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Eight misconceptions of organization

Know the Score

Posted: December 5, 2008 9:39 p.m.
Updated: December 6, 2008 4:55 a.m.
 
Some people were born organized and then there are those of us who struggle with organizing every year at this time. It seems that it's always at the end of the year when that little annoying bug begins nudging you to clear things up and start the new year organized.

Well, I've read just about everybody's directions, books and helpful hints about getting organized (in fact, I'm thinking of writing one myself), and I've got to tell you there are some misconceptions being fostered by every organizational guru. It will be my pleasure to give you the "skinny" on that in today's column.

Myths to throw out
* Handle paper once. This is not only impossible, but in most cases it's unrealistic. Instead of handling paper once, get in the habit of doing something with each piece of paper to move it forward. If you get some information about an upcoming seminar/trade show, for example, decide if you'll attend or not.

If you're going to attend then note the date on your calendar and sign up. If not, then toss the information immediately. If you want to wait to sign up, then make a note in your planner to respond well before the deadline and file the paper in your "to-do" file.

* Always keep papers stored out of sight. Some of us work better when their desk is clear, whereas others feel stifled if they aren't surrounded by stacks of paper. If you're an "out of sight - out of mind" type, keep papers you use often nearby in files or stacking bins. They'll be accessible, yet not clutter your desk.

When working on a project, spread out the papers related to it and when you're done put them away together in one place.

* Everyone should be organized to the same degree. Different people work differently. Don't feel that you have to work the same as someone else.

Find a comfortable level of being organized and make the necessary changes to maintain that level. I usually draw that line when I'm looking for something and can't find it; that's when I know things need to get reorganized.

* Soon we'll be a "paperless" society. Don't you believe it. Experts have been saying that for years and we won't be paperless for a long time.

It's not technology that's the problem, it is human nature that's the culprit. We're creatures of habit and used to seeing things in print rather than on a computer screen. The younger generation is now being trained on computers at an early age, so when they join the workforce, the "paperless" society will have a better chance of becoming a reality.

* One planning system should fit everyone. When used correctly, daily planners are an ideal way to stay organized. Keep in mind, however, they are designed by a few for many users.

When buying a planner, whether paper-based or electronic, determine what you want it to do and choose a system accordingly. If you can't find one to suit your system, design your own based on your individual needs.

* You have to be born organized to be organized. We learn both good and bad habits at an early age. It's possible to change any bad habit, including disorganization.

Youngsters raised in an organized environment sometimes rebel as adults by being disorganized. The opposite is also true, but neither is carved in stone and behavior can be modified.

* You must use a "to-do" list. Planning day-to-day is not realistic for everyone. Someone may do the same task every week, but others find their plans changing daily. Consider your particular need, then plan by the day or the week.

* Being organized means being a perfectionist. A perfectionist may spend time on insignificant details while disregarding the big picture.

When others complete a project quickly and on time, the perfectionist continues to work until the project is perfect. A perfectionist becomes more effective when he/she lowers his/her standards slightly and concentrates on ways to increase productivity.

Do not be deceived
Misinformation, when taken seriously, can hinder you from doing what you want. The next time you hear one of those "organizational gurus" espousing one of the above misconceptions, consider its value and work to develop your own style of organizing.

Maureen Stephenson is a local author and owner of Santa Clarita-based REMS Publishing & Publicity. Her column represents her own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.

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