If You Want to be More Productive, Start by Getting Organized

09 Jan 2017 Bryan Shaw

It’s about that time of year where everyone ponders, “How am I going to be better in 2017?” If you’re like me, it’s important to take a long, hard look at what you’re doing wrong first.

I’ll admit, I am a messy human being. I lose time everyday digging up rogue sticky notes, searching for lost emails and teetering on the edge of last minute decisions. Work-life balance rests at every Millennial’s core, but we all know that some days get the better of us. If there’s one thing Millenials, Generation X’ers and Baby Boomers alike can benefit from, it’s a small organizational tune up.

Recent surveys show that an average person loses at lease on hour of productivity per day to disorganization.  The daily grind of the recruiting industry I work in is extremely intricate, and I can honestly say that the devil is really in the details. I watch Recruiters day after day become victims of unorganized spaces and poor documentation skills. Staying on top of priorities and still managing to achieve higher strategic goals is the only way I’m going to survive in the coming year, and that lead me to question what each of us can do to immediately to give ourselves a fresh organizational start?

My prescription for success in 2017 isn’t going to fit everyone, but I know my limitations always start with being messy. When embarking upon your own journey of staying organized in 2017, start with identifying what’s slowing you down and work to optimize one thing at a time.

Get Your Desk Together – I’m not going to tell you how to clean and organize your desk…just do it! Spend the extra hour today to get old files put away neatly, restock your favorite binder clips and banish the piles of paperwork. From the advice of happy minimalists’ around the globe, remove almost all visual clutter and you’ll be well on your way to becoming more productive. Visual clutter mentally bogs you down and causes opportunities for your mind to wander throughout the day.

Be the King of Your Inbox – I don’t know about you, but I have a regular stream of emails coming into my inbox that aren’t important (think newsletters and LinkedIn group updates).

Create rules within your inbox so that they skip your eyes altogether.

A rule allows you to identify emails by sender, subject line or recipient and then automatically files them away into a folder for later viewing if you so choose. For example, you can create a rule that sends any purchase orders directly to an “Accounts” folder. Review them when you have time, and get them out of your immediate view.

  • Use Outlook? Click here for directions on how to create rules
  • Use Gmail? Click here for directions on how to create filters.
  • Use Mac email? Click here for directions on how to create Apple Mail Rules.

Banish Sticky Notes – Those little suckers hang out on my desk like painful mental potholes. Often times, I look at them over and over again as a temporary breakaway from something else I’m involved in. Let’s also not forget that they are perfect size to completely lose into the abyss of your desk, floating away onto the floor and never to be seen again. We have technology for a reason! Set up reminders in your calendar and commit to checking those daily, instead. Alternatively, grab a notebook where you can keep your reminders all in one place.

Plan for Brain Fog: Before I go home each day, I write myself an email detailing a few menial tasks I can complete the next morning. And when I get to work every day, I mentally stumble around without meaning while I wait for my coffee to kick in. If I plan a short list the night before, I have something to work on immediately. By the time I get through with my morning checklist, I’m ready to start thinking critically again.

Clean Up Ya Filthy Animal – Use the last five minutes of your day to tidy your work space. Just because you cleaned once, doesn’t mean you don’t have to keep up with it!

Are there more things I should do? Probably!  But let’s start with something realistic in 2017, and see what a clean and tidy work space can do to help me, you, everyone, become more productive!