Systems: Organize Your Self

Chapter 7  Pg’s 175-177 Lead With Love Gerry Czarnecki

Systems provide the structure that allows you to lead a more efficient and productive life. Complicated or complex technology is not required to create an effective system of managing your calendar, your contact file, and your task list. Systems are simply a method of organization that save time and aid productivity. In the era of information overload, we cannot rely on our memories or sticky notes as sufficient reminders to follow through on our tasks. Ironically, this is an age-old problem that was even described by Ben Franklin in his autobiography. Ben Franklin is typically associated with the Declaration of Independence, bifocals, and the spirit of invention. His name doesn’t generally bring to mind “management guru,” but an article by Justin Fox, an editor at Fortune magazine, offers insightful observations about how this historical figure’s life story is full of lessons for modern-day managers. As the owner of a printing shop and publisher of a newspaper, Franklin was a businessman who, like most of us, struggled with time management and order.

  To combat this problem, he devised a plan to set a daily schedule with goals and tasks assigned in hourly segments of each day. At the end of the day, he asked himself, “What good have I done today?” As Fox astutely observes, Franklin’s approach is no different than the best practices that should guide modern management activities. “This emphasis on setting goals for the day ahead and taking stock afterward remains a staple of time-management advice. (At least, so I’m told.) There’s clearly something to it: I know that I’m far more likely to accomplish something when I have a well-defined to-do list for the day. But in a work world where conflicting, competing priorities are the norm, it’s really hard to stick to such a list… This is perhaps the most appealing aspect of Franklin’s time-management advice: He was an admitted failure at it, and yet that was… okay. Which is just about the most inspirational message conceivable.”

 Whether or not you succeed in checking each task off of your daily list, you will be more productive and more focused simply by having such a list. This may seem elementary, but it is a system that will help you to set goals and determine which assignments are necessary to achieve your goals. Each assignment should be given a deadline that is reasonable yet ambitious. A sense of urgency is better than the feeling that one has plenty of time to “slack off.” At the end of the day, you will have a great sense of satisfaction at how much you were able to accomplish, and be better able to assess what you need to do tomorrow.Professional and personal “to-do” lists are critical for us to accomplish our assignments and goals. Whether you need to remind yourself to follow up on a list of client prospects or to pick up the dry cleaning and groceries after work, these are activities that need to be scheduled in your daily

plans. In theory, we would all like to keep our professional and personal lives separate, but it is generally a good idea to use the same system for organizing both. It’s not practical or efficient to carry two date books or consult two calendars in order to determine your availability when scheduling appointments. Inevitably, that sort of system will result in errors. The most practical solution is to embrace the fabulous, and often free, technology that is available in the form of electronic and online calendars. The same is true for contact information and to-do lists. These systems will truly streamline and simplify your efforts to be organized.

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