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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
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    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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                                  1 7 Effective Ways To Motivate Employees in 2021 2 How a Project Management Mindset Boosts Your Productivity 3 5 Values of an Effective Leader 4 How to Motivate People Around You and Inspire Them 5 The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

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                                  Last Updated on July 21, 2021

                                  The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

                                  The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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                                  No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

                                  Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

                                  Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

                                  A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

                                  Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

                                  In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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                                  From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

                                  A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

                                  For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

                                  This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

                                  The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

                                  That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

                                  Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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                                  The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

                                  Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

                                  But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

                                  The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

                                  The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

                                  A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

                                  For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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                                  But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

                                  If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

                                  For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

                                  These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

                                  For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

                                  How to Make a Reminder Works for You

                                  Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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                                  Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

                                  Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

                                  My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

                                  Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

                                  I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

                                  More on Building Habits

                                  Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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                                  Reference

                                  [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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