The Good News and The Bad News about Getting Organized

What does it really mean to get organized at work?  Let's break this down:

First, the bad news:

You actually have to deal with everything that shows up. You can't ignore anything (papers, emails, phone calls, tasks).

What happens when you ignore stuff?

  • Work (literally) piles up
  • You piss people off -- "Why didn't you respond to my email/phone call?"
  • You lose people's trust -- "She never gets back to me, I'll ask someone else."
  • You miss opportunities -- deadlines, events, meetings, etc. due to poor scheduling, but also the opportunities that flow from showing up in the world  focused and ready to go.

Now, the good news:

You don't have to DO everything. You just have to decide what needs to be done (and then do some of it).

Getting organized really means:

  • Getting in touch with all the "incompletes" in your universe.
  • Deciding what to do about each incomplete -- it could be "do it," but it could also be  "give it to someone else to do," "delete it," or "defer it until I have more time/information/resources."
  • Capturing your "incompletes" in a system (calendar, online to-do list, pen and paper) you trust and like to use.
  • Reviewing and repeating, on a regular basis, the three steps above.

This, at its essence, is how I understand Getting Things Done.  It's no magic bullet, but it's a great place to start.

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