How do normal people do it?

January 27, 2010

I have been doing a lot of reading lately on different approaches to improving productivity.  Pretty much all of the authors agree that one starting point is getting yourself and your stuff organized. Good advice. But how, exactly, do you fit ‘getting organized’ into a schedule that is already stretched to the max?

Many sources advocate setting aside up to several days to get through everything in one massive burst. I know that approach makes a huge difference. I also know that most of the people I work with just don’t have several days they can put towards this effort. At best they might have to set aside some of their vacation time or weekend to do it.

Since I am not an advocate of using your time off in this fashion – I was wondering, how do normal people tackle this task?

What works best for me is the ‘eating the elephant’ approach – you know, one bite at a time! It doesn’t seem as if spending 15 minutes on a regular basis will make a dent in the years-long accumulation of stuff, but it is astonishing what can be accomplished.

One saying I like is ‘this didn’t accumulate overnight – it is unreasonable to expect it to be cleared up overnight.’ That really takes the pressure off!

So, if ‘get organized’ is one of your priority items – try setting a timer for 15 minutes, and work on one stack until the timer goes off. Then walk away until the next time. Bit by bit, it will all get done over time.

I am going to leave you with a quote from Rosabeth Moss Cantor: The middle of every successful project looks like a disaster.

When will you schedule your 15 minutes?

Because, really, without a life, what’s the point?

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