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Ask the Entrepreneurs: 15 Ways to Clean Up and Conquer Office Clutter

Ask the Entrepreneurs: 15 Ways to Clean Up and Conquer Office Clutter


    Ask The Entrepreneurs is a regular series where members of those involved in the Young Entrepreneur Council are asked a single question that aims to help Lifehack readers level up their own lives, whether in a area of management, communication, business or life in general.

    Here’s the question posed in this edition of Ask The Entrepreneurs:

    What’s the coolest gadget (high OR low tech) you have to help you keep your office space organized?

    1. Paint the Town Chalk!

    Yael Cohen

      Our office is an inspiration cave. We can draw and write on every surface, from the white board to the conference table to the windows to the chalk walls. This allows us to not only go with the inspiration but also to visualize our projects and workload.

      Yael Cohen, Fuck Cancer

      2. No More Post-Its With Asana

        After my teams switched to Asana for project management, I noticed there were far less Post-It notes, scribbles and half-filled sheets of scratch paper lying around my office. Entering and organizing our tasks in Asana was easier, and it has also eliminated the digital clutter of separate task lists and the old mile-long to-do list.

        Kelly Azevedo, She’s Got Systems

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        3. Old-Fashioned Post-It Notes

          We use post-it notes as our teamwide “To-Do” list. We stick them on the wall in order to avoid clutter on our desks. We have a goal to pull the notes down every week after accomplishing big sales, operations and marketing goals!
          Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches

          4. Move to the Cloud

          Louis Lautman

            Move everything to the cloud, so you don’t need any gadgets. If you look at your systems, it is highly probable that you can move many online, so you really don’t need an office. Today, there is more technology than ever that can handle an increasing amount of tasks. Begin to move your work to the cloud and lose the office altogether.
            Louis Lautman, Young Entrepreneur Society

            5. Work the Whiteboard

              We whiteboard everything. From projects to team assignments, presentations to goals and numbers. It is extremely powerful to see your messages in big, dry erase markers every time you walk through the office. It reminds you why you are there and what you need to be doing. That keeps myself and my whole team organized.
              Greg Rollett, The ProductPros

              6. Invest in IdeaPaint

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                We turned our walls into large whiteboards so that no matter where we are in the office, we can write just about anywhere. It comes in handy with the studio setup that we have, and creates a great creative visualization for us too.
                Ashley BodiBusiness Beware

                7. Keep It Simple With a Kamban

                  We’ve tried all kinds of online apps for organization, and our favorite tool ended up being a physical 3’x4′ Kamban board. It’s essentially a whiteboard sectioned off into four parts: to-do, in progress, done (waiting for approval) and icebox (ideas that we put “on ice” for later). We pin colored index cards to the board, and we move them from section to section as we progress.
                  Allie Siarto, Loudpixel

                  8. Mobile Office Grid

                    I use a product called Grid-It! by Cocoon to keep my “mobile office” organized. The Grid-It! is a board with a zipped storage compartment on one side and a mesh of elastic bands on the other. The compartment holds paperwork and discs, while the bands hold everything else (cables, gadgets, hard drives, etc). Simple concept, but it’s made my carry-on bag far more manageable.
                    Colin Wright, Exile Lifestyle

                    9. Adapt With Batteries

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                      I have a battery charger with a variety of different adapters. It allows me to plug most of the gadgets I carry around into it and recharge them. As an added bonus, I’m popular at conferences because I can always provide at least a little charge to anyone with a dying phone, giving us a chance to sit and chat.
                      Thursday Bram, Hyper Modern Consulting

                      10. Rotating Paper File

                        David Allen’s GTD system recommends having a “tickler file.” Basically, this means that you have a file folder for each month and then a series of folders labeled 1 through 31. As paper material comes into your life, you put it in the correct day or, if it’s more than a month away, the folder of the correct month. This is a simple way to keep paper organized and accessible at the right time.
                        Elizabeth SaundersReal Life E®

                        11. Evernote for Everything

                          I scan everything into this program, then tag and sort it. It really takes away the need for me to have paper anywhere in my office. Also, whenever I need something, it is only a quick digital search away — even from my smartphone!
                          Justin Nowak, Mobile Business Advisors

                          12. Monitors and Mice

                          Lucas Sommer

                            To me, this is a no-brainer, but I make sure every person in my office has a second monitor and wireless mouse. Most people are unaware of how much faster they become with a mouse and second monitor, and I make sure everyone has that opportunity. Some people resist claiming that they “work better on their laptop trackpad.” Eventually, they realize.
                            Lucas Sommer, Audimated

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                            13. Keep the Cords Clean

                            Anderson Schoenrock

                              I have a henge dock for my MacBook Pro that keeps all my connectors organized and clean.
                              Anderson Schoenrock, ScanDigital

                              14. Cordies for Cables on the Table

                                The biggest source of office space disorganization is cords — they’re everywhere! Not only are tangled cables for computers a pain to look at, but they can also be a tripping hazard. Cordies — starting at just $9.99 — are available to help. Cordies, created by the cool crowdsourcing invention company Quirky, are design-friendly and effective in organizing stray cables.
                                Doreen Bloch, Poshly Inc.

                                15. There’s a Job Position for That

                                Brent Beshore

                                  A Director of Operations is the best way to keep a business organized. Startups are all about swift changes, and a human can help you adapt and keep pace with those changes a lot better than any single piece of technology can.
                                  Brent Beshore, AdVentures

                                  (Photo credit: Bad Day at Work via Shutterstock)

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                                  Last Updated on February 21, 2019

                                  How to Stop Information Overload

                                  How to Stop Information Overload

                                  Information overload is a creature that has been growing on the Internet’s back since its beginnings. The bigger the Internet gets, the more information there is. The more quality information we see, the more we want to consume it. The more we want to consume it, the more overloaded we feel.

                                  This has to stop somewhere. And it can.

                                  As the year comes to a close, there’s no time like the present to make the overloading stop.

                                  But before I explain exactly what I mean, let’s discuss information overload in general.

                                  How Serious Is Information Overload?

                                  The sole fact that there’s more and more information published online every single day is not the actual problem. Only the quality information becomes the problem.

                                  This sounds kind of strange…but bear with me.

                                  When we see some half-baked blog posts we don’t even consider reading, we just skip to the next thing. But when we see something truly interesting — maybe even epic — we want to consume it.

                                  We even feel like we have to consume it. And that’s the real problem.

                                  No matter what topic we’re interested in, there are always hundreds of quality blogs publishing entries every single day (or every other day). Not to mention all the forums, message boards, social news sites, and so on.

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                                  The amount of epic content on the Internet these days is so big that it’s virtually impossible for us to digest it all. But we try anyway.

                                  That’s when we feel overloaded. If you’re not careful, one day you’ll find yourself reading the 15th blog post in a row on some nice WordPress tweaking techniques because you feel that for some reason, “you need to know this.”

                                  Information overload is a plague. There’s no vaccine, there’s no cure. The only thing you have is self-control.

                                  Luckily, you’re not on your own. There are some tips you can follow to protect yourself from information overload and, ultimately, fight it.

                                  But first, admit that information overload is really bad for you.

                                  Why Information Overload Is Bad for You

                                  Information overload stops you from taking action. That’s the biggest problem here.

                                  When you try to consume more and more information every day, you start to notice that even though you’ve been reading tons of articles, watching tons of videos and listening to tons of podcasts, the stream of incoming information seems to be infinite.

                                  Therefore, you convince yourself that you need to be on a constant lookout for new information if you want to be able to accomplish anything in your life, work and/or passion. The final result is that you are consuming way too much information, and taking way too little action because you don’t have enough time for it.

                                  The belief that you need to be on this constant lookout for information is just not true.

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                                  You don’t need every piece of advice possible to live your life, do your work or enjoy your passion.

                                  How to Stop Information Overload (And Start to Achieve More)

                                  So how to recognize the portion of information that you really need? Start with setting goals.

                                  1. Set Your Goals

                                  If you don’t have your goals put in place, you’ll be just running around grabbing every possible advice and thinking that it’s “just what you’ve been looking for.”

                                  Setting goals is a much more profound task than just a way to get rid of information overload. Now by “goals” I don’t mean things like “get rich, have kids, and live a good life”. I mean something much more within your immediate grasp. Something that can be achieved in the near future — like within a month (or a year) at most.

                                  Basically, something that you want to attract to your life, and you already have some plan on how you’re going to make it happen. So no hopes and dreams, just actionable, precise goals.

                                  Then once you have your goals, they become a set of strategies and tactics you need to act upon.

                                  2. Know What to Skip When Facing New Information

                                  Once you have your goals, plans, strategies and tasks, you can use them to decide what information is really crucial.

                                  First of all, if the information you’re about to read has nothing to do with your current goals and plans, then skip it. You don’t need it.

                                  If it does, then ask yourself these questions:

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                                  • Will you be able to put this information into action immediately?
                                  • Does it have the potential to maybe alter your nearest actions/tasks?
                                  • Is it so incredible that you absolutely need to take action on it right away?

                                  If the information is not actionable in a day or two, then skip it.

                                  (You’ll forget about it anyway.)

                                  And that’s basically it. Digest only what can be used immediately. If you have a task that you need to do, consume only the information necessary for getting this one task done, nothing more.

                                  You need to be focused in order to have clear judgment, and be able to decide whether some piece of information is mandatory or redundant.

                                  Self-control comes handy too. It’s quite easy to convince yourself that you really need something just because of poor self-control. Try to fight this temptation, and be as ruthless about it as possible – if the information is not matching your goals and plans, and you can’t take action on it in the near future, then SKIP IT.

                                  3. Be Aware of the Minimal Effective Dose

                                  There’s a thing called the MED – Minimal Effective Dose. I was first introduced to this idea by Tim Ferriss. In his book The 4-Hour BodyTim illustrates the minimal effective dose by talking about medical drugs.

                                  Everybody knows that every pill has a MED, and after that specific dose, no other positive effects occur, only some negative side effects if you overdose big.

                                  Consuming information is somewhat similar. You need just a precise amount of it to help you to achieve your goals and put your plans into life.

                                  Everything more than that amount won’t improve your results any further. And if you try to consume too much of it, it will eventually stop you from taking any action altogether.

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                                  4. Don’t Procrastinate by Consuming More Information

                                  Probably one of the most common causes of consuming ridiculous amounts of information is the need to procrastinate. By reading yet another article, we often feel that we are indeed working, and that we’re doing something good – we’re learning, which in result will make us a more complete and educated person.

                                  This is just self-deception. The truth is we’re simply procrastinating. We don’t feel like doing what really needs to be done – the important stuff – so instead we find something else, and convince ourselves that “that thing” is equally important. Which is just not true.

                                  Don’t consume information just for the sake of it. It gets you nowhere.

                                  The focus of this article is not on how to stop procrastinating, but if you’re having such issue, I recommend you read this:

                                  Procrastination – A Step-By-Step Guide to Stop Procrastinating

                                  Summing It Up

                                  As you can see, information overload can be a real problem and it can have a sever impact on your productivity and overall performance.

                                  I know I have had my share of problems with it (and probably still have from time to time). But creating this simple set of rules helps me to fight it, and to keep my lizard brain from taking over.

                                  I hope it helps you too, especially as we head into a new year with a new chance at setting ourselves up for success.

                                  More Resources About Boosting Brain Power

                                  Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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