We all know people who “keep it all together.” They’re the epitome of organization. Sometimes we’re one of those people. But sometimes we’re not. Whatever your average for keeping it all together, the following guidelines can help boost your percentage or get you started in that direction from square one.
I am not organized because to be so is an easy task. Establishing and maintaining organization takes time and effort—sometimes much of both. But in the long run organization makes life run smoother and takes less of my time than working in constant disarray.
Because setting an organizational system in place often takes more time than maintaining it, some people simply choose to try to “get by.” They see organization as something that will happen as a matter of course. And sometimes they do manage a crude system that allows them to carry on at least in controlled chaos. But we are called to strive for the glory of God in all that we do. Success requires discipline in designing and maintaining a system of organization that allows us to control our ministry rather than letting our tasks control us.
You can keep organization in focus by remembering the steps with a mnemonic based on the alphabet:
A Always make a place for everything.
B Be neat.
C Create files.
D Discipline yourself.
A Place for Everything
It stands to reason that if you can’t find something you won’t be able to use it. Also, putting quarterlies or resource clippings just anywhere in a spur-of-the-moment good place could result in not being able to find them when you need them on Sabbath morning. This is a time-consuming mistake.
Pens and markers. Scissors. Scrap paper. Stapler. Manila file folders. Keep supplies in each category together. A cardboard or plastic box works well if you do not have a desk or file cabinet. Just make sure that the items will be used exclusively for your teaching ministry. Buying duplicate supplies so that you don’t have to remember to put materials back is worth the expense. As long as all your materials are in the same place, you’ll know where to find them.
Create Files That Work for You
Files are terrific inventions. Sort your mail over the trash bin. As you sift through the resources and samples that you’ve requested or received without having requested them, immediately throw away anything that is unnecessary or just interesting. Then file by topic materials that pertain to your ministry. Store what needs to be stored in the places you have prepared.
The titles of files and the organization of your files should meet your needs. You don’t need a file cabinet to make use of files. Many file folders are made to fit banker’s boxes. Or borrow a tip from some of the professional teachers I’ve met who buy hanging files that fit in plastic milk crates. You can take such portable files wherever you need them.
The most difficult hurdle to overcome when designing and maintaining an organizational system is disciplining yourself. Yet you can discipline yourself to return an item to the proper place after you use it or to keep up with a filing system. In the long run you will find that discipline helps you to be much more efficient. It will show in how you facilitate class discussions and in your interaction during teachers’ meetings and Sabbath School Council planning and discussions.
If being organized is a skill that is difficult for you to manage, pray for discipline. God has promised to give everyone the specific help needed: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Luke 11:9, 10).
Hang in there! You can get your ministry materials together and keep them organized.
Celeste Perrino Walker
© 2014 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists