Inside the mind of a professional organizer: Action plans are the key to daily success





Let’s be realistic: All women make a difference. You should take this moment to acknowledge how much you contribute and your daily impact. How we share our skillset is a reflection of our time management and organization.

As a professional organizer, I know firsthand that creating, maintaining and sticking to an action plan, a.k.a. “instruction manual for life,” is a key component for daily success.

Think for a second: Do you have an action plan? You might not realize it, but everyone has some version of an action plan in place.

Steps to improve and simplify your action plan is an ongoing effort. In time, and with enough practice, this will become second nature, allowing you to obtain your time management goals, keep a tidy home, become a valuable employee and, most importantly, prioritize your family and friends.

From the moment you get out of bed, your very first movements reflect on the role you play in life. Regardless if you are single, have a family, provide care for a loved one, report to a job or manage a team, in some capacity, we mentally organize how our day should play out.

I suggest getting this mental image on paper and creating an electronic file. It’s like a grocery list for life.

The first thing to acknowledge about an action plan is that it frequently requires modification. Our roles in life are constantly changing. Since we are not provided an instruction manual, we need to make one up as we go. This relates to our schedule, as well as our work-related tasks.

Sharing valuable information with your family or co-workers benefits everyone. It makes you more reliable and valuable to those you interact with. If you suddenly are out of the picture, why would we want someone to invest a huge amount of time into figuring out processes we already have perfected?

With that said, our documented information needs to be accurate and up-to-date.

My favorite example is passwords. Not having an effective documentation process can prove to be a headache, as many have experienced.

My second favorite example is starting a new job without an instruction manual or one that has so many crossed out references, you’re better off starting from scratch, which ends up being the case more often than not.

So, let’s quickly outline your action plan: First, identify your role(s) in life.

At home, who are you responsible for in the morning? How much time is required to get out the door or start your day? Be realistic. Are you the type who always is early/on time/late? Are you typically prepared for whatever comes your way?

Are you a primary caregiver? Do you need specific instructions for your loved one? Do you have current documentation of medications, diet, activities and special exceptions? Would someone be able to step in and assist at any moment?

At work, are you looked upon to effectively manage and provide tasks for others? Do you know what your employees are doing and easily could pick up their responsibilities?

Are you an employee who should be asking questions and providing feedback to be more effective? Your ability to organize and document your thoughts while sharing with others makes you a huge asset to any team. What is housed in your brain really isn’t doing others much good. You need to share.

This is just the beginning of creating your action plan. It’s amazing that when you document everything you do for yourself and for others, the reality of how much you make a difference.

Taking time to recognize your accomplishments is just the beginning of perfecting your personal time management skills. Understanding your role, the overall time involved to complete a task and the frequency ultimately will identify opportunities for you to focus on things that matter most in your personal and professional life.

Jessi Bushman is a professional organizer and owner of Organizer Jessi in Dubuque. Visit her at or on Facebook at OrganizerJessi. You also can email her at

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