Get Organized!


A simple concept; yet for some, especially myself, it is extremely difficult to master.

If you were to see my desk during the middle of my work day, you might wonder how I can find anything at all.

The funny thing is, by the end of the day, my desk is clean, neat, and orderly--patiently waiting for another day of chaos.

Let me tell you about my unique organizational system:

The Piles

There are many reasons for my chaotic mess throughout the day. One is that I am involved in many different projects where I work.

Honestly, this sounds a lot worse that it really is. I’m a “piler”. Every project has a folder, and throughout the day I create a project pile for items that need attention.

Once I complete a task for a project, it gets put in a complete pile and eventually filed back into the project folder.

The Sticky Notes

I have found that as I get older, I can’t remember quite as much as I could when I was younger. It’s not that I have a bad memory; I just touch so many different projects throughout the day, if I don’t write things down, something will get missed.

This is where the sticky notes come in. I use them to make notes for others when I delegate a task, to jot down details of something that needs immediate attention, or to make note of things that are not project-related that need attention before the end of the day.

The Notepad

Similar to the sticky note, the notepad is used to record details for project-related tasks that are going to require more detail than can be written on a sticky note.

Notepads are great for making quick “to do” lists on the fly, as well as to write down details from voicemails and phone calls.

These quick scribbles are usually revised and re-recorded in some other fashion, usually into the iPad’s ToDo app, but more on that later.

The Sketchbook

Early in my career, I started using sketchbooks for sketching, but I always liked the smaller 5”x7” landscape-oriented sketchbooks for taking notes in meetings. I don’t remember where I picked this habit up, but the thing I really like about using the sketchbook is that my notes are neatly organized and are always available for future reference.

Unlike the notepad or the sticky note, these notes are taken with more care and are much more organized. I always know where to find them if I need to refer to them at a later date.

The iPad

How did I ever function without the iPad and the plethora of apps that were created for business?

One of the most frequently used apps on my iPad is the “ToDo for iPad” app by Appigo. It is very simple and well organized, and allows for tasks to be organized by project with priority identification and due date reminders.

I like that I can use my Bluetooth keyboard to quickly enter tasks. This is a breeze when entering items previously recorded on a notepad or sticky note.

I don’t write every task in ToDo. I usually only enter major milestone tasks that may take multiple days to complete or things that didn’t get completed for that day that were written on the notepad and will need attention the following day.

I also like that I can sync my iPad with my iPhone so that I have my “to do” list with me at all times.


Our company uses the Microsoft Office Suite of tools and that includes Outlook for email. If I’m being completely honest, I am not a huge fan of the Microsoft Outlook task manager. It is not nearly as detailed as the ToDo app and not as easily visible on the main screen.

Yes, it is true, I am an Apple fan. Their products are intuitive, well designed, and easy to use.

So there you have it, my organizational system. I can guarantee you won’t find it listed in any book or DVD late-night TV offer, but it does work for me.

Do you have a unique or mainstream organizational system that you use? If so, I’d love to hear about it. Feel free to leave a comment below, send me a tweet, or even an email. I look forward to hearing from you.

Have a great weekend!

Boyd Coleman is a landscape architect in Phoenix, Arizona. He can be reached on twitter at @CDGLA or email: