July 1, 2008

Order from Chaos 2a – “Before You Begin”

Posted in Book Report, Equilibrium, life, Order From Chaos, Organization tagged , , , , at 1:17 pm by otherdeb

Liz Davenport opens Order from Chaos by noting that:

“The average businessperson receives 190 pieces of information each day. The average businessperson wastes 150 hours each year looking for stuff. Add 10 more hours and that is an entire work month. If you got organized, you could have an extra month each year! Just think how much more you could accomplish (or how much more vacation you could have) if you got organized. You could take a three-day weekend every other week and still do as much as you are doing now–or MORE. What a concept.”

Yep. What a concept! Especially as I shifted through papers all over my room last night, trying to find the referral I needed for a mammogram this morning. It took me over an hour of going through all the papers on my desk and my night-table to find it. And if I hadn’t found it, I would not have been able to have my insurance cover the cost of the mammogram, which was long overdue. And, since I had a three-month wait for this appointment, rescheduling would have been right out of the question.

In short, not being organized would have had a significant financial bite in this instance; a bite that I can ill afford at the best of times, but even less so given the stuff going on in my life at the moment.

Why get organized?

Ms Davenport goes on to cover, in her first chapter, her belief that “the piles on your desk result from the holes in your system (as well as rom the incoming 190 pieces of information each day.” She notes that most of us do use a system, or more properly pieces of several systems to try to keep track of our information. The solution she says she will offer is an “all-encompassing, easy to maintain” system, which she claims is simple, intuitive, and easy to use.

She further notes her qualifications to be writing this book: She’s one of us. This is the system she evolved to solve her own organizing issues.

She follows that with a very brief outline of her system, suggesting that, if your time is limited, you only do Step 1 (the Cockpit Office). She notes that all five other steps build from this one. She recommends that you spend at least a week on each step and that how long it takes you to do the steps is less important than doing them in the order she sets out.

So far, it sounds pretty good. Her next chapter is called “The Game Plan,” and after last night’s little wake-up call, I am dying to dig in. Since the net chapter also falls under “Before You Begin,” I expect to be reporting on it fairly soon.

Next in this series: The Game Plan



  1. Joanne said,

    Given the “miles and miles of files, pretty files” taking up my space now, I think I need to get my hands on this book. Thanks.

  2. otherdeb said,

    @ Joanne: Heya, and welcome to my little corner of the blogosphere!

    Before you rush out to grab the book, let’s see how I do with it. It looks rally good so far, but you never know if/when a snag will raise its ugly head. Don’t want to steer you to it until I’ve thoroughly checked it out.

  3. I’d love to know more about her “cockpit office”. Can you break that down and paraphrase it so we have some idea what it means? Are you giving it a try this week? Will you put into action the steps she suggests as you read or are you reading the book before putting it into practice?

    Sounds great so far and I’m looking forward to hearing more about this book and the guidance it offers.

  4. otherdeb said,

    @ Rebecca Laffar-Smith: According to Ms. Davenport, the concept of the Cockpit office is that you have the things you use on a daily basis within hands’ reach, the things you use on a weekly basis; the things you use weekly, within arms’ reach; the things you use monthly, in your office; and the things you use less frequently, outside your office.

    I will be trying it, but not this week, since there are two small chapters preceding it.

    I have read through the book once, and decided it is a system that sounds like it will work for me, so I am trying it, in the order she presents it.

    I have one or two points I’m not sure about, such as her insistence on a written planner as opposed to the PDA I’ve been using for a decade and a half, but since I have been becoming disenchanted with Palm’s inability to make a machine that functions for more than a year or two, it seems reasonable to try the paper route again.

    So, the short answer is that, yes, I will be trying her system, and I’m also looking forward to seeing if it works as well in real life as it does in her book!

    And I promise to keep everyone posted as I go along!

  5. thnidu said,

    I just followed your link to Amazon’s page for the book and read the opening pages. I am in real need of organization, and I would like to see how you do with this… but I may not wait till you’ve gotten through the last step.

    I find Palm too convenient to be without. I’m on my third PDA now, having started with a Handspring Visor, then moved my files to a Palm Tungsten T when that died, and a couple years ago to a T|X. And I back it up through HotSync every day.

  6. otherdeb said,

    @thnidu: Yes, that is one of my bigger misgivings…I, too, have become used to the portability of the Palm and its ilk. However, both Marc and I have noticed that the more recent the model, the more prone it seems to being buggy.

    That said, if I end up liking her system enough, I will probably use it, but keep the Palm as a backup.

    I know from experience over the years that I am very good about making sure my Palm and paper devices have the same info, and I will definitely keep the Palm phone I currently have until it dies. However, I am not sure what I will do after that happens. It probably depends, to a large degree, on if I adopt either Ms. Davenport’s system, Ms. Morgenstern’s system (which I am planning to try after Ms. Davenport’s), or some combination of them with the Palm as the focus.

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