by Ciara Conlon Head of Operations at EQuita Consulting
It’s the time of year where getting organised is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. The start of a New Year is a great opportunity to re think your priorities and goals. How to make this year better than last and how to optimise your work and environment to help you be as productive and successful as you can be.
So where to start?
Once the Christmas decorations have been put away and the chocolate is all gone from the office, it’s time to clear the halls for a year of high performance. One question you should ask yourself at the beginning of each year is the following;
If there was one thing that I could do to make 2017 one of my best yet, what would it be?
This one question can change your life, focus you on what really matters and motivate you to take the action necessary. Take some time to really think about this question, you can frame it in both a personal or work context and see what comes up. It may be to finalise a project, to get a promotion or to finish writing that book that’s been lying around for the past five years. Whatever you decide it may be, write it down, commit to realising it and making a plan for its attainment.
One of the things that has helped me to achieve my goals over the years is getting organised. Clearing the clutter from the past to make way for the future. Our lives are full of clutter, physical and mental. We own too many possessions, we consume too much information and we often take on too much work.
Organise your Environment
Personal organisation is a essential part of personal productivity. When your space is disorganised or filled with clutter, your attention weakens and your potential for distraction strengthens. Most will deny that clutter affects their focus but research shows that physical clutter affects your ability to focus and process information. The clutter is competing for your attention, although you may not be consciously aware this is happening, the stuff lying around is impacting your subconscious mind reminding it with subtle visual stimulus that there is still lots of other work you need to be doing and possibly lots of stuff lying around that needs to be thrown in the trash. “Clutter constantly signals to our brains that our work is never done”
If you want to take control of your circumstances start with a physical sort out. It can be cathartic to tackle and complete this task.
Organise your Mind
But it’s not just our physical environment that has become cluttered in recent times, our mental one is also suffering. We live in the information age where we are constantly connected to the world via our computers and mobile devices. While there is a massive advantage to humanity from having this increased connectivity, there is also a substantial cost in information overload, attention deficiency and lack of human interaction. How can you take control of your mind in the midst of all the chaos and get it to focus on the right things at the right time?
There are many simple habits that you can create in order to take control of the distraction and improve your focus. Start with doing a Mind Download
Mind Download; take a pen and paper and write down on paper all the things you need to do or would like to do. This will help your brain to offload the multitude of responsibilities it has. Take what comes out, prioritise and plan it into your work. Schedule tasks and projects to be completed. Use a tasks management system to capture the work you need to do rather that using your mind. When you use your mind as a reminder system you are minimising the abilities that you have to create, think or problem solve.
Organise your Time
To maximise the time available to you each day here is what you should do:
1. Use your Energy Wisely
You will never achieve your potential if you row against the wind, one of the first things you should do in order to work more efficiently is to understand your own energy cycles. A large percentage of adults follow the same daily energy pattern of being more productive in the morning and later in the afternoon. Most of us hit a slump after lunch but you may not be that person so its important to understand you own preferred way of working. The days of working 9 to 5 are on the way out. We now know that its futile to get a person to sit at a desk and put in the hours and expect good quality work day after day. We need to take breaks and to listen to our physiology in order to work effectively at the right times for us.
2. Use your Calendar Daily
When you understand your own energy then you can plan your work in your calendar. Schedule the tasks that need brain power at the times when you are at your most energetic, filing, emails and phone calls can be done after lunch.
3. Set your MIT
Make sure to set your MIT or Most Important Task each day. A lot of us let a work day go by without prioritising the most important work. Start each day with a plan to do the important work first and at least get your “MIT” done for personal satisfaction if nothing else.
So if you are serious about reaching your goals or doing the best job you can do, get yourself organised and you will be half way there.
About the author
Ciara Conlon is a Leadership expert and the author of Productivity for Dummies and Chaos to Control.
She is an international keynote speaker and coach.
Ciara is Head of Operations at EQuita Consulting, a leading consultancy in the areas of Executive Development, Negotiation, Mediation and Personal Productivity. EQuita provide popular Leadership and Management development programmes for many organisations in Ireland and Europe. Speak to us if you would like us to customize a programme for your organisation. equita.ie
Sign up to Ciara’s personal blog theproductivityblog.com for tips on becoming more organized and productive.