Organization is a matter of logic and discipline


May 29, 1994|By Niki Scott | Niki Scott,Universal Press Syndicate

"I've got to get organized!" How many times have you mumbled this to yourself as you clawed through the clutter on your desk -- or in your closet -- trying to find something that should be there, has to be there, but isn't? If you're like me, the answer is: at least twice a week.

Some people seem to be naturally more organized than others, as if they have an organizer chromosome that the rest of us don't have. I try to avoid them altogether -- especially on days when my sheep dog seems more organized than I.

L Here are traits these enviable folks seem to have in common:

* They're selective. Before deciding to keep even a single piece of paper, they ask themselves: What exactly will this document or magazine article add to the material I already have? Do I really need this -- or just want it? How soon will it be outdated? Am I saving it simply because this allows me to postpone making a decision about it?

* They're decisive. They don't clutter their homes and work areas in order to avoid making on-the-spot decisions about what to throw away and what to keep.

* They're self-disciplined, able to concentrate on one goal, one idea, one task at a time, instead of jumping from one to another.

* They're assertive. If they need to concentrate and can't be interrupted, they make this clear.

* They're realistic. They don't take on projects they can't complete, agree to deadlines they can't meet, or set goals that are unattainable.

* They're systematic. If they set up a system or procedure, they adhere to it. Their files are alphabetical; messages are recorded in a central place; mail is sorted in a certain way every day.

This may sound boring, but it helps them to be not only more competent, but also a great deal less frazzled than whimsical colleagues who can't stick to any system.

* They're punctual. Organized people value their own time, so they're more likely to value ours.

* They're flexible. If an organizational system isn't working, they don't stubbornly cling to it. Instead they research their options and adopt new systems that take into account changed priorities, responsibilities, circumstances or equipment.

* They're properly equipped. They invest in files and filing cabinets, answering machines, calculators, calendars, shelves, reminder programs for their computers, and separate (uncluttered!) work spaces because they know their time and energy will be unwisely spent without these organizational tools.

* They're self-aware. If they're falling behind in their work, overdrawing their checking account, letting clients down, engaging in self-defeating behavior of any kind, they make changes.

* Finally, organized people tend to be logical and predictable -- which once again doesn't make them boring, but trustworthy and reliable. Their bosses, co-workers, spouses, children, friends and neighbors can count on them -- not some of the time, but all of the time.

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