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Written by Sumit Dua, MD, MBA.

Being organized is one of life’s more important skills.  The word however conjures up images of someone who is very neat and tidy and someone who just is naturally gifted.  The reality is quite the opposite; organizing is just like any other skill – some people have an aptitude for it – but with the right knowledge and a little work, it is a skill that anyone can acquire.

A lot of authors start the discussion of this topic with – do you have trouble finding your keys, did you miss paying an important bill, did you forget your girlfriend’s birthday, etc? I am going to try to avoid this approach (yes finding your keys will become easier and so will remembering birthdays).  Instead my approach is more of an intellectual one instead of appealing simply to your emotions – I am doing this purposely.  I am assuming that if you understand the benefits and reasons why you need to do this, then you will follow through with it – appealing just to your emotions may get you started, but it will be hard to get you to keep going.

In today’s world, there are many different work and home responsibilities that are pulling at you, and you must have a system to manage.  If you take a haphazard approach, you will have trouble managing everything.  You may be able to manage temporarily but as workload keeps growing, you will max out your capacity.  And your goal shouldn’t be to simply manage, it should be to thrive. You must understand all of this intellectually.  You must understand that this is a skill that you must acquire and understand how this will benefit you.  If you don’t understand the benefits, you will not put in the work required.  This will require work – there are no shortcuts – but if you do it, it will be a skill you will have forever.  And this stuff isn’t terribly difficult and it won’t require the determination needed to run a marathon.

You may have even read articles online and purchased stuff to get you organized, or even thrown away a bunch of stuff as the articles recommended (in an effort to declutter).  Unfortunately, these are designed to either sell you a product or show you very quick results so that you will either purchase products or a more comprehensive book on the topic from the author.  But most people find that things soon go back to the way they were and you really aren’t in a better position than when you started.  We are not giving you a taste to something greater that you must then purchase, we are not selling these to you but are making all the principles available to you.

So why be organized?

Immediate Access

You will have immediate access to your things – physical or otherwise.  If you are looking for an important document, you will know where it is immediately.  You do not need to waste time looking for it.  Even a few minutes wasted on different tasks start to add up very fast.  You must value your time.  Also repeatedly looking for things is a very frustrating experience.  The time you waste can instead be used to get more work done, it can be used to enjoy the finer things in life or it can be spent with important people in your life.  It shouldn’t be wasted.

Increased Productivity

If you are able to find what you need immediately, you will be able to expend your energy on doing what it is that you were planning on doing instead of searching.  Eliminating the frustration and saving time will leave your mind to concentrate instead on the work itself.  This is a very important principle – to be productive you should be able to clear your mind of other things and concentrate on the task on hand.  Please reread that.  You must understand and remember this.  When you see the design of the system, you will see that the system must be designed to allow you to rely on it and not worry.  You will have a clear mind to be used for work instead of on concentrating on remembering where things are, what must be done, etc.

Less Decisions

In a given day, you make a dizzying number of decisions.  This takes mental effort. Again, you don’t want to waste your mental energies on minor decisions, you should use your energy to be productive and make important decisions.  Having to decide where to put something when you are done with it or having to decide when you will do something is wasted energy.  These are tasks that should be automated if you have a valuable system.  The system should be setup so that you know where something belongs – then you don’t have to make that decision and expend any mental energy.  A system will allow you to eliminate some of these less critical decisions.

I assume you knew most of the benefits I stated above.  So why is it that people don’t get organized despite evidence that highly effective people possess these skills.  There are some misconceptions that stop people.

Don’t know how

First and foremost is simply that they don’t know how.  Most people have no idea what they need to be organized.  This is a field like any other, a field that has its own rules, its principle, and even professionals.  You weren’t born knowing how to be an accountant and you weren’t born knowing organization skills. But like accounting, you can also learn to be organized – and its not as boring as accounting (sorry accountants – it may be boring to some of us, but we do understand the important of accounting ;-) ).

Innate skill

The other misconception is that people who are disorganized have the belief that organizing is something that is innate.  They are just not organized because they were born this way and people who are organized are people who were born with those skills.  Not true.  Like I stated above, it is something that can be learned, but you must learn it.  It isn’t going to come to you magically without learning the basic rules.

Too much work

Lastly, many people believe that organizing requires too much work.  It requires some work – so does anything worthwhile – but it isn’t so complicated either.  And it is much easier if you know what it is that you are suppose to do.  If you sit in an accounting class, you will learn it over the course of a semester.  If you have no class and no book to guide you, then yes it will be very difficult, if not near impossible to learn accounting on your own.  Same goes here.

Hopefully, you are able to see why this will be an important skill in your life.  If so, let’s move on.  We will give you a full comprehensive system that you can learn.  We aren’t selling this to you and there isn’t much you need to purchase to make this work. There are products out there that will make it look prettier but the principles stand on their own.  We may eventually have products on Project LIFE to help with this, but again you can learn this and use this without purchasing much (even if we are selling it).  So we will give you the knowledge base if you put in the work.  And we will take a systematic approach to this and utilize technology to make it easier.  I promise you will find these skills invaluable and will even want to share them with your friends, family and future generations.  And report back with what worked and what didn’t and we will listen and modify this system for future generations so that everyone may benefit and so everyone can Live Incredibly!TM

Sumit Dua, MD, MBA
Sumit Dua, MD, MBA

Sumit Dua is the founder and CEO of Project LIFE, Inc.  Sumit attended the University of California San Diego for undergraduate studies, where he majored in Biochemistry & Cell Biology and in Psychology. He went on to attend the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine for his M.D. and the Marshall School of Business for a.. Read more

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