Ellen Faye | The Productive Leader Blog
Improving Leadership Effectiveness One Task at a Time
productivity, leadership, time management, strategic planning, volunteer and leader development, nonprofit, small business, organizations and associations
15537
paged,page-template,page-template-blog-large-image-whole-post,page-template-blog-large-image-whole-post-php,page,page-id-15537,paged-11,page-paged-11,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,footer_responsive_adv,qode-theme-ver-16.8,qode-theme-bridge,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-5.5.2,vc_responsive

The Productive Leader Blog

I recently attended a workshop on digital filing. It was clear that the concept of a paperless office was completely unrealistic. What is clear however is that we can simply reduce our use of paper by training ourselves to think differently? I pose to you the challenge of going Paper-LESS. Yes, LESS PAPER! Easy Paper-LESS changes:

  • Don’t automatically print out receipts of on-line purchases – Do file electronic confirmations in an email folder (mine is called on-line purchases!)
  • Don’t automatically print out emails you need to act on – Do put the action item into your task management system (on your to-do list, on to your calendar, etc.)
  • Don’t automatically print out airline ticket confirmations – Do put arrival and departure information (including flight numbers and confirmation codes) right onto your calendar.

These are simply places to start. However the real trick is the “automatically” part. You are going to have to change the habit you now have of hitting the print button at every turn. Instead of hitting Print try hitting a mental Pause and asking yourself “can I do with less paper?” Because when Paper-Less you have less clutter, and less clutter means fewer distractions from your important work.

 

finite research

finite research

When I was in college and had a term paper to write I would go to the Library and check out as many books and periodicals as I could find. I would read them, then write the paper. The amount of information available was finite.

It is not this way for today’s students. With the advent of computers there is no end to the amount of research that can be done. The amount of information available is infinite. But somehow, kids today have learned when enough is enough and are able to stop researching and start writing.

If your formative years were like mine, learning when to stop presents a challenge. We were taught to research a topic until all sources were exhausted. Could this be part of the reason why our work never seems to end? We were taught to research until we could research no more. Trying to do this in today’s day and age does nothing but over-stress us, over-work us, and cause us to run continually behind. We simply have access to too much information.

When working in today’s climate consider creating self-imposed limits:

  • I will research the topic for 1 hour and then act
  • I will read 4 books and 4 articles and then act
  • I will give myself one week to gather information and then act

The concept of stopping research before exhausting all options is uncomfortable for many detailed and perfectionist professionals. But when you consider the minimal incremental learning you gain from the 5th, 6th, and 7th books you will be more empowered to stop gathering and start producing. As my favorite Disney character Mary Poppins says, Enough is as Good as a Feast.

The goal of getting organized is not to be perfect; it’s to make life easier. Do you want to get your mail under control? File your paperwork? Find your summer shoes? Once I give clients permission to not be perfect their progress takes off. Ask yourself – “what is good enough?” Good enough doesn’t have to mean Pinterest perfect visuals or complex systems.

It’s always best to begin with the end in mind. If your goal is to be able to find things when you need them than that’s the type of system you should create – Consider:    (more…)

I went to a great meeting yesterday with a lot of free give-aways. I saw people taking and taking and taking. I kept thinking “Where are they going to put it all?” I thought about what it means to bring all this stuff into our homes and offices. Free isn’t really free. Bringing something into your space costs you in many different ways:

  • Freebies take your time – now you are going to have to make time to put it away. How much time will it take you to make a space for it so it can be useful? How much time will it take to figure out how to use it and when to use it?    (more…)

A crucial element of effective organization is to focus your efforts on something specific.  Work a small area at a time and don’t move on until that area is complete.

  • It is much more effective to spend one hour organizing a small area like a shelf, or a box, or an inbox than it is to spend it on a big area such as an office, a kitchen, or a file cabinet.
  • When you only do a little bit in many different areas the impact is minimal and nothing permanent gets accomplished.
  • When you do a specific space from top to bottom you end up with an organized space.

I call this my eye-dropper metaphor.  When you put a few drops of water here, a few drops there, and a few more drops somewhere else, you just have little puddles of water; but if you focus your resources into one specific space then you end up with something to show for your efforts.

Full Glass of Water

Reasons to have a garage sale:

  • You love interacting and/or haggling with people
  • You love being outside on a weekend
  • You want to support a neighborhood or organization’s sale

Reasons to donate instead:

  • You would rather make 2-4 times more money
  • You don’t want to spend 2 days setting up, one day working the sale, and one day dismantling and distributing the left-overs.
  • You would rather someone come take it all away for you or get it out right away
  • You are happy to support someone in need

(more…)