I used to have a person work for me who managed a small group of
employees. She was great with people, but lacked effective organization
skills. We had been working on these skills, and I had seen
some improvement. I then sat down at her desk one day and looked
behind her. Her credenza had been left open, and obviously was not
intended for me to see.
She was a file hoarder. She had mountains of unfiled paperwork,
personnel files, and who knows what else, hidden in the pile. She said
she would get around to it. So, we set a deadline. I came back the day
after the deadline had passed; her credenza looked very much the same.
She said she’d tried, but it was too much and she didn’t have time.
As stated throughout this book, we do have time; it’s just a matter of
what we do with it. The simplicity of putting the files behind her to
get to them later turned into a pressure-filled ticking time bomb that
still had to be addressed versus a series of quick actions. The mess was
a big concern. Think about the fact that personal information in the
files was accessible, potential follow-up items were left unattended, and
that there were possible audit issues depending on what was in the pile.
She saw a stack of work that became psychologically difficult to
attack. Her strategy was avoidance. I’ve rarely seen this strategy work.
I saw a series of immediate and small tasks that could be completed
quickly, enabling her to gain efficiency in the future. We tackled it
together—in less than thirty minutes. In daily life, we often put off
things that appear to be burdensome tasks, which can take away from
our attention to detail and may even cause our stress to increase. Try
shifting your mindset, so that you approach tasks as they come up with
the same urgency you associate with tasks after you’ve let them build.
If you have always filed and saved immediately, you’re on the right
path. If you don’t, then today is the day to start.
When something needs to be filed, do it immediately—or, depending
on your position, delegate it immediately—whether it is a paper, email
content, or anything online that needs to be saved, recorded, and/
or filed. In order to maximize your efficiency, it’s important that you
know where things are at all times. Knowing that it’s under the third
pile to the left may work sometimes, but this is about consistency. How
you file and where you choose to put things is up to you. The goal is to
have an organized methodology.
Thomas B. Dowd III’s books available in softcover, eBook, and audiobook (From Fear to Success only):
- Now What? The Ultimate Graduation Gift for Professional Success
- Time Management Manifesto: Expert Strategies to Create an Effective Work/Life Balance
- Displacement Day: When My Job was Looking for a Job…A Reference Guide to Finding Work
- The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World
- From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide received the Gold Medal at the 2013 Axiom Business Book Awards in Business Reference
- The Unofficial Guide to Fatherhood