(In this series of posts, we are looking at some components of good time management.)
If you are disorganized, it will be very difficult to make good use of your time. When you can’t find important items, it is easy to spend 15, 30 or 60 minutes each day just looking for stuff. When you have a "place for everything and everything in its place" you can focus on your actual work and not just managing your "things".
When I was in college, I asked my grandmother to make me a patchwork quilt and matching pillow case for my dorm room bed. I liked it a lot and it gave my room a distinct look and made it trendy in a way that only dorm rooms can be. (My neighbor covered every square inch of his room in tin foil and I couldn’t really compete with that.)
Time spent searching isn’t productive. Time spent finding what you need is very productive. Anything you can do to keep yourself from having to search for something will reward you in the future.
After a few months I started noticing a problem. When I was getting
ready to head out to class I would set my book or some other item that
I needed on the bed and finish getting ready. When I went to pick it
up and head out the door, the object was gone. I would search the room
trying to find it as the minutes ticked closer for class to start.
Finally I would find it camouflaged on the bed. With a patchwork quilt,
everything blends in. I finally had to change my bed spread because I
was losing too much time trying to find items that had "disappeared" on
the colorful quilt.
When you aren’t organized, your entire office can become a patchwork
quilt. Everything is there, but it is hidden from view by everything
else. A small investment in setting up a reasonable filing system,
boxes to hold miscellaneous cords and cables, and shelves to organize
your books can make a powerful improvement in where your time is spent.
I once heard a very simple organizational tip that has saved me many
hours if not days of searching for things over the years. When you are
trying to find a place for something don’t ask "Where do I put this?"
instead ask "Where will I look for this later?"
This simple approach can help insure that your efforts in organization
are going to actually save you time later on. Your sock drawer might
have a perfect place to hold your stapler and scissors, but unless you
are have a very strange way of using those items, this particular
storage choice will probably cost you time later on.