Tuesday, November 3, 2009

How To Fake Being Organized

I am not nor have I ever been an organized person. It's not like I ever set out to simply ignore the rules of being organized..... it's just not something that comes naturally to me. For example: remember "clean out your cubby day" when you were in 4th grade? That was my nightmare. I was the kid with 100,000 papers jammed into their cubby so that they had to start a "clean your cubby day" to get the kid to take it all home. I'm not proud of it, it just is.
The worst part is I don't really want to be organized I just want it to be ok. I just want it to look like I am the type of person that doesn't have 100,000 papers jammed somewhere.
Over the years I have learned enough tricks to seem like I'm organized enough that people actually tell me "you're such an organized person" which makes me chuckle because it's worked. I have enough tricks now to make it seem like I'm not the "clean out your cubby day" kid.
I'm not endorsing being unorganized but here are a few tips in a pinch.
1) Be on time. I can't stress this enough. Being on time for a meeting sets the tone that people's time is valuable and you respect that. My trick for this is to set every clock in my house and my car clock ahead at least 10 min. The person who is late always looks unorganized even if they aren't. Forewarning: No one else in your household will enjoy the clock trick but you.
2) Send follow ups. People who send an email after a meeting with a client, interview, whatever will look well put together. Bonus points if you write the deliverables or next steps in the e-mail.
3) Carry your things in a nice folder. I like those folders that are leather and have pockets for business cards and a notebook. Don't carry a junk notebook unless you take really good notes otherwise it will look sloppy. If you take few notes (I have a really good memory and I don't take notes because I can't pay attention and take notes) you'll need something more professional.
4) Use Google calendar. I have been beaten by so many calendars I've lost count. Not writing them down means you'll miss appointments so if you go into Google Calendar you can set up a million reminders for each appointment. I usually have at least 2 emails and 1 pop up and have managed to miss no calls or meetings in the last 6 months.


Anonymous meghan said...

This is so fantastic. I was also that kid. I've often wondered how people could make comments about me being organized when I am clearly not. Little did I know, I was using these tricks without even realizing it!

So great, thanks for this!

November 3, 2009 at 4:22 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

I think this is the difference between time management and space management. I like to sort papers via the "pile" system, so I too appear unorganized, but I use both Google Calendar and Outlook to stay organized. And my biggest tip: When I remember something in the evening, or while lying in bed, I send an email to myself from my phone, that I read the next morning in my office.

November 4, 2009 at 8:54 AM  
Blogger Royce said...

I hate the "set your clocks ahead 10 minutes" trick. I love the "use calendar reminders" trick. I use my Outlook calendar reminders but it has the same effect.

I also use Aaron's e-mail myself philosophy a LOT, especially when I'm at home or heading out of the office mid-day. It's kind of like an active notepad where I jot down ideas (which I also do).

Setting a calendar reminder for something small is also a favorite of mine - even if the reminder is just "review the budget draw" to make sure I'm not missing anything.

I find that spending 10 minutes a day or so to just write down what I'm prioritizing and any important notes can be useful. When stuff leaves my brain into written notes, it tends to come out in a useable format. I often grab whole chunks of notes and just copy them into emails or letters about company projects - this saves me having to repeat that thinking and that work later.

November 4, 2009 at 4:17 PM  

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