Happy New Year!
By now, many of you will know my exciting news that I have just published a new book! A culmination of a lot of work and a dream come true. Because I’ve been so busy writing the book the last few months, the blog has had to take a step back. But never fear, I’m on it.
To kick start, the first blog of 2018 is all about our productivity! Let’s make 2018 a super organised year!
Our time is a precious resource. But we often have scarcity thoughts around time. We utter “I don’t have enough time” on an almost hourly basis! But we do have enough time. There is enough. Everything works out at the time it’s supposed to. So take a step out of the stress and change your thinking from “not-enoughness” to “enough”. And then combined with these new thoughts, incorporate a few changes into your daily routine.
1.Digital or Paper
At this time of year, many of us will be looking at new calendars, diaries and APPs to help us feel more organised. A question I’m asked regularly is ‘should I organise myself with paper or digitally?’.
When getting organised and managing our time, the basic tools we need are a list and a schedule. For me, I feel writing a list is better. Whenever I type a list, it doesn’t seem to register with me as well as it does if I write it down. I feel the act of writing helps my brain to start processing the upcoming tasks.
Whereas with my schedule, I use Google calendar on my laptop and sync it with the ‘Readdle’ App on my phone. I’m usually out and about when appointments and client meetings come up, so putting it into my schedule digitally works best. If my assistant is also updating my schedule in the office, we are both able to see my available time in real-time. A paper diary wouldn’t allow for this.
Therefore I’m using both digital and paper for my time management and it works very well. The key with both of these tools – the list and the app – is that they are both with me all the time. It is ONE list and ONE app and they are easily portable.
Therefore, it’s not necessarily a question of “should I go for paper or digital?”, it’s more a question of “what tool(s) can you easily carry with you throughout the day to allow you to coordinate your tasks and time?”.
Then experiment. Try out what you think will work. It won’t take long for you to notice what works and what doesn’t. Try tools out now so that you’re ready to go in January. Then stick consistently with the tools that make you feel organised.
One of my favourite quotes is by Jim Rohn who said “either you run the day or the day runs you”.
You would think as a Professional Organiser I would be a dab hand at planning. And while I am great for my daily to-do lists and scheduling my week, my annual and quarterly planning needs work. So I’m actively working on this right now.
Before it gets much later into January, take a half day time-out to look back over the last few months and look ahead to 2018. What do you want to achieve next year? During which months? What revenue will you need for these projects? Now work backwards.
This can be tricky but carving out time every week consistently will make all the difference and get you results. It’s the half day once a quarter for large scale planning and the one hour once a week to plan the smaller tasks that will get you to these targets.
3. Early to rise
In 2017 I started to get up earlier. Now I’ve fallen off the wagon slightly with the cold Winter mornings, but what a difference to my day it is when I get up early. Before the phone calls, emails and bad traffic you’re already ahead of the game. Check out ‘The Miracle Morning’ by Hal Elrod for inspiration.
4. Eat the frog
As Mark Twain wrote “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first”
In other words, choose the worst, or the most difficult jobs, do them first and get them over with. These are the tasks that are either totally unappealing, will make you feel so good when they’re done or they will produce the results you really need.
Which tasks are closest to providing you with more income? Which tasks are you moving from today’s to-do list to tomorrow’s on a regular basis?
Perfectionism plays a role here, I believe. It does for me anyway. We avoid doing tasks if we can’t do them properly, or haven’t enough resources. Procrastination and perfectionism are best friends and join forces to fight organisation.
I always feel fantastic when I get rid of my difficult tasks early in the day. Allocate a chunk of time in the morning for these important tasks. Give a time limit to it so you know there’s an end in sight. Then get stuck in and get it over and done with.
Turn off the email and step away from your phone. When you need to work, your phone won’t help. Distractions like emails and texts pinging are actually going to extend the time you need to work and reduce the quality of the time you give to the project. Like planning, very few people will do this. But it’s the people who do that get ahead.
6. Work space
Like email and text messages, a messy desk and work space is a distraction too. Every second our brain is taking in information from our environment. When you’re working on a particular project in your office, you need as much brain power as possible. However, if you are surrounded in clutter and disorganisation, your brain – without you realising it – is distracted by what’s around you.
Some people like to work in a ‘creative mess’. Some people think tidiness is too clinical and stops their creativity. Which isn’t true. Because creativity is always there… like air. The office doesn’t have to be spotless, but you do need space. And your brain needs space. Too much clutter slows down your ability to work and be creative. You are delayed getting started, have trouble finding what you need, lose paperwork, run out of toner in the printer.
Disorganisation on your desk and in your office is more likely to cause stress, delay projects and reduce productivity.
Incorporate an end-of-day routine into your work day. Just before you leave the office, tidy the desk, empty out the bin and do some filing. It takes five minutes and creates a ritual marking the end of the work day. With the added bonus of starting tomorrow off on a better note!
This year I found meditation. And I honestly couldn’t live without it now. I have done it almost every day since April of this year and I think, like all great meditators have been saying, it’s essential.
Just take some time out. A few minutes break. Your mind will wander, but it’s supposed to. Your job is to recognise when your mind has wandered and bring your attention back to your breath. Again and again and again.
And then when five, ten, fifteen minutes are up you return to your day. I have found my reactions to things are more measured and I’m guaranteed that whatever happens in my day, I know it will start off nicely with a morning meditation.
If life is hectic and you think you don’t have time, this is exactly why you need to meditate.
The key to every point mentioned above is consistency. Understand WHY you are putting these productivity habits in place and then this WHY will encourage the consistent behaviour.
My new book ‘Organised – Simple Tips to Declutter your House, your Schedule and your Mind’
published by Gill books is available to buy on Amazon now!