Making your planning work for others

One of the things that I struggle most with is making sure my planning works for others.

Allow me to explain.

When I was a teenager, I worked at an establishment with a highly organized boss. However, her organization system, while extraordinarily detailed and theoretically wonderfully effective, existed only in her head. This accomplished two things: I felt both stupid and useless because I could never do any new task without asking her for help first, and it meant that she had difficulty delegating work because she would have to explain everything – and in the end, would end up doing it herself more efficiently.

That summer, I promised myself that if I ever got to be the boss of anything, I would make sure everything was clearly organized for my employees.

Today, though, while searching through some files and reading some student feedback, I realized that task is a lot harder than it seems. While in my head, I know (more or less) where everything is and how to get there, I’m quite aware that I might very well be the only person for whom it’s logical. Now, that’s going to be true of any planning system – first and foremost, a personal planning system has to work for you and make sense for you – I think that’s why so many times when we try out something new, searching endlessly for “planner peace”, we end up frustrated and lost. The system worked for someone else – but that doesn’t mean it’s for you.

However, this is not necessarily the case with work-related planning systems, especially, as in my case, where I am the “boss” and my system has to work and be easily understandable for both students and interns. The problem, of course, is that I’m not exactly sure how to get there.

My starting point while trying to get things under control is the basic brain dump: I’ve written down all the things that I need to give students, papers that they need to have and reference, information my interns need to have, and anything else that comes to mind. Next to each thing, I’m writing down where it currently is. I think this first step is incredibly important – actually seeing it written out on paper helps us understand how we ourselves have organized things, and the next steps we need to take. Indeed, this list is ongoing and I’m letting the process take it’s time – I want to get through a full work week and continue adding things, to make sure I don’t let anything slip by.

Then, I’ll take the time to sit down and go through what I’ve written down, and create an organization system – via both an index binder and online resources such as Edmodo to organize student files. I think the most vitally important thing, and something for everyone in these types of situations to keep in mind, is making sure that other people have clear and easy access to seeing how everything is structured. Then, they can find their own way around.

What was that saying? Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, but teach him how to fish…

Organizedly yours,


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