Organizing is usually only simple if (a) you happen to love organizing, or (b) you’ve already found a method that blends your commitment to staying clutter-free with your established daily habits. Nevertheless, wether it be an act of pleasure or discipline, strong organizing habits are a necessity for progress.
For example, if you are anything like me, you enjoy reading books and magazines for business and for leisure on actual paper. Really… I’d sooner go to Barnes & Noble to buy a book on a topic before I go to YouTube, Google, or Wikipedia. And similarly if you are like me, when reading, you often get inspired with ideas that could benefit any number of the active projects or developing concepts on your plate. I used to simply “magic marker highlight” the inspirational text/images and fold down the necessary pages. I’d promise myself I’d come back to it when the time is right. Sometimes I did. Most times I either forgot about it or couldn’t remember where I saw “it” and continued to innovate without that specific piece of inspiration. Sound familiar?
Then it hit me (…in a “Windows 7” Ah-ha…type of moment) If I could see all my inspirations in a color-coded snapshot, I could quickly reference the areas of active interest and pull from the resources I’d previously identified. Here’s the technique:
Color Cataloging Your Reference Collection
- Buy a good set of those sticky page flags in assorted colors. (If you have the patience you can economize by purchasing the full size sticky notes and cutting them to size. Also if you think you can handle the responsibility, you can actually use the full size note pages. Just be careful not to create another area of mental or physical clutter by setting up a system that quickly becomes an eyesore or a headache to browse.
- Create a key that categorizes your projects and ideas by color.
- As you read, judiciously place flags where you want to revisit what you read. (Use the flag that coordinates with the associated project or idea).
- Then, at a glance (of an orderly stack of magazines or book shelf), you can quickly pull the resources you need and keep moving.
- Lastly, commit to using this system across the board. (Having several smaller competing organizational systems can end up resembling no system at all at the end of the day.)
For those who are serious about this “organizing your mental and physical work space” thing. Check out my voice clip on Ending Your Day With A Clean Desktop