There’s a reason spring cleaning is a thing. We get to the point where we look around and wonder how we accumulated so much stuff, be it physical (on our desks), virtual (in our files), or mental. It’s time to clear the clutter and focus on what’s important in your business! The following productivity hacks are a mix of tips I’ve developed on my own or borrowed from other people and blogs.
- Put Everything — and I Mean Everything — on Your Calendar
On any given day, I write between two and five articles. I juggle well over a dozen clients, and I pride myself on never letting anything slip through the cracks. Forget unproductive meetings, and no, I’m not a genius, I just use my Google Calendar wisely. Everything, from an assignment, to following up with a client, to something I want to spend time researching, gets an entry on my calendar. I can see at a glance what I need to work on today, and I’ll even get a reminder to stop what I’m doing and shift gears.
- Clean Your Desk (and Desktop) Weekly and Monthly
I can’t say I always do this productivity hack, but I should. Straighten up your desk at least once a week. Have an inbox for papers and go through them to ensure you only keep what you need to look at. Cleaning lightly more regularly keeps the papers from piling. Then once a month do a more thorough clean. Dust the damn desk. Throw away old receipts and papers you don’t need. File the rest (or better yet, scan them). Do the same with your computer files and organize them by labelling folders smartly.
- Jot Down Ideas
For me, ideas are usually blog topics. I don’t bother trying to remember them, so if I’m out and about, I send myself an email with the topic. Later I put them into a spreadsheet for the appropriate client. If you’re not brainstorming blog topics, you can still use the same concept for product ideas, marketing themes, or anything else rattling around in your head. You can also use a mobile app to take notes so you don’t lose that sticky note you wrote something on and then lost it in the great black hole that is your purse.
- Block Off Time
We’ve become such a multitasking society, it’s hard to concentrate on anything for longer than 20 minutes, but I find real value in doing exactly that. So, when I put assignments for myself on my calendar, I lump them together. If I need to work on four articles for a client, I block off several hours (maybe across two days) to get it done. I’m already in the zone, so it’s easier to write several articles for the same client than to switch gears to another.
- Get Your Thoughts on Paper
I realize all my tips are writing-centric (I’m a writer, so deal with it), but this one should help anyone. If you’ve written in a journal about your personal life, try doing the same for your work life. It can help you organize your thoughts if you write entries on things like where you want to take your business, what your goals for this year are, and what you’d like your company to look like in 10 years. It’s also fun to read these years from now and see how close you got.