Sorting out the preparations required before you begin.

Ensuring it goes as smoothly as possible.

Desk top overChaos management is essential to turn a chaotic or disorganised situation into a highly efficient organised structure that is easy to use or understand. This is applicable to any situation whether in the real world (e.g. moving things around), or making plans (e.g. organising an event) or just figuring out your own ideas (e.g. a story outline). 

This page looks at preparing yourself for the task. For other options please return to: Chaos main menu

Preparing to do the work

Once the planning has taken place (Planning) it is time to prepare yourself for doing the work outlined in your plans

Thoughts to be considered for this stage:

  • It is unlikely that you would have thought of everything in the earlier stages so be aware that you may need to stop and spend some time rethinking your plans
  • Do not be afraid to completely change an idea. Sometimes when you come to prepare for the changes you may find that what looked good on paper does not make sense.
  • Allow some ‘rethinking’ time into your schedule, as well as some time for those all important refreshment breaks (these are frequently combined)
  • Allow for interruptions, or at least work out a way of minimising them
  • In this busy world with tight time scales, it is still better to give extra time to big changes rather than trying to cut corners, otherwise you may find yourself wasting twice as much time when you realise that you have only made matters worse.

Key point: Remember that this is a once-only activity so it is worth giving it that extra time 

1) Sort out a date and time for the task and determine roughly how long it will take

Sorting out a time and date for your task may be as easy as planning to sit at your desk later that day, to having to hire a hall for a specific evening in the future. Things that you will need to consider for this stage include.

  • Is there a Deadline that the task must be completed by? If there is then you will need to create a Schedule, which is basically a more complicated plan
  • Do you have limited access to items? If you do then you will need to identify each such item and when they will be available
  • Do you required support from others? If so then in what parts of your plan will that requirement occur and who will they be.

This may require quite of bit of effort to get it sorted out and compromises may be required.

Key point: The more complicated the project, the more planning will be required. 

2) Prepare a working space and/or a working storage area

This may be as simple as ensuring your desk top is clear, to hiring a company to store your items for a while, or to back up your computer system safely. Things that you will need to consider will be:

  • Is the area where you want to work already occupied? If it is then you may need to have some ’in-between’ space where you can store items. This is especially true is you need to clear out an area before you can redesign it or refill it. In practical terms this ‘In-between’ storage areas can include boxes, floor spaces, window sills or warehouses.
  • If the changes are PC based, then you will need to prepare a ‘back up’ of the PC by archiving the existing set-up (directory structures, documents, …) or create copies of the items you are modifying (spreadsheets, web page layout, …). Remember to ‘write protect’ you archived files

PC backups tips – when the changes affect a file on the PC then do regular backups as you go along without overwriting them, this will give you a history of the changes and will enable you to return to any version if you do find problems (I usually label the backups as filename bu1, filename bu2, and so on)

Key point: Ensure that the space is available to be able to do your planning before you start. 

3) Identify the individual tasks that your changes will require for completion

Now that the time for the changes is before you, take a good look at what it is you are about to change and identify the separate tasks that need to be performed in order to complete the change. You may have already prepared some notes on the order of the tasks to be performed, but it is worth checking through them and confirming that everything has been identified now that you can see what they are being applied to.

Key point: You should know everything that you need to plan for (or as much as you can). 

4) Identify any dependencies

You will need to identify any dependencies between your different tasks. There are two types of dependencies,

  1. Is there a sequence to the changes? Is there a direct set of events that must be followed before the task is completed (a then b then c…).
  2. Are there any interdependencies between different tasks? Is there a task that must be completed before the current task can be started, but does not necessarily need to follow it.

The difference between these two types is that in the first case, nothing will be completed until all stages are performed, and in the latter case there is no direct time constraint or relationship other than task A should be completed before task B, it can be a task in a completely different place.

Example: Room B needs a ladder before it can start, but Room A currently has the ladder so it must wait for Room A to finish (Type 2 condition for Room B). However the sequence of events (task 1 then task 2 then task 3) required for Room B is not affected by the requirement for Room A (Type 1 condition for Room A, but not Type 2)

Key point: The sequence (order) and dependencies (who needs what) should now have been identified. 

5) Completely clear the target area and give it a ‘clean up’

Starting with your targeted area, completely remove everything into your temporary storage space (or as much as you can). It may be tempting to just remove some items and then shuffle bits around, but it is better to totally clear the space so you can start afresh. It may also be worth spending a little bit of time to give the area a good clean/tidy up after you have cleared it out before the changes are implemented and before it becomes ‘out of reach’ again.

One of the benefits that come from performing a complete clear out is if you decide that your new set up will not really work out the way you thought it should, you then have a clear space to determine a better arrangement.

Key point: The space is available for you to get started with it. 

6) And Finally:    

Make sure you have the tea, coffee and biscuits available 


Good Preparation will mean that you understand what you require for the task and when you need what and when. Resources should have been identified and people warned of what is to come and whether you are going to require their help at some point

Now you have reached the stage of ‘making it happen’: Implementation.

 Jenny M L ~  Inspiring the Imagination ~ Contact Me


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