The Blackberry Approach to Love
Good organization skills can help you get ahead in the workplace. But can those same skills boost your dating life, leading you to find “The One?”
Take this awkward but handy analogy. First there’s the sales guy. He has indexed and categorized every person he’s ever met in his shiny new iPhone and cross-checked for sales goals and compatibility issues in his handy Franklin planner.
Compare him with the guy who wanders in off the street with only a vague idea what he’s looking to accomplish, the back seat of his car littered with the business cards of a random smattering of people he’s met in the last two years.
Who is likely to be more successful?
Most of us believe that organizing helps when it comes to accomplishing our work goals, but when it comes to romance, lots of us are far more inclined to go with the flow.
Can organizing your personal life really help you be more efficient when it comes to finding love?
Liz Keim, a consultant for the American Society for Quality, teaches a seminar called Zero-Defect Dating. She says, “There’s something called the 80/20 principle that applies whether you’re analyzing company sales or your approach to finding a good relationship.
“You’ll find that it’s usually 20 per cent of your efforts that produces 80 per cent of the total result. This means 80 per cent of what you do may not count for much. The benefit to using a systematic approach to dating is that it helps you prioritize, eliminate time-wasting, and identify that 20 per cent that you should be spending time on.
“For example, if you never meet quality people by going to a bar, stop going to bars. If you like to run, start signing up for fun runs where you are more likely to meet someone with the same interests.”
BJ Gallager, sociologist and author of Yes Lives in the Land of No says, “If you are serious about finding a great mate, you need to approach your search the same way you would approach any other major project. Plan, prepare, organize, measure your progress, reevaluate and adjust your strategy if you need to.”
Gallager offers these tips for organizing your love life:
Setting goals: Make a list of the characteristics you’re looking for in a mate. Rank-order them, from “must have” to “would be nice” to “deal-breaker.”
Action plan: Make it a point to flirt at least once a day. Present yourself at a social gathering at least once a week (go alone, dress sexy, and send out signals that you’re available). Sign up for an online dating service. Let your friends know that you’re interested in meeting potential dates. Go out on dates with anyone who asks you (unless he’s wearing an orange jumpsuit with a number.) It’s practice. Just like you should practice with job interviews when you’re looking for a new job, you want to do the same with dating. You need practice. Then when someone really interesting comes along, your dating skills will be good and you won’t make dumb mistakes.
Organize: Make a folder for each person you date. Make notes on what you like and don’t like about that person. Keep track of details like former marriages, number of kids, occupation, interests, etc.
Measure your progress: How many dates have you gone out on this month? Are you keeping your options open and dating several people? If you’re dating one person, is the relationship progressing in the direction you like? If not, set a deadline by which time you want to move to the next level. Be prepared to walk away if the person you’re dating is commitment-phobic. Don’t waste your precious time on a dead-end relationship.
Adjust your strategy: If your dating strategy isn’t working, try something new. Go to new places. Change the way your dress. Join a gym. Get a makeover. Get new photos taken. Rewrite your on-line profile. Ask others for help in adjusting your strategy.
Take a dating vacation. Everyone needs a vacation from work every so often — taking a break from dating is no different.
According to Dr. Pamela Dodd, organizational psychologist and co-author of The 25 Best Time Management Tools & Techniques (http://www.best-of-time-management.com) there are a number of tools that can help you organize your search: Planners can help you “schedule your dating tasks (and dates, of course,) and then fill in the other less important things in your life. Choosing what you’re NOT going to do is equally important.” Dodd advises. “Consider dating a secondary ‘job’ until you find what you want.”
Other helpful tools? Card scanners can help you keep track of your contact information by importing it right into your phone or mail program, and the Neat Receipts Scanaziler ($159, http://www.neatreceipts.com) even has a cool feature that allows you to scan in a photo to complete your dating dossier.
And Franklin Covey (http://www.franklincovey.com) has a new line of planners called Her P.O.V., specifically for women — not only to help you set goals and get organized, but to keep you inspired as well. (And who hasn’t needed a little inspiration after a particularly disastrous date?)
The benefit to organizing your personal life like your work life, according to Dodd, is that “you get the highest return on your invested time and there’s a higher probability of accomplishing what you’re after.” The drawback, of course, is that you suck all of the fun out of dating, and “don’t leave any space for serendipity.”
Lisa Steadman, author of It’s a Breakup Not a Breakdown says, “If you want to organize your dating life and would find that useful, go for it. You could go so far as to create a spreadsheet of the potential candidates you meet in person and online, keeping track of important information about each candidate like future goals, family plans, shared values as they are revealed.”
Gallager says, “Remember, what you get out of dating depends largely on what you’re willing to put into it — just like anything else in life. So if you’re not willing to invest time, energy, attention, and money in finding a partner, then don’t complain that you’re not getting any results.”
Gallager adds, “If you’re not serious about finding a mate — if you’re dating just for fun and games — then you don’t need to organize at all. A casual approach to dating is just fine. ‘Catch as catch can’ is your dating mode.”
According to Steadman, “Regardless of how you organize your dating life, it’s important to always keep your eye on the prize — relationship happiness. Don’t settle for less than you want or deserve, and don’t throw in the towel when things don’t go your way. Take a break and then get back in the game.”