Good Habits #38: Get Organized

By | April 2, 2018

[April 2, 2018]  As a new Second Lieutenant, I was originally a slob; my clothes were everywhere, my refrigerator had expired food in it, and my desk at work was disorganized.  One day I had a grizzled, old sergeant comes into my office to give me a piece of constructive advice.  Get organized, he said, and while you’re at it, look organized too.

I had always admired folks with neat desks but I had been too busy and had too much work to keep a clean desk.  I knew about the quote, “a messy desk is a sign of a cluttered mind.”  Was that me? I asked myself one day.  I finally had to admit that yes, I was a mess and needed help.  My roommate suggested I invite Sergeant Jacob McCann (a legend in administrative efficiency) to my office for some advice.

Everyone recognizes the advantages of being organized; increased productivity, less stress, reduced clutter, etc.  The old administrative sergeant’s advice was spot on.  He told me that there are five things I could do right away to get organized and look like I was organized.  1) Make a “to do” list, 2) prioritize my daily tasks, 3) always work on the list, 4) stay focused, and 5) clean and organize your work desk.

While this was helpful – actually very helpful and it also helped make me more confident – the more important impact was on how others saw me.  In the past, most of my soldiers, peers, and commander saw me as unprepared and inefficient.  That changed when I began to clean and organize my desk.

There was a lesson in this for me.  Being prepared is something I had always prided myself on and getting organized helped immensely.  Also, by looking organized, it drove how others saw me and saw me in a positive light.  There was no downside to being organized except it required constant effort.  Get organized is a leadership skill that is invaluable.


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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

20 thoughts on “Good Habits #38: Get Organized

  1. Army Captain

    I like the way you have tied this series together. Very helpful.

  2. Kenny Foster

    New to The Leader Maker blog. Good articles thank you.

  3. Ronny Fisher

    I was told long ago that the reason I never had enough time to get things done was that I needed better “time management.” The fact that my boss telling me was an idiot mattered little. I knew a change in myself was necessary. I did it by getting organized.

  4. Bryan Lee

    A couple of years ago I saw that I needed to make improvements in the way I worked at my business. This meant better customer service, improved work habits, and shop cleanliness. Between my employees and I we developed a plan on how to push ourselves toward making it work and we succeeded. The lesson is that we did it together. I don’t think we could have done it separately.

    1. Greg Heyman

      Excellent point. Developing habits is easier if done with others. And that is leadership in action.

  5. Tracey Brockman

    Any “new” habit or one we decide to improve upon is not easy and that separates good leaders from those who are not effective or efficient. It takes work!

  6. Jung-hoon Kim

    I like to say that a habit is either good or bad. The person must chose which he is to obey. I chose the good.

  7. Shawn C Stolarz

    While the ideas of developing “good habits” is not an exciting topic, this list of the habits of an effective leader is very worthwhile.

  8. Jonathan B.

    “A messy desk is ….” Yes, I’ve also known about this since I was in college. For some reason(s) I simply ignored it until one day I came to realize I would have less stress and feel better if I simply got myself organized. That good habit paid off later at work when I was selected above others for promotion. It works!

  9. Mark Evans

    Here’s the issue. Get good habits and stay focused on them. Success will certainly follow.

  10. Max Foster

    This is one hard habit to get and then maintain. I went through a similar “growing up” as an adult and finally got my act together after my boss threatened to fire me unless I got my mess under contro.

  11. Georgie M.

    Now to get some good habits about how to diet. Then I will be most grateful.

  12. Yusaf from Texas

    To develop habits of any kind it takes effort. Good habits especially required a concentrated effort. Here in Texas we like to say just do it…but we know it takes more.

  13. Army Captain

    This is a great series on the habits of successful leaders.

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