My wife lies to me about our schedule. If she didn’t, we’d be late for everything. Before I leave the house, I spend the last twenty minutes running around the house looking for my keys, my phone, or a missing shoe. It’s like I’m a contestant on the world’s stupidest game show.
I’m incredibly disorganized and absent minded. I’ve come to peace with that. I know that I don’t have to be organized to have a powerful ministry. But I’ve also realized that if I want to be a strong leader, organization is essential.
Forgetting appointments, showing up to meetings late, and not being properly prepared all communicate a lack of respect for others. Plus, really organized people have a hard time find us disorganized people endearing.
If you want to increase your productivity, get more organize. And if you struggle to stay on top of things like I do, here are some quick tips to help:
1. Don’t excuse it as a personality quirk
“Honey, that’s not my underwear on the floor. It’s my brilliance!”
The problem is that I can probably find a study that would confirm that my love of Pop-Tarts is a sign of my incredibly evolved palate. Maybe it’s true. Maybe it’s not. Maybe it doesn’t matter.
We can’t justify laziness or embrace entropy because we’ve romanticized our disorderly character traits. We shouldn’t beat ourselves up, but we can’t throw up our hands either.
2. Find an organized helper
A lot of pastors make up for their weaknesses by leaning on the organized people around them. That’s how community works. Find an executive pastor, hire an amazing receptionist, ask someone in the congregation to help you get a little more organized.
Shoring up your weaknesses by enlisting the aid of others isn’t weakness. It’s wisdom.
3. Record it all
It’s never been easier to stay organized if we can just train ourselves to use the tools that are available. The problem with with the chronically disorganized is we tell ourselves, “I need to remember to write that down later.”
TRAIN YOURSELF TO WRITE IT DOWN NOW. Don’t wait.
If you make any kind of an appointment or have a time-oriented task. Schedule it in your calendar and set an alarm—and do it right away because you’ll forget to later.
You’ll be amazed at how productive you can become when you train yourself to capture everything you need to do or remember. The great part is that you’re no longer relying on your own anxiety to keep you organized.
So grab a copy of Getting Things Done (It’s a classic.), and using an app like Evernote, Keep, or OneNote. Or, if you want to go old-school analog, start bullet journaling. Whatever you choose, start recording everything.
4. Go lean and clean
I’ve noticed that disorganization and collecting random garbage seem to go hand in hand.
For instance, I will hold on to a random cord forever because I don’t remember what it goes to and I’m afraid I might need it. My wife has thrown away cords I was saving for phones I haven’t owned for ten years. (She doesn’t know it but I still have enough hidden USB cables to build a suspension bridge.)
If you want a mind that feels less cluttered, create an environment that’s less cluttered. Psych yourself up and start donating, recycling, selling, and tossing everything you don’t need . . . everything. If you haven’t used it in a year, seriously consider liquidating it.
Then clean up your workspace. Nothing makes me feel more efficient than having a spotless workstation.
Disorganization isn’t a disability
Like most things, organization exists on a spectrum, and being at either extreme is probably unhealthy. But if you struggle to get disciplined, you’re not alone—and you’re not trapped. It’s never been more easy to get yourself organized. You just need to start creating some new habits. Once you get started, you’ll start feeling empowered. Lean into that feeling, it’s going to help carry you through.
Now get to work.