You’re running late for a client call scheduled in 10 minutes. You can’t find an important email you need to reference. You burned the midnight oil attempting to catch up on work — because it’s budget planning season and you’re swamped! If these scenarios sound all too familiar, you know how disorganization impacts your productivity and your life, both at work and at home.
Interested in increasing your personal productivity? Consider these possible barriers to getting things done:
- Lack of focus. As you look at your desk, what’s staring back at you? Clutter demands our attention and robs us of focus. If you see piles of paper, freebies from a recent tradeshow, or piles of stuff underneath your desk, it’s time to pick up! Clear the clutter and clear your mind.
- Inability to say “no.” Sometimes we think disorganization is because we have too much to do. In reality, we need to start saying “no” to things. Your boss may love your willingness to take on every project, however, you’ll both be disappointed when you’re unable to deliver on time or with the desired quality.
- Inability to prioritize. In today’s email culture, it’s easy to buy into the urgency of every message. Take caution: Most emails are important but few are urgent. Prioritize items on your To-Do List according to their deadlines and the amount of work required to complete them.
- Procrastination. You might feel tempted to procrastinate working on next year's budget, but you'll regret it when the stress sets in — which may even cause you to overlook important details. Procrastination also affects those around us and can cause tension and feelings of mistrust in the workplace.
- Lack of systems. Incoming email, project folders, paper, and appointments are an everyday part of your job. Creating folders for email, hard drive, and paper for current projects helps manage this information in an organized fashion, allowing quick retrieval of items when needed and preventing clutter. Choose a calendar system that syncs with all of your devices so that you’re supported in and out of the office.
- Perfectionism. Ever find yourself trying to craft the “perfect” email? You write and rewrite, change fonts, underline, and highlight before finally pressing send. Or maybe you’re obsessed with your To-Do list, adding every task to your list — even those you’ve already accomplished! If you are a perfectionist, you’re wasting time. Make this your new mantra: Done is good enough.
- Multitasking. According to research conducted by the University of Michigan, your productivity decreases by 20-40% every time you multitask. Some interruptions can’t be avoided — phone calls, for example — but starting a new project or responding to email while another task is already in process is multi-tasking. Organized people tend to think they are masters at multitasking yet the research is stacked against us.
- Owned by Your Smartphone. The smartphone has revolutionized the way we live and work. We thought we’d get more done with the help of technology, but our phones are a source of endless interruptions, which actually makes us less productive. Learning to use apps and other features will help you better manage this all-important tool. If you are coming to the 2018 FICP Annual Conference in November, plan to attend “Outsmarting your Smartphone” on Monday.
- Major life changes. Moving, welcoming a baby, going through a divorce, or taking care of elderly parents takes a tremendous amount of time and energy. For an already disorganized person, a major change only adds to the chaos of everyday life. When “stuff” happens — and it will! — take a deep breath, step back, and focus on what’s been thrown at you. Don’t worry about less important items; they will still be there when the dust settles.
- Inability to make decisions. You make hundreds of decisions every day. But clutter ensues when you can’t or choose not to make those decisions — like reading an email and just leaving it in your inbox or storing a box of who-knows-what under your desk. In most scenarios, a split-second decision is all it takes to prevent clutter from accumulating.
You can make long-lasting changes by stopping to reflect and identify some of these contributors to disorganization. Soon enough, showing up late to an appointment or ill-prepared for a meeting will be a thing of the past!
Audrey Thomas, CSP
Audrey Thomas, CSP, better known as Organized Audrey, helps others learn how to get more done with less stress. As a productivity expert, her presentations help busy professionals increase their productivity and better manage their time and email. Catch her in Orlando at the 2018 FICP Annual Conference this November presenting “Outsmarting Your Smartphone” as well as appearing in the Experience Zone for individual consulting. For booking or more information: (952) 944-9470 or organizedaudrey.com.