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Could You Medal in Productivity

The 2006 Winter Olympics are now history. Over the last few weeks I spent a good deal of time watching the astounding athletes pursue, and often realize, their dreams. It was inspiring and motivating to think about what they had to do and what obstacles they may have had to overcome to be among the best in the world.

And while each athlete trains differently depending upon their sport, train they did ? for hours a day, for years on end. Getting to the Olympics took time, dedication, and perseverance.I thought about what these athletes needed to succeed and how this might relate to regular folk like you and me in our quest for organization. I concluded that it comes down to four primary things: Knowledge, Tools, Support, and Desire.

First, athletes must have Knowledge of the fundamentals. What are the rules of the sport? What do they need to succeed? Before they can ascend to this level they need a clear picture of what is ahead. If organization & productivity is your sport, you too need knowledge of the fundamentals. What does being organized or productive look like to you? What do you need to do to get there? Are there basic organizing principles of which you should be aware? (The answer is yes!).

Next, athletes need the right Tools. This year I noted the special unitards of the short track speed skaters and can only assume the suits help shave off precious milliseconds from finish times. The bobsleds are aerodynamic and built for speed.

Do you have the Tools you need to be organized? If you have piles of paper or mail on flat surfaces (and you're not one of those rare people who truly can find what they need in them) you probably don't have the right tools. If you lose documents or phone numbers, or lose track of prospects or worse yet, current customers, you clearly don't have the right tools.Third, athletes need Support from a variety of sources. They have coaches to help them train, to encourage them, and to show them how they might improve. I also saw many families and friends in the stands cheering them on. That kind of support is invaluable.

Being organized and ultimately, productive, is a learnable skill. What does your support network look like? Do you have someone to show you the ropes or teach you the skills? Is there someone on your team that can look at your situation from the outside and see how you might improve? Do you have friends and family in your corner to offer encouragement when the tasks seem too overwhelming? It's imperative to make use of support of all kinds.And finally, athletes must have Desire.

I mentioned earlier that they train hours a day for years to be in a position to simply try out for the Olympic team. I'm sure there are days when they want to throw in the towel, but they fight the urge to quit and start anew again and again. They don't qualify to compete with the elite if they don't want it deeply. Being organized also requires a level of dedication. You may not reach your goal quickly or easily so you must have the desire to push onward through the frustrating times.

Athletes strive to get a little better every day and we can ask the same of ourselves. The novice skier doesn't start on a double black diamond ski run. Neither should we expect "being organized" to happen overnight.It's worth mentioning that being the best isn't the only thing. Getting silver or bronze is pretty darn good and I watched athletes say as much. In fact, just making the team is more than most humans will ever do.

My hat is off to them all.So it is with us. The goal is not to be perfect, or to be the 'most' organized or productive. It is simply to be in the game ? to give it your best. Raise the bar on yourself every day and you'll not only be on the team, you'll be raising the bar on success, too.

.Mary Kutheis (kooth-ice) works with individuals, organizations, and businesses who want to be better organized in the workplace so they can be more focused, productive, and profitable. Through seminars and one-on-one work, Mary delivers real-life solutions to people who are buried in paper and e-mail and overwhelmed by "to do" lists. Visit for free tips, articles and other workplace productivity resources.

By: Mary Kutheis

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