Order & Organization are the Keys to Successful Life & Business Management
Order & Organization
When I was a child I resisted order and organization. It meant boundaries and limits and to my young mind, an end to fun. Perhaps I was right, and now having a 5 year old that I love to try and use her eyes to see the world again in a way that has long passed, I realize it has nothing to do with fun. She’s very orderly and likes to clean up and put things where they belong so she can find them later. She’s great at finding things. Better than I am. Even though I’m the one who taught her that there’s a place for everything and everything should be in its place. It’s more difficult to lose things that way. I don’t like to lose things, and I rarely do.
A skill that everyone should try to acquire during their childhood is organizational skills. Not everyone does, which is evident. But if you know how to create an organizational system that complements your muscle memory, you are ahead of the game. You become efficient, you don’t waste time looking for things everywhere, you have a logical hierarchy and spot for every item that you may ever need at your disposal. That’s huge. That saves a lot of time, meaning life.
Don’t believe me? Have a gander at the amazing history of the filing cabinet in the skyscraper age. We take them for granted like much in life in this modern age. But we weren’t always so efficient. (Some people still aren’t) Humans learn to go vertical!
I can’t even begin to count the number of offices of very busy, highly paid, high-level men and women I’ve been in and the place is a wreck. They’ll have columns of filing cabinets and rows of filing drawers, and all sorts of utilities to use, and piled on top of them are mountains of books, papers, junk that no one would ever know how to access or define. And if you look at their computer screens, they usually have 4,000 folders and files saved to their desktop, and IT people coming in there every day to see why their computer is running so slowly.
When I was younger, I fell for the line that a messy desk was the sign of a busy mind. But no longer. The messy desk is a sign of an inefficient, lazy person who has the luxury in their position, to waste time. CEOs, Professors, Doctors, Engineers, Lawyers, Judges, …you name it; all offenders. Highly compensated professionals that don’t realize, or care enough, that the time shuffling through all that, and usually paying an assistant or others to sort through it for them, is giant money and time suck. 100% wasted resources that are very scarce and very expensive. It’s insane to me but it represents how as humans we are so loathed to change our habits and get off our mental and physical butts.
But those of us who master organization and filing have mastered more than 50% of the game. Coming up with systems that make sense to YOU is the most important step to get right. Don’t use someone else’s labeling, naming, categorizing, tagging, and everything else you should be using to keep things where you know where they are at a moment’s notice without even thinking.
That just takes diligence and conditioning yourself. Only you know the best ways to do that.
Here’s a way to keep things (metrics) organized using SuperMetrics, which is awesome. And although you may not be keeping “metics” like marketers do, this is useful for keeping track of other things as well, if you’re creative. And it’s free.
An order constitutes prioritization. What’s most important, what’s least important, and what falls in between. A hierarchy of importance. This involves files, folders, people, a list of things to be done, or whatever collection of unwieldy debris you find on your hands.
You have to create a logical roadmap to place things along. This sounds like mental work because it is. It’s why a lot of people don’t subscribe to being orderly. “It’ll sort itself out” is what they tell themselves. But it doesn’t. You have to act to make something better.
Organization is similar to Order, but it involves collectivizing elements, sorting them into some homogeneous groups, and arranging them logically. Not necessarily prioritizing them. Just putting like items together in drawers. The drawers then can be organized in a logical fashion, and even put in an order.
To organize is to put elements in a logical place to you, and can be explained to others the reason why. Putting something under a couch may be a logical place to you, but if you can’t explain why that is, then it needs to go back to the drawing board. Throwing everything in a closet isn’t organizing, as it’s been argued to me.
Mastering a filing system of any kind is difficult. This means should even just one piece of paper needs to find a home within 10 billion documents, it shouldn’t be a problem. If your filing system is well-developed. If you’ve tackled filing, then you’re way ahead of the game. Computer programmers are skilled filers.
Learning to file is crucial to becoming organized. It’s a skill I don’t see many people undertaking. They like to just put everything on one “screen” or in one folder or file. It becomes a carpet of confusion.
The three biggest software tools I use, out of quite a number, depending on what I’m doing: photo/video; web development, web design; writing; legal and personal documents; on and on and on, are these(notice I even put these in a list):
Finder. This is the OSx file organization tool by default. It used to suck, now it doesn’t.
Path Finder: This is a macOS tool that rocks. I think I downloaded it through SetApp, which is a subscription that pays for itself multiple times over. If you aren’t subscribed to SetApp and use a Mac, you are burning money. A lot. But Path Finder makes it easy to move files and folders back and forth between two finder screens. I have another tool I use for this too, which is more for web dev:
DC Commander: I use this a lot as well. It’s more robust than Path Finder, but always not what I need. It allows you to FTP and offers a lot of other useful features. I, and you, may not need to use the terminal and FTP and use a lot of tools that web dev requires. But it’s great and easy and very customizable, which I find nice.
Note: almost all of these are Mac only. That’s not my choice or by design. I used to only use Windows. I dabbled in Linux. I bought a MacBookPro laptop. My Windows machine is in the closet now and I sold my incredibly awesome monitor for it. Things evolve. I don’t like Apple, really, but my ecosystem seems to have grown up around it, because. of the way things work in technology and the real world. I don’t fight things, and I don’t arbitrarily go whichever the wind blows. I do what makes sense, so this is where I am right now. A lot of Apple gear, for better or worse. And a lot of other gear too I should note, which is even better at what it does. For example, I like my Cambridge Audio Melomania earbuds better than my Apple Earpods. (Or “buds” or whatever they’re called.)
Get Rid of the Unnecessary
What causes confusion and disorder many times is the presence of lots of unnecessary detria.
Duplicates, empty files, pages, sheets of paper, containers sourced and put in place with nothing in them at all.
And the miscellaneous, random assets that made their way into the project and have just been sitting there. Time to take out the trash! Don’t be sentimental. Ask if there’s a legitimate reason to keep the artifact, and, really, what do you REALLY plan on doing with it, and when? Usually, the answer makes the decision to keep and file or delete and trash easy.
Use Tools and Apps
Something that can’t be overstated is the use of technology to help stay organized and orderly. There are endless apps and extensions and tools and ways to organize your life, your business, your finances, anything at all.
Today there are so many helpful tools, it’s hard to know where to begin. Voice-assistants, like Siri, Hey Google, and Alexa make organization nothing more than talking. IFTTT and Zapier are tools that can help organize your life in so many ways on the web and in the home.
The number of organizational apps available is staggering. Evernote, ToDoist, Any.do, Pocket(which I like), Trello, DropBox(which I also use for cloud storage), and last but not least, Moleskine Digital Studio, which includes “Actions.” I use Actions every day to keep organized.
Check out some of the links over to the left of this page in the first column under “Filing” where I List some of my favorite filing and organizational Apps for some good ideas and starting points.