How to get organized without disrupting your life: tips from best-selling author Lee Silber

The Organization Situation


The extra work and delays that result from disorganization often cause stress for even the most detail-oriented individuals or teams. If we all had a nickel for every time we thought, “this could’ve been avoided if I had just been more organized” we would all be able to afford to hire personal assistants! If you are familiar with this feeling of frustration, you may also be familiar with the thought that usually accompanies it, “…but when would I have had the time to organize all of this?”

The good news is, we heard a rumor that there are quick and easy methods of organization that take almost no time at all but can go a long way in saving time, money, and sanity.

To boost individual and team powers of organization and (perhaps most importantly) decrease stress, we asked organization guru Lee Silber, author of the best-selling book Organizing from the Right Side of the Brain, for some tips, tricks, and best practices for keeping things in order without completely overhauling our natural thought processes and workflows.

“You can learn how to organize from others, and you can use tips and techniques from books and magazine articles, but—ultimately—you have to organize the way you think, work, and live for it to stick,” Silber advises. “For instance, maybe when you walk into the house, you like to drop everything on the counter: keys, purse, sunglasses, and your phone. But you read somewhere that everything should have a place and be put in that place, so you feel like a failure because you didn’t put everything away. The truth is, the (right) place for your stuff is where you want to put it naturally. So, put a bowl or basket there as a catch-all. If we have to change who we are to get or stay organized, chances are it won’t stick. If we work within our natural tendencies, there’s a better chance we’ll stick with (our efforts of organization). Notice how you like to store your stuff and improve upon that rather than trying to do a radical makeover.”

Silber suggests that the same go with the flow approach can be applied to office organization.  While digital resources and paperless filing can do a lot to streamline work life, we will likely encounter some of the same organizational challenges as with conventional paper systems. Silber recommends organizing your computer around the way you work. “Everything about using it should be easy,” he advises.

Digital organization tips from Lee Silber

  • Plans change, so a digital version you can adjust is a must!

  • A Projects-in-Process folder is perfect for the things you want easy access to, until they are completed and can be archived.

  • What is the first thing that pops into your mind about a file? That is how to title and tag it.

  • Every time I open a (digital) file drawer, I do a little deleting of dated files. It is better than wasting a day on it.

Silber emphasizes that the key to being more organized is finding smart shortcuts that supplement our current workflows and processes. “The easier something is to do, the more likely we’ll do it. If we make something hard to put away, we probably won’t put it in its proper place.”

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