Organizational Skills

by Jacqueline McLaughlin Hale


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This is the third and last in a series of articles begun a couple of months ago about how to have "a more enjoyable life of balance." It seems as though today that's what everyone is looking for. When you get right down to it, what you really need to put balance into your life is more time.

Unfortunately, we can't control how many hours are in a day. And so we must try to control, instead, how we spend the hours we have. In previous articles we discussed ways to more effectively manage time and methods to prioritize what it is time is spent on. This month's article looks at organizational skills as the final tool to help you live life your way!

You might be wondering what organizational skills have to do with putting more balance into your life. Doesn't becoming better organized just mean "having a place for everything and everything in its place"? Big deal. What if you did have everything in its place? What difference could that possibly make?

It makes all the difference in the world!

Organizational skills can help you cope with the world around you. They provide structure, create a semblance of order and reduce daily stress levels. How? Well, there is so much in the world today, so much to do, so much to read, so much to know, so much to learn, so much to choose from, so many places to go, so many routes to get there! Without organizational skills to help us cope with the sensory overload, with the "so much" we're exposed to constantly, we'd be overwhelmed and paralyzed by an endless stream of information to process and decisions to make. Don't believe me? Probably because you take this area of organizational skills for granted. Think about it. What if you didn't organize each day? You wouldn't wake up at a consistent time each morning. You may not get dressed. You might not make it to work. You'd never have groceries in the house. You wouldn't get the laundry done. You may not pay your bills. You probably wouldn't accomplish anything. You'd spend your days thinking about all the things you COULD do but you'd probably never get around to doing them. This area of organization involves making a decision about what to do (hopefully using Conscious Prioritization skills) and figuring out when to do it (using Time Management skills).

The organizational skills you apply toward planning each day insure that you are at least somewhat productive and that you accomplish what you must. They direct the demands on your attention and give you some sense of control.

Organizational Skills: Plan Ahead for Success

Organizational Skills are also at work when you have large or time-consuming projects you must accomplish. Thinking about them in their entirety can be overwhelming and discouraging. But by breaking these projects down into smaller more manageable pieces (i.e. organizing them) they don't seem to be as difficult to achieve. For example, I am in the process of building a web site. The thought of building a whole site is very intimidating and, I must admit, stopped me dead in my tracks for a while. But I finally took the task apart piece by piece and organized it. As a result I have registered a domain name, found a web host, built the shell of the site, and opened a merchant account. As a whole, the project was overwhelming. Individually, the tasks involved were small and accomplishable. Suddenly, I wasn't tackling the whole all at once. I was tackling pieces. It felt better. And so it was.

Finally, yes, organizational skills are about having "a place for everything and everything in its place." When this has been mastered you don't waste countless hours trying to find your most recent bank statement or last year's tax return. You know exactly where they are because they are in their proper place. Conversely, when a bank statement arrives in the mail or when the tax return has been completed you know where to put them away immediately. This action prevents them from lying around, only to be moved over and over again, whenever they get in the way. Remember, the less you touch something, the more time you save. It is true that perhaps the time saved may mean only seconds here and seconds there. But throughout the course of a day or a week those seconds add up to minutes and hours.

Organizational Skills: Save Time and Effort

I learned the importance of this kind of organization when my son was born. I was overwhelmed by the responsibility of a new infant. And so the last thing I wanted to be doing was looking around for blankets, burp cloths, baby wipes and diapers. Therefore, I kept all of those supplies on hand in the family room, in his room, in the car and in the kitchen. They were handy and convenient anywhere I spent time. I always KNEW where I could find whatever I needed when I needed it. My son is now 4 years old and although the blankets, burp cloths and diapers are long gone, I still keep a supply of baby wipes in all of the same locations!

The other supplies have been replaced by "bags." We have a restaurant bag, a swimming bag, an airline bag and a shopping bag. Each bag remains stocked and ready to go with toys, snacks, baby wipes, or whatever is appropriate for the activity for which they're packed. Because of this, I don't have to spend time packing bags each time we go out. They're already done. All I have to do is grab one and go! And the cost of all of these various bags is minimal. They're inexpensive, vinyl bags purchased from Target or Wal-Mart.

I learned to do the same thing with cleaning supplies. For example, each bathroom has a full complement of all of the products I use to clean it. Consequently, I don't have to lug Windex bottles around the house and I always know where my cleaning supplies are. It's just easier and even a little bit quicker that way. And if you think about it I'm really not spending any more money on the supplies I use. I do have more, but I'm also not buying them as frequently.

"A place for everything and everything in its place."

Organizational skills are the keystone to having a more balanced life. They work hand in glove with Conscious Prioritization and Time Management to help you design a more fulfilling life your way!


Jacqueline McLaughlin Hale is a CPA and the editor of "The Balanced Woman" a monthly ezine. It contains parenting tips, household hints, ideas for pampering yourself and more. Subscribing is easy and free. Just send a blank email to: -TheBalancedWoman-subscribe@onelist.com. She is also the author of The Woman's Guide to Resumes and Interviewing, Lessons From a Toddler and 77 Ways to Pamper Yourself.

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