Organizing is a Journey

claire-tompkinsDavid Allen has often said there is a “strategic value” to “clear space.”  In a physical sense, this means ensuring that our work and home spaces are organized and clean.  However, for those starting out with the intention to get organized there is a trap to avoid.  It is very easy to see the whole process as one big heavy lift that needs to be accomplished in a short time.  With this daunting view of the project it is likely they will give up on organizing right from the start.

Claire Tompkins, aka the Clutter Coach, shares in her book, 52 Simple Ways to Get Organized, that organizing is a journey.  It is not meant to be completed in one weekend, but instead is a transformative approach occurring over many weeks or months.  On page 50 of her book, she shares a simple way to frame the task.

“Try on this thought: organizing is a journey, not a destination.  The difference between people who are organized and those who aren’t is that they do a little every day to maintain order.”

She then suggests the following tip:

“Identify one small area that tends to get cluttered regularly and spend five minutes putting things away and throwing things out.”

Sounds like good advice.  Now excuse me while I clean out this drawer …

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Wanted: A Second Brain

forteHave you ever thought it would be nice to have a personal assistant?  How about one that works quietly behind the scenes all day long for free?  This personal assistant would store all your great ideas, important information, and project components so that you can recall them at a moment’s notice.  Such an assistant would relieve stress and expand your creativity.  But could this assistant actually exist?

Tiago Forte has designed a course with the intention to create this amazing personal assistant.  In his signature course, Building a Second Brain, Tiago pulls together cutting edge ideas from the realms of productivity and efficiency into a systematic structure that can work for anyone.  He describes the premise of the course as follows:

“Building A Second Brain is a methodology for saving and systematically reminding us of the ideas, inspirations, insights, and connections we’ve gained through our experience. It expands our memory and our intellect using the modern tools of technology and networks.

“This methodology is not only for preserving those ideas, but turning them into reality. It provides a clear, actionable path to creating a “second brain” – an external, centralized, digital repository for the things you learn and the resources from which they come.”

Intrigued by the idea?  Read the full-length post at Forte Labs to learn the basics of Building a Second Brain.

LLAMA – Efficient Librarian Webinar

I am proud to announce the upcoming Efficient Librarian webinar, presented in partnership with the Library Leadership and Management Association (LLAMA) of ALA.  My intention is to make this a fun, interactive, and highly practical webinar that will provide techniques that can be applied immediately.  The webinar will take place on:

Wednesday, 2/27/2019
  • 2:30 PM-4:00 PM (Eastern)
  • 1:30 PM-3:00 PM (Central)
  • 12:30 PM-2:00 PM (Mountain)
  • 11:30 AM-1:00 PM (Pacific)

LLAMA does require a paid registration for their webinars.  For more information or to register, please visit: http://www.ala.org/llama/efficient-librarian-productivity-strategies-workplace-success

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Can’t I Just Ignore It?

Want to guess how many unread emails sit in the average person’s inbox?

10? 20? 40? MORE?

According to a 2017 study, the actual answer is 199!

AdamGrant_2016-headshot_previewAs someone who teaches classes on email productivity, I was dismayed but not surprised by this alarming fact.  The truth is that email comes so fast and furious that it is easy for the unprepared knowledge worker to be overwhelmed.  Yet, is it alright to ignore all those messages and never respond to senders? After all, aren’t they only trying to delegate work onto your already full plate anyway?

In an article for the New York Times, Adam Grant, author of Originals, argues that failing to keep up with your inbox is not only unproductive, but unprofessional as well.  He writes:

“Volume isn’t an excuse for not replying. Ignoring email is an act of incivility.  ‘I’m too busy to answer your email’ really means ‘Your email is not a priority for me right now.’  That’s a popular justification for neglecting your inbox: It’s full of other people’s priorities. But there’s a growing body of evidence that if you care about being good at your job, your inbox should be a priority.”

Read the rest of the article at the New York Times web site.

There is Always Too Much to Do

Have you ever felt overwhelmed?  You know that feeling that there are too many things to do and not enough time to do them in?  This is especially true if you are an “ideas” person whose mind constantly generates new thoughts and insights that eventual lead to a string of projects.  How are we supposed to handle this overwhelm and stay sane?

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The first step is to understand that there is always more to do than time allows.  If you follow GTD practice, the generation of action lists and a robust project list will quickly demonstrate this fact.  Accepting that some things will never be done is a part of good mental health.  The trick becomes deciding what is essential to complete in terms of your larger mission and purpose.  Spending a lot of time completing small tasks with little payoff becomes exhausting.  It is far better to complete fewer tasks well that lead to bigger payoffs.

I was once asked this question in an Efficient Librarian workshop: “How often do you empty your action folder?”

I replied that as a functional folder the point wasn’t to empty it regularly like the inbox, but instead to corral actionable items together into one place.  In fact, in the last four years my work email action folder has only been completely empty once.  Since I am very active at work, it may never be empty again until I retire!

So, relax and remember that there will always be more to do than can be done.  The question you have to consider is what is the most important thing to do in the time you have.  That answer will lead you productively and efficiently forward.

Stuff on Surfaces

On my Twitter feed two weeks ago I spied an amusing observation I believe came from user Anna M @helgagrace:

“In my experience, adulthood is mostly piling stuff up on surfaces and then eventually having to clean off those surfaces.”

messy-deskWhile this observation is also applicable to our childhood and teenage years, most of us have a tenancy to pile belongings throughout our living and work spaces.  This is because we have not taken the short time required to consider the value of that item, if we want to keep it, and the proper place it should reside.  For home and office, the contexts are different.  At work, the two GTD questions at the top of the workflow diagram, “What is it?” and “Is it actionable?”, can clear backlog.  At home, Konmari’s core question, “Does this spark joy?” can bring the value of personal items into focus.

So with 2019 still fresh and new, why not commit an hour this week to clear off a surface?  You may find that intentionally clearing a space can release fresh energy in your life which can be used to accomplish meaningful goals.  What do you have to lose?  At the very least you will have a clear surface to admire when you are done.

Have fun!

 

Advice on Tidying a Workspace

mariekondoDo you inhabit a messy workplace?  While your desk contains clutter of your own making, most offices have communal spaces that can quickly get out of hand.  What is the best approach to keeping these common areas clean?

The Konmari Method, created by Marie Kondo, is mostly devoted to helping people organize their personal home space.  However, in an interview with the web site Quartz Marie Kondo shares insights into keeping office spaces clean.

“My suggestion would be for co-workers to tidy up their workplace together. There are many benefits to organizing your desk space, including increasing your efficiency by spending less time looking for the things that you need, being able to more quickly prioritize your workload, and even feeling better as a result of working in a clean environment.”

Read the other questions and answers for Marie in this short article on Quartz.