Staying organised and focused is an issue for many people today, both at work and at home. Here are seven strategies to help you to declutter, get organised and be more productive.
1. Use Technology
Find tools and apps to help you to simplify and systemise the things that you need to get done. There are many options depending on what you are trying to get done at home and in your business. Here are a few that I recommend to get you started.
Evernote – your external brain; keep notes online, organised in notebooks to keep your projects, ideas and inspirations handy
Dropbox – keep your files online safe, synced and easy to share
Expensify – track and submit expenses on the go and never lose a receipt again
IFTTT – connect the apps and tools you love to automate your world
Camscanner – turn your phone and tablet into a scanner for intelligent document management.
Tripit – organise your travel plans in one place.
Habitlist – create good habits, break unhealthy ones and be a better you
Todoist – online task management and to do list
Buffer – easy social media management, queue up your social media shares
Pocket – save articles and videos to view later
2. Identify and Work on your 3 Biggest Tasks
If you can identify the three most important tasks that you need to get done before you start your day, it can really help you to be more focused during your day.
Make sure you identify the tasks first thing in the morning and that you allocate sufficient time to achieve the tasks, again preferably in the morning if that’s when you have more energy.
Urgent tasks can often get in the way so try to carve out the time to work on the three tasks that you have decided on, which are unlikely to be urgent but are most definitely important.
Having said that, it can be helpful for some people to ‘knock off’ a few of your more urgent and quick tasks early on to give you a sense of achievement and to ‘get you going’ with task achievement before knuckling down for the important, and likely, more challenging tasks.
3. Stop Trying to Multitask
Did you know that we don’t really multitask? Instead what we are doing when we think we are multi tasking is switching very quickly between multiple tasks. Each time we do this we are stopping and starting a task, which means that we aren’t properly focused on any of them.
The human brain works better when it is devoted to one train of thought. Research backs up this belief, showing that multitaskers suffer higher levels of stress and anxiety, and more disorganisation too.
4. Only Touch Things Once
If you are processing your inbox whether virtual or real, handle each item only once. Don’t leave things to one side to deal with later.
When you are processing your intray/inbox, take the approach of ‘triage’ so that you do the task, delegate it, delete it or put it into your task management system. Don’t just leave it while you decide what to do with it. It creates clutter and is only delaying a decision, which stops you getting things done.
Handling everything just once really helps you to cut down on time spent trying to organise your life.
How much stuff do you really need? Is your office cluttered with items and paperwork that you don’t need or use?
It’s much easier to keep focused and organised if you have less stuff taking up space and causing problems with keeping a tidy office.
Take some time out to identify what is most important to you and to then work out what you need to enable you to do whatever that is, and ‘lose’ the rest somehow!
6. Saying No is a Vital Skill
Many people have a tendency to say yes to most requests for help. That can mean that your time is often filled with other people’s priorities and you have less time to focus on your own.
Sometimes just saying no to these requests can help you to free up your time to focus on the important tasks that you have on your list. Saying no more often means fewer obligations and more opportunity to focus on your own goals.
One tip is to avoid giving an answer immediately when asked to on things for other people. Stall by saying you will check your diary and tasks and get back to them. You will then have time to properly evaluate whether you want to devote your time to whatever task is being asked of you.
7. Keep your Working Environment Clear
Did you know that everything in your field of vision is being continually processed by your eyes and mind.
Clear your workstation of everything but the essentials you need to do your work and you will find your ability to stay organised and focused improved.
This applies to your computer desktop, your files and your smartphone apps too. Organising them can help you to find things more easily as well as to be more focused.
Hopefully these seven tips will be useful to you when you are working on being more productive and organised. Let me know how you get on or what other tips and strategies you have in the comments below.
If you’re looking for ways to be more productive, you may be interested in downloading my mini report ‘My Favourite Productivity Apps’.