The Art of Organization, Part I

It’s Monday, and you have a meeting Friday. You need an agenda and a few slides. Have you started working on them? Will you do them Thursday night? Or somewhere in between?

I’m closer to Monday than Thursday. Overall, I feel pretty good about my organizational skillz. That’s until I talked to my sister. I talk to her every day, so I was surprised when she dropped some interesting new insight into her professional life.

Trish started showing me the way early in life ...

Trish started showing me the way early in life …

First, though, I must insert that she is amazing just by herself. She’s the assistant commissioner for mental health at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. That’s pretty badass, and nothing proves that more than the badge she has. Yeah, she has a badge. Of course there are dumb pictures of me flashing the badge, and they will never see the internet.

But back to her big reveal, and the theme of this post: While she was telling me about her workday, she ran through her closing rituals. Every night, before she leaves, she:

– Cleans off her desk.

– Pulls all the files and prints all the materials she’ll need for the next day’s meetings.

– Writes in her work diary. Just 100 words. What’s a work diary, you ask? It’s where she captures when inspired or frustrated her, and on what she needs to focus.

I was impressed and wanted to know more. She explained that this routine is about a month old, and “I suspect it will slide again; it always does!” However, it’s pretty inspiring. The story behind it is unfortunate, but this is what happens sometimes: My brother-in-law got sick. And their dog got sick. And Trish couldn’t work 60 hours anymore. So then she was cramming 60 hours into 40, and “I realized my life was out-of-control. I had to recommit myself to being focused.”

It’s true that it often takes something major to knock some sense into our work-life balance, so it would be worthwhile to try some things that make both sides go more smoothly before it’s an emergency. I know it would be SO worth my time to do a work diary. But I also know that when I decide to knock off work, I’m so excited to have the rest of my day with Doug and the puppies, I don’t do much more than review my to-do list.

Think about how nice it would be to roll in to work and not have to do anything about the meetings you have but show up. And how helpful it would be to keep an eye on your work ups and downs, and how much it would benefit your professional development.

For those of you who are already like my sister, you rock! Tell us what your organizational rituals are. For those of you more like me, want to try some of Trish’s techniques with me? Which ones? I’m on the work diary. Go!

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