I read the book yesterday despite an overfull schedule. The great thing about this book is that it suits its target audience perfectly. If you are an overwhelmed or disorganized person the last thing you want is a detailed tome with specific instructions and routines that will take a huge amount of time and effort to understand and implement. Marcia Francois’ book meets this audience perfectly. Her book reads very quickly and easily, packing in some insights about the psychology of organising as well as some organising tips.
Francois has a unique voice and is able to get to the high level importance of organization without getting buried in too many details. She also is very direct and honest. Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book, made into cute little quote boxes a la the latest blogging trend. (I hope Marcia Francois isn’t too appalled! It wouldn’t be her style to do them herself but hope she can appreciate it when someone else does them.)
She also discusses two topics that are important to me personally about organising: perfectionism and environmentalism. Francois does not advocate a Martha-Stewart style approach and instead advocates a “just enough” organising strategy. Francois gives many creative suggestions for re-use of containers such as glass jars and cereal boxes in organising efforts.
At the end of the book, she also provides “15 Tools to Organise Your Home and Life,” in the form of several worksheets and checklist that help you do things such as set goals and create a travel checklist.
For American readers, there are some fun English language uses in this book. The first being the use of an “s” instead of a “z” in the word “organise.” Other word choices include “bin” (instead of garbage can or wastebasket), “costume” (instead of bathing suit), “plasters” (instead of Band Aids), and “lip ice” (lip balm?) but these in no way interfere with the comprehension of the overall message.
This book will appeal in particular to two groups of readers: those who are just getting started in their organising efforts and those who want a quick motivational reference to continue their own organising efforts. This book is truly a quick, accessible, not overwhelming, reference and packs a big punch for little reading effort. Watch Marcia Francois’ blog for details about giveaways and special offers to get extra value for your purchase.
Which is your favorite Francois quote? Please share in the comments.
First, who is Stever Robbins? He is a self-described “reformed nerd.” He is very well-educated, earning his Bachelor’s at M.I.T. and M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. He founded numerous start-ups and created the Get-It-Done Guy brand and its popular podcast. But there is a lot more to Robbins. What really grabs me about Stever Robbins is that he adopts such a human approach to his coaching and he is really funny and endearing.
So, like the title says, Robbins has condensed his strategy into 9 Steps, which include things like “Stop Procrastinating,” “Stay Organized” and “Build Stronger Relationships.” Step one, however, is in Robbins’s view (and my view) the most important:
Live on purpose.
As I was reading along, I was really sucked into this book on page 10. Everyone can relate to the scenario below (whether from the parent or child perspective).
Michael was mortified. His teenager Skyler’s room was, to put it mildly, like an antechamber from the inner circle of heck . . . Michael’s solution was simple; Ask Skyler to clean up. When that didn’t work, he resorted to yelling. Soon, Michael was nearing a nervous breakdown. Skyler, however, just turned up the stereo one notch and went back to whatever it is that teenagers do inside their lairs.
As Michael told this story, I tried to imagine his life. My time is spent dancing through life, smelling daffodils and singing songs. Michael’s time is spent obsessing about his teenager’s room. . . .
Michael doesn’t wake up thinking, ‘My life purpose is having a kid with a clean bedroom.’ At some point, he decided a clean bedroom was important. He thought it was the path to some other goal. Sadly, he’s forgotten the other goal and is fixated on the whole room thing. . . .
I’ll leave it as a teaser as to what exactly Robbins advises Michael to do to handle his son’s bedroom cleaning problem but the discussion evolves into contemplating the entire purpose of your life.
Wow! The purpose of your entire life? Scary, eh? Some people never ask themselves that question. Some people find it too overwhelming, too final, too big. Robbins doesn’t. He wants us to keep asking the question, “Why” about our lives until we uncover what our “big” goals are. What truly motivates us? Our biggest goal is ultimately the same across our business and personal lives.
“Remember, without knowing what you want out of life, you can’t construct a Life Map to help you get there. And without knowing your purpose, you won’t know what to work less and do more of.”
Robbins shares tips on how to discover your life goals as well as his own Life Map charts. He maps from his biggest goal down to the more mundane day-to-day items. As an example, his Home Life Map starts with the top level goal, “Help the world be sustainably happy.” and maps down in the “Friend” category from Present: “Socialize in person at least 1 night/week.” to Dream: “Find or create my ‘tribe.’”
These goal/purpose maps should be absolutely required for top-level managers at big corporations. A corporation could create a giant wall-sized version relating each department/function into the big goal and post it in the work area so that every employee knows how each job relates to the big goals. It sounds so simple but it really involves quite a bit of thought.
I started this exercise for myself. I came up with several higher level goals for my life but had trouble finding one over-arching purpose. Perhaps that will come in time. At a minimum getting “out of the weeds” of the day-to-day activities and thinking longer-term and higher level is helpful.
This is not just a business activity either. If you find yourself taking on too much in your personal life—too many volunteer activities, too many social events, etc. etc. sitting down to ask yourself “why” using Robbins’s Life Map strategies, may be exactly what you need to cut back without guilt.
In “Step 4: Beat Distractions to Cultivate Focus,” Robbins discusses this same point in a different way:
“Sure, saying no has real consequences. It’s just that saying yes does too. We’re often way too scared of the consequences of no and not nearly scared enough of the consequences of yes.”
The organizing chapter (Step 5) was of clear interest. Robbins gives many helpful tips and strategies to dig yourself out of a mess both physically and mentally. Like Eric Abrahamson and David H. Freedman of “A Perfect Mess,” Robbins believes that mess and organization are not polar opposites.
Many people confuse ‘organized’ and ‘neat.’ I’m not a neat person . . . It takes me a mere nineteen weeks to put everything away and three hours later, my office looks like a cyclone blew through it. My brain doesn’t do neat.
But I see things a little differently from Robbins’ operational strategy.
“Physical organizing is easy . . . There’s only one simple principle . . . Make a place for everything. . . . When you stumble over something that doesn’t have a place, either throw it away or make a place for it . . . Don’t you dare rent a storage unit! They’re a waste of time and money, and it seems like people are always discovering dead bodies the previous owners left in them, which causes all kinds of annoying legal complications and media attention.”
While at a core level, this is a sound strategy, I disagree that physical organizing is “easy.” If it really was easy, no one would need to read a book (or blog!) about it. It takes a lot of time, effort and thought. “Make a place for everything” sounds simple but sometimes it takes research, construction, money, or materials to create the “place.”
Robbins has many clever ideas about organizing though. Robbins’ strategies to “organize on paper” are interesting and are something I will be testing out for myself. His “rescue” strategy is another tip I will be experimenting with:
“Don’t save everything and toss what you want to get rid of; get rid of everything and rescue what you want to save!”
Robbins suggests a chart technique to work through perfectionistic tendencies to find more time-efficient alternatives.
In Step 8: Build Stronger Relationships, he makes several points about how having a strong network of friends will really help you save time in the long run. It made me reconsider whether people who spend a lot of time on Facebook or Twitter are “wasting time” or making an investment in their future.
The one thing I want to emphasize about this book is that it is funny. I laughed out loud several times while reading. It is not just a boring discourse on efficiency. It’s personal, it’s real and it will help you. I would strongly suggest that you read it and consider creating your own version of the following Robbins charts as a life-enrichment exercise.
Life Map (pp. 26-27)
80/20 Rule Chart (p. 138)
The following Robbins charts are an ongoing work that you can start and keep adding to over time:
Wealth Inventory (p. 40-42)
Absolute Lists (p. 143-144)
Learning Log (p. 166)
Resource Book (for specific projects) (p. 171)
There are even more tips and exercises that I didn’t mention. The book is really a great resource for a variety of goal-setting, project management and organizational topics.
If you want even more of a taste of Robbins’ personality, below is a clip of the author himself discussing time management.
Stever, if you are reading this, thank you so much for choosing me to share the good news of your book! It challenged me, taught me and made me smile! Best wishes for your future success and please count me as a member of the tribe.
Did you enjoy this gift from the Get-it-Done Guy? Please share in the comments.