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10 Simple Productivity Tricks To Manage Overloaded Information

10 Simple Productivity Tricks To Manage Overloaded Information

Do you need to manage overloaded information? Simple productivity tricks can help you cope with information in your job and your personal and social life.

Here’s how to cope. You need systems to help you to keep track of everything. Once you have a trusted system in place, you can relax. Let’s look at ten simple productivity tricks which will help.

1. Get the list habit.

Lists are essential to help you to manage your overloaded information. You probably use To Do lists all the time; however, lists come in many different forms. Examples include: checklists, planning lists, password lists, reading lists, reference lists, back-burner lists, and goal lists. All your information can be added to a list, or to several lists.

You can even create lists to keep track of lists. For example, you might have a list of lists for “work” and another for “home.” Lists can be text-based, or visual. If you’re a visual person, you’ll find a mind mapping program like FreeMind useful.

I use Evernote to manage my lists. You can use Evernote anywhere, on many difference devices. Its “table of contents” feature is wonderful for lists. With this feature, you can select a number of notes which contain lists and you can create a table of contents note for them all with a couple of clicks. Just drag your list notes to the shortcut bar for easy access.

2. Create and manage collections of reference material and people.

You have reference material you need to access at work, such as price lists and operations manuals. You also have reference material for home. Your home reference material might include insurance policies and manuals for your car and security system.

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If your work reference material has been digitized, store it in Evernote. Keep printed material in a filing cabinet, or on a shelf.

Most of your home reference material won’t be digitized. Store insurance policies in a fireproof safe, and other material, like manuals and tax returns, on a shelf, or in a drawer. Digitize home reference material when you have time, but keep the originals.

Vital: make lists of your reference materials, so you know where a specific reference is stored. Keep these lists in Evernote.

3. Organize long lists and folders from A to Z.

You need a way to organize long lists and folders of material. The easiest way is to sort materials alphabetically. You can also sort your material by date. You may also want to use a combination of both.

For example, if you’re organizing work material on your computer, you may choose to create a new folder for each year, then sub-folders for each month, or sub-folders for each client.

4. Archive old and out-of-date materials.

Decide when you’ll archive materials you no longer need, both on your computer, and print materials. You can choose to archive once a year. However, archiving once a month can be more efficient.

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If you choose to archive once a month, schedule some time on the last working day of the month.

Move computer materials to archive folders. Buy large plastic archive boxes for print materials, and move materials from your filing cabinets to the archive boxes. Add labels to your boxes, so you can see what they contain at a glance.

5. Add tickler dates to bubble up key things to the top of your lists.

Some things need to happen on specific dates, so if you have lots of print materials, you need a tickler file. Ticklers are date-labelled folders, one for each day of the month. File your materials in the appropriate future day’s folder, so you can deal with the contents on that day. You can create separate tickler files for work and for home.

Need a computer tickler file? Evernote’s reminders work well. You’ll be reminded of notes on any date you choose.

6. Decide whether you’re optimizing material for storing or retrieving.

If you think you’ll rarely need to look at something again, archive it in an archive box, or in an archive folder on your computer. These kinds of materials include old tax returns, completed project files, materials for events like weddings after the big day, and photos.

Things you need daily, like passwords, timetables and price lists, need to be stored so you can retrieve them in seconds. Put print material within arm’s reach, and store digital materials so you can access them with just a click.

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7. Build productive habits: establish a daily routine to manage information.

Information arrives constantly. Email can be a hassle, so establish an “inbox zero” habit. Be ruthless. Delete, delete, delete. Schedule email replies, or reply immediately, with as short a response as possible. Check your email no more three times a day.

At work, if you’re not sure where a document belongs, store it on your physical or computer desktop. File everything on both desktops at the end of the working day.

At home, deal with the day’s mail immediately, and trash what you can. Put everything that needs a response in your tickler file.

8. Cut down on input so you can focus on output.

Consider going on an information diet so you can be more productive:

Like any good diet, the information diet works best if you think about it not as denying yourself information, but as consuming more of the right stuff and developing healthy habits.

How much of your information overload is just a habit? You may decide that you don’t need to check Facebook three times a day.

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9. Take regular breaks to avoid overwhelm.

Do Nothing for Two Minutes
    Do Nothing for Two Minutes

    Try this useful free Web app: Do Nothing for Two Minutes. As the name suggests, you’re encouraged to do nothing on your computer for two minutes. If you touch your mouse or your keyboard, you fail.

    This app encourages you to take breaks. Not only does a break clear your mind, it reduces stress. Think of the two minutes as a way of rebooting your brain.

    10. Prioritize items daily, weekly, and monthly.

    You’ll feel overwhelmed and overloaded with information unless you set priorities. At the start of each month, create a priorities list which will help you to achieve your goals. Then break the list down into weekly and daily priorities.

    Prioritize your tasks at the beginning of the day. Do the highest priority tasks first. If you need to complete a sales report for a board of directors meeting, that’s your main priority for the day. Checking your email can wait until you’ve completed the report.

    Try these simple productivity tricks. Although you have no way of avoiding a constant flood of information, you can manage it, and feel in control.

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    Last Updated on September 30, 2020

    Effective vs Efficient: What’s the Difference Regarding Productivity?

    Effective vs Efficient: What’s the Difference Regarding Productivity?

    When it comes to being effective vs efficient, there are a lot of similarities, and because of this, they’re often misused and misinterpreted, both in daily use and application.

    Every business should look for new ways to improve employee effectiveness and efficiency to save time and energy in the long term. Just because a company or employee has one, however, doesn’t necessarily mean that the other is equally present.

    Utilizing both an effective and efficient methodology in nearly any capacity of work and life will yield high levels of productivity, while a lack of it will lead to a lack of positive results.

    Before we discuss the various nuances between the word effective and efficient and how they factor into productivity, let’s break things down with a definition of their terms.

    Effective vs Efficient

    Effective is defined as “producing a decided, decisive, or desired effect.” Meanwhile, the word “efficient ” is defined as “capable of producing desired results with little or no waste (as of time or materials).”[1]

    A rather simple way of explaining the differences between the two would be to consider a light bulb. Say that your porch light burned out and you decided that you wanted to replace the incandescent light bulb outside with an LED one. Either light bulb would be effective in accomplishing the goal of providing you with light at night, but the LED one would use less energy and therefore be the more efficient choice.

    Now, if you incorrectly set a timer for the light, and it was turned on throughout the entire day, then you would be wasting energy. While the bulb is still performing the task of creating light in an efficient manner, it’s on during the wrong time of day and therefore not effective.

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    The effective way is focused on accomplishing the goal, while the efficient method is focused on the best way of accomplishing the goal.

    Whether we’re talking about a method, employee, or business, the subject in question can be either effective or efficient, or, in rare instances, they can be both.

    When it comes to effective vs efficient, the goal of achieving maximum productivity is going to be a combination where the subject is effective and as efficient as possible in doing so.

    Effectiveness in Success and Productivity

    Being effective vs efficient is all about doing something that brings about the desired intent or effect[2]. If a pest control company is hired to rid a building’s infestation, and they employ “method A” and successfully completed the job, they’ve been effective at achieving the task.

    The task was performed correctly, to the extent that the pest control company did what they were hired to do. As for how efficient “method A” was in completing the task, that’s another story.

    If the pest control company took longer than expected to complete the job and used more resources than needed, then their efficiency in completing the task wasn’t particularly good. The client may feel that even though the job was completed, the value in the service wasn’t up to par.

    When assessing the effectiveness of any business strategy, it’s wise to ask certain questions before moving forward:

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    • Has a target solution to the problem been identified?
    • What is the ideal response time for achieving the goal?
    • Does the cost balance out with the benefit?

    Looking at these questions, a leader should ask to what extent a method, tool, or resource meets the above criteria and achieve the desired effect. If the subject in question doesn’t hit any of these marks, then productivity will likely suffer.

    Efficiency in Success and Productivity

    Efficiency is going to account for the resources and materials used in relation to the value of achieving the desired effect. Money, people, inventory, and (perhaps most importantly) time, all factor into the equation.

    When it comes to being effective vs efficient, efficiency can be measured in numerous ways[3]. In general, the business that uses fewer materials or that is able to save time is going to be more efficient and have an advantage over the competition. This is assuming that they’re also effective, of course.

    Consider a sales team for example. Let’s say that a company’s sales team is tasked with making 100 calls a week and that the members of that team are hitting their goal each week without any struggle.

    The members on the sales team are effective in hitting their goal. However, the question of efficiency comes into play when management looks at how many of those calls turn into solid connections and closed deals.

    If less than 10 percent of those calls generate a connection, the productivity is relatively low because the efficiency is not adequately balancing out with the effect. Management can either keep the same strategy or take a new approach.

    Perhaps they break up their sales team with certain members handling different parts of the sales process, or they explore a better way of connecting with their customers through a communications company.

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    The goal is ultimately going to be finding the right balance, where they’re being efficient with the resources they have to maximize their sales goals without stretching themselves too thin. Finding this balance is often easier said than done, but it’s incredibly important for any business that is going to thrive.

    Combining Efficiency and Effectiveness to Maximize Productivity

    Being effective vs efficient works best if both are pulled together for the best results.

    If a business is ineffective in accomplishing its overall goal, and the customer doesn’t feel that the service is equated with the cost, then efficiency becomes largely irrelevant. The business may be speedy and use minimal resources, but they struggle to be effective. This may put them at risk of going under.

    It’s for this reason that it’s best to shoot for being effective first, and then work on bringing efficiency into practice.

    Improving productivity starts with taking the initiative to look at how effective a company, employee, or method is through performance reviews. Leaders should make a point to regularly examine performance at all levels on a whole, and take into account the results that are being generated.

    Businesses and employees often succumb to inefficiency because they don’t look for a better way, or they lack the proper tools to be effective in the most efficient manner possible.

    Similar to improving a manager or employee’s level of effectiveness, regularly measuring the resources needed to obtain the desired effect will ensure that efficiency is being accounted for. This involves everything from keeping track of inventory and expenses, to how communication is handled within an organization.

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    By putting in place a baseline value for key metrics and checking them once changes have been made, a company will have a much better idea of the results they’re generating.

    It’s no doubt a step-by-step process. By making concentrated efforts, weakness can be identified and rectified sooner rather than later when the damage is already done.

    Bottom Line

    Understanding the differences between being effective vs efficient is key when it comes to maximizing productivity. It’s simply working smart so that the intended results are achieved in the best way possible. Finding the optimal balance should be the ultimate goal for employees and businesses:

    • Take the steps that result in meeting the solution.
    • Review the process and figure out how to do it better.
    • Repeat the process with what has been learned in a more efficient manner.

    And just like that, effective and efficient productivity is maximized.

    More on How to Improve Productivity

    Featured photo credit: Tim van der Kuip via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Merriam-Webster: effective and efficient
    [2] Mind Tools: Being Effective at Work
    [3] Inc.: 8 Things Really Efficient People Do

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