Are you an organized or chaotic organizer?

“How organized do you have to be to work full time and have a full time business too?”

Does life distill down to a simply well planned life, checking boxes of to do lists, and planning meticulously what will happen and when?  Or do you plan your life, but allow the events of the day derail your best layed plans?

I am guessing you are a lot like me – looking for efficient ways of getting everything done in life, while minimizing the chaos and confusion.  Life Hacks about organization are always a favorite reading topic.  (I think i have read everything i can find with that one goal of keeping everything going.)  Here are some great yet simple ideas that work for me.  Perhaps you will find them helpful.

  1. Set aside the first part of your day for “me time” – Whether it is quiet reading, stretching and exercise, or just sipping a cup of coffee or tea, take some time to just  focus your day.  Before i face my electronic communications i start my day with a quiet time of reading.  Since i commute into downtown on a bus i plan my 30 minute ride in as reading time, and guard that with everything i can.  It is often in that quiet reading time that i find the strength and energy for the day ahead.
  2. Become a list maker / planner:  Write it down – whether on a paper planner, or some electronic version… take the time to plan your day…. not just the meetings, but what objectives you have for your day.  I have a list for my day job, a list for my business, and yes, wait for it… a list for my housekeeping endeavors.  with the list making comes one rule that you should hold tightly to:  Give yourself latitude on the list.  Times of great productivity remind us that lists are wonderful, but there will be times when life just disrupts everything.  Allow yourself that latitude, and regroup tomorrow.
  3. Plan a time for reviewing emails/social media – Set a limit of time to just get through your emails, check your social media accounts and review what has come in over night.  But dont stay there…. get through, respond to what you must, and then set it aside.  Setting parameters of time spend on this is one way of not allowing social media to control you.  (We all know it can easily consume lots of time).
  4. Spend the time to clean up your environment.  It sounds simple, but often productivity is directly tied to how comfortable you are in your space.  I know that when my home, office or studio look cluttered and disorganized this impacts my productivity.  And there is such a great sense of accomplishment in spending as little as 30 minutes decluttering.
  5. Schedule regular breaks throughout the day – Take a couple minutes to get up from your desk and walk – whether for a purpose like getting a cup of coffee, or for the mental pause from the busyness of the day.  Walking also improves oxygen flow, and freshens you for the next thing.  If you are prone to a large number of meetings plan block off some time on your day to just have office time without the hurry of meetings.  This will give you time to work on things, and get tasks completed without the stress of meetings.
  6. Work ‘offsite’ when it makes sense: When you need to write a document or research a topic, the absence of office interruptions will improve concentration. Some companies are finding that letting employees work from home has other advantages including reduced commute time, shorter lunch times and fewer sick days.
  7. Create and maintain a source list:  Reduce the amount of energy it takes to get information together by creating a central place for this information… whether it is jut your information, or your department’s resources.  This will take a bit of up front time organizing the information, but the time spent up front is invaluable in saving future resources and time searching for the same info.
  8. Create and use check lists for routine repetitive tasks:  For example, in our art business I have a check list of everything that has to travel with us to an art show… and its efficient to check the list as the item is packed.  This also prevents us from discovering we left something at the studio that will be needed for the weekend.  This is another case of taking the time up front to develop lists, and save them for the future.
  9. When possible have a conversation (whether in person or by phone) instead of email.  Pick up the phone or walk down the hall and talk directly to colleagues. For geographically remote folks, use chat. You can give precise direction and clear up misunderstandings quickly. The amount of time wasted perpetuating endless email threads is mindboggling — and the pointless mistakes generated. OK, this may be a generational thing, but is seems so much more efficient, and reduce misunderstandings that can occur with email.
  10. Switch off popup notifications on mobile devices and on desktopDon’t let applications interrupt your concentration with annoying popup messages. Shut them off. Just do it!  And limit checking your email to set times during the day. You won’t regret it.

Some of these thoughts sound very old school – but in my life they work well.  It is all too easy for the busyness of the day, and the constant pull of electronic communication to derail us and consume massive amounts of time.  Remember you can control some things in your day – take advantage of every opportunity to take back a few minutes of your day because the minutes will add up.  And dont loose heart.  Life can spin out of control quickly.  The word of the day is Lattitude – give yourself some.

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