Oprah’s Tips for Getting Organized

Outstanding performance is one of the keys to success that I discuss in Straight Talk for Success.  If you want to become an outstanding performer, you need to do three things: 1) become a lifelong learner; 2) set and achieve high goals; and 3) get organized.

For some reason, I have a difficult time organizing my work space.  My living space is very neat (it always was, even before I got married), but my work space has always been a mess – very cluttered.  I am working very diligently on better organizing my work space.

Are you well organized?  Or are you disorganized?  Leave a comment letting us know what you do to enhance your level of organization.

The September 2008 issue of “O, The Oprah Magazine” devotes 11 pages to an article called “Overwhelmed?”  I found some great ideas for reducing the clutter in your workspace and living space. 
Here are a few ideas that I particularly like…

  • Everything you own should have value to you; because it’s functional or beautiful, or you just love it.
  • Every item needs a place where it “lives.”  For example, our house keys live on a key hook that looks like a bicycle, right next to the door we use most often.
  • Focus on one thing at a time.  If you try to do everything at once, you will most likely end up doing a bad job on everything.
  • Machines that are broken, just take up space.  Throw them away.  I have a laptop that needs a new motherboard.  It’s been sitting in my office since it blew up due to static electricity on New Year’s Day.  It’s going to be recycled as soon as I finish writing this post.
  • Books take up a lot of space.  Keep the ones you use, and give away or toss the ones you don’t.  This is a hard one for me, as I love my books – we have about 5,000.  However, even I realize that we cannot keep building new shelves every couple of years.
  • Don’t start the snail mail unless you have time to finish it.  This is another one that is a problem for me.  I tend to open mail when I get it.  Then, instead of doing what needs to be done with it, I put it aside and come back to it two or three times before I act on it.  Very poor personal organization.  Don’t do this!
  • Throw away photos that have accumulated in a drawer.  I really like the advice in the article.  “Get a kitchen timer.  Sorting through photos leads to reminiscing, and suddenly it’s three hours later.”  Decide how much time you want to spend with the photos.  Set the timer and quit looking at the photos when it rings.
  • Your home and office are not museums.  Throw away the stuff you’ve accumulated over the years that has little or no sentimental value.  I have mementos of meetings that I attended over 20 years ago.  These are going to go.  On the other hand, I have three engraved mugs from my rugby playing years.  I’m going to keep them.
  • Keep your car clean and neat.  As the article says, “If you have to clear off the seat for company, there’s a problem.”  I’ve always been good about this one – but I know lots of people who aren’t.
  • Create folders to help manage your computer.  It’s just as important to be organized digitally as physically.

Does any of this advice resonate with you?  What are you good at?  Where do you need to change your habits?  Please leave a comment sharing your best tips for personal organization.

The common sense point here is simple.  Outstanding performers are well organized.  If you are not well organized by nature, you need to consciously focus on becoming better organized.  My friend, Dan Robey, says that if you consciously do something positive for 21 days, it will become a positive habit.  Once it’s a habit, you won’t have to think about it as much.  I agree.  You can read more of what Dan has to say at www.ThePowerOfPositiveHabits.com.

That’s my take on outstanding performance and personal organization.  What’s yours?  As always, I welcome and appreciate your comments.  Thanks for reading — and writing.


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  1. Well, you’ve motivated me to get off the computer, and get my desk organized NOW!
    Madame Monet
    Writing, Painting, Music, and Wine

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