Productivity Tips

Maintain Your Organizing

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:

  1. Designate a time — daily or weekly — to put everything back in its place. You may need to spend 15 minutes at the end of the day or an hour every Friday afternoon. Then add it to your calendar and be sure and do it.
  2. Decide your tolerance level, that is, at what point do you stop to sort, file and make decisions on papers that have no home. Maybe it is when the inbox is full.
  3. Ask a co-worker to “shadow” you while you get your office back to its organized state. His/her presence in the room is sufficient reason for you to stay motivated until your work space in back in working order.
  4. Change organizational systems that are not working instead of struggling with them. Sometimes a system needs revamping even though you were sure it would work when you set it up. A perfect example is a tickler system. Your colleague raved about how well it works but not for you. You are clearly disappointed in the way it performs. Instead of giving up and leaving the papers scattered about, try a different filing system. Keep trying different until you get to one you like and know you will use.

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.

 

 

 

Plan Ahead For Your Summer Vacation

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.

Vacation Without Your Tech Stuff

It’s Memorial Day weekend and many of us have made plans for relaxation away from the office. Can you switch off your your smart phone, Ipad, and laptop? Or are they going too? Study after study shows that we return to work energized after a clean break from technology and the day-to-day routine. Not being encumbered with work-related problems leaves our mind free to enjoy new experiences and the people around us.

What can you do to ease the transition so you can enjoy a care-free vacation? Here are some tips:

1) Tackle projects that need attending to weeks in advance. This is definitely not the time to procrastinate.

2) Allow plenty of time just before you leave to finish tasks that are on your mind.

3) Cancel or reschedule meetings and appointments. That alone will help put your mind at ease.

4) Leave time for “re-entry” into the business world when you return from your getaway. Put off appointments and meetings for a day or so until you have had a chance to get your bearings.

Now are you ready to leave your technology aids behind and bring back wonderful memories that will make you smile   every time you remember them?

Need help getting organized before you leave for vacation? Email Leslie and Barbara at: nfo@ItsTimeToGetOrganized.com or call 404-250-9600 to speak to us directly.

 

 

Putting Off An Important Task

Putting Off An Important Task

How many times have you intended to do something very important but you just cannot get to it? Other, less important tasks get in your way. Before you know it, the time is gone and you haven’t completed a critical task.

Most of us contend with these task battles within ourselves daily. Which task wins — the less important one that feels urgent or the more important one that will take you one step closer to your goal? It is a dilemma but there are solutions. Here are a few tips:

  • STOP and EVALUATE the situation. Often by thinking it out before actually doing the less important task, you will be able to weigh the advantages of both tasks and decide what to do instead of acting impulsively.
  • Decide WHEN to do both tasks and put the time on your calendar. If you choose the less important one now, then set another time to tackle the critical project.
  • FOLLOW THROUGH on the appointment to complete the important project. If you continue to rocrastinate, ask yourself why and what you can do to complete it. Often times writing it down on a piece of paper is a big help, especially if you are a visual learner.
  • ASK A FRIEND for help – to shadow you, work alongside of you, or to serve as an accountability partner.

The next time you have to choose between two tasks – one urgent and one important – try one of these tips.

Need time management help? Call Leslie or Barbara at It’s Time To Get Organized (404-250-9600) or email: info@ItsTimeToGetOrganized.com. We can help you get those important tasks done on a timely basis so you accomplish your goals.

 

 

 

 

How To Reduce Unwanted Mail

I don’t know about you, but I dislike the piles of junk mail that show up in my mailbox unsolicited. I sift through the junk immediately keeping my eye out for important pieces of mail, hoping I do not overlook something important. Before even stepping into my house, I typically fling into the trash:

  • —  Magazines and catalogs I have no intention of reading.
    —  Coupon flyers I have no intention of cashing.
    —  Special offers from local retailers, land companies, real estate firms, etc. I have no intention of using.

Would you like to reduce the pounds of junk mail that weigh you down? Would you like to open your mail box and find only first class mail?

Below are opt-out websites that will help make this happen.

1)   www.directmail.com — there is no cost to take you off lists.

2)  www.dmachoice.org — choose particular companies in the following four categories from which you still want to receive mail; eliminate the rest for five years or permanently.

  • Catalogs
  • Credit Offers
  • Magazine subscriptions, newsletters, periodicals, promotional mailings
  • Other Mail Offers such as: donation requests, bank offers and retail promotions

3)  www.OptOutPrescreen.com — the official consumer credit reporting industry website for consumers to opt in or opt out of credit or insurance offers for five years or permanently.

It will only take 15 minutes. Do it today. Go on the websites to minimize the amount of unwanted mail. You’ll love opening
your
mailbox.

All Work & No Play

This week’s Turnaround Authority blog discusses work-life balance and how to achieve it. Lee Katz points out — rightfully so — that work with no breaks stifles creativity and efficiency; too often we fall prey to our electronic devices and forget about the importance of leisure time.

As a productivity specialist, I couldn’t agree more. Many professionals I work with feel compelled to check their emails at all times of day and night, even on vacation. During the day they are constantly being interrupted and stressed out with rush projects that need their attention immediately. They put out fires and leave the “undone” tasks until after the kids are in bed when they finally are not interrupted. There goes the chance to read a good book or to catch up on the day’s events with your significant other.

Part of this is a mind-set — for many of us work is all consuming and we forget about “down” time and how it recharges our batteries and our creativity. That’s why work-life balance will only happen when we consciously create it. Those much-needed breaks will help our personal frame-of-mind and bring about continuing business success.

Part of the technique is to use work time effectively so you accomplish your work goals during the day.The second part? Plan your leisure time … something, anything, just not work. A vacation or weekend morning’s activity without an electronic device is, we promise, doable. And, the best part is that you will feel refreshed, renewed and ready for those challenging problems that need your creative juices.

Start Your Project Now: Here’s How

 

My friend Necia has been telling me for months that she intends to get organized.

The other day we were sitting next to one another in a meeting. She had a notebook in front of her and I was curious — what was she writing in it? She showed me. It is how she is finally getting her office organized. Her secret: she spends thirty minutes a day at this task and tracks her progress daily in the lined notebook.

Her notes look like this:

Day                Commitment                Actual                      Y/N       Level         Ripples
Mon. 4/3      Getting Organized       Review old files        Y            4             Got it done!
Tues. 4/4      Getting Organized       File 30 minutes        Y           3              Making Progress

Necia shared with me how she learned about evaluating her daily progress to reach a goal. The idea came from a newly released book called The Ripple Effect.  Author Doug Grady has created an easy-to-implement system (just the kind we like!) to change a habit or to take action to get things done. We agree with Grady — small action steps help eliminate procrastination and keep you focused on your goal.

As efficiency experts, we are all about achieving goals and accomplishing the projects you rate highest on your list. Writing things down (or entering them into an electronic device) is an indication of your commitment.  In fact, just the act of writing down your day-to-day progress has a positive effect on the outcome.So, Grady’s recommendation to keep track of progress in a notebook works. The cost to implement this solution? the price of a notebook and the desire to achieve your goal. That’s it.

Want to accomplish a project that you have thought about but not yet acted on? Try Grady’s method. This will be a positive use of your time and will help you achieve the results you desire.

Spring: The Ideal Time To Attack Office Clutter

Most of us think of springtime as the perfect time to get rid of clutter in our homes. We envision coats bulging from the closet and drawers filled with things you don’t need any longer. But the same problem exists in many offices and home  offices; piles of paper, files strewn about and random items taking over good real estate on the desk or credenza. If this describes your work area, here are a few ways to clear your space (and your head).

Ask yourself:

1) Are you honestly going to read those papers and magazines? If the answer is no, then give yourself permission to toss them out without feeling guilty.

2) If I change my mind after I’ve thrown out a paper, then what? In many companies the person who sent the document originally keeps a copy. Or, the information may be easy to pull up on the web. Then again it might be available through a professional group such as the local bar association.

Clutter may not just be physical. It comes in other forms as well. How many times has a thought popped into your head and then disappears? No matter how often you push it aside, it keeps returning. Write it down. Often, you need to act on it. Once you add it to your to-do list or assign it to your calendar, then you no longer have to keep remembering it. The best part: your head is now clear to focus on important things.

Clutter can also be technological. Your computer, smart phone, iPad or Kindle can be loaded down with documents and apps that you do not use. They’re in the way when you are searching, making it difficult to find what you are looking for. It prevents you from being creative and saps your energy and focus.

Make the clutter disappear. It sounds easy enough but, unfortunately, will not happen without you taking action. Set aside time to deal with it, even though you prefer to be working on something else. It could easily take a few hours which you may want to do all at once or in small increments. As long as the time is blocked out on the calendar, you can feel confident that the job will get done. Before you know it you’ll be back in control of your desk and technology tools.

 

Tips To Eliminate Procrastination

With the start of spring and warm weather, it gets even more challenging to focus on the tasks you know you need to get done. Try these suggestions to stop the games you play with yourself to avoid the task at hand.

1) Add planning time to your day to decide what must get done.

2) Confront the task or project you have let slide. Is is still a priority? No? Take it off your list.

3) Write down specific steps to complete the project and estimate how long each step will take.

4) Decide what will make the task as easy as possible. A larger work surface? Last year’s documents? Uninterrupted time?

5) Set the mood. What external stimuli will entice you to get started? Music and snacks often the task more enjoyable.

6) Tackle the first step. If you have time, continue. If not, leave the next step for later.

7) Ask a trusted friend or colleague to help you get started.

What a feeling of relief and satisfaction knowing that the project is done — or, at least, started.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get to the project I’ve been putting off.

 

 

How To Get Your Taxes Done by April 15th

If you have put off taxes, and many people have, there is still time to buckle down and finish them before April 15th. Asking for an extension just prolongs the misery and weighs you down. You know they need to be done so why not just get on with it? Now. There is no more time left to procrastinate.

How to start? Here are 10 easy-to-follow steps:

1) Set up a date to meet with your accountant, if you use one.
2) Schedule time on your calendar to work on your taxes (and only your taxes in this allotted time). Be sure to keep the appointments.
3) If your accountant has given you a worksheet, read it through carefully it so you know exactly what is needed.
4) Pull out all of your papers and divide them into categories. Print the documents that are on the computer or copy them onto a USB or CD for the accountant.
5) Sort the papers again, this time into subcategories. For example, you might begin with a stack labeled clients and gradually whittle it down to a number of individual clients.
6) Write down your questions so you do not forget to ask your accountant or a knowledgeable source.
7) Call for the documents that are missing.
8) Label each stack of documents, using binder clips to separate them. While all of these stacks may not be needed for the accountant or the IRS, it helps to stack them in an organized pile.
9) Put in as much energy and time as needed to finish the job on time. Forego weekends and week nights, if that is what it takes.
10) Make sure the government office signs a receipt and returns it to you. Keep the receipt in your tax file. If the IRS later on says that they never received your taxes, you have the proof that they were sent. This happens more than you may realize.

Now sit back and relax while your friends and colleagues scurry around in panic mode trying to meet their extension dates because they put their taxes off. And you didn’t!