Taking inventory and getting organized


Most people have way more “stuff” in their life than they need or want or even know they have. I was reminded of this over the last few days while setting up my new laptop.

I went through the old hard drive, making a list of programs to install on the new drive, and realized I didn’t recognize half of the program, and others I never used. There were many programs I didn’t install on the new drive. I mean, how many pdf makers and readers does one really need?

I’ve organized documents and folders. Put things in a more logical order. The new machine is lean and uncluttered. I can see what I have and find what I need. It feels good to be on top of things.

So now, I’m looking at other things in my life I can inventory and organize. December is a good month to do that. I’ll start with my projects and someday/maybes, so I can make decisions and set goals based on what’s important rather than what happens to be in front of me.

Why not do the same?

An easy place to begin is with your physical environment–closets, drawers, desks, the tool shed, the trunk of your car. What can you get rid of? As you eliminate things you don’t use, you make room for new and better things.

In the office, you might organize forms, form letters, and templates. Get rid of or update the ones that are obsolete or that you don’t use. Do the same for books, email subscriptions, and blog feeds.

How about taking inventory of your clients? Some are more valuable to you than others. Which ones can you ask to find another attorney? Which clients should you give more attention to?

How about your friends? Are there people in your life who enervate you? Cut down on how often you see them, or resolve to not see them at all. Do you have a friend you don’t see often enough? Now you’ll have more time for them.

Do you belong to too many groups? Support too many causes? Have too many hobbies or take too many classes? By cutting down on some, you can do more with the ones that matter.

Take inventory of the people and things in your life and pare things down to a more manageable number. Organize what’s left so you can access it more quickly. You’ll be better able to see what you have, what you need, and what you want to accomplish in the coming year and beyond.

Taking inventory and getting organized is a process of deciding what’s important so you can focus on it. When I’m not sure whether or not to keep something, I ask myself if it can be replaced. If not, I’ll hang onto it and look at it again some time down the road. If it can be replaced, out it goes. Usually.

If you’re too busy to take inventory of everything right now, take inventory of what needs to be inventoried. Make a list of possible areas of your life you’d like to streamline and organize. Then, tackle one area each month. By next year at this time, you’ll be a lean, mean, organized machine. With lots of room for new stuff.

Learn how I organize my digital life in my Evernote for Lawyers ebook.