Creating productive habits will help you get organized, simplify your life and get everything under control so you can get things done. Look at all the improvements you can make to your daily routine and pick one at a time to incrementally change the way you do things so you can improve your life. Once one habit is changed then move on to the next one until you have a revamped your way of life to stay organized in everything you do. Its’ not that difficult if you take one thing at a time and put some action into it!
Collect information wherever you go. If you carry a capture tool with you whether it’s a small notebook, smart phone or anything else that works for you it will allow you to write down tasks, ideas, projects, phone numbers or anything else that pops into your head each day. I like to start my day by writing a physical list in the morning and use it to check things off as the day progresses. I also put certain reminders in my phone to make sure I address tasks that are very important.
The key elements of the capture habit are: take your capture tool with you wherever you go, write everything down before you forget, and empty your notes of what still needs to be done into your future to-do list when you get back to your home or office.
Process all information that comes to your inbox and create an action to follow. An inbox is any place where you check your messages or read incoming information. The first thing you have to do is minimize your inboxes. List all the ways in which you receive information, evaluate each to see if it gives you value, and find ways to combine or eliminate inboxes.
Make sure that all the papers, letters, bills etc. that come into your home get placed in the one inbox so you can address all of them at the same time preferably at the end of your day or week. If you use a smart phone make sure you get all your messages together in one area whether they are in different email accounts, text messages or voicemails. Once you scroll through them you can then decide what to do at that moment.
Start with the top item on your inbox and work your way down, making immediate decisions as you go along, delete or trash it, delegate or save it. If it’s something you can deal with in two minutes or less, do it immediately. File it if it’s something you need for reference. Add it to your to-do list or calendar to do at another time. Work your way down through each item until the inbox is empty. Leave nothing in the inboxes.
Plan at the beginning of each week the larger tasks that you want to accomplish and schedule them first on your list. Prioritize your tasks to get the most important ones done in the morning each day to ensure that they get done. Planning gives purpose to your week because you’re not just checking items off of a to-do list, you’re doing what’s important to you and what will take you closer to achieving your goals.
Do One Thing at a Time without distractions and select a task and decide that you’re going to work on it either until it’s done, or for a set amount of time. Before you get started de-clutter your desk and eliminate all distractions, shut off your e-mail and cell phone, get off the internet if it isn’t part of your work, and so on. Focus on the task you’ve selected to the exclusion of everything else during the time that you’ve allotted to that task. If you get interrupted or think of something else that needs to be done while you’re focusing on a task, write it down for later and get back to the task until completed.
Use an Easy System instead of getting caught up fiddling with tools and making things too complicated. Concentrate on “doing” and not on the tools. What will work for you is what is best, so think about what is the easiest to implement and start. I create a paper list each morning that I carry with me to add and cross off things as the day progresses. I use my Blackberry to complement my schedule with reminders and put future tasks into my calendar as they come to play. This works for me but you can also separate your tasks in each area for everything work related, all your personal tasks, for calls you can make from anywhere, your list of errands, things you need to follow up on and a list of stuff you don’t want to or can’t do right now, but want to check on later.
Keep lists simple so you can stay focused. All you really need is one list to work off of daily and a master list that you review and update weekly/monthly. I use Outlook as my master list and sink it with my Blackberry. You can also add the small less important tasks as well and whatever doesn’t get done you should put on the following day’s list. If it’s still there at the end of the week then take it off your list because it doesn’t seem to be worth your time…lol
Everything Has Its Place and your life can be completely organized by following two rules: everything you own should have a home, and when you’re done using any item, put it back where it belongs. Create a simple filing system so that you can keep things organized and quickly file any papers that have been finalized or that you’re going to need for future reference. Putting things where they belong, immediately, is a good productive habit. Treat it like any other habit and focus on it for a month to turn it into something automatic.
Set and Keep Routines. It’s important to create productive routines and eliminate the habits that you have that no longer serve you. You should make sure that you are mentally and physically doing what is in your best interest each day. Find routines that work for you so they are within your comfort zone. It’s important to create structure so your routine will work within your home and work life. Following a routine that is flexible as well reduces stress and leads to living an organized, focused life. Knowing what you will be doing each day creates a sense of calm internally.
Do a Weekly Review so you can see the progress you have made with each task completed. It is important to focus and look at your accomplishments so you see improvements to your life and acknowledge the steps that were taken to bring you closer to your goals whether they are daily, weekly, monthly or yearly. Focus on what is important and make sure that your projects/tasks lineup with your goals concentrating on what matters the most. A plan for the future is great but you must live in the now to make each day productive, organized and purposeful.
Tap Into Your Passion and do those things that bring joy to your world. Embracing something that you feel passionate about will replenish your soul and give you the energy and focus to stay on track. If you’re passionate about your work, your family or your home, then your task list will almost seem like a list of rewards.
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