Simple Organizing Tips to Boost Everyone’s Productivity

23/5/2013 |

Today we have the first in an ongoing series of guest post from Think Productive Canada’s newest team member, Jessica Thorburn. Jessica is Think Productive’s Client Logistic Manager, as well as Dawn’s Virtual Assistant. She brings to the table over 12 years of administrative expertise and most recently worked as a Professional Organizer helping to boost productivity and develop organizational systems for home and corporate spaces that helped to maintain order effortlessly. 

I have not always considered myself to be an organized person. In the beginning I would just get frustrated with inefficiencies,  clutter and mess. I would find myself silently angry with people that could not recall crucial details or locate important information on whim. I never fully understood that my frustration stemmed from the fact that I NEEDED order. I loved creating systems and processes to streamline day-to-day tasks. I thrived when given a chaotic mess and asked to somehow make it functional. I had found my niche and was excited to share it with the world.

Over the years I have worked with a variety of organizations doing many different things – all indirectly related to helping people get organized. I have met all kinds of brain-types through my experiences including people who are literally buried in paperwork or lost in a world of sticky notes, computer print-offs and never-ending emails. There are also people who have great bones to their systems, but just need a few tips or tweaks to make it run more efficiently. And occasionally, I get to work with people who are far more organized than I will ever be (like the amazing Dawn O’Connor!).  Stealing tips and tricks from these often unknowing guru’s is key. There are pros (and cons) to working with all types of people, but today I wanted to share a few quick tips that anyone can implement to make their day run a bit smoother- both for themselves and the people who work to support them.

Productivity- To-Do List

Keep a list (and check it twice)
Before I even turn on my computer in the morning, I sit and make a list of all the most important things I need to get done that day. Starting with the biggest and highest priority items, working my way down to the smaller, less urgent tasks. Try to assign a time allotment to each task and do a quick tally of your time when your list is complete. If at the end of your list, you are staring at 10 hours of work, chances are you will need to reschedule a few things. Considered whether you can delegate or pass tasks on to other team members (or perhaps a virtual assistant?) It’s a common mistake to take on too much. List-making is a great way to clearly see everything we have on our plate, and realistically evaluate whether all these items need to be there, or if its something that might be better taken on by someone else. (Need more proof that delegating is one of the best things you can do to boost productivity? Check out this great article, 3 Tips for Delegating like a Ninja!)

Once you have mastered your basic daily list making, try incorporating the Pomodoro Method to your daily tasks – productivity boosting and incredibly helpful in overcoming procrastination!

Remove the word ‘later’ from your vocabulary
Such a simple concept, but from time to time, we all fall victim to the ‘I will get to it later’ bug – also called: procrastination. It’s most often the quick, less urgent things that end up getting bumped time and time again. Something as simple as vowing to remove the word ‘later’ from our daily routine when these situations arise can seriously help clear the small, mundane tasks from reappearing on our morning lists day after day. A great rule of thumb – if it’s a task that will take less than 5 minutes, just do it when it enters your brain.

Ditch those pretty baskets and bins
In theory, this is great. Putting all your ‘stuff’ in pretty little baskets or boxes is ALWAYS the most rewarding part of any organizing job, however, in a busy office environment, it almost always becomes too much trouble to sort things into individual baskets. They become hidden clutter or catchall spots to squirrel away all that stuff, so unless you are the type that is HONESTLY willing to maintain this kind of extra-step system, it’s not a great option. Keep one or two designated boxes (preferable without lids so you can always see what is inside of them) for high turnover items like an inbox or place to store collected reading material, but otherwise, get rid of them. Any good organizer will tell you – baskets don’t make your life easier. Less stuff does.

Keep your desk clear and throw EVERYTHING ELSE away
Here is my most important organization tip for you. This is the only one that counts. If you don’t use it, if you have no use for it, if it’s just collecting dust, it’s clutter. Throw it away! (or recycle, sell or donate it.) Just get it out of your workspace. So many studies show that a clear workspace helps you keep a clear mind so take the time and make your desk that zen place you need. Having less stuff and a specific place to keep the stuff you do need is a crucial step towards keeping your mind focused, productive and clutter free. (a few great tips on how to declutter your office by organizing guru Peter Walsh can be found HERE)

Do you have any simple organizing tips you’d like to share?  How do you stay focused and organized?

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