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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, December 22, 2003

Organizers can help bottom line

By Nick Sargent
The (Oshkosh, Wis.) Northwestern

Many bosses realize organized employees aren't just experts in "a place for everything and everything in its place." They're experts in saving the company money.

Organization is really about productivity, says one expert on the subject. Sure, organization can help you see the bottom of your desk, but it can also help the firm's bottom line.

"It's important because time is the one thing we can't get any more of," said Jan Jasper, author of "Take Back Your Time: How to Regain Control of Work, Information and Technology."

"You can get more files, you can replace your supplies — you can even get more clients — but you can't get more time," Jasper said.

In a time of tight budgets and cutbacks for most companies, employees are asked to do more work in the same amount of time, Jasper said. Often the productivity consultant gets calls from clients who hit a tipping point — whether it's missing an important meeting or losing an important phone number — that demands they get it together.

For Bruce Dumann, his tipping point was a happy event — a promotion. In 1978, the current general manager of Steinert Printing Co. in Oshkosh, Wis., took a job in sales and realized he couldn't fly by the seat of his pants in that position.

"I had so many tasks and responsibilities, I had to take it a lot more seriously," he said. "I attended organization seminars and those helped me to create a system I was able to maintain."

For Dumann, it all starts with his printed planner.

Within the planner is a list of ideas that Dumann "stabs with a pencil" throughout the day, making sure he doesn't let any good ones escape him. It's not so much the products and the techniques that help an unorganized person, Dumann said, but what works for the individual.

"I think organization is more of a state of mind than anything else," he said. "If somebody feels they are organized — that's 90 percent of it."

Like Dumann, Ginny Schroeder is a reformed member of the order of the unordered. She has made a business out of her newfound skill.

She and a friend were sick of their messy houses and unorganized lives, so Schroeder began reading every book on the topic she could get her hands on.

Eventually the information clicked and Schroeder was able to help herself and her friend, she said. She knew other people could use the help to get their lives in order — but don't read that as clean.

"There's a difference between being organized and being clean," said Schroeder who works with people in their offices and their homes. "One of the key things is that you can find what you need when you need it. If they can really do that then they have their own system of organization."