Advantages to Being Organized
By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin
It is true confession time. I tend to be a bit of a “pack rat” (which my wife can affirm). For example, I save magazines. Recently I sorted through a large stack of Publishers Weekly—which arrives every week. I saved a few issues but most of them I tossed and it felt great to get more organized. Through the years I've learned that being organized saves time and stress. If I need something, if I've organized it and put it in its place, then I can easily reach the particular item. Otherwise I waste time searching for it. Admittedly it is easier to put it in a pile—but that is not a productive action.
In the past, I used to create little piles of paper and other things to be filed. My wife would come to my office and wonder how I could accomplish anything since I was surrounded with piles (and it looked chaotic). I've learned the hard way that it's better to process and organize as I work and it makes it easier to find something as well as takes care of it in a timely manner. It also helps my focus because I work in an orderly and neat environment instead of chaos. Now I'm not obsessive compulsive about the order but it is a regular part of my daily activities.
There are an endless area of places that need to be organized: books, magazines, articles, conference information, book projects, book pitches and proposals from authors and much more. Some of this material is physical and in my office. Other elements are electronic and I need to be able to access them easily on my computer.
I suggest you tackle organizing different areas at different times. Maybe one day you organize a single drawer in your desk then the next day you work on organizing your books. One of the ways you keep from being overwhelmed is to do it a little at a time. With my books, I have my reference books in one place and my how-to-write books in a different area. I don't have my books organized alphabetically (like one of my publishing colleagues used to do). I do have an area on my shelves where I keep the majority of my autographed books. I have another area on my bookshelves where I keep new books that I am reading and reviewing. I encourage you to organize your books in a way which will work for you and your work habits. As you organize, the books will be easier to locate. For example, I have several writing how-to books about contracts and others about marketing or publicity. I group these books together so they can be easily used.
After you get the material organized, it is important and generally easy to maintain this order. If you don't do maintenance, then the paperwork and other things can easily stack up and bounce you right back to where you started organizing. The organized writer is a productive writer and gets things done and meets deadlines. If you don't have this skill, I encourage you to learn it and implement it in your writing life.
From my experience in publishing, if you are organized, it will save you time, stress and effort. What other steps are you taking to be organized? Let me know in the comments below.