What do you do when you are working on an important project, being really productive and are interrupted? I’m sure that this has happened to you – a colleague passes your office and stops by to chat about an upcoming sports event or you receive a phone call from a friend wanting to discuss a matter that is not at all important.
Recently an attorney said she has a rule – Don’t Waste My Time! Great rule but you cannot always say it, even if you’re thinking it.
Here are a few tips on handling and minimizing interruptions:
You have more control over interruptions than you realize. The trick is to be proactive, not reactive. While many issues are important and need to be addressed right away, the basketball scores can wait, even if your team won.
This morning I had a lot of calls to make and did not particularly feel like making them. Then I remembered the book I had just finished reading — Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy. In the book procrastination is not allowed. I would need to make the calls first thing and begin with the most difficult one. Ug. Well, I did it and it felt wonderful.
Tracy’s premise is that starting and completing the most important — and often the most difficult — task of the day will soon become a habit. Email and less important to-dos must wait until the most important one is done.
He suggests that we ask ourselves 3 key questions:
1) What are my highest value activities?
2) What are the biggest frogs I have to eat to make the greatest contribution to my organization? What can I and only I do that, if done well, will make a real difference?
3) Ask yourself every hour: What is the most valuable use of my time right now?
What important eat that frog task will you tackle tomorrow morning?
Recently, we interviewed successful business people and learned that many of them start off their day purposefully – they make sure they are totally prepared for the upcoming day and whatever will come their way. While some have predictable days, many do not. We need to accomplish as much as possible as early as possible since we do not know what is ahead — clients need answers now and a boss can walk into your office with an urgent project.
Fast Company Magazine writer Kevin Purdy addresses this in the August 22, 2012, issue “What Successful People Do With The First Hour of Their Work Day.” His excellent suggestions are right in line with the practical ideas we advise our clients.
First, incorporate a routine into that first hour — exercise, meditate, eat breakfast, read the paper, or whatever else you feel you must do to get the day off to a good start. With that behind you, you can focus on the present.
Second, don’t open email right away. Don’t even think about it. If you must, Purdy recommends AwayFind. This software program alerts you to emails that need to be opened immediately.
Third, accomplish one outstanding task that will need your attention that day. It will take a weight off your shoulders because it will be done and now you no longer need to think about it. Plus, as Purdy points out, colleagues and clients will no longer pursue you for answers.
It is just as important — maybe more — for someone conducting business at home to be organized and productive as it is if you are in an office setting. We all know the pluses and minuses for working at home so we are going to focus on how to be more productive when you have a home office. You can be just as organized and use all of the techniques that your colleagues in the office are using to get their work done and move their projects ahead.
Here are some tips to being more organized and efficient when you work at home:
1) Establish regimens and stick to them. Some examples:
2) Write a daily to-do list and keep it in front of you at all times. Star 3-4 priorities and decide when you are going to do them. At the end of the day, it will feel good to leave your office and have accomplished what you set out to do. (Note: The to-do list can be on paper or electronic. It doesn’t matter as long as you check it often.)
3) Stay focused. If you decide that you need to work for several hours on a particular project, schedule a block of time and resolve not to become waylaid by something else. Avoid interruptions from the phone, email and the next door neighbor knocking at your door. Stick to the project at hand.
4) Bunch tasks together. You are more efficient when you answer email or make phone calls all at the same time.
5) Prepare for the next day ahead of time. Look over your calendar to see what appointmen ts you have and get your to-do list ready for tomorrow.
6) Use a timer. It is one of the best tools available to keep you on track and organized.
7) Take short breaks. Get up and move the way you would in an office. Get a drink of water. Walk around outside at lunch time or exercise during lunch.
8) Find an accountability partner so you will do what you said you would.
9) Make sure your office is set up for you to work efficiently: the right tools: computer, printer, scanner, smart phone, software, speaker phone, filing cabinets, clock, a comfortable chair and the right lighting.
The result? You will feel in control of your work day.
Still having a difficult time maintaining your productivity? We can customize systems that will increase your efficiency and effectiveness in your home office. Call us — Leslie or Barbara — at 404-303-8431 or email Info@ItsTimeToGetOrganized.com.
We all have too much email. It feels endless. But there is an easy way to reduce email volume: Unsubscribe. As email efficiency experts, we highly recommend unsubscribing to as many emails as possible as long as it is a legitimate site. You can always sign up again at a later date.
Then why don’t we make the extra effort and unsubscribe? Why do we leave the emails in our inbox? They waste energy and time because we need to flip through them to get to the email we really want and need.
Some of the reasons we hear for not unsubscribing:
1) I don’t have enough time to scroll to the bottom of the email and click the unsubcribe link.
2) I don’t feel like it.
3) It’s not worth bothering.
4) It’s too complicated. I am redirected to the website where I have to hunt for the unsubscribe page and often can’t find it. (That happens to us and it’s frustrating!)
The next time you receive an email you do not need, take the 1-2 minutes to unsubscribe. Do it immediately. Think of it as eliminating not just that current email but future unwanted emails that will automatically show up in your inbox every day or week or month.
If you feel overwhelmed by the huge number of emails in your inbox, try one of these tips:
1) Create a folder called “Unsubscribe” and drag the emails from which you need to unsubscribe to that folder; Set up a 1/2 hour every week to unsubscribe. What a great feeling to reduce the email in your inbox!
2) Unsubscribe to one email each day.
3) Make it a game. Set aside 10 minutes daily and challenge yourself to see how many emails you can eliminate by unsubscribing. A timer is an excellent tool for this activity.
Are you inundated with email? Call Leslie or Barbara at 404.303.8431 or email: Info@ItsTimeToGetOrganized.com. We can help reduce your email volume and your stress.
We’re all busy. In fact, the busier we are the more important we may see ourselves. Everyone you know is running hither and yon and always on the go with never enough time to get it all done. That’s true. There is never enough time to do it all. As hard as we try, we can not achieve everything. Once we accept that idea, then perhaps it is easier to shift our view from always being busy to being productive when it counts.
Simply said: We have the time; It’s how we choose to spend it. When someone says she/he does not have time, it just means that other activities are higher rated and take priority. So, how do we distinguish between busy and productive? It is a matter of deciding what matters in life, what you want to achieve and how to work at it on a daily basis. While we all have things to do, we do have choices.
In “The Busy Trap”, Tim Kreider blogs in the NYTimes that busy is self-imposed. Adults are often addicted to busyness. People take on projects, work and obligations voluntarily. They even do that to their kids. That doesn’t leave much time for idleness — the time to read, think, dream and connect with family and friends. These are the types of activities that free up your brain to wrestle with problems and ideas and come up with solutions. It is similar to the restorative properties of getting enough sleep. Often, when you allow your mind to wander a bit, you can be more productive at the times it’s most important. You will perform at a higher caliber and get done what you set out to do.
The next time you have a choice between working late or having dinner out with friends, consider the options before you tell your friends you are too busy. Perhaps relaxing with good companions may have a far more restorative effect than you realize. Then you’ll be ready to tackle a big project the next day.
Contact us at: Info@ItsTimeToGetOrganized.com or call 404.303.8431 to find out how you can make your day meaningful and productive … with less busyness.
Have you ever considered what it would be like to have zero emails in your inbox? Most of us have a comfort level and stick with that number. For some it may be 20 while others are happy if they can keep the number to 60. Then there are those who aspire to less than 500. Each one of us has a number. What’s yours?
David Allen from Getting Things Done suggests that the number should be zero. While Allen blogs that zero emails in your inbox will require a definite change in thinking, he thinks it is worth the effort. It is possible to make this change only when you decide that the number you are currently comfortable with is no longer acceptable.
If you are wondering why Allen suggests that we take our inbox from our comfort number to zero, he gives several good reasons. Even though you may flag them and know what emails are already in your inbox, Allen points out that:
1) it takes time — and energy — to go through them every time. This is valuable energy that takes us away from important tasks.
2) the email is still there because you haven’t taken the time to decide how to handle it.
If you are stressed out by the the number of emails in your inbox, we can teach you the techniques to make decisions on how to handle each email, how to sort quickly and where to put the ones needing further action. Call us at 404-303-8431 or email info@ItsTimeToGetOrganized.com for a free consultation.
On average, according to researcher David Meyer, switching time increases the amount of time it takes to finish the primary task you were
working on by an average of 25%. In short, juggling activities is incredibly inefficient.
It takes 25 minutes to regain concentration after each interruption. (Source: University of California-Irvine Study)
What are the benefits of Block Scheduling?
Tip: 1 – 1/2 ½ hours most days of the week is ideal but 2-3 days may be most practical, especially at the beginning.
Can It’s Time To Get Organized help you set up your block schedule so you can get the maximum out of each day? Call 404-3-3-8431 or email: info@ItsTimeToGetOrganized.com.
If you have recently organized your office, you know the type of work it takes to accomplish this feat. Are congratulations in order? Most definitely yes! And what a wonderful feeling! At long last you can put your hands on a document quickly without wasting time searching. The clutter is gone, old files have gone to storage, current files are in a nearby drawer, binders on the credenza are labeled and the sole project on your desk is the one you are working on currently.
And here’s another plus: You can invite clients and co-workers without feeling embarrassed by the appearance of your space. The message is loud and clear that your office is totally functional and you are in control.
Now can you cross that project off of your list? Well, yes, but not the part about maintaining the organization. Just because your office is in ship shade at the moment and you are able to be highly efficient, does not mean that the organization will stay that way on its own. Some people forget about the effort needed to keep your space clear. If you let it go, your office will be back to square one in no time at all. It will be messy and cluttered and will require all of your energy to navigate — energy you would prefer to put toward your job.
What can you do to ensure that your office stays tidy and neat? Try these tips:
These tips will go a long way toward maintaining your hard-earned organization. True, they will require effort but the benefits in productivity are well worth it. You’ll feel less stress because you are free to focus on your tasks.
There is good news, however: It’s a lot easier to maintain systems and processes once they are established. It will take a lot less time to keep on top of papers, files and anything else that lands on your desk from here on in.
Are you planning on taking time off from the office this summer? We’ve all experienced the mad-rush just before leaving town and the stress associated with it. Read on for ideas that will make the start of your vacation much more relaxing.
1) Take 30 minutes three weeks ahead of time to identify the projects that need to be done — or at least addressed — before you leave.
2) Create a list of to-do’s that need to be accomplished for each project. Include specific actions and due dates. Write each to-do on your daily to-do list whether it is paper or electronic. The more detailed you can be, the better. Once a task is written down, it is far more likely that it will get done.
3) Review meetings and appointments that are scheduled during your vacation. Delegate, cancel or reschedule.
4) Inform co-workers and colleagues regarding possible issues that might arise in your absence.
5) Schedule meetings for the week you return but not the first day back in the office.
6) Put an out-of-office notice on your email and phone.
7) Enjoy your vacation and forget about work while you are gone from the office. You will return refreshed with renewed vigor and energy.
Click here for more tips on how to experience a work-free vacation.