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idioms: get your ducks in a row

To get your ducks in a row means to organize your tasks and schedule so that you are ready for the next step.

There are a number of theories behind the origin of this expression. Real ducklings, of course, walk in a line behind their parent, and the expression ducks in a row certainly brings that image to mind.

Other theories involve the precise set-up of duckpins (which are a type of bowling pin) or the mechanical ducks you can shoot at in a carnival firing range. Some sources suggest the phrase comes from the game of pool, when a number of balls, called sitting ducks, line up neatly near pockets and can be tapped in one after another.

Get your ducks in a row has become a cliché, and some people object to its use. You should avoid it when you write. Instead, simply say "get organized" or "prepare yourself."