According to thefreedictionary.com, the idiom ‘get ducks in a row’ means “to get one’s affairs in order or organized.”
When I was a kid and I heard that phrase often and it was usually used when people were preparing for a confrontation, as in – “before you go talk to [so and so] – you better have all of your ducks in a row”.
In other words, thinking through all of the possible scenarios or problems associated with that confrontation, and being prepared for whatever situation you may have to deal with.
Recently I’ve been getting my ‘ducks in a row’, not because of a possible confrontation… (although there is always that possibility), but because life just happened to throw a lot of things my direction all at once and I needed to regroup and get organized.
One of the things that I love about email (and voice mail) is that when you need a chance to ‘get your ducks in a row’, you usually get a warning. For instance, someone sends you an email (or voice mail) asking you a question or requesting a service, and you have a little window of opportunity to do the research, chase down an answer, or just get a head start on the project.
These days I have so many ‘ducks to get in a row’ that I have to write them all down in order to keep track of them.
I find myself compartmentalizing my life, every activity seems to fit into a day-to-day time slot, and if I don’t get that activity done within that time slot… then it probably doesn’t get done that day. If I don’t get up early enough, I don’t get a chance to exercise. And, if I don’t get done working until 9pm, then I don’t get a chance to read and wind down (that means I have trouble sleeping).
Let’s get back to those ducks… there are financial ducks, project ducks, marketing and advertising ducks… even health and exercise ducks. Over and over, there are things that we, as well rounded, well adjusted human beings, need to do to ‘get all of our ducks in a row’.
The key to ‘getting those ducks in a row’ is systems & consistency:
1. Start with a detailed and achievable plan. Make a list of things to be done on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.
2. Create a weekly schedule, a time slot for all of those daily, weekly and monthly, ‘must dos’.
3. Set up a calendar, or desk planner, to keep track of those must do’s, your work activities, appointments, personal commitments and financial obligations.
4. Organize your desk. Start with a clean slate, make sure that the things you use frequently (stapler, tape, calculater,etc.) are within reach. File completed items and keep loose papers in a desk box.
5. Be stubborn when it comes to consistency, but flexible on the details. Adapt to unforeseen circumstances, responsive to prospects and clients needs.
6. Be sure to take time for yourself.