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.
The only reason to get organized is to get something you want but don’t have. I’m sure you’re familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, but have you ever thought about this from an organizational perspective. Getting organized and being more productive is a direct way to satisfy a basic human need.
But how do you motivate yourself to GET ORGANIZED?
Focus on what you want, not what you don’t want:
Don’t say: I can never find anything
Do say: I want to be able to find what I need it when I need it
Understand the benefits of getting organized:
Your most important work gets done
You waste less time looking for things you know you have but can’t find
You spend less money buying things you know you already have
You have peace of mind and are able to enjoy life more
Define “organized” on your own terms:
Organized doesn’t mean pristine or perfect
Organized means you can find what you need when you need it
Let go of perfection and go for “organized enough”
My motivation to be organized is Peace of Mind What’s yours?
On the quest to minimize paper I will share with you a tip that helps me a lot. I have a designated holding zone. This is where I put things that I don’t need now, but am not quite ready to do something with or get rid of.
Remembering the proven statistic that 80-85% of all papers put into files are never referenced again it helps to explain the purpose of the Holding Zone. Think of it as a step on the path to the recycle bin, but with the opportunity to retrieve it if need be. When I do my weekly office organizing session I work to make all the paper go away. But there are always a few things that I am not quite ready to toss and don’t want to put into my reference files or my action system. My solution is to pop them right into my holding zone.
It is important to go through the holding zone ever 2 or 3 months to see what can be moved out (filed, recycled or act on) so this area remains functional, otherwise you’ll just end up with an out-of-control mess. (To get into the habit, I recommend you calendar “process holding zone” every other month.)
The holding zone can be a file, a bin, a basket or a level of a letter tray. I use a letter tray because that’s easy for me. What kinds of things do I have in my holding zone? Here’s a sampling:
The certificate for the two hours of tech support I won at the silent auction
Notes from a project that I completed but want to keep around for a bit just in case
A sample of a marketing campaign from a local theater that I liked and might want to do something with
An idea for a product that I might want to do something with
Once again, remember that if the system isn’t easy, it’s too hard. Find an out of the way yet accessible place and set up your holding zone today.
If you follow my blog or get my weekly tip you’ll know we’ve talked about the importance of scheduling time to go through your papers on a weekly basis. Today I’ll share with you the most important tip to process your papers most effectively.
The Secret: Each time you pick up a piece of paper during your paper processing session ask yourself:
How can I make this piece of paper go away?
Put the contact information into your smartphone – you’ll be able to find it when you need it and you won’t have to keep the card or scrap of paper
Put the events on your calendar including details – you will know you have it scheduled and you won’t have to keep the flyer
Make an Evernote – if you have a note with something you need to remember – put it where you can find it. As we talked about last week, EVERNOTE is a fabulous application that crosses platforms and can be accessed from your smartphone, tablet, or computer.
Put a corresponding to-do on your task list and place the paper in your “working on now” pile
And then there is always file, shred, and recycle.
When you reduce the paper in your office your productivity soars. The more paper you eliminate the easier each future weekly processing session becomes. Remember to ALWAYS ask yourself “How can I make this piece of paper go away?”
“NO” is the most powerful productivity tool ever! As the new year is upon us, with all our new goals and aspirations, it is easy to get caught up in the vortex of hoarding opportunities. With the myriad of information and prospective “things” we can do with our time, money, and energy staying focused is … hard.
To effectively evaluate if you should say “YES,” getting clear about what is important is critical. (Check out my 10 Minute Goal Setting Blog Post if you need some direction with this.) Remember, that when you say “YES” to one thing you are saying “NO” to something else. Your resources are not endless! Filter questions include:
If I say YES to this opportunity, what will I be saying NO to?
Will saying YES help me achieve something valuable, useful, or important?
Will saying NO be a relief?
Once you are clear with what’s important saying “NO” becomes much easier.
I spent some time in our storage room on Sunday getting rid of stuff. My business wardrobe from the ’80’s is now sitting on the front stoop waiting for pick up from the Vietnam Vets (www.ScheduleAPickUp.com).
Sunday morning I wasn’t aware that those suits were even in my home. Today I’m sad. It is the end of an era (NO ELLEN – that era was over long ago – no respectable women feels like they have to dress like a man today). But, I’m highly confident that tomorrow I will have forgotten that those suits have moved storage locations. I have a picture of my favorite navy suit – I wore it for a photo shoot for a hotel I managed – it’s in the brochure. That’s much better.
Goodbye skis I bought before Alex was born (soon to be 21), I’m sure you’re not safe anymore. Pack ‘N Play that I kept in case someone needed one…I suspect your not safe anymore either – but I’ll leave that up to the experts to decide. So long work bins I’ve evolved out of…it’s time for you all to go back to the universe and to someone who can really use you.
Ellen Delap (www.professional-organizer.com) posted a great Psychology Today article earlier this week about what happens to the brain when we let go of something. Letting go activates the part of the brain that is tied to identity…like you are giving away a part of yourself. Author Kelly McGonigal Ph.D. talks about how to strengthen your willpower and separate. (And for my NAPO colleagues – it’s very cool that both experts sited in this article were our keynote speakers at NAPO2013).
Interesting…I already feel better with my stuff out of the house – but it did sting for a second.
If you’ve subscribed to my weekly tips for awhile you’ll know that I try to get away a couple of times a year for a few days of retreat. I’ve just returned from Kripalu (http://kripalu.org/about_us/435/) and feel much more clear and focused. I’m pretty sure that this quiet week of learning and renewal is one of the best things I do to keep myself productive.
With the numerous demands in today’s crazy-busy world, good productivity practices focus on doing the work that matters most. But, when our minds are full, and bodies exhausted, it’s hard to think clearly enough to know which exactly those things are. Quite and reflection helps me to identify where in-fact my priorities lay. It helps me identify what my most important work is.
The definition of memento is “an object kept as a reminder or souvenir of a person or event.”
An important aspect of getting organized is streamlining your things – removing the things that don’t matter so you can focus on and enjoy the things that do matter. Time and time again I see clients put inanimate objects ahead of their own well-being, desiring to hold on to something, when in fact, it takes away from their quality of life.
At this time of year when time and space are at a premium, it’s helpful to clear space quickly and without much emotional investment. Be it at home or at the office, there is ALWAYS too much information around. Imagine the space you can make by doing a quick publications purge.
Here are some thoughts to help you move them from prime space to the recycling bin:
Many of the magazines we have today are freebies that are sent to raise the subscription rates to attract more advertisers…you didn’t ask for them, are they really worth your time and space? Continue reading »