Become More Successful: Get Organized

By Paula Santonocito

It happened again: You were late for a meeting because you couldn’t find a file. Heed the warning sign, SMW reader. It’s time to get organized.

Shattering the Myths

Often, being disorganized at work has to do with having too much of whatever it is you think your work requires: paper files, online files, tools, gadgets or other stuff.

If you’re a saver, it may be time to reconsider. According to Barbara Hemphill, professional organizer and author of “Taming the Paper Tiger,” the 1988 groundbreaking book credited with creating the professional organizing field, 80 percent of what we keep we never use.

But don’t be confused. Good organizational skills aren’t about being neat; they’re about being productive and successful.

Hemphill offers a free assessment at the website of her organization, Hemphill Institute, which will give you insight into whether you’re organized, as well as insight into why it’s important.

Like other skills, organizational skills can be developed.

The Hemphill Institute offers an array of products that can put you on the path to developing those skills.

Tapping into Resources

The Hemphill Institute is one of many valuable resources that can help you get organized.

“Help, I’m Knee-Deep in Clutter: Conquer the Chaos and Get Organized Once and for All” by Joyce I. Anderson is another. The book, published by AMACOM last year, also shatters a popular myth: that you’re too busy to get organized.

In fact, the busier you are, the more important it is to be organized.

Anderson tackles personal and professional organization in her book, which features chapters for different rooms in the house. Chapter 13, “Home Office,” contains tips for setting up a home office and maintaining it. Most of these tips can also be used in a corporate office environment.

Chapters 14 through 16 address managing paperwork, and apply to any office environment.

The first step in creating a plan to get organized, according to Anderson, is to schedule it. The next part of the plan is to organize it. Basically, this means breaking the plan into manageable steps.

In the case of creating a home office, for example, organizing the plan first requires determining a location within your home, then figuring out what you need to buy in order to set up that space. Other steps follow.

At the end of each chapter, Anderson includes a final step, which often amounts to several steps. This section of each chapter explains how to maintain the new organized environment you’ve worked so hard to create.

I’ll Do It Later

Getting organized will allow you to use your time more effectively. This has obvious implications for your career, but it will also impact your personal life.

Consider these facts, courtesy of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO):

– The average executive wastes 150 hours each year looking for lost or misplaced documents.

– In total, Americans waste more than 9 million hours each day looking for lost items.

– A national poll finds that 96 percent of workers want more flexibility and control over their time, and that 73 percent are willing to curtail their careers in favor of more family time.

One way to gain more free time is to use work time more effectively.

For single-minded women, who in addition to managing their work lives often have sole responsibility for household and family responsibilities, getting organized is arguably more critical.

But what happens if you really, truly don’t feel you have the time or the personal wherewithal to wrestle the beast that is your disorganized life?

Have no fear; there is help available for you as well. Using NAPO’s online referral, you can locate a professional organizer in your area.


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