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15 Principles for Organizing Your Life

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  1. Get Rid of Stuff – Paper, publications and possessions require maintenance; maintenance costs time, energy, space and money. Dispose of seldom or never-used items. Ask yourself, “What will happen if I let this go?” If the answer is “nothing,” get rid of it.
  2. Limit Your Reading Material – Realize that you can’t read, know, or retain all the information you receive. Set up a reading folder for holding unread information. Pitch the oldest material (read or not) when that space is full.
  3. Touch it Once – Be decisive: Handle mail only once and move on. Don’t shuffle papers with the vague “I don’t know what to do with this so I’ll put it here for now” Syndrome. Use a simple DRAFT technique – Delegate, Read, Act, File or Toss – the first time you touch it.
  4. Think Before Acquiring More – Evaluate before accepting new items. Get off mailing/routing lists that serve no purpose. Ask yourself if you really NEED this item.
  5. Organize Before Increasing Space – The more space you have, the more inclined you are to be a saver. Keep things as simple as possible by retaining as few items as you absolutely need.
  6. Don’t Leave Things Out As Reminders – Leaving items out is a common mistake.
  7. Keep Frequently Used Items Handy – Keep within easy reach your current working papers and items you’ll need when you answer the phone.
  8. Don’t Crowd – Individual file folders over ¾ of an inch thick need to be first purged, then divided if necessary.
  9. Do the Best Task At the Best Time – Do tasks physically or mentally difficult for you at your own peak energy times; this includes making tough decisions.
  10. Be Prepared – Like the Boy Scouts, plan ahead for everything you’ll need.
  11. Don’t Leave Until You’re Finished – If you find items to be delivered elsewhere, put them in a specific place and deliver them there only when you’re finished with your present task.
  12. Do Only What You Set Out To Do – Focus on your specified project. Resist the urge to be distracted by what you see. Instead, like a boomerang, let your brain keep guiding you back to achieving your immediate goal.
  13. Break Your Work Into Units – If a project seems overwhelming, “divide and conquer.” Break it down into manageable units and schedule the steps to execute it.
  14. Empower Yourself Through Delegation – Many people are reluctant to delegate. They find it hard to let go – to make decisions, to give up a task – or are embarrassed to have others see their disarray. Take heart! Empower yourself with these strategies to most effectively use your support team – peers, supervisor, assistant, etc.
  15. Take Time For Training – Just having the right planner, filing system or computer software program doesn’t assure your success; knowing how to use them effectively is the key to being well organized. “I don’t have time for training” is shortsighted.

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