Getting Organized - Getting Fit


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In a speech entitled “Organized Living in a Disorganized World” I made the statement “Getting organized is much like exercise and healthy eating. It is something you incorporate into your daily living. ” Immediately one attendee sighed loudly and blurted out, “I’m doomed!” Many people feel the same way, but based on my own experience with incorporating exercise into my daily life style, I can offer new hope.

I have never enjoyed any kind of physical activity. In fact, it has always been a great source of embarrassment and frustration. I was born with crippled feet and as a child had to wear special (translation: ugly!) shoes. I did not run and play with other children, and when I graduated from college with honors, I had to go back to summer school to complete my physical education requirements about which I had procrastinated for four years because I kept praying I could escape the torture!

In 1994, I heard Dr. Stephen Covey make the statement, “Name one thing that if you did it consistently, it would improve the quality of your life. ” My response without hesitation (along with hundreds of other attendees!) was “Exercise!” At that moment it became clear to me that until I solved the problem of how to incorporate exercise into my life, I would never have the respect for myself that I needed to accomplish my life’s goals. With my 50th birthday just around the corner, and based on my family heritage, the anticipation of living another 50 years, I had to find a solution.

So I turned to what I know - getting organized. In my experience, there are five essential elements to successful organization: (1) a clear vision, (2) a positive attitude, (3) the right tools, (4) adequate time, and (5) regular maintenance. I became determined to apply these elements to the exercise habit.

My vision was to continually improve my physical condition - as opposed to comparing myself with someone else’s ability. Even the most disorganized person can become better organized if they apply our organizing process, and I was confident that I could apply the same process to exercise!

Up to this point, having the right tool was illusive. I tried a variety of equipment - some of it very expensive, and none of it consistently successful. A big factor for me was finding something I could do in the privacy of my home - the thought of paying to go to a health club was outrageous - I wouldn’t exercise in public if someone paid me! Another factor was my extensive travel schedule, which brought up the issue of portability and safety. Then I heard about a program developed by former professional football player Dave Hubbard ( ) – one I could do in my own bedroom – or hotel room.

As for finding the time, I was intrigued - and relieved- to hear Dave say that I could stay in shape in 10 minutes a day. So much for the excuse of not having enough time to exercise! I committed from that moment forward that I would spend 10 minutes six days a week to exercise. Dave commented that a major part of success was being committed to the 10 minutes – making it a habit, so in the beginning, sometimes all I did was watch the video for 10 minutes! One by one I added the exercises.

And finally, there was the issue of maintenance. With all the other factors in place, there was no excuse for not maintaining the program. It took me nearly a year to overcome my own resistance, but after five years, exercising is now a natural part of my routine. I vary the kind of exercise I do, and actually work out in a public facility weekly with a physical trainer now- and I have never felt better.

If improving or maintaining your physical body is an issue for you, consider how organizing for exercising can make a difference - whether you ride a bicycle, pull on ropes, walk on trails, or lift weights with a trainer.

And, by the way, the seminar participant I mentioned at the beginning - she not only organized her office, but she has learned how to keep it that way! And, she tells me she has lost 30 pounds!

© Barbara Hemphill is the author of Kiplinger's Taming the Paper Tiger at Work and Taming the Paper Tiger at Home and co-author of Love It or Lose It: Living Clutter-Free Forever. The mission of Hemphill Productivity Institute is to help individuals and organizations create and sustain a productive environment so they can accomplish their work and enjoy their lives. We do this by organizing space, information, and time. We can be reached at 800-427-0237 or at


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