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Lions and Lambs

Ducks-in-a-Row Organizing Consultants (TM) find ways for our customers to organize their daily lives that suit their individual needs, their resources, and their personal style. Many factors go into finding an approach that succeeds for an individual. Our most important goal is to design an approach that is pleasant and comfortable, so that maintaining it is a pleasure rather than a trial.

We have found that the biggest difference in style is between "in" people, who prefer to have as many things as possible tucked away out of sight, and "out" people who prefer to have everything they are working on in plain view. So what better topic for our March monthly essay than this most basic question of organizing style?

Which are you?

Are you "in", like a lion?

The "in" person likes as much as possible put away, in drawers, cabinets, and containers. The "in" person is striving for a serene environment. This person's strengths are in focus and concentration. The lion feels that visible clutter is a disturbing distraction.

Or are you "out", like a lamb?

On the other hand, the "out" person thrives on the big picture. Taking the long view is the "out" person's strength, and having as much information at hand as possible is the way that person works best. The "out" person feels that putting things that might soon be of use out of sight is awkward and pointless.

Who's more organized?

The "out" person struggles to get organized.

Probably most of the people who get in touch with us are "out" people. To an "in" person the "out" person looks disorganized. Often their associates will give them a hard time about being disorganized. Sometimes, looks are deceiving, though there are cases where a home or workspace habitually looks like a tornado has recently hit.

But it is possible to maintain an "out" work style that is organized. Deciding to leave as much as possible in plain sight can work, but only if strategies are carefully designed to avoid things getting confused and lost. As few projects as possible should be spread out on walls and desks at any one time. And the "out" person needs to develop the skills not to jumble up different projects or types of material.

What the "out" person does not need is someone to come by and helpfully put things "away". The "in" person needs to take special care to be helpful to the "out" person. The "out" person will not work efficiently if too much current material is put into drawers and cabinets. The hard-won "neatness" of the work space will fall apart quickly.

The "out" person and the "in" associates are often discouraged at this point, concluding that the "out" person is incorrigible, and can't maintain an organized life. The mistake here is that the neat workspace was designed for someone else.

The tools for the job for the "out" person are things like corkboards and whiteboards, letter trays, whiteboards with schedules on them, easels, drafting tables, and (used right - these have some obvious pitfalls) sticky notes.

The "in" person looks organized.

Typically, an "in" person looks organized to a casual observer. When an "in" person calls us in it is usually for a time management consultation. The arrangement of the workspace isn't an issue, and the "in" person isn't constantly teased about being disorganized.

But here too, looks can be deceiving. While some people who look organized are organized, others simply have messes neatly stored away. A file cabinet full of miscellaneous papers is not more organized than a desk strewn with miscellaneous papers, it's just neater. Of course, the disorganized "in" person does accomplish the goal of a serene feeling in the work space. Sometimes, though, this hides confusion lurking in the neat filing cabinets.

The "in" person who is disorganized needs to find very clear ways to keep track of the materials that have been put away. Not only do items need a unique and sensible location where they can be found, but the strategies for retrieving them need to be very strong. The disadvantage of the "in" strategy is that items that are tucked away don't serve as constant reminders. So a disorganized "in" strategy often ends up as a time management problem.

The tools of the effective "in" organizing system are drawer dividers, files, color coding systems, and category systems. Less obviously, the "in" person needs to be extra careful about time and task management. It is too easy to forget about obligations that have been filed away.

We can help.

We can help you think about arranging the flow of tasks at your daily life. Get in touch with Ducks-in-a-Row ® Efficiency Consultants (TM) and we will be pleased help you get your ducks in a row.



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