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Productivity & Organizing Myth #8 – Getting Organized Takes Too Long

Productivity & Organizing Myth #8 – Getting Organized Takes Too Long
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    Myth: Getting organized requires so much time that you won’t be productive while getting organized. There’s too much to do to bother getting organized.
    Reality: Looks can be deceiving. The project might be substantial but you can do it! As the Question goes, “How do you eat an elephant?” Answer, “One bite at a time.”

    Here are two proven ways to tackle a substantial organizing project. One, hold daily sessions. Two, make a day of it.

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    If you choose to hold daily sessions, have ones that are relatively brief. You can do anything for 15 minutes right? You probably find this is particularly true when there is a reward at the end of the time block. This approach to getting organized will accomplish the goal over time. Taking a month or two to get organized is a good way to develop new skills, standard operating procedures, and habits. As an encouragement: clutter and disorganization occurred over time and reversing that can take time.

    I suggest you have a portable timer that you set for 15 minutes as you get started. The timer has a few great benefits:

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    • It will help you to know the limit of your block of time, that you only have 15 minutes to spend on this or that.
    • That you can do anything for 15 minutes
    • That once your 15 minutes is up you might be encouraged to do another since ‘that went so fast’.
    • It will help you stay on task. Decluttering and organizing are your only activity for the brief amount of time – 15 minutes that the timer is running.

    Daily sessions, every day, are the key to this approach. It is most successful when you do a session every day because your efforts will compound and the impact become more and more vivid. You will keep a momentum that will carry you through to completion. And, staying organized will be a natural extension of your efforts. Additionally, by approaching getting organized with daily session, you will probably not impact the typical flow of activities you are responsible to complete.

    If you choose to make a day of it (getting organized) you will see great impact in a relatively short amount of time. This approach is for those who like a big challenge and have the motivation and endurance to stay with the project. You need to be able to put everything on hold so you can give your full attention to decluttering and organizing. Think of suspending things as what would happen if you needed a sick day. Calls, returning emails, and doing the work would have to wait until tomorrow. If you seem to allow distractions to keep you from devoting a full day, revert to daily sessions or multiple partial days.

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    On your day have all the supplies you need from trash bags to file folders available at the outset. Be sure you’ve eaten well. Take a moment to picture how terrific things will look when well ordered and efficiently laid out. Invite someone to be around. The benefits of someone assisting you are:

    • His or her being there will keep you reminded of the job at hand.
    • You can share the excitement of progress.
    • You will talk through the difficult decisions together.
    • Your partner in organizing will encourage your tossing and recycling.
    • You may celebrate the accomplishments at the end of the day.
    • By explaining what you’re doing and why now & then, you are creating a reliable standard operating procedure that you’ll carry into the future.

    Then, steadily work from one area to the next. Do not put anything aside for later decisions…

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    Then, steadily work from one area to the next such as your desktop to filing drawers, to stuff on the floor. Do not put anything aside for later decision. Keep progressing and clearing.

    Take a look at this before and after photos of significant project:

    Printer Area Before
      Printer Area After

        Previous Myths:

        Susan Sabo is an intrepid traveler who has organized her life to be out of the country for months at a time. She’s visited South & Central America, Europe, Asia, ‘Down Under” and traveled across North America. Susan writes at www.productivitycafe.com, consults with professionals on improving their personal productivity and presents motivating productivity programs & tips (such as how to get ready for the busy season) to groups.

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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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