Create 4 basic folders (Labels) in your email.
- Action (To act on fast - set task appointment and reminders)
- Deferred (Things that can wait)
- Read Review (Items of interest that are not important to act on)
- References (Information you can't just Google when you need it)
Delete the garbage (Archive/Delete as needed)
- select 'All mail' and use the search feature to find oldest emails
- grab all the old emails and archive or delete
- use search filters for past Newsletters no longer wanted and delete those too
- unsubscribe to unwanted news-feeds and letters as you go
Create tasks for actionable emails
- for date specific items, create a task in your gmail calendar with reminders
- place a star on email needing action
- file actionable email under the 'Action', 'Deferred' or 'Read Review' labels
- consider using Evernote for task lists (Free to use and it can sync anywhere)
- take time to set up good task lists
- learn the 'GTD - Getting Things Done' method of productivity for the most effective task list management
File away your resource emails
- these can all get lumped into the 'References' label
- search old email and file as needed
- only keep what you can't find easily on Google whenever you want
- if you have newsletters or email that need to be read but not urgently, place them under the 'Read Review' label
Create filters & practice quick communication
- create filters as needed for future news and resources
- review old labels and consider new filters for Read Review and Deferred tasks too
- keep your email engagement down to 2 minutes each as much as possible
- if you can answer or file away an email in less than 2 minutes, do it immediately
Why 'To-Do' lists are more effective than 'Visual Reminders'
Visual reminders can be helpful, yet when they get used for too many things they become clutter.
This clutter makes us feel overwhelmed, breaks our focus and can make us lose sight of our top priorities.
We tend to think 'Out of Sight, Out of Mind', yet let's consider the role of the 'To-Do' list to help us to remember what our priorities are instead.
Writing down our tasks and then putting away the file or project to where it belongs means we will remember to do it.
And with projects out of the way we can then focus more clearly on tasks individually, thus being even more effective.
My gift of Tiger Tables and the Time Matrix tools that I share with my newsletter readers is great for keeping priorities clear. They should be used in conjunction with your day-planner.
If you don't have a copy, please sign up on my home page now and get your free gifts today.
And remember to make sure that if a task is truly important, if it has a deadline, and if it will take more than 20 minutes, that you put it in your calendar. 'Getting the Stones Down' as they say.
If you having trouble, are overwhelmed and need help to get started in the right direction, contact me anytime.
1. Set time to work and avoid distractions. If you work from home set office hours and talk to any family about respecting this time. Allowing oneself to get distracted by household chores or passing conversations can really take a bite at productivity.
2. Prioritize your tasks and make a 'To Do" list everyday. Break your tasks down based on their Value and Deadline so you can easier gage what your top priorities are. As well as having this To-Do list, take time to schedule your tasks into the calendar or planner. Getting real about time and when you will do it makes it more likely that you will get it done on time.
3. Plan your week on Sunday. When making your plan for the week, try to group 'like' tasks together. If you have errands and tasks that can be grouped together you can save a lot of time. Take up to a 1/2 hour on Sunday to review on paper what your obligations are for the week ahead, this is one of the best organizing strategies.
4. Create filing systems (Paper and Electronic) that suit your needs. Everyone is a little different in they way the process information. When it comes to file systems, although for the most part they can be similar, there are lots of variations in setting them up. There are even choices to be made when it comes to what you keep as 'paper' and what you keep 'electronically.' Regardless of the system you use, it must be easy to maintain and allow you to find what you need quickly.
5. Dedicate space for your business. If you have an actual office, a converted closet, a spare bedroom or an office nook in the kitchen, the space needs to be dedicated to business. A place where you can work on your tasks and have what you need close at hand, avoiding distractions.
6. Become a student of Organization. If you don't already have a file or a 'favorites' folder on organizing, maybe now is a good time to start one. Read articles and books on time management and organization. Attend seminars, telecasts and try to get your hands on as much good material on this subject as you can. To ingrain the material into your subconscious you should go over the materials 6-8 times.
Too busy or overwhelmed to get started?
Live in Lanark County or Ottawa area?
Call me and we can work together hands on getting you going in the right direction. 613-452-2233
There is no time like the present to get started...
Have you ever heard the expression “You can do anything you want, yet you can’t do everything you want.”
It’s important to get clear about what is truly important and what must get done, while accepting that we cannot control everything or get everything done perfectly, all of the time.
Just do your best, keep taking the small step towards your goal, and reward yourself along the way!
What kinds of prioritizing have you had to do to make sure the important stuff was done?
And what rewards have you been giving or plan to give yourself for your successes?
Please share with us here so we can help inspire each other to do more of what is important to us, less of what is trivial, and enjoy more peace of mind knowing we are making better choices everyday!
'The ability to make quick objective decisions'
To Decide or Not to Decide.
Learning to ‘make decisions’ on everything, as soon as it crosses your path, and dedicating time and energy to follow through on your choices, are two important aspects to staying organized.
Not being able to make decisions, and putting things ‘here for now’ is a challenge that plaques many, for various reasons. These reasons, or shall I say ‘Obstacles’ are mainly due to what I will call ‘technical error’.
So to help you and those you know make better choices about what to keep and what to do with it, here are some tools to share.
To help you make quick decisions I have a free copy of the '4 Decisions to Make with Tasks and Mail' for you on my site.
Then if you want to take a look at thinning out or eliminating any piles of business cards, magazines, brochures and over stuffed files you can find great 'Tips to Weed your Tasks and Paper' here.
And if letting go is hard, stay objective by asking yourself these questions about your stuff:
When it comes to Paper:
Is it a duplicate?
Is it current?
How often will I refer to it?
Can I get it elsewhere if I need it?
Do I have time to read it?
Do I want, or truly need this?
Is replication very difficult?
Does the law require I keep it?
When it comes to Clutter ask:
When was it last used?
Is there a specific date I will need this again in future?
How hard would it be to replace again if I needed it?
How does it make my life more purposeful or better?
Is it beautiful or loved?
Does it reflect the person I am now?
What is worst case scenario if I toss it?
Now, if you still struggle a bit with the questions above and/or still need a little help to decide where to put things, take a closer look at the information in my 2010 article The-top-questions-to-ask-yourself-about-your-stuff
Or consider taking advantage of my new 'Decide to Declutter Program' today.
1. There are only 4 decisions to make with tasks and mail
Applying the 'One-Touch' rule can easily cut down on clutter as it's a fact that clutter is merely 'Postponed Decisions'.
Try this: Look at each task in front of you, one-by-one, and make a decision:
Delete It: If you don't need to do it, don't! As with all 'stuff', ask yourself if it has true value.
Delegate It: Be clear about deadlines and expectations. Use delegation tools and track actions.
Defer It: Create a 'Deferred List' and review often. If it has a deadline schedule it in.
Do It: If you can do it in less than 5 min's, do it now. Imagine the immediate satisfaction!
2. 20% of our 'To Do' lists hold 80% of the value, Prioritizing is key
I have seen some stressed out professionals scrambling on last minute deadlines, putting out fires and struggling with no clear priorities set. Spinning wheels on the 80% of tasks that contain little or no value can eat up one's energy pretty fast.
The simple act of prioritizing tasks on only two criteria, 'Value' and 'Deadline', can help end this vicious cycle. The concept of the 'Time Matrix' can help save the day and give you an 'at-a-glance' look at what the top priorities and deadlines are. Stay focused and get more 'valued' tasks done and be more effective just by using this tool.
3. Over 200 hours a year are lost by the average business owner
Disorganization in the workplace costs on average over $3600.00 per employee in lost wages per year as employees and business owners lose time looking for things.
Average losses are estimated at 1 hour per day. Times that by 5 days a week, for 48 working weeks, at a starting salary of $15/hour and you'll see for yourself how much disorganization can cost a business.
It can get worse when you consider a few other factors, starting with sick time and illness due to stress, lost customers that lose faith in the company, poor productivity from overlapping tasks, purchasing things you already own, forgotten invoicing and last minute 'overtime' created by poor planning. The costs here can be enormous depending on the nature of the business.
Some signs that a change may be due are:
· Desk cluttered with files and equipment.
· Procrastination. It's either the fear of failure or simple indecision.
· Being reactive instead of proactive.
or is it that you only work under pressure?
Research done by Dr. Pychyl, an associate professor of psychology at Carleton University, suggests that people who claim to work better under pressure are really just procrastinating and he calls them "Arousal Procrastinators". It seems that the majority of us consider ourselves to be procrastinators as well, a whopping 75% according to Dr Pychyl's studies. However, the good news is that 95% of procrastinators want to change and there is help.
I know even I have been known to procrastinate from time to time. So in an effort to help here are my Top 7 Tips to help you get more done and be more effective!
#1 - List your goals
Get yourself in a positive state of mind and start brainstorming. Choose the areas in your life that you need to consider and prioritize your goals. Consider goals that are really your own goals, and not goals that others may have for you.
#2 - Plan your actions
Write out your goals and the steps to get there. Make a "To Do" list for taking daily actions. Until a goal is in writing it is just an idea. Writing out goals is the most critical step to making them concrete, it is the reinforcement to make them reality.
#3 - Manage your time
Create a schedule for yourself as you would for any project. When life gets busy or you get distracted it can be easy to let things slide so having a written schedule will help keep you on track.
#4 - Track your goals and stay motivated
Use a journal to keep track of your goals journey. This is a great way to also keep track of great ideas you have or helpful tips and tools you come across and want to use later. You can leave voice messages for yourself to help motivate you or to help remind you of things that you need to do.
#5 - Get help when you need it
Be honest with yourself. If part of your goals requires doing something you are not good at, admit it and get assistance from others, even if that means enlisting the help of a coach or consultant.
#6 - Be grateful for what you have already
Although it is important in life to surround yourself with people that you can look up to and that can mentor you, remember, our personal experiences are unique. Don't compare yourself to others and put their heads above your own.
#7 - Review, reevaluate, rewrite
Keep your goals fresh, update them as needed and stay focused.
There is no time like the present! Start today to work on your goals and let your dreams take flight!
2. Give up on everything having to be perfect. Trying to live up to images in the 'Better Homes' magazine is not that realistic on a daily basis. Save that effort for more formal gatherings, and even then try to lighten up.
3. Plan your errands, like shopping around other appointments that take you away from home, saving you time and gas.
4. Keep your light reading that you've been meaning to catch up on in a courier pouch near the door and take it with you when you know you will be in a line somewhere.
5. Schedule time for you to relax as well as time with your family.
Finally, don't get caught up in the messages streaming in that you need to buy more, do more and want more than you already have. Instead...
Do things and buy things that you need, enjoy and add value to your life in the simple ways.
Collect in one ‘In-Box’ and clean it out daily. Open and decide on each message right away and preferably with the trash bin in site.
If you find yourself reading all your emails in a row and then afterwards re-reading the important ones and only then respond or perhaps sometimes letting hours or days pass before returning them or forgetting about them altogether try applying the “one-touch” rule.
For example, if an email comes in that requires no return mail and no follow up file it away in its appropriate folder or delete it immediately.
If something comes in that requires you to take action soon, yet not at the very moment, make a calendar or task appointment to remind you to take action when you know you will have time, and then immediately following this file away the email into it’s appropriate folder.
It is important to note that spending time to set up good folder systems within your email, just like with paper files, to find the information again later when you need it will become imperative.
For emails that regularly come in yet you know in advance that they will not require your immediate attention and can be put off until you require the information, such as newsletters or the odd report, set your email with a “Rule” to file away the email into the appropriate folder automatically.
You can then look at these when you have time or even set a reoccurring calendar appointment to remind you to check it when you know you will have time to do so.
If you do get an email and the sender is in need of a response sooner than you know you will be able to give an appropriate one, try not to leave them stranded, wondering if their email was overlooked or forgotten. I brief response to them advising them as to when they can expect a proper answer will let them know their request has been noticed and you are prioritizing effectively. They will generally be more apt to wait patiently until they hear from you again.
As things are easier said then done, be sure that you set an appropriate reminder for yourself to get back to people when you said you would. Give yourself a bit of a buffer if you feel you need it too, because as they say “It is better to under promise and over deliver than to over promise and under deliver”.
And the trick to keeping your inbox empty… set yourself up with simple but relevant ‘folders’ in your email program. Once you review and process an email, file it away, out of the inbox.
You can create folders for ‘Action Items’ that await completion too. These can be set up in addition to your main folders. If something requires no action, file it away to its proper folder and if it’s not important enough to read or act on and no one is expecting a reply, get comfy with ‘deleting it’. You can always open the trash bin to fish something out should you be called to act on it later for some reason.
Remember the 4 D’s;
If you don’t need to do it, don’t.
As with possessions, ask yourself if it is of value.
Be clear about deadlines and expectations.
Make “In Waiting” list to track pending actions by others.
If there is a deadline schedule tasks into your planner.
Try to schedule like tasks together.
Anything that can be done in a few minutes, do now.
With small stuff out of the way you’ll get immediate satisfaction.
And if you get stuck and just can’t bring yourself to the task of cleaning out thousands of old messages and setting up a system for yourself that works, call a professional organizer to help. Many people find the process overwhelming and our passion is to help you get through it while teaching you some tips and tricks to make it easier to maintain in future.
To keep a system working well for you there is one key ingredient:
Keeping up your system just requires a few practical and simple ongoing behaviors. You must be consistent in your application and use, your information and projects need to be current and up to date, and you need to keep tasks in view by the appropriate context of when and where they need to be done.
Review these tips and your current ‘task and time management system’ to see if there is anything falling through the cracks that may call for an adjustment or two.
Keep your task reminders in one consistent place.
It might be on pieces of paper, sticky notes stuck to your screen, or in your PDA. It doesn't matter where, it’s more important that it’s easy to use and you have access to it at all time you need it.
You may keep certain types of reminders on paper and certain others on your computer for example, and that’s ok, yet be as consistent as possible in defining those parameters and stay in the lines of what you have decided.
It’s far to confusing to have reminders about the same kinds of to-do's in many different places. It makes processing of task items difficult as it hinders making fast choices and quickly putting things where they need to be before you are scheduled to act on them.
Consistency is not enough to keep a system running well. It also needs to be up to date.
Otherwise you won’t be able to trust that you have the most important stuff in front of you, and you may get caught up having to resort and re-evaluate everything you are managing.
This will put stress on your psyche as you look at your list and some part of you knows it's not all there. You’ll end up not trusting your system, trying to keep stuff in your head again, and eventually lose the motivation to maintain your system all together.
Keep the ‘Where & When’ in Context
Organize your action list by where the reminder needs to be seen in order to work on it, rather than by project.
Your projects should be kept together by topic, yet the reminders of the very next actions you need to perform need to be seen when and where those actions need to take place.
Keep your task reminders in such a way that you are likely to see them when you need to.
Enjoy my past related articles to help prioritize, get more productive and avoid distraction:
Paper, Paper, Paper!
It’s everywhere and I know that many are struggling to deal effectively with it.
Oh sure, paperless sounds like a great idea and is an option for a vast majority of information that comes in paper form. Yet, not everything can be effectively stored on your computers system, and even before you start on such a project you first have to have a basic understanding of what to keep, for how long and where. Oh yes, and back it up!
File retention, proper naming conventions and a clear logic filing system are imperative no matter if we’re talking about paper or digital files.
I mentioned electronic filing just now, yet we won’t go into that today. Anyone that needs help in that area in encouraged to go to my ‘products’ page for some ‘ready to go’ electronic filing systems (Home and Office are covered). Those systems include pre-made electronic folders, instructions and an index which I will email you after your purchase, when and if you’re ready to tackle your electronic files. And for paper files I have solutions too. See the Freedom Filer and Paper Tiger Systems links in Products and 'Paper Tiger' links above.
Just remember, the tools are here for you, yet you still must be prepared to set aside the time to do the work to effectively ‘tidy up’ your files, paper or electronic.
Remember I am here for you if you need help with organizing either, of course. That’s my greatest passion.
Today let’s get back to focusing on ‘paper’ files as I share some tips and information about ‘filing cabinets’ and the features that will ‘make’ or ‘break’ your filing success…
Ever wonder how much thought goes into some of the office supply and equipment on the market today? Well I do. And every week I am reminded of just how poor some things are made and how it can lead to office clutter.
One big pet peeve of mine is poorly designed file cabinets. The kind that when the drawers are fully open a 3 to 4 inch gap of inaccessible file space is left behind! This leaves you digging your fingers between the files and the top of the drawer, desperately trying to reach the files at the bad. Grrrrrr!
Only solution: Stick that big bulky box that came with your latest software purchase at the back of the file drawer. Most people can’t bring themselves to part with these boxes anyway, and at least here it can be useful.
Other signs of a poorly design file cabinet are:
* Not enough clearance for the file tabs that are attached to top of hanging file folders
* No bottom surface to the bottom of the drawer
* File rails that hinder the smooth flow of the hanging files
* Hanging bars that keep coming off or bend with the weight of the files
* Drawers with no hanging file rails (A quick fix with Pendaflex Speedframe)
* Drawers that stick and won’t open easily
* Cabinets that don’t have locking mechanism that prevents more than one drawer open at a time. (A real safety hazard that should not be overlooked!)
If you want to file effectively and enjoy the experience much more, please keep in mind these key points.
After all, this stuff you’re keeping is important, right? So you’ll want to be effective in your management of it.
For highly functional file drawers consider the following features:
* Capacity is in line with your needs leaving 10%-20% extra space
* That it is either Legal or Letter sized depending on your long term needs
* The quality is good and it will last as long as you feel you will need it
* It has security keys if needed to lock up valuable or private documents
* The drawers allow access to very back of drawer
* The drawers open and close with ease
* File rails are sturdy and won’t wear and bend over time
* The look is acceptable with your decor
* You have enough file holders and tabs to suit your labelling needs
Please take some time to share your success,
your own pet peeves about filing products,
your own best solutions, and more.
We would love to hear your story and share your great ideas.
I’ve been quite busy lately, working with clients, picking at some projects for fall, finding some time to get artistically creative, supporting my partner in his recent efforts, and even enjoying some time on my rollerblades and going for long walks this summer, which all feels great. I certainly am not getting 'everything' done, yet the most important things are my top priority.
Being as busy as I have been, it has been hard to stay focused on some of the bigger projects I have on my desk. Like making more videos, finishing my new ‘Tiger’ coaching program, writing up a new corporate restructuring package, the list goes on! Yet I do try to live by the same guidelines I share with my clients, associates and friends. ‘Cut yourself some slack and don’t be afraid to say no and defer some non-urgent tasks until you have more time and energy to work on them.’
Gosh, have you noticed how long it’s been since I sent my last Tidy Times? Well that’s because I still do all the work to produce these and when I get busy, this task gets the backburner. Besides, I figure you may love getting the news yet a break for summer is probably welcomed.
So many times we try to do too much, I am no exception. Yet I am good at taking time to regroup, reassess, cross a few things off and get to work on the things that must be done. I also always make an effort to stay upbeat about things, despite problems that appear in front of me. It is my philosophy is that the best choice is to choose to be happy in spite of challenges faced.
Today's message is that you can beat yourself up for all the things you didn’t get accomplished, which you probably never had time for in the first place. Or you can make a choice to keep working on your dreams, doing your best to make time for what really matters, and except that you cannot control everything or get everything done perfectly all the time. Just do your best, keep taking the small step towards your goal, and reward yourself along the way!
Today, I found the time to send this note to you and to regroup on some of my projects and that feels great.
I would love to know about your successes too.
What did you get done this month that you feel good about?
What challenges have you had to face and what kinds of prioritizing have you had to do to make sure the important stuff was done?
Is there anything that I can help you with, in the months to come, that will help you have more success in the future?
And what rewards have you been giving or plan to give yourself for your successes?
Please leave a comment to share!
To your success!
In today’s ever-increasingly cutthroat work environment, a common notion among employees and bosses alike tends to be, “he who works latest works best.” And while it seems that the 40-hour work week has been largely dispensed with in our hardworking culture, new studies show that working more very seldom produces better results.
Employees work many more hours now than they have in the past, but it’s coming at the expense of health, happiness, and even productivity. While it looks good to be the first to arrive and the last to leave work each day, it turns out that putting in 60 hours of work each week may do more harm than good in achieving end results.
This infographic examines some of the lesser-known statistics regarding overtime work and its effects, and through it one thing becomes extremely clear: To boost productivity and foster excellent employees, the best thing businesses can do is to bring back the 40-hour work week.
As much work as it can be, I think it feels great to know this. Don’t you?
Today I thought I would share a special note and share my top tips on what makes a great task organizing system. Maybe then I can make a difference too by helping someone get back to being creative and enjoy more peace of mind too.
There are three very important factors to a good task organizing system...
1. You must trust it.
A system has to be set up in a way that you will feel confident that you will see task reminders for what you need to do, when you need to do it.
2. You must have a place for everything.
The physical needs to house this system must be in place and labelled or documented well. (This factor usually needs to be in place prior to the 'trusting' part, yet having 'Trust' in your system is the most important factor, so I put that first.)
3. You must maintain it regularly.
A schedule of daily, weekly, monthly or yearly review must be in place, as well as time put aside to tweak, maintain and purge from system as needed.
To start off on creating this ‘Must Have’ system you will need to do two things.
1. Put the time in, that is needed to complete it.
2. Establish a good budget for your organizing needs.
Because after all, if 'stuff' is worth keeping, or worth doing, then it's worth it. Right?
If it's not worth it, then toss it!
One question some people may have for me at this point is 'How do I get started?' So in addition, today I will give you an outline of my 'Tiger Method' and the focus at each point in this 5 step process...
Testify on your motivation.
* Write out goal statements for all areas of your life that need focus.
* List your priorities by their Condition and Cost/Value.
Identify what works and what doesn’t.
* Note Technical Errors, External Realties and Psychological Obstacles holding you back.
* Consider your personality, style & unique challenges.
Get Real about what you need to do.
* Use a task planner to do this.
* Categorize Organize and Map out your task schedule to make time tangible.
Engage your plan and take action.
* Make decisions on tasks using 4 D's, "Delete, Delegate, Defer and Do It."
* Purge excess & meaningless tasks.
* Assign space for tasks and keep separate.
Repeat and Refine as you go.
* Monitor your progress & timing bi-monthly.
* Make time to re-group in times of crisis.
* Be flexible yet honor your commitments.
* Take time to celebrate your successes.
This process can help you lay out your dreams; it only requires your passion and a bit of effort. The sooner you start, the sooner you realize your dreams.
"The vision must be followed by the venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps - we must step up the stairs." ~Vance Havner
Go get' em Tiger!
One of the very few items of inspiration in my home is a small stone placed on our bathroom counter that says simply ‘Gratitude’. It reminds me that life is great and to be lived with joy. I don’t have many objects of this sort because they cause clutter and more work to clean around. I prefer my space. Yet this object has one simple powerful message, so it stays. Besides, with my fiancé painting up a storm, our home is full of beauty and inspiration already.
I am going to admit, writing this post today was a bit of an effort. When I am busy with life, projects and helping others I sometimes put off blogging and writing articles. Sometimes I am just not inspired to do this; rather I would like to be knee deep in an organizing project.
The idea for today’s post came to me as I was doing some reading and I felt it was overdue. So, I sat down, started typing, and out it came.
And now for today's post. Enjoy...
Advice for the Expert and Novice Procrastinator
It’s Thursday afternoon, and Tracy realizes that her proposal for her newest client is due by the tomorrow morning. With a busy night of family events planned, she knows that if she doesn’t get this done prior to leaving work she is going to be dropping the ball. So far this proposal is only in outline and finishing it in time seems difficult. Can she do it?
Then there are people that really have a hard time. They may seem incapable of getting things started, let alone done. We’ll call them ‘expert procrastinators’ as they, more often than not, find themselves immersed in stress and open loops. For them it may feel like living on the edge of a storm, constantly.
Today, I’ll share some easy methods that can help anyone, ‘expert or novice procrastinator’ beat procrastination and get back to feeling less stressed and more productive today.
- Watch out for, acknowledge and counteract ‘deferral thoughts’ such as “I can send the report tomorrow”, “I will take the trash out after I watch my show” or “The dishes can wait till I need them for our next meal”. Instead, when you have these thoughts, try to take it from another angle and tell yourself “If I do the dishes now, I can enjoy the rest of the afternoon without this hanging over my head”.
- Stop waiting for you to feel motivated and inspired to take action. It’s true, and I too have experienced it, we like to think we must feel ‘inspired’ before we act. In reality, most times it’s getting started that gets us more motivated to continue. Once you get started, one small task leads to another and before you know it some great progress can be made and that will inspire you to keep going.
- Reward yourself. After completing a task give yourself a little treat. It can be anything you like and can afford, maybe even a nice walk around your neighbourhood or a sweet treat to enjoy.
Article to blog… done!
My reward… cake and a walk!
Have a grrrrrreat day!
1. Write down on a blank piece of paper one project, situation or task that is on your mind that you need to ‘get done’.
2. In just one sentence describe the intended outcome so that you could check this project off as ‘done’.
3. Then write down the very next physical action required to move this project or task to completion.
Nothing has happened yet, after all, the task has yet to be done. Yet for many, after doing this simple activity, a sense of added motivation can be felt as up until now it was just a thought nagging at your subconscious mind. Now you know what 'done' looks like and can place this task in priority with other tasks and projects also written down.
Podcast on topic here
One trick to actually accomplishing some of the greater tasks on our plate is to give ourselves a big enough buffer. We need to accept the fact that interruptions will come, and e need to block out enough time in our day to accommodate them.
So what's a good guideline?
Well that's hard to say, as it depends on the task. A good starting guideline would be that if you had a task that you estimate will take 2 hours, try blocking 3 instead. Throw a short break in the middle of it too if needed.
Yes, you can probably expect interruptions, just don't encourage them. When you schedule your work sessions you should turn the ringer on the phone off, shut the office door and ignore email as much as possible.
(Did you know that for every interruption you experience you automatically lose 5 minutes or more of concentration? This can add up very fast.)
If your working on task and giving your concentration to the task a good 1 or 2 hour session may be a good enough chunk of time to get some significant progress going on, and then you can break for a time to make sure no fires have broken out.
Another trick is that when you are in the middle of work and an idea or thought comes into your head that you absolutely can not forget about, just take one minute to write it out and put away to deal with at a more appropriate time. The idea is to just clear your head of the distraction by getting it in a place where you know you can find it later and then quickly get back to what you were doing.
This truly informative and inspiring book has a lot of great insights and strategies to share. Today I would like to share some great strategies taken from Nancy's chapter on 'Time Mismanagement'. I encourage everyone to check this book out soon to learn more on time and task management and to share it with others.
Hear the Passing of Time
Try wearing a sports watch that is set to beep every hour. You can also use a PDA and consider the vibrating feature if you like a silent alarm instead. This technique will help you become more conscious of time and the length of an hour.
Divide your day into 'Quadrants'
Sometimes too much detailed schedule planning is not the answer. If you don't react well to detailed time management systems try dividing up your day into sections and then plug in a list of a few goals to acomplish in each. For example, these blocks could be 9-11, 11-2 and 2-5.
See both the big and little pictures
Keep a monthly and a weekly calendar. This way you will see the larger picture while still having a view of your more pressing weekly commintments.
Be on the look out and handle them accordingly...
The pencil cup caddy.
Having writing utensils close a hand is a great idea. Yet how many is enough, really?
Check your pencil caddy for excessive amounts, dried out pens and pencils that have seen better days too. Weed out the undesirables and keep your best close at hand only.
Tips: Test your wares and keep your spare writing utensils in a drawer or bin with other extra supplies.
Paperclips are great yet sometimes they can be a problem as when documents are stacked up they can trap papers that don't belong together.
Tip: Use staples when possible; they can always be removed later.
Peek around your office today and see if there are any other timewasters stealing your productivity one minute at a time. They could be in the form of distracting objects, defective supplies or drawers full of junk.
Delegation is the art of enlisting the help of others and it is one of the key decisions in an organization tool I call the 4 D’s: Do it, Defer it, Delete it, and Delegate it.
Let’s look at delegation a little closer. Here are 5 key aspects to effective delegation:
1. Know what needs to get done.
Gather up the facts and make a list of all the activities that you are responsible for. Until you have this written down and can ‘sum-up’ the tasks, you will not be able to effectively delegate to others.
Choose to do your best work and decide what you can let go of.
2. Pick from your list, the items you feel you can do most effectively and enjoy.
Focus on what you do best, and what you have the skills for. Let others help with the rest.
3. Choose the right people for the job.
Look for people who possess the rights skills, relevant experience, a good attitude, and the availability to do the work.
4. Follow through and evaluate progress.
Holding yourself and others accountable is important. Be clear on what is expected and that progress will be monitored and evaluated. Most people enjoy challenge and showing just what they are capable of.
5. Reward yourself and others for efforts and results.
Celebrate the completion of projects and acknowledge those involved. It’s not just about monetary compensation. It’s important for people to feel good about what they do.
Now the list of tasks to delegate could be long and varied. Tasks that are easy to delegate could include proofreading, word processing, web development, social media networking, presentation development, and mail-merges to name a few. There are many capable personal/virtual assistants who can help with these and other administrative tasks. If your office space and budget doesn’t support or require a permanent full time employee, a qualified, experienced virtual assistant can be a god-send.
I personally know of some great people to call for this and one that comes to the forefront of my mind is TBS Virtual Assistance. Truly ‘thorough, dependable and equipped’ are a few words to describe TBS and Lisa, the principal owner.
With qualified professionals such as Lisa, your only thoughts should be to ‘know what needs to get done’ and ‘choose to do your best work’. When you have the ‘Right people’ that will ‘Follow through’ all that will be left is the ‘Rewards’.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, frustrated and bound by clutter and it’s preventing you from finding your way through the first step of ‘knowing what needs to get done’, professional organizers like me are here for you also. Delegating the work of organizing your office should definitely be on the list.
Delegation, a ‘life-skill’ for your success!
And if that is not possible, at least try to move it one step closer to completion every time you do pick it up.
2. Make decisions now
Don’t put things down ‘for now’. Commit yourself to decide what to do with each piece of paper immediately.
3. Clear out your in-box for 15 minutes each day
Don’t turn your ‘in-box’, into a ‘procrastinator tray’.
4. Sort by Category
Mail and e-mail should be sorted into categories. Try sorting ‘by Priority’, ‘by Action’ or ‘by Date’
5. Write notes in the right place
Numerous scraps of paper and notes will only serve to frustrate you. Choose one place to keep notes, and if they pertain to a client folder or project, put the notes in the proper file as soon as possible.
6. Get real about what you can read
Limit subscriptions, clip articles out if you want to keep it and recycle the rest of the periodical right away. Be realistic about how much you can actually read too.
7. Purge papers regularly
Twice a year purges will do wonders to keep the volume down. Take time to thin out files that contain unimportant notes, drafts and other non-essential information.
8. Keep file systems logical and easy to use
Creating a Dewey Decimal coded system or trying to develop some mythical ‘Perfect’ system is an urge you should resist.
Back To School
Cost Of Disorganization
Identity Theft Prevention
Memories, Photos And Keepsakes
Organizing Facts Report
Photos And Keepsakes