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Key to Personal Effectiveness

September, 2021

MMS Degree college in Mumbai - Key to Personal Effectiveness

Part 1 – Getting Organized

All of us aim to become more effective managers at our workplace. Yet, at times, we find ourselves wanting on some count or the other. Through this series of articles based on the set of seven books called “Key to Personal Effectiveness” (distributed by Pentagon Press), we will focus on seven things that we can do to become a more effective manager. The book series is divided into seven books, each delving into one aspect of personal effectiveness. The articles in this series will synopsize the key ideas presented in each of the seven books in the “Key to Personal Effectiveness” series.

The first book of the series deals with a problem many of us face – that of “Getting Organized”. Jeff Olson, the author of this book titled “Getting Organized” opines the basic fundamentals of getting organized are two pronged in nature – firstly, in order to get organized, we need to banish our mental clutter. Most people who have too much clutter in their lives take life as it comes and believe that they need to get through life and need not take control of it. However, in order to be an agile manager, it is important to recognise that clutter has the impact of slowing one down and therefore focus on reducing clutter and one way to do this is by creating goals. It is important to create meaningful goals in each key area of your life. The author urges us to set challenging goals for ourselves at work and focus on results. Secondly, the author opines that a key aspect of getting organised is to simplify our life. Some methods to do so at our workplace would be to prioritize our work tasks through the creation of a to-do list and ensuring that the most critical tasks are at the top of the list, preparing a contribution chart which would help us to identify which tasks are critical, which can wait and which tasks are likely to be time-wasters. We should also focus on getting today’s work done rather than dreaming about tomorrow. Lastly, the ability to say “no” to tasks, activities or people who are not important to you would go a long way in getting organized.

Jeff Olson also states that there are three key elements in aiming to get more organized. They are in the form of “Organizing to save time”, “Eliminating Time Wasters” and “Leveraging Yourself. Let’s look at each of these:

1. Organizing to save time

Effective time management is a key skill that we need to acquire on the path to getting organized. One of the first steps is to find out where your time goes. Keeping a time log would tell us how we have spent our entire day. It may be a difficult process at first, however, it would give us rich dividends by way of letting us know where and how we have spent our time productively and on what tasks have we wasted our time. A second tool to manage our time is to have a to-do list. A to-do list written out the night before helps us to plan our day much more effectively. Giving ourselves deadlines is a secret trick used by achievers. This does wonders for organizing our time.

Jeff Olson also outlines another tip to get ourselves organized to save time and that is to organise our assignments and projects in a structured manner. The author outlines six steps to complete an assignment successfully:

  • Define the assignment in your own words
  • Outline briefly how you are going to do the work
  • Check with your boss if you are on track
  • Plan your work in detail
  • Do the work
  • Review the work.

The author also urges managers to refresh their mind regularly as a step towards getting organized. All work and no play make Jack a dull boy is a saying that we are all familiar with. Some ways of relaxing ourselves and refreshing our mind could be in the form of indulging in a hobby, getting some exercise and getting enough sleep.

2. Eliminate Time Wasters

Peter Drucker once said, “For one either meets, or one works”. Time wasters are the biggest enemy of one’s efforts towards effective management of time. Several activities that are potent time wasters could be unnecessary meetings, reading reports and memos which are not relevant to us, unnecessary travel, waiting to get finished work from others, people who waste your time, poor communication and indecisive actions to name a few. Some of the tips for managers to eliminate the time wasters in their work life could be in the form of:

  • Avoiding meetings that you know serve no purpose
  • Getting unnecessary reports out of your life
  • Making decisions quickly

3.Leveraging yourself

A key step on the path to getting organized is to learn how to leverage yourself well. Most managers do not realise that delegation of work is one of the easiest ways to create more time for themselves. However, some points that must be kept in mind while delegating are – what is the task to be delegated, who is the right person that the task can be delegated to, defining the task clearly so that the person doing the task knows exactly what is expected, checking in periodically to monitor the task completion process and evaluating how the delegation was executed. In addition to delegation, a manager can leverage himself by planning and leading meetings that are effective and result in least loss of productive time and also communicating skilfully so that time is not lost in miscommunication.

In summary, the book on “Getting Organized” by Jeff Olson helps us to not only focus on managing their time, but also identifying matters that are important to us and then working at organizing our life so that we can attend to these important matters. By getting organized, we can not only reduce the effort required to get results at work, but we can use that saved time to get back to our non-work life activities like hobbies etc to make us into a well-rounded individual.

Through this article, we have explored a few ways in which we can try to get organized. In order to get a deeper understanding of the same, I strongly recommend you to read the book series “Key to Personal Effectiveness” (Part 1 – Getting Organized by Jeff Olson).


Prof. Kala Mahadevan
Assistant Professor,


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