A friend shared a blog posted with some quick easy organizing tips this morning and that got me thinking about productivity and organizing. I try to keep a productivity voice to my blog – it’s what I do and who I am. But, sometimes good old fashion SPACE CLEARING is the one thing you need to do to be most productive. Everything I talk about is a cross between getting organized and being more productive – they are not separate, getting organized is what you do to make yourself more productive. So in honor of Jodi’s post, here are a few tips to help you clear some space.
A PLACE FOR EVERYTHING: The greatest benefit of having a place for everything is NOT that you know where to find something when you need it (though that is lovely), it’s so you have a place to put things so they are not sitting around cluttering up your physical or emotional space. I always think more clearly when my space is clear and it only takes a moment to put things in their place. Having THE place is the secret. Here’s an example:
Unattached or Unidentified Cords and Wires – everyone has them. My solution is to create a MYSTERY CORDS and WIRES BOX. When I’m looking for a cord or wire I know exactly where to go look. But the best part is that cords don’t clutter my surfaces, if I have one I toss it in the box.
LESS IS MORE: Seriously it is. When you have too much stuff you can’t see what’s important. If you leave everything out so you can find it you won’t really be able to find anything. The #1 tip for keeping stuff under control is to have less. It’s less to take care of, less to manage, less to clean. And the reality is you don’t NEED everything you think you need. We keep stuff to make ourselves feel better and it actually makes us feel worse.
I challenge you to an experiment. Pick one thing today (pens, Tupperware, magazines, business cards) and do a purge. Divide them into 3 piles – love, don’t need and not sure. Donate the “don’t needs”, put back the “loves,” and tuck the “not-sures” out of the way for access later just in case. Let me know if it’s not easier.
START WITH A CLEAN SLATE: When you start fresh it’s so much easier to make good choices. Start planning your week with a fresh to-do list, start working for the day with a clear desk surface, start cooking dinner with a clean kitchen, start figuring out what you need for your fall wardrobe by organizing your closet. Leaving old stuff just clutters everything up. Clear your space and you WILL be more productive.
Delegation is sharing some of your responsibilities with the people that work with you. The leader who is not delegating is trying to do it all, and we know how well that works out… There is only one of you and your job isn’t to do everything, it’s to drive the important work.
Just as setting priorities for ourselves is critical to goal achievement, helping our team learn to set priorities is critical too (this works at work, at home and in volunteer settings.)
Delegating priority tasks is great, but without follow up and accountability it almost seems that delegating is more trouble than it’s worth. However, when done well it’s a game changer. All of a sudden you are free to drive forward.
A good delegation system has the following components:
Delegate clearly – specifically identify the what, the how and the when
Confirm understanding – ask the assignee to repeat back the assignment to ensure that you’ve been as clear as you need to be
Be available – your job is now to mentor and support. If there are questions, the assignee needs to feel safe coming to you for direction
Follow up – if you don’t hold the assignee and YOURSELF accountable the assignment will not make it to the top of anyone’s priority list.
My accountability partner of choice for delegating is Evernote. Evernote has some great features that makes it an ideal follow-up tool:
Working from your computer you can add a table to an Evernote.
The check box helps you keep current on completion status
You can add to and change your list from your computer, tablet or smartphone
You can add new tasks to the top or insert rows and columns as needed
You can create a completed tasks table or simply delete them.
You can create multiple notes for different people on your team and use this as your guide each time you meet with them.
Nothing beats follow-up for motivating completion of a delegated task. Let Evernote help.
With the summer coming to a close it’s good to remember that vacations are exciting – but getting back to routine reduces stress. Part of being organized and productive is having routines. They enable us to enjoy the doing more – to be more creative and effective – with less effort. When routines becomes “routine” life is just easier.
Are there things you do regularly in life that would be easier if you made them part of your routine? I know there are in my life. When I have a routine I don’t spend time worrying when I’m going to do something, or if I’ve missed opportunities or deadlines. The task is on autopilot. It takes care of itself until it’s time to do it again.
What can you autopilot? Here are some ideas:
Bill Paying – set up a system to check bills on a regular basis. Even if you do most of your bill paying on line, it still takes a degree of supervision. I pay my bills on the 10th and 25th of each month. I don’t worry about it in between. Other people like to pick one day of the week (each Sunday night or Monday morning), or do it three times a month – the 1st, 10th and 20th. What works for you? Put it on your calendar with follow up reminders until it becomes routine.
Blogging – My blog posts are written on Tuesday morning between 7:30 and 9:30 am. If I have a meeting or client or am out of town, I move it to Wednesday morning. I know I won’t do it Monday night – so I build in a more realistic option.
Processing Email – I check each morning for anything that is urgent and address it. I handle those and leave the rest for non-prime time. I build time into my schedule to review and process the remainder.
Processing Regular Mail – Each day I look at my mail. If someone sends something I didn’t ask for or need and takes my time and space to review I recycle right off the bat. I put my bills where they belong, I put my coupons where they belong, and I put other things that need action where they belong. It is in the system and then I don’t have stacks of unaddressed things that become overwhelming.
What do you do regularly that would benefit from routine? Contacting clients, grocery shopping, making phone calls, doing laundry?
Now here is a secret! A routine is nothing more than a system or a process. Creating a system for doing what you do all the time is the secret to having less stress in your life. Put the things you have control over on autopilot and free up your better self for the more challenging important things.