Resources | motivate
August 13, 2013
organized chaos

Life lesson #5,229: Make sense of your mess.
I think some people were born with this innate insight into being organized. You know the types…stupid little folders for everything, emails filed [then sub filed], post it reminders to tie your shoes…what else?…oh yeah, labeled drawers and bins for office supplies, color coded calendars and to do lists. I mean, really, those kind of people just burn me up. I’ve never been the type to gravitate toward OCO [obsessive compulsive organization]. I think I just made up that term. But I haven’t Googled it yet, so don’t hold me to it.  I’ve always been the kind of person who has what appears to be a seemingly messy desk or drawer BUT [and I’m sure you’ve heard this before]… I KNOW WHERE EVERYTHING IS. It’s my own type of organized chaos. I never saw the need to file. Schedule. Write notes. It’s alllllll in my head.
Ok so that lasted about 29 years of my life. However, as 30 approached and a little more responsibility snuck it’s way into my so-called life [best show ever and seemed oh-so appropo for this T&R blog] I realized that my organized chaos was becoming a bit problematic.  Begrudgingly, of course.
Client emails began to dominate and become a jumbled heap. The search field was no longer quite as effective.  My aging brain couldn’t keep up with the abundance of meetings, phone calls, requests, tasks or…haircut appointments. I started to feel overwhelmed and frustrated that my fail proof system of life + office management was biting me in the rear.  And it bit hard. Teeth marks and all.
So here it is. A little learned 1, 2, 3, 4 from a recovering organized mess of a man. What I’ve gathered from my growing pains is probably the most basic and common sense tools that most of you are like, “Wow. Seriously? I mean…really…?”
Well, yes. Really.
Here it is, folks.
1.  A calendar will save your life.  I’m a Mac guy. You PC folks have some sort of system, but take from this what you will. I schedule everything I could possibly need to remember in my calendar, color-coded in categories because I am all too visual. Then I obsessively set reminders and alerts so I don’t forget. Because I will ALWAYS forget. It’s part of my charm.
Blue – Personal  [Dr. appt, haircut, dinner, da clubbin’ etc.]
Red – Work Meetings 
Green – General Work [For everyone in the office]
Yellow – Deadlines [Scary yellow]
Purple – Office Management Tasks
2.  Email folders are kind of amazing.  So this little fun fact really took awhile to grasp. I was all like, “Why do I need folders for my email when I can just do a search?” It’s one of those really obvious tools that people like me with a really thick skull don’t get immediately.  I needed to spend a few years wasting copious amounts of time searching through emails to actually realize that I was being stubborn. So now I’ve got main client email folders, then sub categorized folders broken down by project or topic. Seriously…don’t knock it till you try it.
3.  Get OCD.  Release your inner neurotic beast. My mother would be so proud with this one. Everything has its place. Get those stupid plastic bins and assign a purpose to each one. The Office Supply Bin. The Tools Bin.  The X-Rated Bin. Whatever your little heart desires. The goal is for anyone to be able to walk into your office and find what they need at ease [or for you to be able to find something at ease for that matter]. No mad dash scrambling to locate the tape dispenser. Or the toilet paper.  And here’s the kicker, folks…you have to actually put it back in the proper bin. Shocker, right?
4.   Post It Fever. Last but not least…write everything down Memento style [and if you haven’t seen that movie starring a dashing Guy Pierce circa 2000, then I suggest adding it to your Netflix queue].  I carry a handy Moleskin notebook and write crap in it all the time that I can refer back to. Post It’s seem to pop up on my monitor. And if all else fails, the palm of your hand works wonders.
That’s it. I’ve only made it up to about 4 steps BUT those 4 steps have changed this former organized mess into a ¼ mess and ¾ OCO. It’s progress not perfection, right? Just don’t open my top desk drawer… 🙂