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The Cost Of Being Unorganized

January 8th, 2008 · 5 Comments

Procrastinators will tell you that they work better under pressure. I don’t buy that. Owners of messy desks will tell you that they know the whereabouts of everything. I don’t buy that. Unorganized people waste time looking for things, buy items more than once that were lost and pay a hefty price for rushing things at the last minute. The following situations end up costing much more time or money due to poor planning and disorganization .

Lost items at work or home

I’m a Type A personality. I’m obsessive-compulsive when it comes to keeping my stuff where it belongs. As a result, I rarely lose things at work or home. Yes, it’s slightly more work putting my keys and wallet in the exact same place every night, but for me it beats the alternative. Placing items down in random places throughout the house (slippers, keys, etc) makes finding them that much more difficult. If you spend one to two minutes searching for your keys every time you leave the house plus the same amount of time at work that adds up to twenty or more hours per year just searching for your keys. Do you know how many books you can read in twenty hours?

The bottom line cost: losing track of your belongings causes you to waste hours of time looking for those belongings. This time can be better spent elsewhere if you were more organized.

Failure to keep a calendar or datebook

Have you ever sent a gift to a loved one with an added overnight or expedited shipping cost due to you forgetting their important date? If you have relatives out of town and you send them gifts on their birthdays or Christmas this is something should know about every year. It should come as no surprise to you each year that Mother’s Day occurs in the middle of May. If you find yourself shipping Mom her gift via FedEx overnight each year then you are wasting your money. Set up a Google Calendar reminder email or use an old-fashioned FranklinCovey planner to let you know well enough in advance each year that this date is coming.

The bottom line cost: procrastinating or forgetting important dates costs you wasted time, money and effort than can be avoided by a little calendar planning.

Late fees on payments

How many of us put the day’s mail on a desk or table once it’s opened and read? Have you ever amassed a pile so large that bills get buried under the stack? I’m guilty of this lack of organization now and then. I’ve even paid a late fee on a utility bill as a result of this. If your system for paying bills is place them somewhere and then come back to them hopefully before the due date then your system stinks. Put them in a visible place that reminds you daily or weekly to get this done. Paying a fee for late bills is essentially a “slob tax” for not finding them in time.

The bottom line cost: losing bills and other important documents with deadlines causes you to spend extra money on late fees and finance charges. Get a system for finding and remembering bill due dates.

The time “black hole” known as your email inbox

Have you ever wanted to find an important email at work or home? Have you ever spent more than twenty minutes looking for it? And then did you get distracted reading another email you had not seen in a while. It has happened to me. Also, tt never ceases to amaze me how folks have hundreds or thousands of emails in their inbox. How can these people find anything in a pile of 500 items? Create some email folders to separate the categories and find items easier. Or do what most time management experts recommend. Do, delegate or delete. In theory, practicing this principle will keep your inbox nearly empty each day. Do – an action item for you. Delegate - someone needs to do this. Delete - this does not apply to me or it’s information that useless to me.

The bottom line cost: an unorganized email inbox costs you extra time to find, respond and act on items sent to you.

Is being organized an innate talent or can it be learned? Or we all wired one way or the other? If you are an unorganized person take a self-assessment of the true cost of how much this character trait costs you each week in lost money, time and effort. If you are already an organized person, I’m sure you can attest to the peace of mind knowing how simple like becomes when you get organized.

Tags: Money

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 mary // Mar 22, 2009 at 10:42 am

    Found your website and “ouch”! I’m guilty of all the above and am looking to straighten out my unorganized life.

  • 2 Jason // Apr 4, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    I think that being organized is helpful, but I also think that you should look into indexing emails. I keep thousands of email so I can always have evidence of a communication trail. I simply type in a search box what I’m looking for, and it quickly shows me a narrowed list of results.


  • 3 G // Mar 9, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    I work for a big executive like this & she costs the company a lot of $ and she gets away with it, because executives are a lot like folks in a private club & she is a member. I suspect she “knows” something about some of the other execs as well so they let her keep doing it.

    She makes a lot of mistakes and cannot keep her own personal life in order whatsoever, her office is a horrible mess and she won’t throw anything out, often I hear she “didn’t get that email” or some other nonsense. Often she expects the down belows to clean up her mess and if they don’t or don’t do a good enough job about it they get fired. I know I am being laid off because of the very same thing.

    Everyone else likes me but her, sad since hiring someone new is going to cost this place a lot, I am already part-time and freelance but it doesn’t matter.

    I have learned that people who are like this are very self absorbed, it is all about them and they want everyone to be all about them. She is habitually late all the time as well and constantly changing travel plans that end up costing the company thousands of dollars.

    Still it isn’t my company & I have learned something I NEVER want to be this way and I have also learned something most people in the company don’t like her either because of this but no one will do anything.

    Usually people like this get what is coming to them sooner or later, it is just the way it works. I wish I could be a fly on the wall to see it happen. That whole you give what you get in life.

    I am not perfect but I do try to stay somewhat organized and it isn’t that hard & it really doesn’t take that much time out of your life to do it.

  • 4 nubernacio galinda // Mar 10, 2011 at 8:14 am

    Everybody knows that organized people are dull and unimaginative.

    Creativity down to zero.

    But also, everybody knows, that creatives and true innovators could do nothing without organizers.

    So, let’s try to make peace with both sides and not diss anyone.

  • 5 Getting organised and creating a balanced life! « 8Categories // Mar 21, 2011 at 4:53 am

    […] Honestly though, do you think that the Prime Minister of Australia just turns up to a press conference without prior planning and knowing exactly what to say! Well I guess your answer to this will depend on your opinion of our leader, however as Martha Stewart once said “life is too complicated to not have order in your life” – Get Organised. Many of us do waste many hours looking for misplaced belongings, forgetting to pay bills, buying unnecessary items and we often “pay a hefty price for rushing things at the last minute” – MattHutter […]

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