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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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                                  9 No-Brainer Ways to Track Employee Time Ask the Entrepreneurs: 12 Things Entrepreneurs Should Stop Doing Ask the Entrepreneurs: 9 Best Note Taking Tools Ask the Entrepreneurs: 12 Tips for Mastering Public Speaking Ask the Entrepreneurs: 9 Tasks You Should be Outsourcing

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                                  Last Updated on August 16, 2018

                                  16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

                                  16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

                                  The same old motivational secrets don’t really motivate you after you’ve read them for the tenth time, do they?

                                  How about a unique spin on things?

                                  These 16 productivity secrets of successful people will make you reevaluate your approach to your home, work, and creative lives. Learn from these highly successful people, turn these little things they do into your daily habits and you’ll get closer to success.

                                  1. Empty your mind.

                                  It sounds counterproductive, doesn’t it?

                                  Emptying your mind when you have so much to remember seems like you’re just begging to forget something. Instead, this gives you a clean slate so you’re not still thinking about last week’s tasks.

                                  Clear your mind and then start thinking only about what you need to do immediately, and then today. Tasks that need to be accomplished later in the week can wait.

                                  Here’s a guide to help you empty your mind and think sharper:

                                  How to Declutter Your Mind to Sharpen Your Brain and Fall Asleep Faster

                                  2. Keep certain days clear.

                                  Some companies are scheduling “No Meeting Wednesdays,” which means, funnily enough, that no one can hold a meeting on a Wednesday. This gives workers a full day to work on their own tasks, without getting sidetracked by other duties or pointless meetings.

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                                  This can work in your personal life too, for example if you need to restrict Facebook access or limit phone calls.

                                  3. Prioritize your work.

                                  Don’t think every task is created equal! Some tasks aren’t as important as others, or might take less time.

                                  Try to sort your tasks every day and see what can be done quickly and efficiently. Get these out of the way so you have more free time and brain power to focus on what is more important.

                                  Lifehack’s CEO has a unique way to prioritize works, take a look at it here:

                                  How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

                                  4. Chop up your time.

                                  Many successful business leaders chop their time up into fifteen-minute intervals. This means they work on tasks for a quarter of an hour at a time, or schedule meetings for only fifteen minutes. It makes each hour seem four times as long, which leads to more productivity!

                                  5. Have a thinking position.

                                  Truman Capote claimed he couldn’t think unless he was laying down. Proust did this as well, while Stravinsky would stand on his head!

                                  What works for others may not work for you. Try to find a spot and position that is perfect for you to brainstorm or come up with ideas.

                                  6. Pick three to five things you must do that day.

                                  To Do lists can get overwhelming very quickly. Instead of making a never-ending list of everything you can think of that needs to be done, make daily lists that include just three to five things.

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                                  Make sure they’re things that need to be done that day, so you don’t keep putting them off.

                                  7. Don’t try to do too much.

                                  OK, so I just told you to work every day, and now I’m telling you to not do too much? It might sound like conflicting advice, but not doing too much means not biting off more than you can chew. Don’t say yes to every work project or social engagement and find yourself in way over your head.

                                  8. Have a daily action plan.

                                  Don’t limit yourself to a to-do list! Take ten minutes every morning to map out a daily action plan. It’s a place to not only write what needs to be done that day, but also to prioritize what will bring the biggest reward, what will take the longest, and what goals will be accomplished.

                                  Leave room for a “brain dump,” where you can scribble down anything else that’s on your mind.

                                  9. Do your most dreaded project first.

                                  Getting your most dreaded task over with first means you’ll have the rest of the day free for anything and everything else. This also means that you won’t be constantly putting off the worst of your projects, making it even harder to start on it later.

                                  10. Follow the “Two-Minute Rule.”

                                  The “Two-Minute Rule” was made famous by David Allen. It’s simple – if a new task comes in and it can be done in two minutes or less, do it right then. Putting it off just adds to your to-do list and will make the task seem more monumental later.

                                  11. Have a place devoted to work.

                                  If you work in an office, it’s no problem to say that your cubicle desk is where you work every day.

                                  But if you work from home, make sure you have a certain area specifically for work. You don’t want files spread out all over the dinner table, and you don’t want to feel like you’re not working just because you’re relaxing on the couch.

                                  Agatha Christie never wrote at her desk, she wrote wherever she could sit down. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up. Thomas Wolfe, at 6’6″ tall, used the top of his refrigerator as a desk. Richard Wright wrote on a park bench, rain or shine.

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                                  Have a space where, when you go there, you know you’re going to work. Maybe it’s a cafe downstairs, the library, or a meeting room. Whenever and wherever works for you, do your works there.

                                  12. Find your golden hour.

                                  You don’t have to stick to a “typical” 9–5 schedule!

                                  Novelist Anne Rice slept during the day and wrote at night to avoid distractions. Writer Jerzy Kosinski slept eight hours a day, but never all at once. He’d wake in the morning, work, sleep four hours in the afternoon, then work more that evening.

                                  Your golden hour is the time when you’re at your peak. You’re alert, ready to be productive, and intent on crossing things off your to-do list.

                                  Once you find your best time, protect it with all your might. Make sure you’re always free to do your best uninterrupted work at this time.

                                  13. Pretend you’re on an airplane.

                                  It might not be possible to lock everyone out of your office to get some peace and quiet, but you can eliminate some distractions.

                                  By pretending you’re on an airplane, you can act like your internet access is limited, you’re not able to get something from your bookcase, and you can’t make countless phone calls.

                                  Eliminating these distractions will help you focus on your most important tasks and get them done without interruption.

                                  14. Never stop.

                                  Writers Anthony Trollope and Henry James started writing their next books as soon as they finished their current work in progress.

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                                  Stephen King writes every day of the year, and holds himself accountable for 2,000 words a day! Mark Twain wrote every day, and then read his day’s work aloud to his family to get their feedback.

                                  There’s something to be said about working nonstop, and putting out continuous work instead of taking a break. It’s just a momentum that will push you go further./

                                  15. Be in tune with your body.

                                  Your mind and body will get tired of a task after ninety minutes to two hours focused on it. Keep this in mind as you assign projects to yourself throughout the day, and take breaks to ensure that you won’t get burned out.

                                  16. Try different methods.

                                  Vladimir Nabokov wrote the first drafts of his novels on index cards. This made it easy to rearrange sentences, paragraphs, and chapters by shuffling the cards around.

                                  It does sound easier, and more fun, than copying and pasting in Word! Once Nabokov liked the arrangement, his wife typed them into a single manuscript.

                                  Same for you, don’t give up and think that it’s impossible for you to be productive when one method fails. Try different methods until you find what works perfectly for you.

                                  Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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