Why do we resist setting aside time for the things we know will help us?
Let's say I'm talking with a potential business client during an initial consultation. We go through the usual discussions of goals, frustrations, what the space looks like, etc. until we get to the point where I talk about the actual sessions. I tell them I start by scheduling 4 hours, and a really disorganized space will usually take me at minimum 2-3 sessions to get the best results. Sometimes I get this response:
"But I'm swamped! How am I going to devote 4 hours (let alone 8-12) of time to just cleaning up my office?!"
OK then. Why are you swamped? Is it really because you have a huge load of business, or is it at least partially because you waste time due to your disorganization? How many balls are you dropping by not returning calls, overlooking email, or your voicemail box being full? And are we really just "cleaning your office"? Because if that's the case you need a different kind of service (and you're still going to have to move all of those stacks of papers somewhere).
There's a statistic out there that estimates executives waste six weeks per year looking for lost documents*. That equates to...(calculating, calculating)...1008 hours. So think about it: 8-12 hours of organizing systems and developing productivity skills vs. 1008 hours of looking for your stuff. Even if you saved just half the time of looking for lost items you'd be ahead. It's not even FUN to look for your stuff, but I can usually at least get a laugh or two out of clients during a session.
Where does your time really go?
*From a survey of 2,600 executives by Esselte, maker of Pendaflex and Dymo supplies.
You know I am a morning person.
I'm sorry if that annoys you. It annoys plenty of the people I hang out with (take my family, for example), but it is what it is. In order to add to the myriad posts already floating around out there about how to ensure productive days, I've made my personal list of morning tips. The following things I do are not big or time consuming, but they serve a great purpose in grounding me for what my day holds. These are smallish things I believe even night-owls can incorporate into a routine. Here goes:
1. Get out of bed. No snooze button. A 2014 study* showed that 57% of Americans regularly hit the snooze button and sleep in an extra 5-7 minutes a day (which translates to 3.5 months over a lifetime). That's 5 minutes you could be checking Facebook, people! Seriously, set the alarm, put the clock or device on the other side of the room, and get your butt out of bed when it goes off.
2. Make great coffee. Or great tea. Or orange juice. Or water with lemon. Enjoy drinking it.
3. Meditate. Practice mindfulness. Sometimes my mindfulness involves taking 5-6 minutes to totally focus on petting my Labrador on his very soft, velvety noggin. Sometimes it involves clearing my mind and breathing. Maybe for you it's checking out the sunrise for a few minutes.
4. Check email. Yes, yes I do check email in the morning. Notice I did not say respond to email. My Google calendar agenda comes through on email, so this task helps me to further...
5. ...start planning the daily schedule. I do this in my head, but if that doesn't suit you could scribble it out. It's just a rough draft. The schedule should include the goals for the day and tasks you need to work on (like responding to those emails).
6. Check the weather (I think this is a holdover from my childhood, when the weather report was always on right as I got up for school). This task helps you to get some initial decisions out of the way, like what to wear, where to set the thermostat, or what kind of workout you might choose. It's also possible that it gives you a little something to look forward to (rain if it's been dry, a surprise warm day in late February).
7. Tell yourself what you do right (and be thankful that you can do it). This affirmation could be as simple as knowing you DO make great coffee, or as complex as managing an entire HR department. There's something in each of our days we do particularly well, better than most anyone else. They are our gifts.
I'm not saying that any of this stuff will magically turn you into an alert, happy, irritating morning person. But it's worth it to carve out some time for yourself to get set for your more productive times of day. What kind of morning task did I leave out that works for you?
*Avoid the Snooze Button for a Better Day. 57% of Americans Hit the Snooze Button
Sara Skillen - Certified Professional Organizer®, Certified Organizer Coach®, wife, mom, and serial list-maker. Learning to trust my intuition more every day. Shall we work together?