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Time Management: Organizing Difficulties

October 12, 2012 by Dr. Jon Warner in Time Management

If others were asked to describe you, would they describe you as an organized person? To become better organized, here are a few strategies that you might consider:

  1. Do you know what your organizational style is? Is your strength looking at the big picture, getting the overall view? Big-picture people can see the wood for the trees, and can cut through trivia to see trends, synthesize viewpoints, and plot strategy. Big picture people, however, are often not good with detail. Sometimes this does not matter; sometimes it does. Detail people are, obviously, good with detail: they are meticulous, and take pains to ensure that things are well done. They may, however, miss the point of what is really going on around them at the bigger conceptual level. To be better organized, you need to understand your dominant style, and if you have a weakness in the opposing skill set, do what you can to strengthen your ability there. Big picture people need to get down with the details more often, while detail people need to tilt their antennae up a bit higher to know what’s really going on.
  2. Don’t forget the housekeeping. Just as big picture people need to work on details every now and then, so do we all need to take seriously the question of everything in its place, and a place for everything. Take time to tidy up or give tidying up a higher priority. When someone asks, “Where’s the…?” make sure that you can answer.
  3. Make sure that your filing system really works and use it. Otherwise the time that you think you are saving now will be lost many times over when you can’t find a thing later on. You may end up urgently looking for something when there’s a crisis (and the more disorganized you are, the more crises you will have).
  4. Try to only handle each document (physical or electronic) you receive once. Try to deal with or dispatch the document as soon as possible, and if you need to defer consideration of it – because, for example, you are making a rational, non-game-playing decision about the priority of that document – then only review it one more time – the time that you take care of it.

Be careful not to become obsessive about control and organization. There is no point in spending so much time on preparing to act, that there is no time left for action. Organization is a means to an end, not an end in itself. Be ready to be flexible, and to act without all of the facts or resources at your disposal: if you have been organized enough, you will probably have enough facts and resources to see you through. It’s messy, but reality usually is.

The featured video clip is drawn from the ReadyToManage, Rapid Skill Builder Time Management Video Vignette Set.

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About Dr. Jon Warner

Dr. Jon Warner is a prolific author, management consultant and executive coach with over 25 years experience. He has an MBA and a PhD in Organizational Psychology. Jon can be reached at

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About the Editor and Primary Author

Jon Warner

Jon Warner is an executive coach and management consultant and in the past has been a CEO in three very different companies. Read more

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