Recently we moved to the southern outskirts of Bangalore. Despite the word “village” appearing in our address, we are still within the city limits, which has continued to creep in every direction of the compass. One of the joys of moving of course is the need to get your address changed with a variety of folks. Banks by virtue of holding our monies get a relatively high priority. The wife and I have accounts with the same bank. My address was changed, fairly simply when I requested my relationship manager to do so. I had to produce a self-attested copy of my PAN card along with an address change request letter and a copy of our new phone bill. My wife on the other hand, despite appearing in person was asked to bring her original PAN card. Thereupon ensued a scene played out all too often in our home. Ransacking of locked cupboard drawers, gnashing of teeth, fruitless searches through filing cabinets and that one black bag into which we’d stuff all our “important” documents. In between these some spousal recriminations and berating of unsuspecting kids who happen to wander by. At the time of going to press we are yet to find that PAN card, which I know I stored safely and the poor wife continues to get her bank statement at our old address.
I wish I could say this rarely happens in our household. Alas much like the six pens and one broken pencil next to our telephone-none of which write-there are many things that are less than well organized in our household. Many mornings find one of us anxiously searching for something or the other. Usually it’s a mobile phone, the housekeys or wallet and the rare time when we have to travel, toilet bags or even passports are the objects that we seek. And each time after the missing item has been located, we swear to pack the night before - the advice we usually give our children about getting ready for school - and have a place for everything, so that these nerve wracking, teeth gnashing searches are avoided. Organization however doesn’t appear to be our forte. Alas our household doesn’t appear to be an exception. Also given we spend far more of our waking time at work it would have been really nice if such drama and despair were confined to our homes and not carried to our workplaces.
If you are thoroughly organized and highly productive at work you can stop reading this week’s column right here. One of the joys of modern organizations is that demands on our time is compounded by an avalanche of emails, paperwork - engineering documents, marketing collateral, trade publications, event announcements, performance review documents not to mention the dreaded Form 16s. Technology far from doing away with paper, has multiplied hard copies faster than rabbits in heat. In an earlier era, if voicemail was a bane, mobile telephones, SMS and online chats have become even worse time disrupters. Don’t even get me started with the world wide web and social media. Numerous studies have shown that interruptions are the greatest loss of productivity in a modern workplace. Cubicle farms haven’t helped with their open floor plans. In my own case procrastination, whether getting this column done on time or making a presentation for a funder adds to the misery - maybe even lies at the heart of it, my lovely wife would argue. The good news is that we are not alone - the getting organized problem can be solved and has been solved and indeed productivity, control of our life and even happiness lies within reach.
The Organized Executive: New Ways to Manage Time, Paper, People, and the Electronic Office by Stephanie Winston is all that it promises. Originally written in an era where paper - and its movement or lack thereof dominated our work lives it is surprisingly even more applicable to the modern workforce. If all you got out of it was a single technique TRAF - trash, read, act or file - that can be applied just as easily to email as to paperwork, it would have been well worth it. Well, you’ll have to read the book to learn how TRAF works.
Book: The Organized Executive: New Ways to Manage Time, Paper, People, and the Electronic Office
Author: Stephanie Winston
Publisher: Business Plus, 2001