Being organized doesn’t necessarily mean having a neat and tidy desk. In terms of supply chain management it means categorizing your tasks to easily determine their order of importance in the larger scheme of things.

My 5th grade teacher (who was also involved in politics) told my Mom that I was the most organized student she had ever had. Thus, my Mom was not surprised when I went into the supply chain management field and specifically production planning after college.

As is probably a natural progress of one’s career, I have moved from details to big picture; however, organization plays a role in both. I see organization as providing a way to determine when details are key vs. when the big picture is paramount. The vast majority of situations are not black or white. Thus, we need a frame or lens for viewing them.

As you perform your daily tasks, think about how to categorize them. Suddenly you might go from 1000 priorities to 3 categories of priorities. Which will be easier to handle? Also, if you think in terms of categories, it is easier to see trends and potential bottlenecks. How does 1 item stick out from the rest of “like-items”? Should you pay attention to the deviation?

Organization doesn’t have to mean you are neat and tidy. In fact, I seem to have a bit of chaos in my car; however, I have a system for finding what I need when I need it. I have a garbage within easy reach. Steel toed shoes are in a bag in my backseat as I need them to walk around some clients’ facilities. I have many CD’s to listen to on my rides around L.A. Eventually I will upgrade to an iPod; however, currently they are within easy reach and I can find the right topic quickly. Label your items.

One last tip is to not put key items away. It might sound bizarre but it works. Actually this idea is somewhat lean before I knew it was lean. I keep those things I need to do on my desk or at my fingertips so that I remember and prioritize them. Once I put it into a folder (even if it is labeled “to-do”), strangely, I never get around to doing it.