download a widget that sits on my desktop and allows me to see the schedule when I start up my computer.

    Here’s to being well organized in 2011!

    • Thanks for the comment, Melissa. I write posts on organization because I am also challenged. I think sometimes those of us who work solo are challenged the most because we try to do it all alone. I have changed much of that but not in the area of filing and organizing. I don’t know if anyone really could do that for me.

      You would enjoy Flylady and more so, your kids would love it. There should still be the Fairy that helps children get organized. It was so cute but wouldn’t have worked on my teens at the time.

      Everyone has to figure out their own organizer, the Daytimer suits a particular need for me to write things with pen and ink but if works for you, it is good. I used Flylady’s calendar for years. I didn’t order it this year and now I have none on the wall. I will end up remedying it somehow.

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