Organizers to Keep You Straight

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Organizers to Keep You Straight

Now that Christmas is over, many of us are probably looking forward to the New Year in a bit more sober mood. As we reflect, we realize how last New Year's lofty resolutions have somehow failed to materialize. Yet, in all likelihood, we will once again draw up a list of things we hope to get done in the coming year. We are determined that at this time next year we will be able to smile as we go over the promises we have kept.

At the top of New Year's resolution lists for many people, along with exercising and kicking the cigarette habit, is getting organized. You know the routine. You get a new planner to start the year. Within a month or so, your enthusiasm fizzles and you are back to your old ways, scribbling important numbers and dates on scraps of paper and sticky notes, never quite remembering where you've placed them, and dealing with minor crises daily. Well, you are not alone.

"As a mother of two young sons with a full-time job, I need to manage many tasks all at once and I really need to stay organized," says Koh Eun-ye, 43, who attended a seminar on effective time management last Saturday. The Korea Leadership Center organized the seminar.

Ms. Koh suffers from the classic "memo pad syndrome." "I have a standard company-issue planner but I usually end up writing down things on memo pads," she says. "The thing with using memo pads is that once you've misplaced them, they are as good as gone."

The 250 people who took part in the two-hour seminar were similarly challenged, having to juggle various roles. When the instructor asked: "Do you feel like everything is important and that everything needs to get done right away?" The group answered "yes" in unison.

The key to a better-organized life is in setting priorities, according to Lee Kyung-jae, who heads the center.

"One needs to look at a compass before looking at the watch," he advises, explaining that people are often so preoccupied with scheduling every minute that they forget where they want to go in the long run.

First, you must decide the most important things in your life, according to Mr. Lee. "Once you know your priorities, you should concentrate your energy on realizing them," he says. Do not try to tackle too many goals, he cautions. It is best to focus on one or two things you would like to accomplish in the coming year. Once you have decided your priorities, writing out a mission statement could help make things more concrete, not just abstract goals.

"Spend 10-15 minutes every day on planning for the day," says Mr. Lee. "Make sure you write out your plan instead of carrying it around in your head." He says those 10-15 minutes in the morning can make all the difference, because a plan will allow you take control of your time, not the other way around.

Today, there are many tools to help you stay organized. Used consistently and effectively, the basic planner, in a variety of sizes and styles, can be the key to staying organized. But you should stick to just one planner; forget about having one for the home and one for the office.

"You only need one planner and that should be carried with you everywhere," Mr. Lee advises. Write everything down on your planner." He says that to be better organized, people must get rid of the habit of writing on pieces of paper that are bound to get lost.

If you like gadgets, an electronic organizer may be the tool of your choice. These wallet-sized, super slim devices function as personal information managers, maintaining an extensive phone list, addresses and appointments. This makes electronic planners ideal for people who do not want to carry around conventional planners, that can sometimes be quite bulky.

Remember the heyday of Filofax in the 1980s, when brandishing a planner with a crocodile cover meant something? Well, if you believe that you are what you carry, that may be still another reason to join the growing group of tech-savvy devotees of personal digital assistants (PDAs).

These palm-sized electronic devices operate much like personal computers. PDAs function as organizers, keeping phone numbers, addresses and appointments. These "assistants" also often include word processing and spreadsheet capabilities.

Most models come with a stylus pen that allows the user to hand write entries into the organizer. Their other attraction is that they interface with computers, allowing you to upload and download information from your more powerful home machine. Some even are Web-capable; simply hook the PDA up to a mobile phone or use a dedicated wireless communication modem.

If you think these gadgets are too chunky to carry around, think again. Cellivic-I, a PDA from local venture firm JTEL, is the lightest on the market, weighing a mere 86 grams.

If you want to eliminate some of the excess electronics gadgets that are weighing you down, Samsung Electronics has just released a PDA cell phone. Anycall PDA Phone functions as a mobile phone and a PDA, featuring a wide touch-screen and a stylus pen for data entry. Convergence is the key word in digital technology, so for those who want to "simplify" how they stay organized, this PDA phone may be the answer.

by Kim Hoo-ran

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