Highly effective people are organized people. They seemingly handle many tasks at same time and do not lose track of their progress. They don't miss appointments or lose things as often as rest of us do. They always have their work done on time or early and they have more free time. Organization is key to productivity. It allows us to keep an eye on things and instantly recognize when something is wrong.
Picture in your mind ideal organized mechanic's workshop. There is no grease or oil on floor, all tools are organized and hung on peg boards with an outline painted behind each tool. The only vehicles in shop are ones actively being worked on. Each mechanic follows a scientific method for analyzing problem and then goes about replacing or repairing defective parts. They carefully disassemble all parts necessary to get to their target and label things they have to disconnect. They put reusable parts into a bin and they throw away or separate non-reusable parts so that they don't put them back in. After they have reached target and replaced defective parts, they carefully reassemble vehicle and check that everything is tight and working. At end, they test drive vehicle and fill out all invoice information.
The benefits of this organization are enormous. Since each tool is put away in its place at all times, it easy to find any necessary tool. If a tool is missing, it is easy to spot which tool is missing and find it. Having no grease or oil on floor helps ensure safety of mechanics and customers. Only taking out tools they need minimizes risk of tripping on a tool and gives mechanics more room to work. Having a clean and organized work area keeps mechanic's mind focused on task at hand. I could go on but I think you can see how much better off organized workshop is than non-organized workshop.
Organizing our environment keeps our brains from overloading and allows us to focus on our work. When some of us are surrounded by a mess, we tend to despair and feel overwhelmed and distracted. Ironically, not everyone feels this way. If you've spent any time around kids, you know what I mean. The problem with clutter is that it distracts our attention. When we are surrounded by extra stuff, our eye seems to catch them and distract us. You can almost hear clutter screaming "Do me, take care of me."
OK, so how do you get organized? First of all you need right tools, then you need time and commitment. Let's start with tools. First of all you need plenty of appropriate storage.
If you deal in plenty of small parts, bins may be ideal for you. If you work in an office you need file cabinets. If you work in a kitchen, perhaps drawers and cabinets are more appropriate. Whatever working environment, make sure you have plenty of storage space. Keep in mind that there are actually three ways of obtaining space. You can increase amount of storage space (e.g. build a garage), use space you have more efficiently (by adding a bookshelf or overhead cabinets) or reduce amount of things you store.
Whatever work environment, you must analyze your storage needs first and have proper tools and storage available. That will probably mean a trip to local mega home center for cabinets and peg boards or mega office supply shop for file organizers. This step is critical. Without proper storage, you will be locked in your tracks with nowhere to put away stuff you want to keep. It will sit out in open and you won't really be able to organize it.
Once you have proper storage, you will also need right tools and accessories. If you are organizing a garage or warehouse, that probably means bins, dividers, Velcro straps, peg board accessories and stackable boxes. If you are cleaning up an office that means file folders, hanging folders, book ends, drawer organizers and labels. Here's a tip: buy more than you need. Buy every little interesting accessory you can find at store and bring it back with you. Use ones that work and return ones that don't. It is better to have extra storage materials on hand and not need them than vice versa.
Now you are ready to begin clean up effort. The first thing you need to do is clear everything out of area. That means you need to empty out all your drawers, desktop, file cabinets, bookshelves, etc. On an initial clean up, everything must temporarily be moved out of area. Don't panic, we'll put it back; but for now, it must go. Next, you need to setup your cabinets and files or add your additional storage.
At this point, you should have an clean work area with storage space available and no clutter. Now comes fun part. You need to bring in everything you took out and think about each thing individually.
There are only four basic things you can do with any given item:
1. Handle it 2. File it 3. Delegate it 4. Get rid of it
It doesn't sound like a lot of options does it? However, these are your only options. By limiting your choices, it will help you focus without spinning your wheels. I'll go through list and explain each one: