Business Organizing

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.

Close Out The Year: Try This Checklist

  • Start gathering your papers and electronic files needed for taxes. Yes, now. Credit card and bank statements, receipts, anything you will need to take to your accountant. And, speaking of your accountant …
  • Meet with your accountant to review your situation and determine what, if any, actions to take before the official close of the year.
  • Pay outstanding invoices and avoid back dating checks in January.
  • Decide if money owed you now should be paid this year or in January. There may be advantages to moving the revenue into the following year.
  • Archive 2012 email. If your inbox is filled to the brim, here’s your opportunity to reduce your email volume. And compressed email takes up less space. It’s a win-win.

Zero Emails In Your Inbox. Is It Possible?

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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.

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!

How to Sort Paper

 

Most everyone finds it challenging to keep track of the sheer bulk of paper even in this electronic age. If you are not happy with the mess of paper on your desk or if you can’t find what you need quickly, you may be delaying making decisions. These tips will help guide you through the maze.

First, schedule several hours of non-work time to organize papers in your office.

Clear a workspace area for sorted papers.

Follow the F.A.T. System for sorting paper, notebooks, files, and binders.

  • File: “F” stands for File. Label one of your boxes “File” and sort the following into it:
      — Keep active to-do’s close at hand
      — Move files used less often to other areas.
  • Act: “A” stands for Action. Designate a box for Action items and use it for papers on which you need to do something (e.g., send an email, process a file, make a phone call, discuss with someone, etc.). This means that you perform the necessary items on this piece of paper TODAY. Once you’ve completed these items, the paper should be filed, re-routed to someone else or discarded.
  • Toss: “T” stands for toss. Be brutal. Can it be retrieved again? Is it out-of-date? Does someone else have the information? Purge, purge, purge.

Imagine doing this same process daily except, of course, on a much smaller scale.

Now you’ll have control of your paper instead of it controlling you!

Could you wallpaper your office from your stacks of paper?

How is your desk looking today? Are your papers in order or are you having difficulty finding what you need?

Sometimes a messy desk just means that you’re not tidy and that you can still find what you need quickly. Or,

sometimes it indicates that you avoid making decisions.

Which one are you?

Here are a few reasons why you may put off handling those piles:

… I’m too busy. I’ll do it later. I’m not sure what the paper is.

… I don’t know what to do with it.

… I am not ready to handle it until I can do it perfectly.

… I don’t have the right tools.

… I’m not sure what the answer is.

… There is no clear cut action.

Tell us why you think you delay decisions and what your thoughts are about co-workers who have piles of paper in their office?