Clients tell us “I just need to be more organised”. They feel overwhelmed and harassed. If they could just get everything straightened out, they’d be OK. In actual fact, we usually find that lack of organisation is only part of the issue. So here are some tips to getting more organised and being more effective.
1) Use visual tools, like a wall planner or a personal kanban system using post-it notes. Don’t be tempted to use an app, at least to begin with – you need something that exists in the real world. Something that’s easy to complete and in your face every day, not shiny nagware that costs you time to set up and er…organise.
2) Be ruthless. Prioritise 2 or 3 things and DO THEM. I love this story (thanks to @brainpicker for this) about a training exercise given to a group of US Generals. They were asked to write a summary of their strategic approach in only 25 words:
The exercise stumped most of them. None of the distinguished men in uniform could come up with anything.
The only general who managed a response was the lone woman in the room. She had already had a distinguished career, having worked her way up through the ranks and been wounded in combat in Iraq. Her summary of her approach was as follows: ‘First I make a list of priorities: one, two, three, and so on. Then I cross out everything from three down.’”
3) Prioritise by using your big goals as a yardstick, not by the size of the fire. You’ve got big goals, right?
4) Execute. Don’t stop after the “tidying up” phase. Organised and Effective are not the same thing. Being organised is not an end in itself, and if you don’t make progress on those 2 or 3 things you prioritised, you’ve just been rearranging the furniture, not doing anything new.
5) If you’re struggling, get help.