I found this article from David Allen that I had printed out: What Does “Organized” Really Mean? It was good, useful and practical enough that I wanted to keep it and re-re-read it in paper form. But, then it got buried. In other words, I read it, and did not follow its counsel.
Have you ever done that?
Well, Mr. Allen shares a piece of wisdom, flowing from an observation, that has implications for every part of life—personal life, organizational life, project life, etc. Here’s the key excerpt (some emphasis added):
Even if (people) “get organized” according to these simple criteria, it is highly likely that they can become disorganized rapidly. Over time (and often not that much time) things change in meaning. The magazine is no longer the current issue, the project is no longer something we’re committing to action, and the good idea isn’t so good any more. So even if we get our ducks in a row, they wander of their own accord. Being organized is a dynamic process, demanding consistent reevaluation, rethinking, and renegotiating the relevance of things in our physical and psychological environment.
In other words, we are back to entropy—disorder seems to “just happen”. It takes work to get organized. And then, things get disorganized all over again, over and over again, “all by themselves”.
And that is true for every initiative forward.
- It takes intentional work to be innovative.
- We get set in our ways (no longer innovative) all by ourselves — “automatically.”
- It takes work to encourage our fellow employees or the people we lead. Intentional work.
- We can be “discouraging” without even thinking about it.
No one ever says, “I think I’ll be disorganized today. I think I’ll be discouraging to others today.” But, disorganized and discouraging they are—seemingly “automatically,” without even thinking about it.
In other words, to do anything well, we have to be attentive, and intentional—every time, all the time.
To do anything poorly… well, that takes no attention or intention at all. We’re all pretty much natural masters at doing stuff poorly. It takes serious, hard intentional attentive work to do anything well. And that hard work is required every day, every half-day, practically every hour…
Professional Speaker & Writer
Co-founder, First Friday Book Synopsis