Systems for ‘Slobs’

Eighteen years ago I had an epiphany. I read a particular book one night, that—although it didn’t give me all the solutions for how to organize my business—told me a true story about a hotel that had the most amazing service I had ever heard about.

I was, admittedly, a bit of a SLOB back then—my desk and office consistently looked like the aftermath of a tornado, and I had no clue how to keep it clean.

You see, I’m by nature THAT guy—the one who leaves a trail of tools all over the house and yard, if working on a home project; the guy who always has Starbuck’s coffee cups and a whole lot of other unnecessary “stuff” piling up in the back of my SUV. Today, I noticed there was a garden rake in my back seat that had been there for over a week.

You see my car is my last holdout for organizing—by systemizing—my life. Guess it helps to remind me I’m still all too human, in case anyone might suspect otherwise.

The reason I had to change my sloppy ways is that it was HURTING my business. I couldn’t ask my employees to keep their work areas clean and neat, when I had papers piled up all around my desk. In fact, by desk was SO piled at times, I had no clear area to work.

I was a slob, and an example to others that they could be “slobs,” too, even as I spent a good deal of time telling them to “pick up things,” or being frustrated when tools—or worse, job orders—were lost in those piles.

I remember asking one particular employee how they kept their desk clean and, after hearing the answer, I said, “That will never work for me.” You see, I had recognized the ORDER in that employee’s work area, but couldn’t see past my own bad habits to learn better ones. I would just come in on a Saturday and spend the whole day cleaning my office, grumbling that I had to waste a day off. Unfortunately, by Tuesday of the next week, it was right back to Chaosville!

Philip Beyer, founder/president of Beyer Printing and Ebiz Products LLC in Nashville, TN, is a chronic entrepreneur, business systems analyst and consultant, author of "System Busters: How to Stop Them in Your Business," and an InterTech Award recipient for the design and development of System100™ business process management software. Philip speaks to business owners across the country on how to bring lean, sustainable order to their businesses.
Related Content
  • Dan Halmar

    I have to own up to being "that guy" as well…but am seeing slow incremental progress and am hopeful that great results can be achieved over time as well. Thanks for cheering us on, Philip!