De-Junk Your Job

Organizing your time and workspace may sound like a great resolution for the New Year. Yet for some, the task sounds daunting. Where do I put all those papers? Can I really throw this file away? How can I dial down the electronic communications?

At last month’s IABC/Iowa monthly event, “De-Junk Your Job,” attendees were given suggestions on how to start being more productive and work on what matters most.

Speaker Lori VandeKrol, from Life Made Simple, LLC, said it’s important to first map out the process of how you want things to work for you. She suggested this five-step process for a productive environment.

1) Design your vision.
What is it you want? Do you want to be more productive? Do you want to feel in control of your paperwork? Do you want more time?

2) Address your obstacles.
What has gotten in your way in the past? Maybe checking your email every 15 minutes keeps you distracted or perhaps you feel the need to Twitter every hour.

3) Commit your resources.
How much time and energy are you willing to devote to this? Will you need to buy new file folders or apps for your cell phone?

4) Select your system and tools.
What tools work for you? Are you a paper person or a Blackberry devotee? Determine what system works best for you – it could be a combination of different systems.

5) Maintain your success.
How will you keep desk clutter under control? Will you monitor projects weekly? How will you get back on track if the clutter returns?

Organizing your personal workspace is the key to saving time. Think about a time when someone called you for information and you couldn’t find it immediately. You had to rifle through folders, log onto your e-mail, then look for the person’s phone number and so on. Did you know professionals spend 5–15% of their time reading information and 50% of their time looking for it? The quicker you can find it, the quicker it gets done.

How to Tame the Time-Guzzling E-Mail Beast

Lori gave some statistics about e-mail usage. The average person has 3,000 e-mails (read and unread) in their e-mail system.  A typical person sends and receives 108 e-mails each day. Often, three minutes is spent on each e-mail. When you do the math, you’re spending 5.4 hours a day on e-mails alone!

Tips to Help You Manage E-Mails

  • Don’t use e-mail if a verbal discussion is more efficient.
  • Use a content rich subject line so readers will quickly know the relevance.
  • Keep e-mail messages brief and limit each message to one topic.
  • Resist the urge to print your e-mail.
  • Take one of the following actions on EVERY e-mail you receive:
    • Delete it
    • Forward it (delegate)
    • File it (for future reference)
    • Act on it
      • Act immediately and then file or toss
      • Put it in your calendar as an appointment
      • Add it to your task list and set a due date
  • Do not check e-mail throughout the day. Turn off your new message indicator. Check e-mail when you have time to deal with it. If possible, have set times to check e-mail.
  • Send e-mail only to those that need it or can benefit from it.
  • Add a signature file at the end of your e-mail, which might include your name, company, phone number and Web address.
  • When sending e-mail, put any required action in the subject line, such as “Reply by noon Friday.” or “FYI – No action required.”
  • Only mark a message urgent if it is actually urgent. Do not overuse this tool.
  • Include any attachments before addressing the e-mail so you won’t forget it before you send.
  • Have an organized filing system so that retrieval is quick and easy. Or, use a strong search program to retrieve e-mails by topic, name or keyword.

Clutter is Postponed Decisions
Statistics show that 80% of what we keep – we never use. If you’re tempted to keep everything, use the Art of Wastebasketry® first to be sure it’s safe to toss:

  • Does this require action?
  • Can I identify a specific use?
  • Is it difficult to obtain again?
  • Is it recent enough to be useful?
  • Are there tax or legal implications?
  • What’s the worst thing that can happen without it?

For more information or to receive a free e-newsletter from Life Made Simple, visit LMS Productivity Solutions.