Myth: Having the right portfolio planner, calendar, mole skine and containers (tools) will make someone productive.
Reality: Having the right tools is the first part to being productive, managing your time well, and being successful. The second part, which is even more vital, is that one knows how to use the tools.
None of us would expect to be master gardeners just because we purchased a shovel and rototiller. Nor would we think we could play Chopin because we purchased a piano. Ditto for playing like Tiger Woods simply because we bought good golf clubs. Why would we think we’d be magically productive and organized by having the right tools?
Fortunately the second step to being productive and organized follows immediately on the heels of the first step. The second step is to create then implement personal standard operating procedures! Just as we know that using those clubs, garden tools, and piano, correctly and practicing will yield a good golfer, gardener, or pianist, you can be assured of turning in projects on time, having accurate budgets, and allocating your day effectively by using standard operating procedures (sops).
Simply, the solution is to have the tools AND learn how to use them proficiently. Notice I don’t say use them perfectly – that’s a quest that requires too much energy and time. Use tools proficiently and they will impact your life in many positive ways.
The concept that makes SOPs most powerful is that you ‘automate’ things that you can so that you have energy and focus for that which you cannot automate – planning, decision making, and communicating. For example, if you know that you always list phone calls to return on the next line in your notebook you will always know where to look for someone’s number. Closely linked to this SOP is ‘enter contacts into your address book weekly’ (or daily if that is better for your own SOP). An additional benefit of using the notebook (tool) consistently – elimination of scraps of paper that you have to toss into your inbox and process later so less clutter!
A quick list of useful SOP for productivity & organization that are meant to trigger your thinking as you develop your SOPs:
- Calendar SOP: list every time commitment in the calendar, print the calendar and post the copy at home (update weekly)
- Calendar SOP: Color code types of activities
- Business Meetings – the company color IE blue for SAP
- Personal activities – Gold (because that’s what your time is worth)
- Annual events like birthdays & anniversaries – Dark Green
- Actions – Black
- Things to do while driving around – Bright Green
- Travel days – Red
- Kids Activities – Orange
- Inbox (paper) SOP: all unattended collect in the inbox. This includes receipts to be recorded, mail to be open, notes from others – everything. All things are held here until processed. Process the inbox once per day. (processing is a subject unto itself – for a future post)
- Moleskine notebook SOP: I’ll refer you to Kathy Sierra at the Creating Passionate Users Blog because it’s ace!
- Addressbook SOP: categorize your contacts as you enter them. This allows you to create a Holiday Card mailing list, for example, throughout the year rather than having to review every contact at that busy time of the year. Yeah, you’re streamlined.
There are many sources from books to classes to coaches that will help you use your tools more proficiently. Explore the help menus, view the tutorials, ask a colleague, for their ideas on using productivity tools. You don’t need to learn to use them on your own!
- Productivity & Organizing Myth #4 – Only Handle it Once
- Productivity & Organizing Myth #1 – Born Organized
- Productivity & Organizing Myth #2 – Can’t stop influx
- Productivity & Organizing Myth #3 – I don’t have time to prioritize
Susan Sabo is an intrepid traveler who has organized her life to be out of the country for months at a time. Antarctica is the only unvisited continent (so far). She’s the author at Productivity Cafe, consults with professionals on improving their personal productivity and presents motivating productivity SOPs & tips(such as how to get home for dinner) to groups.