Do you have a problem staying organized and focused? This is an issue for many people today, at home and on the job. Adopt the following 7 practices, tips and strategies, and you will find yourself clutter free and focused, organized and more productive.
1 – Apps and Tools to Help You Save Time and Money
There are several applications and pieces of software that can keep you organized at home and on the job. The following apps are some of the most popular for organizing work, handling travel plans, freeing you from text message overwhelm and helping you in other important aspects of your personal and business lives.
- GroupMe– A free group messaging app that works on any device. It’s like a private chat room for your friends, family or co-workers. Ideal for virtual teams, sales and service teams who are out on the road.
- MileIQ – It’s IRS friendly and convenient because it’s an app that goes wherever your phone goes. You designate whether your trip was business or personal and what the purpose was. The system does the rest.
- Scannable – A free app for iPhone that scans your business card contacts and syncs them to LinkedIn. It will also scan receipts and documents and sync them with Evernote.
- Tripit: An app that organizes your travel by putting all of your itineraries in one place
- MailTime: If you have hundreds or thousands of emails in your inbox, this might be an app worth checking out. It combines all of your communication in one place, groups chats and conersations and keeps you organized.
- HabitList: It’s much easier to get and stay organized if you treat it like a game. Use the HabitList app to turn your goals into games and track your progress.
- IFTTT: Would it be too much to say that IFTTT is like having a virtual assistant on demand? ?Maybe. But this is an amazing platform when you want to automate repetative and detailed tasks — especially ones where you can easily overlook something. I use IFTTT to create lists of people who talk about a specific topic on Twitter, but you can have it do so much more than that.
- Toodledo: What started out as a simple task app has evolved into a productity platform that you can use across all of your devices. This platform also integrates with a variety of other platforms like Google and IFTTT.
- Cold Turkey: For those of you easily distracted by Facebook, Twitter, Email and shiny objects, this is the tool for you. Just download Cold Turkey and you can blog all of the distracting tempations that get in the way of your productivity.
- ProcrasterApp: Are you a procrastinator? ?This is a fascinating app just for you. Simply download and tell the app what’s getting in the way of your getting your tasks or projects done. Procrastor helps you break tasks up into smaller bite sized pieces and helps you get more done in less time.
- CoSchedule: Who has time to keep track of when your blog articles post and promoting them across dozens of social media channels? Not you. That’s why there’s CoSchedule. Simply connect your blog to CoSchedule and you can schedule and coordinate your blog article promotion, content calendars and even social media sharing in one place. My favorite feature is the ability to program an article promotion campaign across a variety of channels BEFORE the blog article even posts. CoSchedule is able to integrate a live link inside pre-scheduled promotions so that you can schedule articles WAY in advance or in batches. A HUGE time saver.
- Venmo: For those of us in the “mathematically gifted” class, you can use Venmo to share and split payments between friends. You can also use this app to pay for purchases that you make using mobile apps.
2 -?Top 3 Before Noon
Write down your top 3 tasks for the day. Accomplish or complete these before noon. You will find your productivity soar, and your organizational skills improve.
My favorite tool to figure out EXACTLY what to do before noon is the Importance/Urgency matrix, also known as the Eisenhower Matrix. Simply sit down first thing in the morning and make a list of all of your tasks. Then plot them according to how important and urgent they are using this matrix. Take the tasks that fit into the Important and Urgent quadrant and make sure you get them done before noon.
3 – Do One Thing At a Time
Do you remember a few years back, when multitasking was all the rage. As it turns out, you get more accomplished when you focus on one task at a time. 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 disorganization as well.
My favorite tool to manage this process is a Google Chrome extension called Sortd.
If you typically convert emails to tasks — Sortd is a dream come true. Sortd gives you a view of your emails, allows you to convert them to tasks and then move them through a simple process flow. I have a long list of emails and To Do items and then I select the one I’m going to be working on and place it in the DOING column. I focus on that task and do NOTHING until that task is complete.
If the task you’ve put in there is TOO BIG — meaning that it has more than two steps to it, break your task up into multiple steps and work the process one at a time. This is ideal for those of us with a short attention span or who get lots of interruptions and disruptions that make it difficult to refocus on what you were doing.
4 – Handle Things Once
Deal with your mail as soon as you take it from your mailbox. Don’t take it inside, lay it down on your desk or counter, intending to deal with it later. Do the same thing with every physical and virtual object or piece of information you have to deal with. Handle everything one time, and you cut down on the time spent trying to organize your life.
5 – Simplify
Do you really need another purse or pair of shoes? How many sports jerseys are enough? Do you have too many televisions, smartphones, tablets and computers? How many coffee cups can you drink out of at one time? Take some time to simplify your life. Organization is easier when you have fewer things to deal with.
6 – Learn to Say No
Sometimes organization simply means saying no. The more times you agree to help someone out with a task or chore the more you are putting on your plate. Just like the last tip, simplifying, learning to say no means fewer obligations and simpler organization.
7 – Clean Your Workstation
Relatively recent research about clutter reveals a simple way to organize your life. Did you know that everything in your field of vision is being processed by your eyes and mind? You may be consciously writing a report or listening to a conference call. At the same time, your brain is trying to handle any and all visual data that your eyes are processing. Clear your workstation of everything but the essentials you need to do your job and you will find your ability to stay organized and focused improving.
Staying organized is a practice, the same way that meditating is a practice. If you want to get good at it, you have to choose to be good at it. Thankfully there are lots of tools out there to help you stay focused.
In a lot of ways, it’s like spinning multiple hula hoops all at once. Of course, you’ll drop one or two or all of them. And when that happens, simply stop, take a breath, pick them up and start all over again.
What are YOUR productivity tips and tools, share them below for the rest of us!