When you hear the word “organize,” what is the first thing that comes to mind? Closets? Filing cabinets? Toys? Bills?
How about these United States? It might seem far-fetched at first, but this great nation is the direct result of organizational prowess. Our forefathers — from George Washington to John Adams and Thomas Jefferson — saw the potential in a motley group of states and their very independent-minded constituents. They were determined to form a whole from the disparate parts, a whole that was bigger and better than the sum of the individual elements.
And they succeeded because they knew how to organize. They created clear declarations of their intent. They devised a system that would keep power dispersed and out of the hands of tyrants. They set up clear road maps, such as the Bill of Rights, so those independent-minded citizens would know how to navigate the new system with ease.
This Fourth of July, take a few moments to remember their incredible handiwork — and to reflect on the power of organization. If it was capable of altering the course of our country’s history, just think of what a little organization could do for you.
Alicia and Sarah on “Getting Started”:
For most of us mere mortals, the real problem isn’t figuring out the benefits we’d gain from getting organized but figuring out when, where and how to get started. If you’re disorganized, you are likely to stay that way unless you can get momentum working in your favor.
The trick: Do one small thing that you can cross off your list. A series of small steps add up to real progress. Our forefathers weren’t paralyzed by the enormity of the organizational task at hand. They successfully got the power of momentum working for them. They did something, like write an opinion piece, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Here are a few guiding principles for unleashing your own organizational prowess.
#1. Organize to your goals
Being organized is not about being perfect or doing what someone else says you should. It’s about identifying what you really want to accomplish and then putting in place flexible frameworks and systems so that you can handle the inevitable twists and turns with confidence and sanity intact.
#2. Define your priorities
Think about where this country would be today if the Founding Fathers hadn’t put a top priority on achieving independence and organizing a new system of government.
At first glance, it may seem as though everything on your to-do list is an absolute priority. But only a few things really matter in the long run. Set aside five to 10 minutes at the start of the week to review your list and at least mentally identify the four or five tasks that are most important.
#3. Ask for help
This country was not built by a few; everybody played a role. If you have big goals in your own life, chances are you will need others to help you along the way. Learn to ask for help.
Delegating effectively can be a challenge, but it is worth overcoming. Enlisting the help of your “team” — spouse, children, roommates — will make all of you more efficient and happier. Doing everything by yourself demoralizes others because it robs them of the opportunity to add value with their own creative approaches to getting work done.