Emerging from the paper pile swamp


Although many people have a passion for a particular line of work and an entrepreneurial spirit, it doesn't necessarily follow that these same people have sufficient organizational skills to run a business. Or even a department.

So how do these passionate people cope without becoming buried under huge piles of paper? Solutions exist, and the answers can be found among the growing profession of organizing experts.

Rochelle DeLong is president of Perfect Order based in Boise, Idaho (www.perfectorder.biz). She holds a degree in Business Administration and spent years working in Information Technology, but she quit all that to follow her own passion—which just happens to be helping others get organized.

"I love to bring order to chaos," DeLong says. "It's truly amazing what a small amount of externally guided order can do for people."

DeLong's right hand is Sherry Dunbar, who holds a Master's degree in research psychology. After talking with the two of them, it doesn't take long for one to see that they make an exceptional team for addressing just about any kind of organizing dilemma.

Both DeLong and Dunbar believe that one of the biggest causes of lost-productivity and frustration in the workplace is people not taking time for planning.

"Planning clarifies goals and organizes ideas for action," Dunbar says. "It does not need to be anything huge or complex, nor does it need to be a time-consuming process."

These organizing professionals are confident that the act of planning can be dynamic, fun, and fast, and that people can learn to make it that way.

A lack of planning is the biggest problem in the workplace

Ann Molewski Pilkington, owner of the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based Let's Get Organized (www.letsgetorganized.biz), agrees that lack of planning is the biggest problem in the workplace. She sees business people often failing to create systems for handling all the information they must manage.

"Frequently, these systems - which are crucial and vital for survival and growth—are overlooked," she says. "Then, as a business grows, things start falling apart because good systems were never established."

A similar prognosis is offered by Julie Morgenstern, writer for O – The Oprah Magazine and author of Never Check Email in the Morning , a book about creating strategies and standard operating procedures for keeping one's work life in order. Also a professional organizer, Morgenstern outlines nine skill sets that she says "offer the key to surviving—and thriving."

The common thread in these answers? Creating and maintaining viable, user-friendly systems for all aspects of your work.

So what is a clutter-bug to do? What are some good options for business people who were off someplace else when organizing genes were being issued?

Molewski Pilkington's recommendation is straightforward: Either hire professional help or steep yourself in a book regarding office systems.

DeLong and Dunbar recommend doing both. "Getting organized and staying organized is not easy for most people," they say, "especially entrepreneurs who need to avoid getting so buttoned-up that their ideas can't flow."

The Perfect Order team is also quick to point out that "order does not mean rigidity. It means striking the harmony that lets your business, your people, and your processes work smoothly to produce the results you want."

The primary goal is maintaining a desire for being organized—and seeing the benefits for doing so. Reading books such as Morgenstern's helps people do that. But having the accountability of a professional consultant helps people stay on track.

Just keep in mind that one size does not fit all. As Molewski Pilkington says, "certain areas, such as accounts receivable and payable, can be handled with computer software that everyone uses. But the uniqueness of a business and how it functions best should be addressed by a person or team who is savvy and sympathetic to the needs of that unique business."

"From there," says DeLong, "organizing work should go deeper, such as developing and refining the work tools, documents, data, layout, etc. needed to support the achievement of a company's unique business goals."

And then, with organization in place, paper piles will disappear. Files will be filed. Deadlines will be met and phone calls will be returned and mail will be answered in a timely manner. And each passionate entrepreneur will not only survive, they'll thrive.

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About The Author

Dan Bobinski
Dan Bobinski

Dan Bobinski is a training specialist, author, and an accomplished keynote speaker. He's been providing management and leadership training to Fortune 500 companies as well as smaller, regional concerns for more than 20 years.

Older Comments

i am a management student here in nigeria i am in love with all your acticle. please keep it up.

emmamuel esierumua lagos nigeria

The idea in the article is simple but crucial. No Conflict. Except: where to start from? Managers say their juniors are not doing thier work on time.. juniors dont get the right 'vision'! And we are still locked up in the balancing act of paper/papaerless environments

Zohair Iyaz