Every now and then I get totally frustrated with the lack of certain results and outcomes in my life. I tend to be a little OCD about getting things done and in a particular way. I have learnt that while my first fleshly instinct would be to blame someone and look for the fault on their behalf, I have to be honest and acknowledge that most of the time the central issue is me and my personal lack of organization.
I am a particularly organized person (If I don’t say so myself… haha) but I generally attempt to do too much and squeeze that little extra into my already overcrowded schedule. In the past when I would struggle with punctuality, it wasn’t because I was lazy, it was because I was attempting to complete, ‘just one more thing’ in my schedule that I simply didn’t have time for (can anyone else identify?).
I have learnt that if I really want to grow in a particular area of my life, I must get more organized (I know in Australian English ‘organize’ is spelt with an ‘S’ but I like the way the Americans spell it). Personal organization and self-leadership is a fundamental backbone of personal growth and development. You can’t go higher in God, work or life if you don’t commit yourself to getting more organized.
Here are some basic tips I have learnt to getting more organized:
- Know what God has called you to do – Being clear on your life calling and purpose helps to eliminate wasted time and energy. Knowing what God has called you to do helps you to know what to say yes too and what to say no too. While we are always growing in our understanding of God’s call on our lives, we need to establish some clarity and work towards fulfilling it. The earlier, the better… but it’s never too late.
- Structure your schedule around your physical and emotional energy peaks throughout the day – While this is not always practical or even totally realistic, if you have the flexibility to make this happen in your schedule, observe for a week your energy peaks and lows and schedule your most important assignments, meetings or tasks in the appropriate time of day.
- Buy an iPad 2 – I have found this little instrument an absolute master-piece of tech-engineering that helps me to no end with my personal organization. Not only do I have a daily, weekly, monthly and annual outlook on my calendar but I have access to various apps (Awesome Notes)that make taking notes, referencing work related materials and recording important things much easier. All that I need is in one place, it’s mobile, super-fast and can be accessed at the click of a button. Definitely worth the investment.
- Have a weekly planning meeting once a week – I meet with my wife every Monday night and quickly go over our plans for the week. It helps keep each other in the loop on what’s coming up and also helps us our communication flow during the week. We also look ahead in the month and plan future activities including holidays and family events that need to be included in the schedule.
- Look over your schedule the night before – Don’t wake up and wonder ‘Oh what do I have on today?’ Know what you have on because your brain has already made a mental note, the night before. Know what’s going on and don’t be wondering what just happened.
- Have a specific place for everything – The simple way to avoid leaving things around the place is have a place for everything. Be it clothes, shoes, bills, administration tools, books, food, sports equipment, CD’s, DVD’s, etc… Know where things belong and where to put things after you have finished using them. I don’t lose my keys at least when I am at home because I always put my keys, phone and wallet on the front bench as I walk into the house (If they do go missing, I know that some cheeky little monkeys are up to something…).
- Chunk – Carve out blocks of time to concentrate on specific and important tasks. Don’t do a task in dribs and drabs. Make time and focus your energy, resources and abilities on completing the task.
- Focus, Focus, Focus – They key to great performance in something is complete focus and concentration. This comes naturally to me, like a sixth sense, which sometimes irritates my wife to no end but is able to be developed by anyone who is desperate enough. Golf is a great game to teach you focus, because if you don’t focus, you won’t be playing golf for much longer… it’s too frustrating.
- Plan, Plan and then Plan some more – The key to great organization is planning. I plan my preaching 12-18 months ahead. I plan holidays 12 months ahead. I’m getting better at planning my financial budget than I used to.
- Develop an action orientation – Make things happen by getting actively involved in the process of life. Don’t be passive and watch life pass you by, get involved. The world waits for no-one. If you want something, you’ve got to go and get it.
- Get fit – Great fitness enables you to do more, be more and live more. When your physical body breaks down, everything in your life just stops because you need time to recover. The fitter and healthier you are the more alert, energized and organized you will be.
- Develop systems for doing routine tasks – For example, I don’t get to watch the news every night to keep abreast of what’s happening in the world but every morning after my devotions, I’ll use my iPad 2 (Gotta get one) and access a top News website to get a big picture scan of the key news items for that day. My job requires me to be informed of what is going on in the world around me and this little 5 min exercise helps keep be informed and engaged.
- Prioritize your BIG Rocks – Date night with my wife is a big rock that I have in my diary weekly. My devotions and preaching study time is a big rock that goes into my diary. Meetings with key people need to be prioritized in your diary. There will always be more work, more people and more opportunities to fill in the details of life but you are responsible for what’s most important.