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Working Smart: Unclutter Your Mind And Get the Work Done

by Peggy Duncan

Is your head full of bits and pieces of information concerning the many tasks you have yet to complete? Are you wasting brain cells trying to remember deadlines, due dates, and promises you've made? I call this mind clutter. I don't have it because I create lists and forms and have all types of external cues that help me remember to do things. I even have an external cue to help me remember to check another cue (e.g., a computer reminder tells me to check my follow-up file).

If you find yourself running around putting out fires all the time instead of being prepared for whatever comes your way, it's time to change. Here's a good way to start.

1. Purge and organize everything around you. If you don't love it, need it, or use it, get rid of it...from your clothes closet to your mind to your computer. Give everything that's left a home, putting like items together.

2. Set goals. You've talked a lot about what you need to do. You've claimed that you've tried and tried to do this or that. Take 'try' out of your vocabulary and take the steps to do what you need to do. Once you set goals for yourself, you'll be very clear on what you should spend your time doing.

3. Write down everything you need and want to do (at work, then at home). I mean every little or big thing you can think of. Now look at the list and batch similar or related work together. If there's something you can do quickly, say two minutes or less, go ahead and do it.

Now look at the list and pick out the most important project you need to complete or goal you need to meet. Since any one of these will require more thought and time to get it done, you'll need to plan how you'll do it. Spending time upfront to plan will save you time later.

a. Name the project. Determine what the objective or outcome is.
b. Write down every thing, big or small, that you or someone else needs to do to make it happen.
c. Prioritize everything that needs to be done, adding timelines.
d. Schedule each task on your calendar to work on it, starting from the deadline and working backwards. Add time for contingencies such as interruptions and unexpected crises.
e. Get everything you need for the project, including all the resources you'll need to pull it off.
f. Set up systems that will help you remember each step and due date. Get everything out of your head and use a to do list, tickler file, planner, PDA, checklist, computer reminder, or whatever, to help you remember.
g. Do the work as planned.
h. Now repeat this process for all your other projects or goals.

If you're digging yourself into a hole, it's time to stop. It is way past time for you to pull yourself together, set up logical systems for getting things done, and create time for the life you want.

Peggy Duncan is a personal productivity expert, a combination professional organizer, project manager, and computer trainer. She travels nationally teaching busy people how to work smarter, and is the author of "Just Show Me Which Button To Click!", "Conquer Email Overload", "Get Organized At Work: Make Work Easy", "Shameless Self-Promotion" and other titles.

 

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Wednesday, 17 Jan 2018 12:15 AM

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