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The Art of Organization

By Kathryn Major
Kansas City, Missouri, USA
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 35 No. 1, Feb-Mar 1999, pp. 19-20

Yes, I confess: I'm an organized Leader. I'm tired of hiding in the closet. After attending a a "Welcome to Leadership" session at a Missouri Area Conference, I know I'm not alone.

After years of working in the business world, I have strong feelings about keeping materials convenient and accessible. I use a small two-drawer file cabinet for my LLL materials. In it I keep everything I need for mailing to mothers, planning meetings and helping by phone. All my LLL materials fit in just one drawer which leaves another drawer to organize other things.

Even if you're not "inspired" by the sight of file folders in two dozen different colors, you might have a desire to get your LLL materials a little more organized than they are. The following are some of my solutions.

Project Folders: I keep a separate folder for each project each year. For example, I have folders labeled "1998 World Walk for Breastfeeding" and "1999 Area Conference." Yearly folders help me locate information more quickly and no one folder gets too big.

Form Folders: I keep a folder for the original and the extra copies of forms, for example, meeting report forms, annual Area financial report and reimbursement forms.

Correspondence Folder: One folder holds correspondence, primarily information from LLLI.

I used to keep a notebook with different sections for current projects. This worked well when I was a Group member and a Leader Applicant. Back then, I had fewer papers to keep track of. Then I graduated to separate folders for monthly meeting reports, sign-in sheets and meeting outlines. I dutifully filed each sheet after each meeting. When the District Advisor's response arrived, I separated the letter from the helpful articles and tried to file them separately, often ending up with pieces I didn't know where to file.

A while ago, however, we made some changes in our Group and I ended up with the Group records. Faced with a large box of assorted papers, I quickly realized my method needed help. I enjoyed looking back at the old records; I wanted to read about Leader concerns and what the District Advisor (DA) replied back then. But I couldn't follow the progression because everything was filed separately.

As I had time - usually in the morning before my daughter woke up for school - I put each pile in date order. Then I took an extra-large binder from my supplies, grabbed the three-hole punch and went to work. I reassembled the materials from each meeting, putting the meeting outline or notes first, then the sign-in sheet, next the monthly meeting report, then the financial report and finally the DA response.

When I got through the old Group records, I was ready to reorganize my current papers the same way! I ended up with a great picture of where the Group has been over the years, what we've talked about and how we've handled problems. Best of all, a Leader Applicant can now see what the Group has done, providing her with background and a sense of tradition.

This system helps me find ideas to use during meeting introductions, too. I highlight the items that appeal to me when I first read the materials sent by the DA, then I review the highlighting when I start to plan the Series Meeting.

I also include letters from the Area Council and other correspondence in the notebook. It gives a complete picture of Group activities - almost like an LLL scrapbook.

If you use a system like this, remember that this binder should not travel to meetings because it may include confidential, sensitive information. You wouldn't want to forget and leave it at the meeting site. I keep mine at home in a place where I can access it easily and add to it after each meeting.

I bind my personal copies of the Area Leaders' Letter, NEW BEGINNINGS and LEAVEN with a plastic comb or coil available at office supply stores. I'm lucky to have the machine that punches and binds at home because of my home business but some office supply stores make them available for use if you buy the combs. I bind a year's worth of publications at a time. They stay together for storage, lay flat for reading or photocopying and don't get mixed in with the Group's copies.

To keep track of articles I want to refer to later, I use self-stick note paper flags. I make a quick note on the flag about the topic, for example "smoking" or "nipple confusion," and stick it to the top of the page so I can find it quickly. I also use these flags in all my reference books. They are available in different colors to help categorize by topic.

I keep another notebook or binder with top-loading clear plastic pockets in it for LLL brochures and tear-off sheets. I keep one copy of each in the notebook and replace them when I send one to a mother. The pockets keep the publications clean and new looking.

For me, the best thing about organization is the opportunity to browse the shelves of the office supply store. Before you jump into reorganizing your LLL materials, consider the variety of organizational tools available. You may even be able to make your own imitations of some of the items available, helping you to save money. Just remember, when it comes to LLL paperwork, a little organization pays off big dividends.

Organizing by Categories: A list of Suggested File Topics

A Adopted baby Advantages of breastfeeding Allergies Area Conference Area Conference sessions Area Council Area Leaders' Letter Area Library Artwork

B Bibliography, LLLI No.460 Blind mothers Breast infection Breastfeeding aids Business cards

C Cards Catalogues and order forms Cesarean birth Chapter Meetings Childbirth Copying

D DA correspondence Dental caries Deaf mothers Directions to meeting places Directories

E Enrichment Meetings Envelopes Expression/storage of human milk

F Fathers Fundraising Fussy/refuse breast

G Group business Group newsletter Group scrapbook

H Health care providers Human Relations Enrichment (HRE)

I Illness - baby Illness - mother

J Jaundice Jury duty

L Lactation consultants Leader Applicants Leader workshops Leader records LEAVEN articles Legal information LLLI correspondence

M Media Medical questions Meeting ideas Membership Multiples

N Nighttime nursing Nutrition

O Organizing Outreach

P Positioning at the breast Pregnancy Preparing for breastfeeding Prematurity Products Publicity

R Relactation Research about human milk and breastfeeding

S Sexuality and breastfeeding Solids Sore nipples or breasts Stationery Stickers Supply depot

T Tandem/pregnant Telephone helping Toddlers Translations

W Weaning Weight gain World Walk for Breastfeeding

This list was compiled by Jeanne Badman, a Leader in St. Paul, Minnesota, USA. It appeared in LLL of Minnesota and the Dakotas' Northern LLLights, Summer 1998.

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