Getting Yourself Organized in 2014

By Gerri Willis

Mea culpa. I am writing a blog about getting yourself organized, and as anyone who’s ever been to my office can attest, it’s not my long suit. It’s not even my short suit. I just struggle to keep things and ideas in their place. Everything seems too valuable to pitch. Having confessed to that, I decided to go on a search for the very best ideas for getting yourself together. Here we go:

  • First, there is Julie Morgenstern. She wrote the popular book, “Organizing from the Inside Out,” and has become a go-to expert on organization. She’s a great motivator and she doesn’t require that you buy a lot of hanging files or outboxes. She coaches you step by step. Here’s what she told me was key to getting organized: “Make a master list of all the organizing projects you would like to tackle, and then select an order of attack, starting with the smallest areas that will have the biggest impact on your daily life.  Don’t start with the most daunting project.  It’s fine to start with your sock drawer, cabinet of plastic containers in the kitchen, or toiletries in the medicine cabinet.  Getting one or two small projects done completely will fuel you with a sense of accomplishment and control that will create momentum and energy to keep going. Pretty smart stuff.
  • But let’s face it, you don’t get organized just to see pretty piles of paper on your desk or sweaters sorted by color in your closet. You want to get organized so you become more efficient in your personal and professional life. You want to be organized so that when your husband asks, “What’s your frequent flyer number for Delta?’ you don’t stare at him blankly. (Okay, maybe that’s a personal digression.) The reason you want to organized in so that you can more stuff done – maybe even attack that bucket list.
  • That’s where David Allen comes in. The author of the best seller, “Getting Things Done,” is a guru to professional workers. Companies hire him to present his theory of being productive and much of his philosophy has to do with clearing away the mental and real clutter that is constantly getting in the way of getting anything done well. For that reason, Allen recommends that your start by organizing everything in your life – from the need to stop at the grocery store to the bookcase overflowing in your office. Everything, according to Allen, has a place. This is harder than it sounds, but people who practice the message of “Getting Things Done”  are converts. Allen told me his philosophy boils down to this, “Your head is for having ideas, not holding them.” Clever, right?
  • I do have one trusted organizing tool – Evernote, an app that gives everything a place, automatically. Everywhere I go, I see segment and guest ideas for the Willis Report, all of them go into Evernote. The power of the tool is in tags. Every idea, every recipe, every contact can be tagged so that later you can sort by tags and find that information again. You’d be surprised just how useful this is. In Evernote, I keep just two give folders. The first is for items that have yet to be tagged and the second is for items that have already been tagged. The Evernote people save your stuff on the cloud, so that if your IPad gives up the ghost (as mine recently did), all your precious information is safe. Genius!

Ultimately, how you organize is a very personal thing. Some people like real world, hard files, while others like the ease of virtual ones. Either way, getting your stuff in its place will go a long way to making your life easier and I am all for that.