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Productivity & Organizing Myth #1 – Born Organized

Productivity & Organizing Myth #1 – Born Organized
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    As a new guest author to lifehack.org and an experienced productivity consultant I would like to start by naming and dispelling common productivity and organizing myths. This series will be posted each Wednesday until we cover the top 10.

    Myth: Some people are born with an organizing gene or are natural organizers and others will never be organized.

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    Reality: Organized and productive people have a set of skills that lead to their being organized.

    Some people learn these skills early and in great depth. Some people learn them by circumstance throughout life. And, some people still want to learn them and struggle with disorder. The consequences of disorganization are many and varied from chronic lateness, time wasted looking for things, and messy areas which give a bad impression. On a personal level the consequences include: stress, embarrassment, and wasted money.

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    Organizing is like reading or a sport ~ it’s a skill that can be learned. And, like reading, life is easier if you have the skills. These skills also take time to understand, practice, and polish. So, take heart – if you’re learning a new organizing skill, it’s a matter of practice over time.
    Let’s jump in with a list of what specific skills you could learn and uncover where to learn them.

    Top 10 organizing skills:

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    • Perfect your use of a calendar.
    • Use a ‘to do’ list. This is a list of all the projects and tasks you have underway and would like to have underway.
    • Prioritize projects and tasks. (That includes dumping things that really aren’t that important)
    • Establish a home for your stuff. Label the home.
    • Consistently put stuff in their home.
    • Get rid of stuff that isn’t contributing to the quality of your life right now.
    • Identify your values so you can measure your decisions against a fixed target.
    • Be active. Physical activity supports a balanced life, gives you energy, and clears your mind.
    • Simplify.
    • Create routines.

    Where you can learn these skills beyond lifehack.org & books:

    From a productivity coach – the time has come for turning to an expert. Just as a golf pro helps you learn to drive and putt better, a productivity coach will help you organize better. A coach will uncover what skills you lack, what skills you have, and figure how to get you to master new organizing skills that relate to your life. Many corporations pay for this type of coaching because they know that a more-productive professional will contribute more to the company.

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    On-line courses at providers of your favorite organizing products. Some examples:

    In your company. Many corporations have workshops, online courses, and tuition support for learning. Ask your manager, the HR department, and the training department to understand what is available.

    There are lots of ways to become organized… start now an in time people will think that you were born organized!

    Susan Sabo – a traveler who has been to 47 countries. Her organized life has allowed her to go overseas for months at a time. She writes the Productivitycafe.com blog, presents to groups and consults one-on-one with individuals.

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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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