making productive use of time at work

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.

How Would You Rate Your Company’s Performance This Year?

Here we are at the end of 2012. How did business go these past 12 months? Would you rate your business a 10 because sales revenue and profits are at an all-time record?  Or a 2 because you did not achieve what you set out to do and sales are down. Often the answer is somewhere in between these two extremes. Some things went well and others may not have been as successful.

Regardless of the number, this is a perfect time to reflect on what went well and what needs to be improved:

  • Review last year’s goals; Then write down goals for this coming year.
  • List the programs you implemented this year that performed well and then add the programs that were less so;  decide which ones to keep, which ones to improve upon and which ones to chalk up as a learning experience.
  • Set up periodic reminders to evaluate programs on a quarterly basis (or even sooner). That way there will be no surprises at the end of the year. It may allow you to change direction mid-stream to refocus the program.
  • Evaluate your productivity systems and decide what you can do to improve them. They may impact your strategies and goals and perhaps will help the programs run more smoothly.

What would you like your company’s performance to be next year at this time?

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?

 

Get Big Projects Done With Block Scheduling

The Case for Block Scheduling

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?

  • It keeps you focused on the project at hand and prevents you from “flitting” from project to project with each interruption.
  • You avoid interruptions during specific blocks and gladly accept them during other blocks.
  • You accomplish more in a day.
  • Your output is likely to be better quality because you weren’t hurried and could do your best work.
  • You have better control over your schedule.
  • You can tackle big projects by breaking them down into steps and doing one or more of the steps during a block time.

Try it

  • Make an appointment with yourself and honor it the same way you’d honor a meeting.
  • Set up blocks of time on your calendar throughout the week.
  • Stick to the schedule as closely as possible, even with appointments and meetings that arise at the last minute.
  • Schedule the blocks of time when you do your best thinking and are most creative.

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.

 

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.

What Do You Do With Newly Found Time?

Has this ever happened to you? At the last minute, a client cancels or a conference call is delayed — you were prepared for the meeting that now is not taking place. What do you do with the “extra” time on your hands?

View this as an unexpected bonus … a golden opportunity that has come your way out of the blue … and make the most of it. While many may see this time as the possibility of doing something less important such as: a phone call to a friend or a chance to try a new restaurant, this may be a chance to get a meaningful task completed that will bring you closer to your goals.

Aha! This is where your daily to-do list comes in handy. You have already decided the 3 tasks that must be done for the day. (That was done the night before or at the start of the day.) Choose the task that you can accomplish during this period of time and get it done in this block of newly found time. Stay focused throughout the period of time that would have been spent in a different way, if things had gone as planned.

How have you used time that was freed up unexpectedly?

Hone Your Email Skills

As efficiency gurus, we’re all about saving time. One way is by being more efficient with your email.

Email is the #1 problem almost every business person deals with daily. It’s too easy to become so engrossed in email that you ignore today’s must-do list. We recommend using a timer or your phone to keep track of time.  How do you manage the time you spend on email? Let us know.