Good Working Habit No 1: Clear Your Desk of All Papers Except Those Relating to the Immediate Problem at Hand.
If you visit the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., you will find five words painted on the ceiling – five words written by the poet Pope:
‘Order is Heaven’s first law.’
Order ought to be the first law of business, too. But is it?
No, the average desk is cluttered up with papers that haven’t been looked at for weeks. In fact, the publisher of a New Orleans newspaper once told me that his secretary cleared up one of his desks and found a typewriter that had been missing for two years!
The mere sight of a desk littered with unanswered mail and reports and memos is enough to breed confusion, tension, and worries. It is much worse than that. The constant reminder of ‘a million things to do and no time to do them’ can worry you not only into tension and fatigue, but it can also worry you into high blood pressure, heart trouble, and stomach ulcers.
So apply the golden rule : Clear Your Desk of All Papers Except Those Relating to the Immediate Problem at Hand.
Good Working Habit No 2: Do Things in the Order of Their Importance
Charles Luckman, th lad who started from scratch and climbed in twelve years to president of the Pepsodent Company, got a salary of a hundred thousand dollar a year, and made million dollars beside – that lad declared that he owed much of his success to developing the two abilities that Henry L. Doherty said he found almost impossible to find. Charles Luckman said : ‘As far back as I can remember, I have gotten up at five o’clock in the morning because I can think better than any other time – I can think better then and plan my day, plan to do things in the order of their importance.’
Good Working Habit No 3 : When You Face a Problem, Solve It Then and There if You Have the Facts Necessary to make a Decision. Don’t Keep Putting off Decisions.
One of my former students, the late H.P. Howell, told me that when he was a member of the board of directors of U.S. Steel, the meetings of the board were often long-drawn-out affairs – many problems were discussed, few decisions were made. The result: each member of the board had to carry home bundles of reports to study.
Finally, Mr Howell persuaded the board of directors to take up one problem at a time and come to a decision. No procastination – no putting off. The decision might be to ask for additional facts; it might be to do something or do nothing. But a decision was reached on each problem before passing on to the next. Mr Howell told me that the results were striking and salutary: the docket was cleared. The calendar was clean. No longer was it necessary for each member to carry home a bundle of reports. No longer was there a worried sense of unresolved problems.
A good rule, not only for the board of directors of U.S. Steel, but for you and me.
Good Working Habit No. 4 : Learn to Organize, Deputize, and Supervise
Many business persons are driving themselves to premature graves because they have never learned to delegate responsibility to others, insisting on doing everything themselves. Result: details and confusion overwhelm them. They are driven by a sense of hurry, worry, anxiety, and tension. It was hard for me. awfully hard. I also know from experience the disasters that can be caused by delegating authority to the wrong people. But difficult as it is to delegate authority, executives must do it if they are to avoid worry, tension, and fatigue.
Executives who build up big businesses and don’t learn to organize, deputize, and supervise, usually pop off with heart trouble in their fifties or early sixties – heart trouble caused by tension and worries. Want a specific instance? Look at the death notices in you local newspaper.
Originally Published in ” How to Stop Worrying and Start Living” by Dale Carnegie