Time Management

Clean Up Your Workspace in 2013!

Did you know that January 9 is Clean Up Your WorkSpace Day? It’s that important and crucial for your success that a special day has been designated. And it is at the beginning of the new year. As productivity specialists, we highly endorse sprucing up your workspace. It will help you be more organized and efficient in 2013.

Try this tip: Limit the items on the top of your desk to phone, computer, current projects, office supplies and planner.

These items are all essential organizing tools that sit on the top of your desk within arm’s reach and help you stay organized and efficiently manage your work day.

These five work tools will help you concentrate on the task at hand and help improve your productivity.

Your Planner: This is your #1 work tool. If you don’t do anything else, update and check your planner at least once or twice a day, if not more. It doesn’t matter if it is paper or electronic. What does count is a dependable system that keeps all meetings, contacts and tasks in one place and handy.

Your Computer: Are you able to find the electronic document you need immediately? From personal experience, we can vouch that a task takes a lot longer when you spend the first half hour (or hour) searching for a file folder.

Organizing your computer file folders now — in the beginning of 2013 — is well worth it.

Your Active Projects: What are you working on today? Reserve your desk surface for projects and tasks that represent today’s priority items. Projects and tasks that will be priorities at a later date can be kept in your working files drawer or a step-up file folder.

Your Phone: Keep a phone log or spiral notebook beside your phone to use as a record of voice mail messages. Or, record the information into a to-do list on your computer that synchs with your cell phone for easy callbacks.

If the caller is someone whom you will need to call again, record their information in your contact list. So long back-of-envelope!

Supplies: If you have to shove aside stationery, envelopes and boxes of business cards to reclaim your work surface, it may be time to rethink what you need at hand. Keep a few items and move the rest to the supply closet.

Take a look at your own desktop tools. Are they going to help you stay the course?

By following these tips, 2013 will be off to a great start!

 

What new organizing habit in 2013 will make you more efficient?

Can you name one new productivity technique that will help make you more productive in the new  year?  Here are a few examples:

  • Prioritizing throughout the day by constantly asking yourself “Is this the most important thing I should be doing now?”
  • Planning for the next day by using a 15-minute closing ritual (see July 31, 2012 newsletter from It’s Time To Get Organized).
  • Reducing the number of interruptions throughout the day
  • Writing a to-do list, checking it often (paper or electronic),, and keeping it front and center
  • Organizing your electronic or paper files and MAINTAINING the organization.
  • Spending less time on email by reducing the volume — unsubscribing, using rules to move specific email into different folders, giving enough information in your reply so that a return  email will not be necessary .

Let us know what new system you will try in 2013.

What Worked This Year?

We often think of the things that we did not do this year especially when it comes to being more productive, more efficient and more organized. For example, I had resolved in January to be a social media whiz by the end of 2013 but, it didn’t happen.

Well, then, how about starting with the positives instead of focusing on what we did not do.  What was the best thing you did in 2012 that you can repeat – or improve upon — in 2013? Was it going after and landing repeat business? Was it a YouTube strategy that now draws people to your website?

Can you name 2 or 3 things that went well for you this past year? Then focus your efforts and attention on these areas. Be efficient and manage your time well so you can duplicate your efforts.

Thank you to Bottom Line Personal. The article on the front cover of the December 15, 2012 issue “The Best Thing I Did in 2012 That You Can Do in 2013” sparked this blog idea.

Thanksgiving: Be Thankful For Work You Enjoy

With Thanksgiving fast approaching, it is a good time to think about what you are thankful for in life. Many people mention family and friends first. But how about being grateful for a job you enjoy? Do you thrive on your work? Most positions require dedication and hard work although it may not feel that way if you draw energy from what you do.

What about the people who are passionate about their work but feel they are held back because they are not as productive as they would like to be? Lack of time management may be affecting their output. If you are in this category, read the tips below on how you can strengthen your efficiency skills.

  • Ask organized and productive colleagues to name the most important thing they do to remain productive. Give one of those ideas a try but remember that you need to practice correctly for 21 days straight. Otherwise back to the drawing board to research additional ways to strengthen productivity skills.
  • Read books, blogs or websites. Check out David Allen (www.davidco.com), Allan Lakein (Http://thinkingdirections.com/articles6Lakein.htm) or Harold Taylor (www.taylorintime.com). All have different views and suggestions on how to improve your productivity … what it takes to become more organized and get more done in a day.
  • Attend a class at a community college or from Fred Pryor (www.pryor.com/. Pryor offers a slew of courses to make you more productive including one called Managing Multiple Priorities.
  • Ask a friend or family member to shadow you. With an accountability partner, it not as easy to give up and go back to your old, comfortable, non-productive habits.

How are you going to become more organized and productive? Please share your ideas with us.

 

 

 

 

Don’t Waste My Time: How To Handle Interruptions

             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:

  • Be open and honest with the person stopping by or on the other end of the phone. Explain that you are in the midst of a project and set a time to speak later.
  • Stand up and head toward a water fountain, bathroom or the kitchen area. Anywhere. The person tagging along will get the hint without your saying a thing.
  • Let your boss know – if that’s the interrupter – what project you are working on when you were pulled away. Give the boss the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he/she will understand now.
  • Tell yourself – if you’re the interrupter – to stay focused and get back to work … pronto.

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.

Eat That Frog

Eat That Frog!     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?

 

How Do You Start Your Day? Try These Tips.

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.

Do you want to get your tasks done and have more productive days? It’s Time To Get Organized can help. Call Leslie Walden and Barbara Mays: 404-303.8431 or email: info@ItsTimeToGetOrganized.com

 

Do You Unsubscribe?

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.

 

 

 

 

Too Busy To Be Productive?

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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.