Anyone who's sold 50 million books doesn't need me to share his message. But 102 years after Dale Carnegie's first how-to-succeed course was offered, I recently was charmed by a nine-page booklet from the Dale Carnegie Training company. How often do we fail to apply these four good working habits, shared by Carnegie in How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
• Clear your desk of all papers except those relating to the immediate problem at hand.
• Do things in the order of their importance.
• When you face a problem, solve it then and there if you have the facts necessary to make a decision.
• Learn to organize, deputize and supervise.
Whoa, Nellie. Tiny phrases. Huge orders. It's simply not always possible to follow that advice. This is the real world, with hundreds of emails, phone calls, and customer, boss and co-worker demands derailing our best intentions.
But it doesn't hurt to be reminded that there are tactics and tools that can help bring order to workday chaos. Here's another best-practice idea from Carnegie:
When confronted with worry, ask yourself:
• What is the problem?
• What are the causes of the problem?
• What are the possible solutions?
• What is the best possible solution?
Again, not always possible. Not always effective. But why not try? Some effort put into self-organization or analysis may help cut through the clutter.
Carnegie, a native Missourian educated at what was Warrensburg State Teachers College, made a name for himself with his blockbuster How to Win Friends and Influence People. In our increasingly dominant service economy, that advice is still all-important. We need to get along to get ahead.
But, sometimes, we have to get our own house/workspace in order, too.