One of the things that is becoming more and more clear to me as I get busier and busier with my “day job” and the growth of Leadership Voices is the need to become more and more organized. I have always been a fan and an aficionado of organizational tools throughout my entire adult life. Because great organizational ability is needed for great leadership success.
I was an ADD/ADHD kid. When I was in school we didn’t get medication for ADHD, we got sent to the principal’s office and we often got paddled. So, I learned at a very early age to curb the “H” piece of that little 4 letter acronym. But the “AD” piece and the inability to focus on tasks in an orderly and organized fashion has plagued me my entire life.
When Organization Doesn’t Come Easily
I will never be the neat freak and have a spotless desk with every scrap of paper tucked away some place neatly at the end of each day. But that doesn’t mean that I cannot be an organized person. It just takes more effort for me than for most.
The key for me has always been “writing it down”. I have seen many systems. I have used Day-Timer, Day Runner, Franklin Planner, and I have even tried developing my own custom organizational system. I have had the greatest success when my paper system was somehow related to my electronic system.
Contacts and calendaring have always been easy to keep organized and synchronized with your paper world. Not very many people carry a paper only contact file or address book anymore. Outlook and all the other email systems have the ability to print your contacts or your daily calendar in a hard copy form if you are tactile in nature and just need the feel of paper. But everyone carries a smartphone today and nearly everyone has linked and synced that device to their work and personal email accounts. So the problem of people and places has pretty much gone away for many of us.
But one of the many things I remember from taking some Franklin Planner training in the mid-1980s was that you were to have that planner “hermetically sealed to your arm” as the trainer so graphically put it. And you were to record every note and every idea in that planner and you, therefore, would be able to magically find it whenever you needed to recall it. — Baloney! I filled up each day’s “Daily Record of Events” with meeting notes and ideas before my first coffee break each morning. So I resorted to jotting down tidbits and germs of ideas on little scraps of paper that I would keep in my shirt pocket. In theory, I would take those at some point and transfer them into the whatever “system” I was using that year. But that theory never panned out for me.
All-Digital — All the Time
Today we find ourselves in the all-digital age. And tools exist today that were not possible 20 years ago. One of the tools that I have come to depend upon to help me manage those many, varied and often disparate pieces of information is a tool called Evernote. And Evernote has become my digital brain. [Please, no jokes about the adequacy of my brain.]
This article is already about as long as I care to make it and I haven’t even yet hit on why I have become so enamored with and dependent upon Evernote. [Do you see what I told you about the ADHD?] But, I plan to spend some time in the coming weeks in between the other articles and the current Leadership Basics series. And in that time I will develop some good “use cases” for Evernote. In fact, they are already written down in one of my Evernote notebooks and tagged accordingly. If you don’t understand what that means, stay tuned. You will!
I am convinced that if we do not develop a way to master our times and tasks, then we will be a slave to always feeling that we have overlooked something or that we have left something undone. Or worse, we will stay late every night at work trying to get caught up and neglect the greatest leadership role that many of us have — husband and father.