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Getting Organized in the Era of Endless

SQUALL PRESS, the publishing division of FileHeads, is pleased to announce Getting Organized in the Era of Endless: What to Do When Information, Interruption, Work and Stuff are Endless But Time is Not!
Order yours today!

Posts Tagged ‘productivity’

What To Do When You are Overwhelmed and Overloaded: A Get It Done Guide

Wednesday, June 7, 2017 @ 05:06 AM
posted by admin

What To Do When You Are Overwhelmed & Overloaded: A Get It Done Guide | Fileheads.net

These tips originally appeared on ADDitude and were written by Judith Kolberg

You can’t hide from your to-do list forever. Use these 11 strategies for de-cluttering, managing paper, overcoming distractions, and getting things done.

Overcome the Overload

Every day we’re confronted with information, distractions, work and lots of other stuff. Is it a surprise anyone gets anything done, never mind those with attention deficit? People with ADHD are easily overwhelmed by the fast pace and interruptions, so they need some stay-focused strategies to keep them on track. Consider this your “how to get things done” guide.

Capture All That Information

Instead of going crazy trying to write down all those bits of information that come your way, try these solutions:

  • Call important information into your voicemail and leave yourself messages.
  • Convert verbal information into text, using an app like Dragon Dictation.
  • Store your text messages in one place using an app called Treasuremytext.

Finish Something, Anything, Early in the Day

Completing a chore – a small task or something larger that you worked on yesterday – gives you a sense of closure, making the rest of the day meaningful. No matter how the day goes, you can say you got something done, which gives you a sense of satisfaction that will encourage you to keep going the next day.

Get A Grip

If a phone call or a request from your spouse distracts you from a task you’re working on, hold onto a physical artifact to remind you what you were doing. An unopened envelope, for instance, will remind you that you were opening mail before the interruption, and will focus you attention more quickly.

Put It On The Calendar

It’s not enough to write down a task on your to-do list. You have to enter it into your calendar. Assigning a task to a specific day increases your chances of getting it done. With a to-do list only, you have a 40%-50% chance of doing the task. Scheduling the task increases your chances of completing it by 70% or so.

Just Do It

Don’t get overwhelmed about where or when to start a decluttering task. It doesn’t matter where you start; begin at any spot in the room. After you start, continue in some kind of logical order. If you start on the left side of the room, keep going to the left. If you start on the top shelf of a cabinet, work your way down.  There is no ideal way to tack clutter.

Manage the Mail

  • To cut off junk mail at its source, log onto catalogchoice.org and have them alert marketers to stop sending you stuff.
  • Have only one place for the day’s mail to land, maybe the dining room table. Yes, it piles up quickly, but at least you know where it will be when you decide to tackle it.
  • Don’t open junk mail. It can contain four to seven pieces of paper. Junk mail goes, unopened, right into the recycling bin.

Change the Scene

People with ADHD can optimize their focus and attention by doing different tasks in different kind of places. If you have to do your taxes, rent a room in a local hotel for a day or two. You can spread out all the papers and receipts, with fewer distractions that at home. Some people with attention deficit can’t get anything done – studying, writing, reading – in the quiet of a library. Finding a setting like a Starbucks (LINK) with some background noise, will help them be more productive.

Enlist a Support Team

Stop trying to be an ordinary person who keeps it all together in the same way that people without ADHD do. Support might mean another set of hands, someone to keep your morale up or someone to function as a body double. A body double is somebody who is physically present as you do a task but doesn’t to the task with you. Your body double anchors you to the chore at hand.

Switch Up Your Routine Every Quarter

People with ADHD get bored with their routines more quickly than those without the condition. The higher boredom factor keeps them from tackling things they once completed with ease. Routines – whether it’s opening mail, doing dishes or tackling a project at work – can be kept fresh by changing them up every three months. This doesn’t mean a complete overhaul, just a tweak.

Play It Loose With Deadlines

Schedule extra time to finish a task. Rather than trying to precisely estimate how lone a task will take, just say, “Screw it. I’m going to need 30 percent more time for everything I plan, no matter what.” Just pick a number: 20% more, 50% more and allot that. The worst that can happen is that you finish it early.

Keep Calm and Carry On

As you start your day, do the first three things that worry you the most to get them off your plate. The internal distraction of worry plays more on people with ADHD than on other people and prevents them from getting things done.  If you do any small part of what is worrying you, chance are you’ll break the anxiety and move forward.


Now available – the revised 2nd edition  ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life by Judith Kolberg and Dr. Kathleen G. Nadeau which offers the best understanding and solutions for adults with ADD who want to get and stay organized. Readers will enjoy all new content on organizing digital information, managing distractions, organizing finances, and coping with the “black hole” of the Internet. We also offer three levels of strategies and support: self-help, non-professional assistance from family and friends, and professional support; allowing the reader to determine the appropriate level of support. Pick up your copy today.

What To Do When You Are Overwhelmed & Overloaded: A Get It Done Guide | Fileheads.net

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Professional Organizers: The Who, What & Why of the Organizing Industry

Friday, June 2, 2017 @ 05:06 AM
posted by admin

Professional Organizers: The Who, What & Why of the Organizing Industry | Fileheads.net

What Does A Professional Organizer Do?

According to a survey of 1,001 people sponsored by the National Association of Professional Organizers, the public is well-aware of the term “professional organizer”. In fact, nearly two-thirds of those surveyed is familiar with the term*. More than half of those surveyed know professional organizers assisting in both the home and work environments, and the public totally get that they can help reduce clutter, lower stress, and help them find things easier. In fact, 22% of all respondents who’ve never used an organizer’s services would consider hiring one. One of the primary factors that influences this decision is whether their friends or family members saw results when working with a professional organizer.

Why Should You Hire A Professional Organizer?

The tough nuts are those 50% of respondents who have not yet used a professional organizer and are holding back. Why? No, it’s not value. “I think it’s a waste of money” actually comes in fifth place. Is it cost? No, guess again. The number one reason people do not consider hiring a professional organizer is “I can do it myself.” Okay. Have at it. But when your home office explodes or your den has to house your returning adult children, the professional organizer be here for you. The office and den are the most disorganized rooms of a home, according to the survey at 42%, followed by the kitchen (35%), laundry room (33%) and master bedroom (30%).

Who Is Most Likely To Hire A Professional Organizer?

25-34 year olds are most primed to hire a professional organizer, the survey reveals, followed closely by 35-44 year olds. And although the survey does not make it clear what they might need from an organizer that differs from other age groups, we know that these millennials have just surpassed the Baby Boomers in numbers reaching 75.4 million this year. So there’s plenty of organizing business go to around.

Once someone hires an organizer, 73% of respondents with prior use of a professional organizer would hire one again and not just for clutter-control but for the broader benefits of increased safety and security and improved relationships. Who knew? Well, now you know!

Click here for a great infographics with more statistics from this survey.


*Conducted in April, 2016 by NAPO, the first annualPublic Survey is sponsored by the National Association of Professional Organizers. It surveyed 1001 qualified respondents on questions related to residential and office organization, organizing industry awareness, and perceptions of the public to that industry. Qualified respondents are US citizens only, over the age of 25 and who own their own home. For more information about these results, please contact Kahra Buss at kahra.buss@napo.net.

Professional Organizers: The Who, What & Why of the Organizing Industry | Fileheads.net

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Triage: The New Time Management Skill©

Monday, September 28, 2015 @ 08:09 AM
posted by admin

Triage: The New Time Management Skill © by Judith Kolberg

We live in an era of endless connections, interruptions, distractions and time demands. New tasks come at us at an alarming rate from multiple sources: emails, texts, tweets, calls, friends, fans, family, pings, rings, and vibrations via all sorts of devices. Over the years we’ve developed many ways to cope, capture and conquer the onslaught including urgent and important matrixes , decision-making trees, and prioritization strategies

I would like to propose that the era of endless requires a whole different take on managing our time and tasks, something I call “triaging.”

Triage is a disaster management term. I am a Community Emergency Response Team graduate, which is a civilian disaster preparedness training program. We learn that if adequate resources are available (first responders, medical equipment, trained personnel, etc.), you try to save everyone. But if resources are scarce or limited, ‘triage’ is the process used to quickly sort injured people into groups based on their likely benefit from immediate care. In a hospital emergency room, the people who scream the loudest do not get care first, nor is it allocated on a first-come, first-serve basis. A triage nurse quickly assesses who needs urgent care and who can wait because there are never enough resources to treat everyone at the same time.

In the Era of Endless, we need to act like the triage nurse. To some of us triage comes naturally. All day long we’re able to volley the bombardment of incoming messages vying for our attention and mentally shuffle our to-do deck, deciding on the run “do this now,” “this can wait,” or “ok, I was going to do that, but this new thing is more important so now that comes next and I’ll move that other thing lower on the list.” Triaging is based on emotions and intuition. First-responders to a disaster scene will tell you they don’t do a lot of analysis. They simply know how to allocate their resources for maximum effect for the greatest number of people. If you don’t have the triage instincts of a first responder, here are some triaging tips:

Go with your gut

David Allen, the productivity expert, observes, “Prioritize [or in this case, triage – JK] according to energy, mood, intuition, and emotion. Learn to listen to and trust your heart. Or your intuition, or your gut or the seat of your pants or whatever anatomy is the source of that mysteriously wonderful ‘still, small voice’ that somehow knows you better than you do, and knows what is better for you than you do. LISTEN to it…take the risk to move on your best guess, pay attention to the results and course-correct as you keep moving along.”

Verbalize your to-do list

Say what you are thinking out loud. This can be very clarifying. If a task sounds important as you say it aloud, there’s a good chance you’ve made the right call.

Alleviate worry and guilt

“I make a careful To-Do list. I prioritize it every day. I assign A, B, and C to each task and integrate new tasks as soon as I learn of them. Then, when I wake up in the morning, I totally ignore my list and do the two tasks that immediately alleviate worrying whether they’re on my list or not,” a client tells me. Dispelling worry is a great use of your limited time. It clears the head and frees you from emotional drains that will thwart all your other work. Like assuaging worry, doing tasks that free you from guilt will also allow you to focus on other work.

Stop the bleeding and open up the airways

Disaster victims in need of complex medical attention beyond available resources are tagged or located to a special area until more medical help arrives. But first their bleeding is stopped and their airways opened. In organizing terms, stopping the bleeding and opening up the airways means doing the most effective thing possible in the time available to you. You won’t be able to complete a complex project all at once, but there’s always something you can do to be effective. That might mean initiating a meeting, developing an action plan, holding a brainstorming session, or doing something as simple as sending a well-crafted email or making a concise phone call.

Triaging incoming messages, time demands and information is not a perfect analogy to the kind of triaging done in disaster management, but I think it begins to move us to another model of time management better suited for the times we live in.

 

Getting Organized in the Era of Endless by Judith KolbergIf you want to learn more about how our world has changed into one full of infinite information, constant distractions and boundless stuff, I recommend my book Getting Organized in the Era of Endless: What to Do When Information, Interruption, Work and Stuff are Endless But Time is Not.

 

Other Posts You Might Enjoy

Future Sense and the Rise of Time Management: Part I

Time Management and War: Part II

Post-Clock Time Management©: Part III

 

Calendar of Upcoming Organizing Events

Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD) Annual Conference and Exhibition – September 17-19, 2015, Cleveland, OH.

Professional Organizers of Canada, Virtual Chapter, January, 2016

National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) Annual Conference and Exhibition. May 18-21, 2016, Atlanta, GA

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The Myth of You Can Work Anywhere, Anytime

Thursday, June 11, 2015 @ 06:06 AM
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The Myth of You Can Work Anywhere, Anytime - Judith Kolberg, fileheads.net

Picture Source: Picjumbo.com

 

How amazing is it to be able to work anywhere without regard to outlets, wires, walls, offices, or bosses? Latest statistics reveal the average American uses up to 3 mobile devices daily (source: McAfee.com.). The untethering of people to computing has made productivity shoot up. But just because we can work anywhere, anytime, doesn’t necessarily mean we should. That’s because no matter how mobile we are, different kinds of work still require different kinds of environments. Strategic planning, brainstorming, creative projects, and large group work thrives in open spaces with lots of light and windows and plenty of space to spread out. Loud talk, patching in people via Skype, and lots of input that might otherwise be considered interruptive are welcome in this scenario.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is intense, solitary work such as analysis and writing. This is best accomplished in smaller, quiet spaces, such as study cubbies at the library where you turn off your cell phone and interruptions are held to a minimum. A client of mine does her professional reading in the lobby of a local hospital across the street from her office. “That’s where I hide,” she tells me. Another client checks into a hotel for two days to do her taxes. “Only my family knows how to reach me. After working a few hours, I can take a swim, workout in the gym, or get a massage. Meals are convenient and the whole idea of a dedicated place seems to make me more productive.”

Kind of in the middle of the spectrum is purposeful small team or committee work that benefits from a lot of collaboration, decision-making and accountability. This is best accomplished in an environment of small tables, chairs that swivel, and an easy way to take notes or minutes.

The benefits of technology, especially computers, are crucial for any kind of productive work, but the physical environment also plays a huge role. Teachers in classrooms have known this for years. Steelcase recently conducted research on this topic concluding that even an ergonomically comfortable chair on rollers attached to adjustable work surface improves kids’ concentration.

When choosing the best place for working on a task, ask yourself these questions:

  • What is the task to be accomplished?
  • What level of focus does the task require?
  • What physical setting would best support the task?

 

If you want to learn more about how our world has changed into one full of infinite information, constant distractions and boundless stuff, I recommend my book Getting Organized in the Era of Endless: What to Do When Information, Interruption, Work and Stuff are Endless But Time is Not.

 

Other Posts You Might Enjoy

The Starbucks Effect

Work Creep

 

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The Starbucks Effect

Thursday, June 4, 2015 @ 06:06 AM
posted by admin
The Starbucks Effect - How working at a coffee shop can increase your productivity. From Judith Kolberg, fileheads.net

Picture Source: Picjumbo.com

It wasn’t a scientific survey. The results would never hold up under academic scrutiny, but when 50 people were asked the same question and 97% of their responses were the same, it’s safe to conclude you’re onto something. That’s what happened to me when I discovered what I call “The Starbucks Effect”™. I carried a clipboard to make me look official, and a couple of copies of my books proving that I am a published author. Choosing people way in the back of the coffee shop to interview (so I would not attract the attention of management), I put on a big smile and approached Starbucks customers who seemed to be working, rather than just hanging out.

“Hi, I’m sorry to interrupt. I’m Judith Kolberg, a local author doing research for my next book about getting organized. My survey takes less than 6 minutes. Mind if I ask you two brief questions?” For those agreeable, I asked: “Do you think Starbucks is a good place to get work done?” If they said, “No” I thanked them for their time and gave them a 10% off coupon on my books. I was looking for the people who said, “Yes, I think Starbucks is a good place to get work done.”

I made a wild assumption that chocolate and caffeine figured high into people’s explanation of why Starbucks is a good place to get work done. But I wanted to understand how a place as noisy and busy as Starbucks could be a good place to accomplish work. Thus, my second question: “It’s noisy in here,” I commented to each of my interviewees over the roar of the espresso machines, clatter of cups and loud din of voices. “Don’t you find the noise and commotion distracting?” To a person, the response was either “No” or “I don’t even notice it.”

Survey results

Is Starbucks a good place to get work done?

Yes          No          Total

38            12            50

Do you find the noise and commotion distracting?

Yes          No          Total

0              38            38

Huh? I’d always thought the best condition for getting work done was quiet places like libraries or cubicles. How can a place as noisy and busy as Starbucks not only be non-distracting, but actually be conducive to productivity? I call it the Starbucks Effect. Using the latest research on the brain and multitasking (check out The Organized Mind by Daniel Levitin) I believe it works something like this: The external distractions (voices, people coming and going, clattering plates, etc.) cancels out internal distractions such as random thoughts, ideas, worries, and that mental to-do list we all carry around with us. Once the external and internal distractions are roughly zeroed out, the task-at-hand comes into focus. More support: some people find a quiet environment devoid of activity very distracting. It lets those internal distractions run wild. This explains why some people go nuts in a library or can’t concentrate in a cubicle. I have to turn on a radio or TV when I’m writing in my office. Gotta have some noise.

So my questions to you are:
  • Is a coffee shop a good place to get work done?
  • Do you find the noise and commotion distracting?

 

If you want to learn more about how our world has changed into one full of infinite information, constant distractions and boundless stuff, I recommend my book Getting Organized in the Era of Endless: What to Do When Information, Interruption, Work and Stuff are Endless But Time is Not.

 

Other Posts You Might Enjoy

An Interview with Judith Kolberg

What Neuroscience Tells Us About Getting Organized

 

CALENDAR OF UPCOMING ORGANIZING EVENTS

Publish15 – June 13-14, 2015

Got a book inside you? Get a book coach! Publish15, an annual convention of publishers, authors, editors, and printers premiers June 12, 13 and 14 at the Forsyth Conference Center, Cumming, GA. Book coach and Publisher Judith Kolberg of Squall Press will be exhibiting. Come visit! Use promo code Pub25 for 25% off General Admission and Workshop passes. Visit Publish15 for more information.

Northern New Jersey Chapter of NAPO –  June 22, 2015.

Judith Kolberg will present “Creating Your Digital Estate Plan”. The one-hour presentation will address how to protect your “information afterlife” including transferring digital information to your executor, accounting for digital assets in your estate, and keeping digital mischief-makers out of your stuff.

Virtual Chapter of NAPO – August 10, 2015.

Judith Kolberg will present “Creating Your Digital Estate Plan”. The one-hour presentation will address how to protect your “information afterlife” including transferring digital information to your executor, accounting for digital assets in your estate, and keeping digital mischief-makers out of your stuff.

Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD) Annual Conference and Exhibition – September 17-19, 2015, Cleveland, OH.

National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) Annual Conference and Exhibition. May 18-21, 2016, Atlanta, GA

 

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What Neuroscience tells us about Getting Organized

Monday, October 20, 2014 @ 10:10 AM
posted by admin

Excerpt from the Washington Post

We’ve all heard the conventional wisdom for better managing our time and organizing our professional and personal lives. Don’t try to multitask. Turn the email and Facebook alerts off to help stay focused. Make separate to-do lists for tasks that require a few minutes, a few hours and long-term planning.

But what’s grounded in real evidence and what’s not? In his new book The Organized Mind, Daniel Levitin — a McGill University professor of psychology and behavioral neuroscience — explores how having a basic understanding of the way the brain works can help us think about organizing our homes, our businesses, our time and even our schools in an age of information overload.

Click here to read the interview with Levitin about why multi-tasking never works, what images of good leaders’ brains actually look like, and why email and Twitter are so incredibly addicting.

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How to Develop A Family Technology Policy

Thursday, September 5, 2013 @ 05:09 PM
posted by admin

ORGANIZING TOOLKIT SERIES

We live in the Era of Endless connectivity. We are wirelessly tethered 24/7 to family, friends and fans, co-workers, customers and clients, vendors, suppliers, and perfect and imperfect strangers. One effect of endless connectivity is “work creep.” Work creep is the tendency for work to extend into times typically reserved for leisure such as meal times, vacation time and sleep. The overall effect of endless connectivity is to blur the line between work and leisure. Even leisure activities like sharing family videos on Facebook, Checking your Facebook status, commenting on blogs, participating in LinkedIn Groups, and following people on Twitter all take a little work. They also take time. That time has to come from somewhere. A second effect of endless connectivity is that it diverts time away from quality-of-life activities – like real-time with the family and social activities – to digital activities.

In the Era of Endless, families find it helpful to have guidelines for coping with the temptation to endless work and the time-suck of endless connectivity by creating a Family Technology Policy. The Family Technology Policy lays out agreed upon guidelines to balance the best that technology has to offer with real-time, in-person family and social activities.

Every family is different and so each Family Technology Policy will be different. Take a look at the sample Family Technology Policy as a guide.

SMITH FAMILY TECHNOLOGY POLICY

  • No devices at the dinner table. All devices are treated equally whether it’s an iPad, TV, tablet, iPhone, or anything that beeps, rings, flashes, or has a screen.
  • No screens of any kind open or active after 9 pm.
  • No phones within 10 feet of water whether it’s the ocean, a pool, the bathtub, or the toilet.
  • No texting in front of grandma because it annoys her and she’d rather talk to you.
  • No driver in this family will ever text while driving.
  • Hugs, eye contact, and live conversation will dominate in this family over texts, calls, and technology.
  • If the sun and school are out, you will find us outdoors without our devices.

Consequences:  If the policy is violated, the parents will decide on an appropriate action which may include temporarily limiting usage of a device, curtailment of internet time, putting the device in “time-out”, or other actions.

Step 1 – Have a family meeting

Step 2 – Choose someone to lead the meeting who will explain the need for the policy. (This can be an adult in the family or you can use a neutral third party like a professional organizer.)

Step 3 – Have handy a large flipchart or other visual aid to write on.

Step 4 – Everyone in the family has an equal voice regarding what they think should or should not be in the policy.

Step 5 – Keep it brief. Up to ten bullet points is usually adequate.

Step 6 – Take a vote to officially approve the policy.

Step 7 – Have everyone in the family sign-off on the policy by signing their names to it.

Step 8 – Discuss what will happen if someone ignores the policy or does something that conflicts with the policy. Will there be consequences? Temporarily limiting usage of a device, curtailment of internet time, putting the device in “time-out” are examples of consequences. Write the consequences down.

Step 9 – Post the approved policy and the consequences in a prominent location in the home and send a copy to each family member electronically.

For more organizing tools to cope with the Era of Endless, order the book by Judith Kolberg, Getting Organized in the Era of Endless: What to Do When Information, Interruption, Work and Stuff is Endless But Time is Not. Available at www.squallpress.net

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How To ‘Stop’ In an Era of Endless

Tuesday, April 10, 2012 @ 06:04 AM
posted by admin

My client, Lisa does not know how to stop. Lisa is a 39-year old university professor.  Like most professors, when it is time to prepare her student’s reading list, she reviews hundreds of books and academic journal articles. That was overwhelming enough, but to ‘keep up’ now, she also has to go through videos, podcasts, and blogs. “I’m afraid I’ll miss something really vital to their education”, Lisa says. She researches and prepares, prepares and researches until the final deadline for submitting the reading list looms close and large. “I have no idea when to stop because I have no idea when I’m done,” Lisa confesses.

It’s a common complaint these days. In the era of endless, information is infinite, but time is not. Time is finite. So at some point quantity has to be qualified.  What is a sufficient quantity to sift thru? How much is enough to qualitatively satisfy a need? It’s increasingly difficult to know.  Too Big To Know by David Weinberger traces the history of facts as they evolved from scarce, isolated foundations of finite bodies of knowledge to the present day where knowledge and facts are common, group-oriented, and readily available.  The concept of rare has gone away in an era of endless when things are equally and endlessly available.

If you find it difficult to stop, here are some tactics you can use:

  • Practice the Law of Diminishing Returns which is the tendency for a continuing effort toward a particular goal to decline in effectiveness after a certain level of result has been achieved. Or, as a client in Houston once put it, Stop when the lemonade ain’t worth the squeeze.

My client Debra is an HR director for a law firm. Her job is to find qualified prospective attorneys to work for the firm. The longer she keeps looking, the more the open post continues to go unfulfilled. The other attorneys have to add more work to their plate to cover for the unfulfilled position, and the as-yet unhired attorney’s contributions are forestalled. Debra says, “It’s just not worth it to the company for me to keep going and going and going with my recruitment efforts.”

  • Spell ‘done’ out ahead of time. Debra decided to prospect the 10 best candidates as a result of her best efforts exerted over 30 days. Any more effort applied actually diminishes the return.
  • Keep in mind that progress towards closure is a quality of life issue. It is good for your mental health to complete things. David Allen, of Getting Things Done fame rightly observes that, “When we spend a lot of psychic energy on half-closed loops, on things left undone, we waste time and energy that could be put to better use elsewhere.”
  • Ask yourself, outloud, what are the 2 things I can do right now to bring this task/project to closure, to get it off my to do list? It might be to make a call, find something on the web, get a question answered, or take even a small action towards closure.
  • Close before you open especially in the morning.  Finishing something early in the day builds a “meaning reservoir”, an expert on obsessive behavior once told me. Completing just one thing early in the day can give meaning to the entire day.
  • Focus on one or two big wins for the day.
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Work Creep

Friday, January 27, 2012 @ 12:01 PM
posted by admin

A day is still 24 hours long yet there are features of modern work that seem to bend a day a little bit farther over its natural edges, a phenomena I call ‘work creep.” In the name of greater productivity, there are out-of-office conference calls, weekend team building trips, shifts to cover, and time zone differences. ‘ Technology has made it possible to work without an office, without a supervisor, and without regard for time of day. In the absence of absolute clarity about the boundaries of work, the line between our working lives and our non-working life is blurred, and discretionary time is disappearing altogether. 62% of at-work email users check work email over the weekend. 50% check email on vacation. In 2009 Americans threw away 465 million vacation days. And 40-hours is rapidly becoming the new part-time. Add to this mix, the fact that we are in a deep recession where the expectation of working longer hours is the norm, and its no wonder we find it hard to find the time to anything but work.

As a professional organizer and time management expert, I tell my clients that I will find them more time, but not to invest into more work. Instead it will be leisure time that we will actually put into their schedule to rest, relax and recreate. Here is where that time can be found:

  • Use Skpe, web-based meeting programs, and phone to limit face-to-face meetings.
  • Agendize business phone calls, all meetings, and interactions. Write a teeny agenda of what to cover, ask, solve or do at those interactions.
  • Delegate to the machines. Taking time to learn how to optimally use your smartphone, tablet, web tools, software and apps can be a huge return on investment in terms of time you save.
  • Limit social media usage to a hour at a time. Set an alarm. Get up, walk, and then before setting the alarm for the next hour, decide if you can knock off.
  • Schedule leisure, rest, relaxation, and every other kind of downtime. It may sound counter-intuitive to your sense of spontaneity and fun but you’ll find you have the best of both worlds: spontaneity and planned non-work time.

Need more help? Contact a professional organizer who can show you how to manage your time to combat work creep.

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Closure

Friday, November 25, 2011 @ 11:11 AM
posted by admin

In a world of endlessly available, unlimited information, it is not so easy to know when a job has been completed and has come to closure. If you’re doing research, how do you know when you’re done especially when there is so much more information ‘out there’ that could be incorporated into your findings? How in-depth or thorough does a report need to be before it can be considered done? Unlike other kinds of work, knowledge work requires judgment and experience to determine when you have reached the point of diminishing returns where additional work will not add enough value to justify the cost, effort and time. Closure has come to mean not so much when something is ‘finished” as when the tendency for a continuing effort toward a particular goal actually causes effectiveness to decline after a certain level of result has been achieved.

My client Marsha is in HR, charged with ‘prospecting for the best legal talent available’, one of those knowledge work kind of assignments that can go on forever. “I never knew when enough was enough. I attended recruitment fairs, interacted on social media, prospected at law school events…there just seemed no end to the work.” Meanwhile, all that time prospecting for a new attorney meant the open post continued to go unfilled, the other attorneys had to add more work to their plate, and the yet unhired attorney’s contributions was forestalled. “It’s just not worth it to the company for me to keep trying to find the perfect candidates. I’m done when I prospect what I think are the best 25 candidates a month.”

Another factor that affects closure (finishing or completing something) is the extent to which one is taken off task by an interruption or distraction Each day a typical office employee checks e-mail 50 times and uses instant messaging 77 times, according to RescueTime, a firm that develops time-management and tracking software. So defend your right to concentrate. If you truly need to close the door, turn off the cell, and leave email unattended for 3 hours, do it. A recent Harvard University study of 600 managers found that the most significant factor in their perception of their best work days were the days when they made progress, the days they were able to move work forward to closure. Their findings are in a new book called The Progress Principle by Teresa Amabile and Steven J. Kramer. I have a client who puts yellow crime scene tape across her cubby office opening. She doesn’t have a door but the message is clear. Don’t disturb her till the tape comes down. Many companies have a “no devices in this meetings” policy. Find a place to hide where you can concentrate.

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