1. Determine your goals.
Before you start anything, determine its goal. If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you ever get there? Set mini-goals and reward yourself for successes.
2. Declutter your desk.
An clutter-free desk erases unnecessary distractions and helps keep your mind on tasks that need immediate attention. Keep only the items on your desk that relate to your current projects.
3. Don’t rely on your memory.
You run the risk of letting things fall through the cracks. The best way to never forget an appointment, a deadline, an event or a detail again, is to write everything down.
4. Consolidate similar activities.
Instead of starting and stopping at different levels of activity, you’ll save time by making all of your outgoing telephone calls together, taking care of all your errands at once, etc.
5. Clean out your files.
Before you go through the expense of purchasing more file cabinets, folders, etc., take the time to purge all unnecessary paperwork and materials.
6. Use one calendar.
The biggest mistake people make when using planning calendars is to have one for personal, another for the office, and yet another for the family. Keep personal, professional and family items on one calendar. It will help to eliminate scheduling conflicts. Remember, ‘the man who wears two watches, never knows the correct time.’
7. Reduce telephone tag.
Plan telephone calls (whether to doctors, plumbers, clients, etc.) whenever possible. Have all necessary materials in front of you. Write key questions down in advance.
8. Set up files for projects.
Don’t waste time searching for papers. Keep all paperwork that pertains to a certain project together in one large folder.
9. Make phone calls more productive.
Say, ‘I’ve got only 5 minutes to talk.’ Outline your calls. Say, ‘I’d like to discuss these 2 possible solutions to problem A . . .’
10. Make appointments for YOU.
Make at least one screened appointment with yourself each day. Screened time is quiet, uninterrupted time allowing you to concentrate on a project or catch up on your reading.
Realize you can’t do everything. Delegate in the office and at home. To use an effective delegation system, train, entrust, follow-up and evaluate.
12. Don’t overstuff filing cabinets.
There’s nothing worse than having to file papers in a file cabinet that is overloaded! Leave enough room in file drawers so you’re not using all your energy to get a piece of paper in or out.
13. Develop false deadlines.
If you have a deadline at the end of the month, record the deadline four days earlier. You’ll eliminate the last-minute rush to complete the project because you’ll have given yourself ample padding.
14. Use timers and alarm clocks.
Allocate time for daily activities, from working on projects to doing household chores. Then set timers or alarm clocks to keep you on schedule.
15. Make good use of space.
Add shelving for reference books and manuals. Add space extenders in desk drawers. Buy full-suspension file cabinets. Use stacking bins.
16. Make the most of idle time.
Catch up on your reading while you wait for appointments. Audio cassettes of an educational or motivational nature are a great way to make use of your time while driving to work.
17. Get the kids off to school quicker.
The trick is to never leave decision-making for the morning. Help your children choose their outfits, decide what they want to eat and determine what they need for school–the night before.
18. Set time limits.
If you have to work late, or during the weekend, set time limits for yourself. Whether you work for two or four hours, stop working at the end of that time and enjoy the rest of the evening or weekend.
Don’t just toss your spare keys and other widget in a shoebox without first identifying them. Label each item or packet.
20. Eliminate brushfires.
Brush fires are almost always caused by disorganization. Eliminate the disorganization and you’ll eliminate the brush fires.
21. Determine the best time for tasks.
Use your most productive time to do your most productive work. Alert in the morning? Afternoon? Tackle your most difficult, important work during your most energetic periods, and save easy tasks for less energetic periods.
22. Use Master Lists and To Do Lists.
Take control of your time. List all of your tasks on your Master List. Then draw four tasks at a time from you Master List and put them on your Daily To Do List. Each day, try to complete all items on your Daily To Do List. Then, tomorrow, start the same process over again.
23. Set deadlines.
Setting a deadline forces you to work towards it. Set a definite date and time. Saying, ‘When I get a chance’ or ‘Sometime in the near future’ is insufficient.
24. Use a greeting card organizer.
Consider a greeting card organizer to remember birthdays, anniversaries and other special events. These look like a notebook, except that each page has a monthly pocket to hold cards. You can pencil in birthdays, events, etc. for each month, plus, you can purchase your cards ahead of time!
25. Plan your garden early.
Start planning your garden in the winter. Decide what plants you would like. Read up on the proper care of your plants, flowers and veggies. Sketch your garden out on paper. When spring arrives you’ll be ready to ‘grow.’
26. Store similar items together.
Categorization is very important when getting organized. Keep all bill paying supplies in one place. Gather all of your craft supplies in a basket. Keep your photo supplies in one plastic bin. Ready to work on something? Everything will be easily accessible.
27. Categorize your files.
First, decide on broad categories according to the particular work materials in your office. Then, file alphabetically or chronologically within these categories.
28. Plan your meals.
Plan your meals before you write out your shopping list. You’ll know what is needed and time will be saved.
Your meals should:
Be well-balanced and nutritious
Be within your food budget
Match your time and energy limit
29. Put things away each day.
Take time to put things back where they belong. Put things back immediately after you’re finished with them or set up a 15-minute appointment with yourself to put things back at the end of each day.
30. Toss old reading material.
Go through your reading stack. Get rid of outdated newspapers. Ditch magazines older than 3 months. Keep only a few catalogs you truly enjoy.
31. Clean out your library.
Look through your bookcases and give away books you’ve had for years and will never look at again. Charities are often seeking donations for their reading programs.
32. Enlist your friends.
Does your house need to be painted? A great way to get the job done quickly is to throw a painting party. They supply the help. You supply the pizza, sandwiches, beverages and dessert.
33. Keep receipts together.
Keep an envelope in your purse or wallet to hold receipts needed for expense records or tax purposes. When you return to the office, put the receipts in pre- designated envelopes (business meals, fuel, rental expenses and so on), then keep all the envelopes in a larger expanding file or box.
34. Donate outdated computer software.
Donate or dump old software disks, CDs, computer manuals, etc. for computer programs you no longer use and never will again, but that someone else could use. If nobody else will be able to use it, toss it out.
35. Coordinate with others.
Work together with others–family, or co-workers—to come up with organizational systems that are simple and effective for everyone involved.
36. Use a desk caddy.
Keep a sufficient supply of pens, pencils, paper clips scissors and other necessary supplies in a desktop holder on your desk or a tray inside your desk.
37. Create an effective work area.
Create a pleasant, well-equipped work area. Whether it’s a nook, cranny or a large office, your work area should be conducive to performing your daily work. It should contain all necessary supplies and equipment within arms reach or in easily accessible areas.
38. Magnetize your medicine cabinet.
Mount a long magnet along the back of your medicine cabinet to hold tweezers, clippers, little scissors and other small metal objects.
39. Rest and relax.
Get a good night’s sleep (7 hours or more.) Adequate rest tonight will keep you alert, on schedule and effective tomorrow.
40. Make your move easy.
Color code your boxes with a self-stick yellow dot for those that go to the kitchen, a red dot for the office, a blue dot for the garage and so on. Go to your new residence ahead of time, and place a corresponding colored dot on the appropriate rooms.
41. Prepare outgoing mail ahead of time.
If you send the same brochures and other materials to prospective clients, make your packages ahead of time. Include all necessary materials and store them away until needed. They’ll be all ready to go in a snap.
42. Create reference lists.
Reference lists are wonderful tools for remembering and accessing everything easily. Create reference lists for:
- Personal goals and dreams
- Favorite restaurant phone numbers
- Web sites you’d like to explore
- Books you’d like to read
- Things to pack when traveling
- Gift ideas for friends and family
- Computer files
- A wish list for yourself
- . . . and more. Your choices are endless!
43. Create forms for everyday tasks.
For example, type up a personalized Fax Transmittal Form that includes: name, company name and other pertinent information. Make copies and leave them by your fax machine for efficient and effective communication.
44. Create a Driving Directions folder.
Create a file folder for Driving Directions to places you go to infrequently. Write down the directions and keep them in this folder for future use. You won’t have to keep asking how to get to where you’re going.
45. Give Driving Directions with ease.
Create driving directions to your residence or office, coming from North, South, East and West. Make copies and keep in a file.
46. Determine how long it will take.
Estimate how long it’s going to take to get there. Divide the total miles of the trip, by your average speed (e.g. 60mph) The result will be your driving time. (Example: 120 miles to be traveled divided by 60mph is approximately 2.0 hours of driving time).
47. Cut down on junk mail.
Visit the DMA Web site and ask them to remove you from lists you don’t wish to be on: http://www.the-dma.org/consumers/offmailinglist.html
48. Combine your time.
Look for things you can combine to save time and accomplish more. Walk your dog and you’ll be exercising at the same time. Go to the beach with a motivational tape, and you’ll be relaxing and getting inspired simultaneously!
49. End each day on a good note.
Save your easiest tasks for the end of each day. You’ll be able to complete them, and end each day on a positive, rewarding note!
50. Continuously improve.
Get organized and stay organized.
|About the Author
Maria Gracia is nationally recognized author, speaker, consultant, and professional organizer. She is founder of Get Organized Now!, specializing in helping people get better organized to live the kind of stress-free life they’ve always dreamed of and co-founder with husband, Joe, of Give to Get Marketing Newsletter. Want to get organized? Get your FREE Get Organized Now! Idea-Pak, filled with tips and ideas to help you organize your home, your office and your life, www.getorganizednow.com. Want Marketing Strategy Tips? Get complimentary Marketing Idea-Kit, www.givetogetmarketing.com. Copyright© 2003, Maria Garcia. All rights reserved. For information about Marcia’s Presentations and Consulting Services, contact the Frog Pond at 800.704.FROG(3764) or email [email protected]