Submitted by: www.orderfromchaos.com
1. What to Keep and What to Toss
Most of us keep way too much stuff and for all the wrong reasons. Often that is because we don't know the rules of what to keep and what to toss. It's simple. Of each piece ask these three questions:
Apply these three questions to everything and you'll be amazed how clear your office is, how useable your kitchen counters are, and you'll be able to fit passengers in your car again.
2. Write Everything Down
The average business person receives 240 requests for their time and energy each day. With the increase in spam, it's probably higher! Contrast those numbers with the fact that the average human brain can only keep 7 things in short term memory and you begin to see the problem. We can't remember it all (any of it?) anymore. Therefore, we need to write those requests down. But, not on post-it notes or stray scraps of paper or the backs of envelopes. We need to write them down in one place, where there is actually room to capture them. That means a two page per day calendar system (blank on the left page for notes, and with a to-do list and a schedule on the right page). You can even make one out of a spiral notebook, as long as you date the pages into the future. You MUST be able to write into the future, as most truly important things don't need doing today, but they do need to be done soon. Especially capture your interrupted interruptions. How often are you doing task one, get interrupted to do interruption one, get interrupted during interruption one for interruption two, and by the time you get back to your desk, you've totally forgotten interruption one? You'll remember when you're driving home, or when you sit straight up in bed at 3 a.m.! So, write it all down, write it in the same calendar, and write it down when you need to do it.
3. File 90% Right Now!
Those of us who are disorganized are allergic to drawers - file drawers, dresser drawers, any drawers. We have this out-of-sight-out-of-mind fear, so we want it right out where we can see it (this is really the "I'll-leave-something-out-to-remind-me" method, but that's a different tip). What we need is a way to have it out where we can see it, but piled vertically rather than horizontally. For this, we need a very nice tool available from Office Depot, the wire file cart. It is about as long as a filing cabinet drawer, holds hanging folders and is made of heavy wire mesh (open), short (fits under your desk) and on wheels (mobile). What you do with the "Hot File" as I call it, is to create a folder for the things you touch everyday or every other day, no less frequently than that. What are those things you ask - usually current clients, current projects and frequently repeated tasks.
Do you realize 90% of the stuff you save is a current client, current project or frequently repeated task? That's why you can do 90% of your filing right now! This is a fabulous tool for the home as well (they have a smaller one for that). It should be kept right next to the place where your stuff lands when you come in (you know, the kitchen counter, dining room table, top of the dryer, that place). That way you have a place for "bills to pay" and "bank statements" and "catalogs to peruse" as well as "owners manuals."
4. Since You Never Get Done
We never get done anymore, do we? No matter how long we work, how hard we work, or how much work we take home, we just never get done, do we? Welcome to the twenty-first century. Unless something drastic happens, it is not going to get better; it will probably get worse. So, how do we stay sane in this crazy making culture? Your goal is not to get done. Your goal is to accomplish the 7 most important things each day. No, I didn't say 7 things. I said the 7 most important things. There is a difference. If you accomplish the 7 most important things each day, you will be in the 3% of human beings on the face of the earth. I know it sounds simple, but you will be surprised how seldom you will get all 7 done, but when you do, sit back, relax, eat some chocolate and party, because you're in the 3%, you little achiever, you!
5. You Need a Cockpit
What's a cockpit? Just like a pilot, you need to have the tools you use frequently easily accessible to you, and nothing else. How do you do that? Imagine sitting at your desk. The tools you use every single day should be in hands reach, right out in the open where you can just pick them up and use them! The corollary is true as well; everything in hands reach should be something you use daily - bye bye beanie babies! The tools you use one a week should be in your cockpit, but now you may need to turn around, reach above you, open a drawer, etc. The key is you still do not leave your chair, you just stretch a little. The tools you use once a month should be in the office, but not in your cockpit. The tools you use less than once a month should be elsewhere! Now, if you applied Tip #1 What to Keep and What to Toss, and Tip # 3 about the Hot File you should have a really functional, efficient, clean cockpit…yes?
6. Electronic vs. Paper Planners
Many of you have electronic planners/PDA/I-Phones, etc. Two caveats regarding electronic systems:
7. Too much information!
We have created more information in the past 30 years than we had created in the previous 5000 years! We are the first generation to have to deal with this horrendous volume. Do the math. It means we are dealing with what would previously have been 167 days worth of information each and every day. That’s almost half of a year each day. No wonder we feel overwhelmed. Everything we learned from parents, teachers, or books no longer applies. So, we have each had to invent a system to cope. How's your system working? Some of us are better at creating a system to deal with this ridiculous volume than others of us are. Either way, learn to say “No thank you” as often as possible. We can no longer do it all.
8. Tolerable vs. Right
There are various levels of disorder. When the office is "horrible" the pain level is too high and we are forced to attempt to create some order. But, if we only bring things up to "bad" (i.e. tolerable) rather than all the way to "good" (i.e. right and complete) we have no compunction about slowly (or quickly) allowing things to deteriorate back to "horrible" again. Leaving seed piles (i.e. holes in your system or unmade decisions) is like giving your self permission to add to those piles. That is counter productive. So, next time the pain level is too high, take the extra time needed to bring the office all the way up to "good." You increase the odds that it will stay that way.
9. Don’t Give Stuff
Here is a gift giving idea applicable to every gift giving opportunity: don't give stuff.
We all have too much stuff - we are drowning in stuff. Instead give consumables, experiences, and your time - something that does not take up space or disappears when you use it. Consumables might be home made candy (my gift of choice) or candles or bath salts or flavored cooking oils - something that when you use it it's gone. Experiences include tickets to something they enjoy, a gift certificate to a spa, airline tickets to come see you - something that leaves them with a memory not stuff. Your time might include a hike in a favorite spot with a lunch you packed to share, or a trip to a special museum exhibit you both appreciate - again, a memory of sharing time with you.
10. Don't Lose "Unallowable" Items When You Travel
When we travel by air, we try to carry only "legal" items, but inevitably some new rule is in effect, or the inspector is fresh on the job and obsessive compulsive or we're in Toledo, not Burbank. Whatever! Here is what you do so if they declare some personal item illegal, you won't just have to abandon it. Put a self addressed, padded envelope in your carryon with about $5 worth of postage on it. If they say "You can't take that on the plane" just slip it into your envelope, and mail it back to yourself.
Copyright The opinions, recommendations and tricks are those solely of the contributor and are not necessarily those of KRQE-TV or LIN Television.