Clean it up


In school, we were taught how to organize our belongings and create different ways to keep everything neat and clean.

Despite this exhaustive teaching in our elementary schools, more of us forget about that either in our business or personal lives. If you look at my desk in the middle of the week you’d think a hurricane roared through. I’ve always believed there is a method to my madness, but there isn’t anything like the feeling of a freshly cleaned desk.

My grandfather, Albert Brown, always loved a clean desk. If any of our salespeople were neglecting their desk, he’d leave a little note on their computer or on their chair telling them to clean their desk or he was going to throw everything out. There were the few who seemed to get that note every month and others who immediately sprang into action.

I know the immediate feedback I’m going to receive from this is, “It doesn’t look organized, but I know where everything is.” Can you imagine if you got that response from your warehouse manager when you asked him about inventory? We all have our own ways of managing products and our inventory. But with all the technology available, you should have a very organized system. You should be able to go onto your system and immediately tell me how much of something you have, who you last sold it to and how many you’ve sold this past year.

It shocks me when companies don’t have the most basic of structure to their inventory. This is why it should shock most of you when you look around your desk and realize that you may be asking everyone else to do as you say, not as you do.


Everything in order

Companies should be run with the utmost organization. The payroll should be precise, the invoices exact and the financial books properly balanced. If one of those is lacking in organization, a company will start to fall apart. The same goes for inventory control. If you have customers coming to your counter every day and your system can’t tell you an accurate number for certain products, you’re going to have a lot of angry people walking out that door.

It’s probably easy for all of us to realize the importance of organization when running a business, but I don’t think it’s stressed when running our day-to-day lives. Organizing always seems like it’s going to be an insurmountable task. Whenever someone has a lot on their plate they always say, “I don’t know where to start!” The most important thing is to just start. Section off your project and just start doing. Looking at your cluttered desk and feeling overwhelmed isn’t going to call upon the magical desk genie.

Several months ago I cleaned my desk for the first time in 2013 and realized that I’ve been living a life of hypocrisy. I was certain I knew where everything was because it was in the exact place I put it. As I uncovered documents that could’ve been helpful weeks ago, I started to wonder if maybe I wasn’t as organized as I thought. I then buried myself in paper clips, thumb tacks, manila folders and highlighters. When the dust finally settled I already felt more alive on a Monday morning than I have in weeks.

It’s funny, in most other things I am very organized. My computer desktop is immaculate, my inbox has more folders than emails and my documents are titled and filed properly in the right folder. The second I step into the real world though, it’s like I’ve made a 180° turn.

I feel that any lack of organization is probably going to breed complacency and result in more lack of organization. You wouldn’t let that happen to your inventory, so don’t let it happen to your desk.