Spring into action

spring-into-actionDespite the current cold snap spring is definitely in the air and the birds are on the wing. Time for spring-cleaning and attempting to improve the effective operation of your office. Putting your office space to rights will improve productivity, and boost morale.

A study at Michigan State University found that a distraction lasting only 4.4 seconds can lead to as much as trebling the rate of error once we get back to work, so knowing where to find your notebook as and when you need it is a definite benefit.

Start with the computer

Do you save every single potentially interesting article and then never seem able to find them again? Perhaps you never delete an email. This is technological hoarding and it’s a good idea to make time to fully clear out your bookmarks and inbox by organising information into folders and archiving stuff you don’t need. You’ll find it’s easier to locate important information, and your computer should run a bit faster.

Then the desk

Next tidy the top of your desk. Do you have paperwork scattered everywhere, sort it out, put it away or put it into colour-coded folders. Clear as much as you can from the desk top, only keep within arm’s reach what you actually need to hand, put everything else away. Sort out the desk drawers, throw away all the pens that no longer work, and the scraps of paper with notes you no longer understand.

Organise yourself

Find out the organisational tools work for you, and stick with them. A kanban is a tool to visualise, organise, and complete work. All you need is a whiteboard or pinboard near your desk which shows three states: Backlog, Doing, and Done. Use a marker pen or sticky notes to list tasks and move across the board as a simple workflow diagram.

The Pomodoro technique is great for time management. Use the timer on your computer and structure your work in 25-minute sessions, each separated by a short break. Each 25-minute session is a “pomodoro” after you complete one, take a five-minute break before starting the next session or task. When you complete four “pomodori” take a longer break to rest and recharge. Set the timer, and make a commitment to work only on the task at hand in the limited time which is available and then, in rest break, you can return phone calls or catch up with social media.

evernote-logoEvernote is great for making and organising notes and lists. You can use it for simple notes and to create notebooks for, and searching everything you’ve saved is easy. You can use Evernote to digitise pen and paper notes, documents, and other files so you can save them in the relevant project notebook and it has a massive ecosystem of apps that feed into it and support it, as well as a web clipper.

Boomerang is a handy tool for organising email. You can write an email and schedule it to be sent automatically at the ideal time. You can take messages out of the inbox until you actually need them. Then there are the times when you need to follow up within a specific time frame after sending a message, use Boomerang and never forget to follow up with people.

Final tip – a meeting bin is a designated bin or tray in your workspace allocated to materials for upcoming meetings. Whenever you come across something or remember something you may need for your next meeting, put it in the bin so most of what you need is all in one place before you set out for the meeting.

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Michael Moran – CEO 10Eighty

A blog about career and talent management, things that might help you with your career and in your job.