How to manage work

There are a few simple principles that make it possible for a person to manage her work load easier.

Many people have a problem with procrastinating and with stacking up a backlog of stuff they are supposed to do but haven't gotten around to. They have a bad conscience about it because it is stuff they SHOULD do, but somehow it isn't enough to motivate them to do it. So, things stack up on top of each other, the old things to do get covered up and forgotten, which adds to the confusion, and so forth.

You can act as a consultant and enter into a person's work area and help her deal with things. The first principle to know about concerning work is:

Do it Now!

Things naturally only stack up if one isn't dealing with them. One might have the mental mechanism of thinking one will get to it "later". But "later" never really comes. "Later" is just an idea, not any actual time. That simply means either that one will never do it, or that it will wait until it somehow becomes a big emergency that one HAS to deal with.

The most efficient way of doing anything is doing it while it is in your hand, while you have attention on it, while you know what it is and what the situation is. Anything else is really a mental escape mechanism, trying to mislead oneself. There is no better time than right now.

So, simply persuading, forcing, or coaching the person into doing right now what is right in front of her is very useful. That works as a training exercise too, and it will change her mind about things. But, the main focus will be on getting her to actually DO things now, despite what she might feel about it.

Organization is pretty much about handling the items that are thrown at you. You are in some kind of chaotic confusion of different items, and more will continuously flow in. Something needs to be done about these items, or they will just stack up. And that something needs to be done now. There are basically four distinctly different types of actions one can take on any item one runs into:

Complete it

Delegate it

File it

Trash it

This applies quite obviously to a business situation, but just as much to one's personal affairs. It is not only an efficient way of handling work, but a practical way of dealing with life.

One can Complete the task at hand. That is, one can do whatever needs to be done, make the decision, resolve it, finish it, answer it, or whatever, right away. If it is a letter, then answer it. If it is a bill, then pay it. If you need to decide if you'll go with Joe to the movies, decide so right now. And generally speaking, do this when you first get the item in your hand. Don't put it down to think about it. Think right now and make the decision on what to do with it, and then do it. Even if it is not perfect, something will actually get done.

You could also Delegate it, i.e. get somebody else to do it. Assuming that you have somebody else to pass it on to, of course. That doesn't necessarily mean a subordinate, it simply means that you will make it somebody else's responsibility and forget about it yourself. To do that you of course need to get it into the hands of somebody else and preferably obtain some kind of commitment from them to actually do it, unless that is already there. You don't just hope somebody else will take care of it, you pass the item on to somebody for them to do it.

It might be appropriate to File the item. That doesn't mean sweeping it under the rug because you don't know what to do with it. That means, no action is required now, but it needs to be retained for later use or reference. If you walk by some dirty socks on the floor, then putting them in the laundry basket would constitute filing them. Before something can be filed it must be complete and decided upon as of now. Putting unopened letters into a drawer does not constitute filing. Putting letters you have read and that don't need answers into appropriate file folders would be filing.

You can also Trash the item. That is, you can decide right there that it isn't needed and you can dump it. Keeping a lot of junk around because it "might become useful some day" is not a particularly good idea. Throw away that which is not part of your current game. Make the decision now. If you do need it, but not this second, file it. If you don't need it the way your life is structured right now, then dump it. Don't be overly economical if the item really doesn't fit in right now. Unnecessary junk in your space clouds your freedom to operate. It is usually easier to acquire it again if things should change and it would become necessary again.

You can take a client by the hand and make her go through her personal space this way. She might have all kinds of objections and hesitations and semantic reactions connected with handling things. Make her do it anyway, without spending much time on the reactions. You can process those at another occasion. The key point here is to give her the feel of successfully dealing with items in her space.

Do this to some kind of tangible result. That is, handle the items on her desk until the desk is all clear. She needs to experience the clear feeling of having handled everything and being in the present, ready to face whatever comes along next.


- Go through somebody's personal area with them. Coach them in doing things now, by handling, delegating, filing, or trashing.

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