To say I’m an organized person is a total understatement. And I believe being organized is a big part of being successful. Not just for a job search, but in general everyday business. Being organized helps you stay on top of deadlines, follow-up when you’re supposed to and tackle responsibilities in priority. It’s the cornerstone of personal accountability.
IMHO, organization and planning are very interrelated. I try to think of planning as putting together a strategy or action plan. Then organization as breaking it down into steps and allocating resources to complete the strategy. Using the MSNBC article as an example, you can plan a job search strategy then organize your resources to implement the strategy.
I also view organization as a very personal thing. I can give you some tips on how I stay organized (see below) and they may help. Or maybe not. Your organization system has to work for you. Some people stay organized online. Others use paper calendars.
The important thing is to find a system that works for you and stick with it.
One of my favorite quotes comes from Celebrity Chef Alton Brown – “Organization shall set you free.” It’s so true. Being well organized can help you feel in control of just about any situation. Case in point: think about a project you’ve worked on. When a project is organized well, you know what’s supposed to happen, when it’s supposed to happen and who’s responsible for making it happen.
On the other hand, think of a disorganized project you’ve been involved with. There’s nothing sexy about running around wondering what’s going on, who’s doing what and when you might see the deliverable. I’m all for “being fluid” and “organic thought” but there’s a point when things need to start happening.
There’s only one circumstance where I’ve seen disorganized people be successful. That’s when they have such a unique skillset, companies are willing to overlook tolerate their “absent-minded professor” behavior. And I mean a really unique skillset. If you feel you’re one of those people, fantastic. For the rest of us, finding ways to stay organized will be a key to our success.
Here are two tips I use to stay organized:
I keep two Pendaflex folders – one labeled with the months of the year and the other with 1-31. I file everything based upon when I need to deal with it. Current month goes into the 1-31 file by date. Future months in the monthly file. The only thing on my desk is what I need to work on right now. This keeps me from getting distracted by projects with a later due date or activities that might be more fun than what I’m working on at the time.
I maintain a paper calendar with major project due dates as well as volunteer days and conferences. I find it helps me balance pro bono work and paying work. The first year I did this, I discovered I had one entire month with only conferences and pro bono work scheduled (read: no paying business). It was a very eye-opening exercise.
I’d love to hear your tips and resources for staying organized. Please share with us in the comments!
Image courtesy of orphanjones8