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How to Organize Anything

Distinguishing Betweent the Urgent and Important

If you’re like many people, your desk is a collage of sticky notes, business cards with hurried scribbles and snoozed reminder windows. The very thought of getting organized haunts you like your toddler’s bedroom you just cleaned. You know you’ll enjoy it for the moment but it’s only about two seconds from Armageddon.

For those of you in this boat, I have good news. Being organized is more than just knowing where stuff is. There is a place for that – but everyone does it differently. Not everyone functions best with card files, cabinets and credenzas.

Organizing on the outside is really just the appearance of order. What most people want from being organized is not so much the appearance, but rather effectiveness and efficiency. “How can I be most effective with my time, get more things done, do things better”, etc.

Getting organized needs to start with understanding what is truly important and not just “urgent”. Our lives are filled with urgencies, or at least we’re led to believe they’re urgencies. Have you heard any of these?

“Click here!”
“You have to watch this!”
“You don’t want to miss [fill in the blank]!”
“Act now!

Here’s the morsel:

Your degree of organization is dependent upon your ability to differentiate between the important and urgent – better known as prioritizing.

If the first thing you say to yourself is, “I’ve got to get organized”, be careful. There are 101 ways to organize, sort, filter, stack and group and you can spend your entire day exploring all 101 of them. At the end of the day though, you still have to determine what it is that must get done.

Prioritizing when it comes to organization means deciding which things are important versus those that are urgent on a daily basis. Whether you’re a student, homemaker, professional or laborer, if you start your day overwhelmed with all that has to be done and think, “Oh my gosh, where do I start?”, that’s an excellent first question.

Discerning what’s important comes from asking better questions of ourselves.

“What will happen if I do/don’t do [x] today?”
“How is [x] going to help me accomplish my goals?”
“What is the realistic timeframe I have to complete [x]?”

Take a moment and think about all the things you have to do. Then sort those into two piles: IMPORTANT and URGENT (not as important).

CONGRATULATIONS - you’ve organized two piles just by prioritizing!