Organize + Energize: 9 Ways to Maximize Your Productivity at Work
Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Here are 9 systems you’ll need:
Process your mail. Many people have difficulty with paper management. Most have difficulty setting up and following through with a system. I can’t stress this enough: Process your mail every day. As soon as you touch it, either file it, attach to your to-do list to take care of during the week, shred it or handle it right away. It will be easier to take 5 minutes and tackle it when it arrives than to spend hours on it at the end of the month.
Process your email. Create categorized folders. Have a process to handle an email as soon as you open it. Treat it just as you would treat your physical mail. Decide whether to send it to a folder, trash it, act on it, or print it and attach it to your to-do list. Remember, sometimes it’s easier to pick up the phone and discuss than to send numerous emails back and forth.
Work with a to-do list. Keep a daily to-do list. Whether you keep a to-do list on paper or in your electronics, just do it. Make a to-do list every night before you leave work. You’ll know exactly what you need to do when you arrive to work the next day. This process will keep you on track with your day. Clear the mental clutter by getting things out of your head and onto paper.
Filing systems. Without filings systems, piles will form, and chaos will ensue. If you need to locate an important paper, you should be able to locate it in less than 10 seconds. Keep files that you utilize on a daily basis close to you. Files that you use less frequently, you can keep in another area of the office. I’ve seen many important business deals that fell through, found significant sums of money and very important documents in piles of papers on desks because business owners didn’t have filing systems in place.
Keep track of your bills. When a bill arrives on your desk or through email, be sure to have a process in place to pay these bills. If you’re receiving bills through the mail, create a system where the bills aren’t lying around on your desk buried under papers. Incorporate due dates into your calendar to remind you to pay and file immediately after you pay them.
Business cards. When you start your new business, you’re going to meet many new people. You must develop a system to file your business cards. Whether it is through electronics or good old rolodex, or a binder with clear card inserts, you must have a system. Work with it for a little while and tweak it after a few months.
Handle phone calls and voice mail. Set aside time to retrieve and return calls. Keep a message pad for your messages. Utilizing a book will allow you to refer back to important dates, conversations and phone numbers. Try not to keep sticky notes or loose message papers on your desk. Utilize your calendar to remind you to follow-up with clients in a timely manner.
Workspace. Have a place for everything at your desk. Only keep items you use on a daily basis on your desk. At the end of the day, your desk should be clear. Have an organized pile that you need to work on the next day with your to-do list on top of the pile. Try to avoid having a corkboard at your desk with too much information pinned to it. Less is more. Keep it contained to a binder or stored on your computer. Utilize drawer organizers and organizing supplies to keep you organized.
Time management. Be as efficient and productive as you can be. If you’re a disorganized person, you have to get organized in order to have great time management skills. Take a look at your physical space, get organized and then you’ll realize that your time management skills may fall into place.
Just because your fellow business owners have a smooth system that works for them, doesn’t mean it will work for you. Evaluate how you function and create a system that works for you. Keep your systems simple and streamlined. Many offices I work with have made attempts at getting organized, but the systems have failed and a new attempt at another system was never made. Once you create a system, re-visit the system in a couple of months and tweak what isn’t working to make it work better for you.
Related Slideshow: 10 Areas You Find Most Challenging to Get Organized
Paper in any form
This was the most challenging space! 91% of people surveyed stated paper was their biggest headache. Just because we are in this digital age, people think paper is going to disappear. As long as we have mail, and paper at work, kid’s school papers, etc., paper is going to be around for a very long time. We need to develop systems to organize and maintain our paper clutter.
To stay on top of an organized closet, you should be emptying your closet twice a year. Switch your closets in the spring and fall. This will force you to take inventory of the contents of the closet. You’ll never know what’s hiding in the back corners of your closet unless you take everything out.
When was the last time you emptied your entire food closet down to bare shelves? I asked this question at my last presentation and not one person could remember. Some said the last time their food pantry was empty was when they first moved in and others stated it had been years. Have garbage bags on hand. In every kitchen I organize, we throw out at least three garbage bags of expired food.
This is the black hole of the house. If an item doesn’t have a home, it usually gets thrown in the basement on a shelf. You’ll walk into the basement one day and wonder how did it get so bad? The first thing you need to do in the basement is declutter, then categorize items and then decide how you want to function going forward. Measure your space and choose shelving units that will fit what you need to hold. Block off 3 hours and don’t leave the basement during that time. Staying in the room will keep you focused.
The garage is an area similar to the basement. The garage tends to be a drop spot for outdoor items and usually there isn’t any organization. Most tend to regret not organizing the garage when they find they can’t park their cars in the garage in the winter months when it’s snowing. Put this project on your to-do list this fall.
Office at work
Most will say they don’t have time to tackle this area, but think about the time you are wasting by not being organized. The office can be challenging for some because you have paper, closet space, desk space and bookshelves. Most get overwhelmed and stressed just thinking about tackling this space. They think it’s easier to function this way than to actually tackle the project.
Another one of those black holes like the basement. You rarely venture into the attic and you continue to toss items in there that don’t have a home. The garage, basement and attic are really challenging areas because you don’t spend much time in them. Think about how you want to function in these spaces. Streamline and maximize this space. This room should have a purpose.
When items are just thrown into this closet without being contained, chaos will ensue. Empty the entire closet, categorize, itemize and then measure the space. Purchase containers to match the space and what you have to hold. It’s all about maximizing space in this closet and being able to put your hand on something without moving five other items out of the way.
This is a tough project even for people who are organized. Memorabilia items and photos are a challenge because as you go through them, you tend to reminisce. Save this for the last project on your list of areas to organize. Once you begin, just focus on tossing and keeping and then reminisce when the decluttering process is completed.
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