Organizing Blogs by Professional Organizers
Discover organizing tips and simple creative solutions
to help you get organized.
Tag >> productivity
Have you ever had your plans all laid out and ready to be massively productive and then….BAMM your Time Management and Productivity goes right out the window? Somebody, some thing or some event comes and destroys everything. Of course, we all have. And, let me tell you, I used to freak out. That is not the case now.
YOUR LONG LIST
No matter what our daily role, there is typically a list that is way too long for us to “think” that we can accomplish on a daily basis. After all, there are only 24 hours in a day. We all know that and have heard it and read it over and over again.
It is called…Life! Things get in our way and interfere with our strategically placed time management skills. Our productivity will typically decrease…why, because our mind is still thinking about the last crappy thing that got us distracted in the first place!
FOCUSING ON TIME MANAGEMENT AND PRODUCTIVITY
When (you know what) happens, our thought continue to shift back to “that” event that has us distracted. Being able to “deal” with an issue is one thing. Most of the time, however, the situation isn’t resolved immediately. This leaves us with lots of thoughts, in the back of our mind, about:
I know that I have said it before...the term time management is an oxymoron.
You can't make more time magically appear in your day. There are still only 24 hours to get everything done. Which is why it is exactly why your time management skills directly reflect your stress management level.
Life definitely isn't boring. Thank goodness! People, activities, challenges and responsibilities come and go in and out of our lives and business. Sometimes it seems as if just as we figure it all out, our time management talents just disappear right out the window. Stress takes over and we can easily get overwhelmed and lose momentum and focus.
Changing Up Your Time Management
Seasons come and go and with those seasons our activity levels change. More may be required of our time on the weekends as we approach Spring time...or a project may require us to work a little harder and longer than we normally already work each week. We may also take on more than we can actually handle and then find ourselves trying to figure out how to manage it all.
Nothing happens unless you are willing to do the work. Consistency is required to get more done. We talk all the time about Time Management and Getting More Done. David Allen has it So right! I love his philosophy.
Stop being wishy-washy about whether you really want to reach your goal! Whether your goal is
- Be Consistent
personal or business related, it doesn't matter. Nothing happens until something happens. And this means you doing productive activities on a consistent basis to reach your goal.
So many times, I hear people say, "it didn't work for me" or "that doesn't work for me". "I've tried everything". But, did you try it for a period of time that you can measure your results? How long did you do the same thing...consistently? Did you just do it for several weeks or even several months and then give up? Here is my philosophy. Anything worth doing is worth doing right....over and over again. And, this is called consistency.
Employees, business owners, homeowners...we can all throw all of our Time Management skills out the window when it comes to social media. According to the Nielson Report, 121 billion minutes was spent on social media in July 2012. This is compared to 88 billion minutes in July 2011. Does Social Media suck out time...absolutely!
- Medial Stats 2012
GETTING SUCKED IN TO SOCIAL MEDIA
It is, simply put, just too easy to keep scrolling and scrolling down to view what every one of your friends has posted on Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, and the other over 100 or so web sites that want you to have a presence on their site.
After all, you know the importance of Social Media to your search engines and Google search. It is part of being in business. But how do you avoid getting sucked into it all and throwing a monkey wrench into your time management schedule?
Time Management can be an oxymoron! There seems to be more and more to do every day and less time to get it all accomplished. And, whether you are trying to grow a business, manage a household or just get through life, it can just become too overwhelming. I want to share with you some time-saving techniques that I use every day! I hope that they will work for you...
USE A CALENDAR
· It doesn't matter if it is a paper calendar or a digital calendar. Manage your day, appointments and schedule with a calendar. And, the key is to keep only 1 calendar for everything. This means that it is important to determine what type of calendar is right for your personality.
· I also recommend that you use your calendar to manage your To Do Lists. Make life as simple as humanly possible!
I LOVE the Cozi calendar application which can be used for Ipad, Iphones, Androids tablets, PCs...just about every type of device that is available. And, it is Free! It allows me to manage my To Do Lists and Grocery Lists too! Having everything available in one place makes this a great tool. And, it also syncs with Outlook and Google calendars!
Do you ever become discouraged with the idea of everything that you need to do to stay organized? It is proven that being organized affects your lifestyle, family life and definitely the success of a business. What is the right answer to the age old question..."How to Stay Organized?" The truth is...the only right answer is a positive attitude toward the entire process, and don't think that you have to be perfect!
Being organized and managing your schedule, time and paper - along with clients, daily activities and having some fun is not always easy or exciting. Sometimes it is stressful and overwhelming. This can be caused by the worry about whether you are doing it right, or not. And, the abundance of applications for our android phones, iphones, tablets and computers that say that they are the answer to keeping us organized...but are they? I don't think so. I think that they have made it even harder for us to stay organized because they may not be right for your personality and organizing style.
Being organized requires habits and consistency. Developing these habits isn't always easy...especially when you are only counting on yourself to provide motivation and accountability. Have you ever noticed that it can be easy to fall into good habits when you spend time with other friends, relatives or business owners who also share your compassion for good habits? And, of course, the reverse is also true...spending your time with people who are negative, dramatic and discouraging people will also draw you into their attitude and discourage you from keeping your goals and organized. You can take on the attitude and thoughts of the people that you "hang around" and become just like them! Misery loves company! Just like the flu, being organized is contagious! You can, unconsciously, subject yourself to the flu just as easily as you can subconsciously keep yourself from getting organized. Don't let people break you down. Be happily contagious with these tips:
1. Don’t let negativity take away your happiness. If you have thoughts that continue to run through your mind, try using Bach Flower Essence - White Chestnut. Positive thoughts will help keep you organized and moving forward.
2. Dedicate yourself to embracing negative news. What happens today does not dictate your entire life. Use today as a learning experience to move on to tomorrow.
So what...you show up for appointments on time. You can officially say that you have marked 10 different tasks off of your To Do List today. You can find everything that you need, when you need it. But how productive are you, really?
Productive - according to Mirriam Webster Dictionary is defined as having the quality or power of producing especially in abundance or yielding results; benefits or profit;s or yielding or devoted to the satisfaction of wants or the creation of utilities.
So you may have the most organized office ever! People may walk in and actually say...WOW! Your office looks great. Are you simply just walking-the-walk by having people believe that you are productive and successful or are you just organized? Being organized and being productive are not the same.
Productivity is related to us actually completing our tasks, assignments, chores...whatever and however you may relate. Productivity is determined by the results that we achieve. Starting activities, as mentioned above, and then abruptly stopping them is counter-productive and honestly this is where most businesses, especially Entrepreneurs, get lost. I often hear the familiar words..."I tried that but it didn't work for me". My next comment is typically, "Why"? If it is an activity that doesn't resonate with your personality, then you are absolutely correct. The technique that you are using to reach your goal may not work for your personality and affect your productivity. However, there are many cases where things "don't work" and produce the desired result simply because the Entrepreneur gives up. The fact that an activity, application, or system isn't productive may be directly related back to the individual who gave up within weeks, days or hours of starting the process.
Being Productive in our daily lives means having a system, process or "way" of doing everything...mostly very simple things...easily. This is how we will achieve results. What could, should or would take one person 5 minutes to do can take another person over thirty minutes to accomplish. And, no, this would not relate to the amount of time that it takes you to do something that you have never, ever done before. I am talking about simple, everyday tasks that we make more difficult than they need to be. This can be accomplished by over-thinking the tasks, purposefully putting it off (procrastination) or simply not realizing options that are available to us.
Do you struggle with the ability to get organized - and then stay organized? We are driven by motivation to get things organized but what happens? Everything can sometimes fall through the cracks. Jim Rohn describes Motivation and Habits as follows: "Motivation is what gets you started and habit keeps you there".
So what is motivating you to get organized? I love to pretend that family is coming to visit (and will be spending the night). This is motivation to organize a specific space - not just throw it into the never-ending, piled high guest bedroom! It is really interesting how we value what others think of our space and our ability to be organized. And for your office, the first impression that people have of your office speaks volumes.
I remember visiting a print company years ago and felt embarrassed for them. They had a customer come in to make copies on a specific type of paper - a paper that this company bragged about carrying! And, when the customer went into the store front, they ended up helping the owner look for the box of paper. I was appalled!! What in the world? How unprofessional is that? You are, after all, a printing company...right!
Motivation is the driving force that allows us to get more done in less time. Stop procrastinating and be productive. This morning, while on an Organized Mom phone call, the first words from my "moms" mouth were...Today my focus is to catch-up on a few things from over the weekend and my goal is to complete my school work by Thursday. Because...my mother is coming into town to visit this weekend and I want to make sure that I have time to spend with her, without being stressed out! Absolutely amazing! I was so proud of her. This is the same person that would have give me a yes, but....for everything just a few short weeks ago. She felt driven, responsible and (more than anything else) responsible for reaching her goals. This is partially because of her new habit - she holds a Sunday night meeting with her family to talk about what is on the schedule for the week. She knows in advance what is expected and how she can handle everything. I'm so proud.
Motivation is excitement and a positive attitude and will keep you moving forward to reach your goals - no matter what may come up! Motivation results in the completion of productive work and activities vs. the incompletion of useless, ineffective and meaningless activities. Motivation also helps produce beneficial habits that you can use every day to get more done. Habits are the result of motivation and a benefit to our everyday lives.
When you look at your day and try to figure out how to get it all done does it drive you crazy? Do you just get stressed out and want to throw your hands up into the air? Because...after all, how will you get it all done? Time management just doesn't seem to work because there isn't enough time to fit it all in. How can you begin to manage it? And the time spent trying to manage your time can seem like it is costing you time - stop the madness! This is why I have changed my mind set to use the term Schedule Management.
After all, the number of negative thoughts that we have passing through our ears every day is what...20,000? I've heard and seen so many different numbers - what I do know is that they are abundant. And what we accomplish every day is directly related to the thoughts that we tell ourselves. If we tell ourselves there just isn't enough time, we will make sure that there isn't enough time - and that we don't accomplish what needs to be done or reach our goals.
Schedule Management is crucial to managing our day. What we put on our schedule determines what we are doing every day. Over-scheduling ourselves will put us in survival mode and ultimately on a path to avoidance and overwhelm. And Schedule Management also allows us to control our behavior better. It makes it easier to tell someone "No" because you are very well aware of what you have time for and what you don't have time for in your day. Saying "No" doesn't have to be a negative remark. It just means that you can't do it right now...you may have time in your schedule to get it done tomorrow. And if that project can't wait until tomorrow, then, possibly someone else can step up to the plate.
Busy people get things done. They are focused on productivity, opportunity and management of their daily schedule. If I have a choice to ask someone for help, I will always chose to work with a busy person vs. a person who struggles to get out of bed in the morning or someone who begins their day after noontime. By noontime, I have typically checked off 50% of the things on my list of things To Do.
Of course, things will come up! We can't manage every minute without the possibility of something popping up that demands our attention. That just isn't realistic! Because life will happen, with or without our permission! I know this first hand. However...when this happens, it makes it much easier and quicker to be able to adjust your day and still be able to get things done in a timely manner.
Staying Organized When Life Happens
Mostly everyone can relate to this situation. Your day is planned out, you've got your To Do List in hand. You are on track, on target and nothing is stopping you from staying organized today, keeping your goals and saying to yourself...Job Well Done! Until--
Life Happens and throws in a curve ball that you totally weren't expecting and weren't ready to handle. Your personality takes over and now it is time for you to stop everything and give all of your time and energy to this new project or event. There is a need to spend time researching the situation so that you make a smart decision. You'll need to lay out your new To Do List to handle your crisis (at least in your mind). Then, call the right people to get their opinion (which keeps you on the phone for hours). And, your To Do List just got tossed out the window.
I can relate! I had it happen this week. For the last few months my phone number has been acting really strange. Dropping calls, loosing service totally and just really flaky and really weird things happening. Then, the manure hit the oscillator and everything shut down. It was like I was disconnected from the world and I didn't like that feeling of being disconnected. I felt totally unorganized. So, here are my tips to Staying Organized When Life Happens.
First - Take a giant step back from your emotions. Close your eyes, breathe, use some Essential Oils (Frankincense is good to keep you thinking free and clear).
Knowing…What is Your Next Step?
What an amazing Saturday morning! I volunteered to be part of a huge Organization Project. And, while I was excited to be able to participate, it seemed just a little daunting too. There were so many steps involved from beginning to end. And if just one little step is left out – well, the entire project can take a turn that would and could cost hours of time and energy.
Saturday, I had the opportunity to feel excitement, pride and sadness as well as the Blue Star Mothers of Fredericksburg joined together to package over 100 boxes to mail to our troops who are serving overseas. What amazed me the most was the organization that was involved in the preparation and packaging to mail these boxes.
This endeavor required some of the most advanced prep-work and organization of any project that I have ever worked with before. It began with the collection and organization of the baby wipes, candy, tissues, soap, deodorant, shampoo, toothpaste and toothbrushes and every other essential that was to be mailed to our troops. Every category had be sorted, organized and put into a separate bin prior to the event.
Preparation, coordination and organization of any project in advance will ensure that the project runs smoothly. It can be really easy to want to jump to step 5 of a project, especially if you really don’t resonate or “want” to do steps 1-4. They just aren’t any fun, but step 5…that Rocks!
In your life, business and homes it is important to think of what is involved to reach your goal. Strategically thinking ahead of all of the steps that are required to reach our ultimate goal – in this case, the boxes delivered to the post office – was essential to the success of your project. It may be helpful to you if you write down every step that needs to happen in order to reach your goal. This can also be a real eye-opener because of everything that is involved. It may seem very daunting. Remember, you don’t have to be the hero and do it by yourself. Call on your friends, family and members of your group to take a part in the process. Don’t be selfish! Let others help you along the way.
As an Entrepreneur or the owner of a home-based business it is typically necessary for you to hold meeting outside of your home office. You probably have your favorite coffee shop where you can meet with potential clients or network your business. But how do you handle the need to carry all of the materials required for you to show your professionalism. Do you have a briefcase that you carry everything in? Are you too embarrassed to have a potential client "see" your briefcase because it is a disaster? Are you embarrassed for anyone to see your car (since you "live" in your car, it can have a tendency to look like a bomb has gone off in it)?
I started this journey over 10 years ago when I signed on with a National MLM Company - which I won't name. In the 7 years with the company I noticed one major flaw. It seemed that every quarter someone (probably from Corporate), came up with a "better and easier" way to organize all of my supplies. This usually meant me making a purchase of some kind of organizing bag for display purposes and reorganizing, yet again, how I was transporting my materials in order to hold appointments. Here are my top 3 Lessons Learned regarding having a Traveling Office.
Now, as a true Entrepreneur, the issue is the same. I need to have brochures, business cards, potential client forms, etc. available - and a way to make notes (and then follow-up with those notes). Here are a few tips I have learned over the years:
1. Have a specific plan for where everything goes. Don't allow yourself to be lazy and just place an item "somewhere" (for right now). Odds are that you won't remember where you put it, get frustrated and then your first thought will be...this systems doesn't work for me! When, actually, you aren't working with your system. Consistency in where everything is kept is crucial when organizing your Traveling Office. I recommend using a portable portfolio or file box if you need to carry paperwork. Keep extra copies of what you need filed away so that they can be found quickly and easily. For your computer or tablet use a traveling tote that shows your professionalism. To work with other professionals, you must be a professional yourself.
2. Don't allow papers to run around "loose" in your car. They will get damaged or torn. If you are carrying around brochures, your image will be based on whether your paperwork is neat and tidy or whether your paperwork has corners that have been turned down and torn. And remember...you paid good money for those brochures - having to throw them away would not be a good ROI. Again, keep everything within your Portable Portfolio or File Box in your car.
This Article was contributed by Melanie Yost, LCSW. Author, Speaker and Business Mentor
Time Management is an oxymoron. I've always said that we can't manage time...we are in charge of what, when and how we use our time every day. Distractions are unavoidable, and how we gather ourselves up from the dust and continue onto the next obstacle will dictate our progress. My good friend, mentor and business coach just wrote this article yesterday and I just had to share her words of wisdom.
Time management is a hot topic! There are all kinds of tools, techniques and trainings to help you take control and manage your time. The funny thing is, I really don't believe that you can manage time. Albert Einstein proved with his theory of relativity that time as we think of it doesn't really exist and that we have the ability to expand or contract our perception of time with where we focus our thoughts and energy.
So, instead of talking about time management to help us be more productive, I think the real issues are actually self management and schedule management.
When you are a business owner, you are the one who establishes priorities, determines deadlines and sets your schedule. Because you have to wear so many hats every day, it is very easy to become distracted by the people, tasks and priorities competing for your attention. In order to be productive and feel accomplished at the end of the day, you need to exercise some self management and schedule management strategies.
Identify your time wasters. What are the things you do that eat up a lot of your time? For the next week, carry a note book around and keep track of everything you do and how much time you spend doing it during your work day. This will only work if you are willing to be really honest with yourself.
Remove distractions. Once you have identified your time wasters, eliminate them from your work day. If there are things that are necessary to your business but end up eating up a lot of your time (social media, email), then plan them into your schedule for specific amounts of time and use a timer to indicate it's time to move on. During times when you really need to focus on a task, turn off your email, silence your phone and text alerts and close out your social media pages.
Know what works best for your personality. Are you someone who needs large chunks of time to complete projects and tasks all at once or do you do better breaking the project into bite sized chunks and completing it in multiple small increments of time? I personally do better with large chunks of time so I can really focus on a task or project. When I am transitioning between tasks, I can end up getting distracted and wasting a lot of time. Other people get overwhelmed with too much time and allow themselves to be distracted because they think they have plenty of time and end feeling frustrated and non-productive.
Cluster your activities. This is a tactic I have used for many years to manage my schedule. Because I know I waste a lot of time during transitions, I group similar activities together. When I have phone appointments, I do my best to schedule them around each other. On days when I have a meeting or appointment out of the office, I schedule all my other out of office meetings on that day if possible. As much as possible, I schedule meetings and appointments back to back. I always leave one day a week with no scheduled appointments so that I can take care of the creative and administrative tasks of my business (newsletter, copy writing, content creation, marketing strategies).
Make a list of tasks you need to complete during the week and plan them into your schedule. I still keep a paper schedule (yes, I'm old fashioned) so after I have clustered my appointments and meetings, I estimate how much time my creative and administrative tasks are going to take me and I write them into my schedule. If you find yourself spending hours managing your email, schedule time to check it twice a day for ½ hour each time. When the time allotted for the task is over, move on to the next task.
Schedule mini breaks into your day so that you can refocus and re-energize. Every 90 minutes, take a 10 minute break to stretch, get some tea, step outside, get a snack . . . whatever it takes to refresh yourself.
By managing myself and my schedule in these ways, I was able to build my coaching business from the ground up while running my full time therapy practice and being a hands-on mom to my young daughter. I would love to hear what you are able to accomplish with using these tools and techniques.
Linda Clevenger, Speaker and Professional Organizer Organization Direct www.organizationdirect.com
Don't Give Up on Yourself
Well, we are 10 weeks into the year and how are you feeling about your goals for this year? Have you given up already or are you feeling regenerated about how much you have achieved?
Remember that the goals that you made at the beginning of the year may have already changed. And if getting yourself, your life or your business organized was one of your goals events may have occurred that took you off track - just a little.
Don't be discouraged. That is the great thing about goals, they can always be readjusted, reworked and reset. The only person getting in the way of you reaching your goals is you! The key to reaching goals is consistency in your reality and persistency in your pursuit.
If you are like me, obstacles have already presented themselves. Things just came up last week that tried to refocus my concentration from what is important. And it wasn't just one thing but, as Murphy's Law would suggest, there were 3 things back to back that required my attention and in a really short period of time too.
Taking Action to Get Organized
What is it going to take to organized your home or office? The more that you think about it, the more it makes you feel yucky. You just don't feel like doing it and yet, you are too embarrassed to have someone come in to help. It is going to require your time, energy, motivation, encouragement, desire and taking action. It isn't going to get done by itself. You have made the decision, and not it's time to take action.
Where to begin? The logistics of getting a space organized can be mind boggling. Do you start with the paperwork and filing or maybe the elimination of items that you just can't seem to get rid of. Do you possibly need help getting rid of things? And when will it fit into your schedule because, there are three ways that it will get done.
1. Rearrange your schedule so that you can still keep your family and business up and running. If you are a morning person, get up and spend an extra 30-60 minutes each morning on organizing. I recommend that you take the time, the evening before, to write down what it is that you are going to do, since you'll be starting it first thing!
2. Find your time-suckers. I guarantee that you will be able to find wasted time during your day. What is it that drains your time? The most common time-sucker is email. Putting a time limit on checking your emails will give you "found time" that you can use to get yourself organized.
Do you seem busier than ever, but feel like you can't get anything accomplished?
This problem seems exaggerated by all of these high tech communication tools we use every day. Personally, I struggle with getting my "real work" accomplished while I respond to emails, phone calls, Internet research, and now social media. Even though I know how to manage it, I find it hard to have the discipline needed to spend time working on the "real work" instead of spending time on the "fun stuff". Getting real about the time you spend on all of your daily activities helps you understand how to better manage your time.
How to "Get Real"
* Track the time time you spend each day on ALL of your activities. I recommend an online stopwatch tool (www.online-stopwatch.com). Start and stop the clock when you switch activities. Since it runs in your web browser, keep it open throughout the day.
* Write each activity down in your calendar or on a sheet of paper. At this point, do not change your normal behavior. You need to have a realistic picture of actual time spent, not what you think you should be spending.
* Track how many times you go in and out of email.
Last week I attended the annual conference of the National Association of Professional Organizers! If you can imagine a conference that is run more smoothly and organized, let me know!!! We had a blast in Orlando discovering new products, new services, new books, new ideas (yes, I am rambling) and rekindling friendships from all over the world. Who knew there is a need for organizing in areas like Bermuda, Japan, New Zealand and France? It just goes to show how everyone is looking for a little more order in their lives, no matter where they live.
You may think as we all meet that we are learning new ways to put items in a pretty container, but it was so much more. As organizers, our goal is to help you discover why you are disorganized and ways to help you create new habits to overcome disorganization.
We've all heard the phrase "waste not, want not". It means that if we don't waste what we have, we will not be in need in the future. In general, I think this is a great rule to follow. The recent recession has caused a lot of us to rethink how we spend our time, money and efforts, and motivated us to reuse and recycle a lot more. But what happens when you take this philosophy too far?
As I talk to my organizing clients about why they keep as much as they do, I often hear them say "It would be a shame to let anything go to waste". The irony here is that they are, in fact, wasting an awful lot by hanging on to so much stuff.
The old saying was, "A stitch in time saves nine." Recently I did something on two separate occasions with regard to shopping expeditions that would validate this statement. From a time management point of view, I had meant to save time but instead ended up turning an extra five minutes into additional trips consuming more than an hour each.
The issue was trying on clothes, deciding which to purchase, heading for the cash register, and being sidetracked by another item-impulse buying. I would add that new item to my soon-to-be purchases. Instead of going back and trying this new piece on, I decided it should be fine. I really didn't want to spend the time returning to the dressing room and trying on one more thing-another five minutes. I continued to the cash register, paid for everything, and then after I got home found that there were problems with the last items that I couldn't have noticed without actually trying them on.