How to Get Organized
By: Susan Dunn
|Susan Dunn, The EQ Coach, coaches individuals and executives in emotional intelligence, and offers workshops, presentations, trainings, Internet courses and ebooks. She is a regular presenter for the Royal Caribbean and Costa cruiselines. Visit her on the web at www.susandunn.cc and mailto:email@example.com for FREE ezine.
I belong to a yahoogroup of coaches and right now the topic is how to get
organized. One coach writes that he’s using Outlook Express for his email
and email address list, Time & Order for his address book, calendar,
datebook and to-do list (synchronizing, he says, between PS and daytimer),
and MindMappit for brainstorming/lists.” Someone replies that they’re an
infj and to remember to focus on people and relationships. A third one
replies they wouldn’t want to be a ‘type’ and there’s probably a name for
that type, and she uses …etc.”
My son swears by his Palm Pilot, except he left it here on his last visit.
I use a combination of this and that, and still missed a dental appointment
the other day.
The point is, we all have too much to do, and we all feel we need to get
What will get us organized once and for all? Such perfection is not possible.
If it were, that would be your life – making lists, making checkmarks,
and transferring data and information around. There on your daytimer at
8:04 p.m. would be “Kiss my son goodnight.” Intuitively we all know we
don’t want to end up there!
So what can you do that’s helpful and reasonable? There are so many
systems out there, you’d have to get organized to get organized to shop
for one. Instead try these things my clients have found successful:
Whatever organizational state you’re in, get the big picture organized
first, and then go get the tools. Work with a coach for quicker results.
- Mary observed carefully someone she considered like herself in personality,
only well-organized. She watched how they kept track of things, asked
them about their systems and tools, and then did the same thing with good
- Tom told me he was disorganized and praised his officemate, Richard. When
I quizzed him, he couldn’t zero in on anything but the fact that he was
not as organized as Richard. I assigned him to observe Richard and ask
him some questions. Turned out Richard thought he was disorganized, missed
things from time to time, but didn’t worry about it because he was doing
the best he could. Tom then quit comparing himself to other people, took
a long look at what things were actually impeding his progress, and devised
a system to get himself organized enough to be satisfied.
- Keely told me about all her tools – Palm Pilot, Outlook Express, Best Day
Ever, Don’t Die at 50 calendar, etc. I asked her what she was organizing
and she said “my life,” but she couldn’t break it down. You can have the
tools but if you don’t have a map of the territory, you’re just digging
a hole instead of digging for gold. We made a list of categories and her
values regarding them -- Home, Work, Relationships, EQ, Travel, Debt Reduction,
Yard, Car. The details weren’t hard to fill in, and she had the tools.
The meaning and purpose of the big picture helped her make use of
- Neil wanted to get organized. When we talked, I couldn’t see anywhere where
he wasn’t organized. “What do you want to get organized about?” I asked.
“I missed picking up my clothes at the cleaners the other day, he said.
“That’s not like me.” Neil needed to work on his perfectionism. He
had narrowed his life so much in order to accommodate his perfectionism
that his life was relatively empty and always disappointing. The point
of getting organized is to enhance your life, not vice versa.
- Nucha began coaching by saying, “I hate this,” and “I know you can’t help
me.” With such a pessimistic attitude, how could she succeed at anything?
She needed to work on her emotional intelligence and learn a more optimistic
- Emilil said she couldn’t prioritize. I told her to write down everything
she did for the next two weeks. When she returned, she’d figured it out!
We are prioritizing all the time, whether we’re conscious of it or not.
Get conscious about it is the beginning. If you want to see what your values
are, look at your checkbook and see what you write check for. With awareness
comes change, and a sense of control.
- Candee wanted to get organized because she said she always forgot things
and didn’t get things done. When I asked her “Like what?” she could only
come up with a couple of things … failing to buy MacIntosh apples on the
last trip to the grocery, not remembering her uncle’s birthday. I asked
her to make a full list of the things she was NOT doing. When faced with
that assignment, she realized the absurdity of it, and that perhaps she
was worrying just for the sake of worrying. She entered birthdays on Clock-Calendar,
and found a new grocery-list system that worked.
- Nancy said she had too much to do and I asked her to tell me. After talking
for 10 minutes she said, “This is ridiculous. I can’t do all this.” Sometimes
you need to hear yourself talk to see how things really are! She immediately
took action. She got a low-maintenance hairstyle, found new homes for 3
of her 5 pets; shopped online and used gift bags instead going to the mall
and then wrapping; and she quit baking homemade bread, which no one in
her family noticed for 3 weeks.