Email. A blessing and a curse. It’s a wonderful way to reach someone without having to play phone tag. It’s a wonderful way to deliver necessary information. And it’s also an easy way for other people to send you the information they want to send you. Work reports that don’t actually pertain to your work. Marketing from a store that you bought one thing from 3 years ago and you might go back to one day. Reply-alls from well-meaning individuals in a group email. And spam. Managing it all can be overwhelming. Here are a few tips to help you stay on top of your email.
1. Limit what comes in
It’s so easy to sign up for interesting and useful newsletters and subscriptions. Set up a separate email address for your newsletters and subscriptions that you can check on your schedule, not theirs. Be judicious about who you give your primary email address to. Use a spam service that automatically reduces the amount of spam you have coming into your inbox.
2. Segment the incoming mail
Use rules or filters to put incoming mail into pre-designated folders for the mail that you don’t have to respond to right away. Examples of this type of mail may be from professional groups that you belong to. Or perhaps you pay extra special attention to those groups and want to be able to see the moment a message comes in from one of those people. Separating their email automatically allows you to go straight to them.
It’s extraordinary how much of our lives are run by our habits. It’s our choice which actions we allow to become habits, although many habits are formed unconsciously. The trick to make life easier is to run supportive habits, rather than bad habits. Charles Duhigg’s book, “The Power of Habit” has an excellent and easy to understand model of how habits are formed and operate. Stephen Covey’s book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” talks about general strategies to live by in order to be effective. These books are all very good in theory, but how can we apply the theories to every day living?
Here are a few ideas in different areas of the house that have made my life easier over the years.
In the kitchen: I admit, the kitchen is not my favorite place to be. I go there because I have to eat and I have to feed my family. I don’t love pouring over recipes finding the next cool taste explosion. I don’t have a million little gadgets for shredding this and that or spiraling those, or whatever else they all do. I prefer to get to know a recipe well and then make it by approximation from memory, because when I do a new recipe, it takes me ages to read and do, read and do. I also hate cleaning up in the kitchen. My worst nightmare is when all the pots and pans have been used, they’re spread all around the kitchen, a dozen chopping boards are out, miscellaneous forks, spoons, knives that were used in the cooking process are sprinkled around. In short, it’s a disaster. It seems so overwhelming to have to clean up at the end of the day.
We’ve all been there. Task A should be done today, yet when we get to the end of the day, it’s not done, again. Yet there are people who seem to be always getting things done. A common phrase of advice is “If you want something done, give it to a busy person.” Why is that? What do people who get things done have in common? And how can you learn from them in order to be as productive?
So you have a task that needs doing, but it doesn’t get done. Sometimes we experience negative self talk about it.
Or we make excuses about it.
But what would it be like if, instead of focusing on the failure, you focused on what you could do about it?
Workplace productivity. We all want it. There are days when you’re on: you get so much done, you fly through your to do list, life feels good. And then there are days when you’re not: your day seems like one big interruption, you take one step forwards to go three back, nothing seems to go right.
This is about having more days when you’re on, and fewer off days. More days when your productivity is through the roof, not out the window.
People who are consistently productive have mastery in these five key areas:
Mastering these 5 keys will increase your productivity each day and have it be more consistent. Let’s dive to each one individually.
Effective filing systems, whether they are paper or digital, are critical to a business’ success. Proper records facilitate business transactions and track the success or failure of the business.
Easy access to documents ensures employees can spend their time working on the projects at hand rather than looking for a piece of paper. Estimates of the time that the average employee spends looking for documents range between 2 and 8 hours per week (statistics gathered by the National Association of Professional Organizers) or 100 to 400 hours per year.
We all know time = $, let’s look at the breakdown. According to Gartner Group, Coopers and Lybrabd, Ernst & Young, the average time to retrieve and refile a paper document is 10 minutes. An average of 3% of documents are lost or misfiled, and have to be recovered at a cost of $120 per document. This equates to a cost of $2,160 to $8,640 per year.
An effective paper filing system will reduce the amount of time people have to look for documents and reduce the number of documents that are lost or misfiled, therefore reducing cost. It’s a win-win-win.
Keys to effective paper filing systems:
- Label files clearly
- Have some order to the filing. You may use different types of systems for docent categories of files.
- Alphabetical – useful for client files
- Categorical – can separate different categories such as vendor files, client files, financial files, etc.
- Chronological – useful for financial files
- Frequency of use – can keep documents that are referred to frequently at the front of a file cabinet.
- Priority based – particularly useful for active projects.
- Create rules for where each type of document should be filled.
- Only have one home for each type of document.
- Create naming conventions for files that everyone uses.
- Have a system for quickly identifying where a document or file folder should be returned to if it is removed from the filing system.
- Keep active files separate from files that need archiving.
Organize to Excel has been working with client files since 2007. We have experience setting up files for a range of small businesses as well as home based businesses and personal files. If you are a busy mom with more kid papers and family bills than you know what to do with, or a real estate agent with closing documents, licenses, and brochures piling up your office, we can help.
People always ask me how I do so much. There are many reasons for this, and the one I’m going to focus on today is energy management. I get the most out of my day when I effectively manage my energy.
Effective energy management is a life style. It’s a choice about how I live my life. I choose what and when to eat, whether or not to exercise, what time I go to bed and the quality of my sleep. And in my experience, the effects compound. So it’s not that I only make choices today that support high energy, I make choices that support high energy on an ongoing basis.
I find it be very helpful to have an accountability partner. This person can be a friend, a family member, a coach, or a group that you report to. This person or people will help you stay on track and encourage you to make smart choices.
The key to maintaining those high energy choices is to not keep making them; the real key is to embed them so they become habits. When they become habits, you need to use your willpower to keep making those choices.