Thanks for visiting my blog. Hope you find some helpful hints for organizing your time and space. My passions are to help you make home a refuge instead of a crisis center, and to help you function in peace rather than chaos - at home or at work. I have switched my main blog to 1-2-3 ... Get Organized on WordPress, so please visit me there.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Increasing Efficiency

Ever feel like that hamster in a cage, moving but not going anywhere? Here are a few ways to increase your efficiency and productivity.

- First and foremost, know your priorities, passions, and gifts. Use these as filters for incoming opportunities and requests. If you're not sure what is important to you, you may be controlled, by default, by others' agendas.

- Create a master weekly schedule that includes your priorities, passions, and gifts. Use this as you plan your schedule each week. If your schedule is erratic, create a master list.

- Say no to those activities which do not contribute to your objectives. If that’s difficult, ask for some time to think about it, compare it with your priorities, and then say no. If you're unsure about whether or not to pursue the opportunity, get some advice from your spouse or close friend who is aware of your priorities and commitments.

- Find ways to simplify your life, schedule, etc. Remove activities from your life about which you are no longer passionate. Remove clutter from your life.

- Create systems and routines for handling paperwork, daily/weekly activities, etc.

- Delegate whenever possible. Train your delegees well, whether it is on the job or doing house chores! And plan a time to follow up.

- Make lists. Write down what you need to do, to remember, to buy, etc., rather than waste time later trying to remember them.

- Plan your errands strategically so as to save drive time and gas.

- Avoid people who are time-wasters, unless you feel “called” to that relationship. Use email or texting when you must communicate with them so as not to be trapped by their lack of control. Or call them five minutes before a meeting or similar commitment, thereby limiting your conversation time.

- Determine if an emergency or interruption is urgent and important or just urgent before you change your scheduled activities. Just because it may be an emergency for someone else, doesn’t necessarily mean it must become an emergency for you!

- Don’t check your email first thing in the morning; instead, do your highest priority.

- Prepare the night before so your morning will run smoothly.

- Keep well-stocked on the essentials - milk, bread, toilet paper, etc. Milk and bread can be frozen (use milk with screw on cap and pour out a little milk before freezing to allow for expansion). This prevents costly (both time and money) emergency trips to the grocery store.

- Make a master list of school supplies your children use frequently. When you go to the office supply store, check your list to avoid running out of an essential. At the beginning of the school year buy project supplies as well as school supplies - markers, colored pencils, poster board, report folders, etc.
When your child has a last-minute project, you'll be prepared! No more late-night trips to the grocery store hoping they'll have poster board.

Do the same with office supplies. Make a list of essentials - paper, ink, labels, legal pads, binders, etc. Each time you go to the office supply store, check your list. Many office supply stores will deliver if your purchase is over $50.

- Compare prices between local office supply stores and online stores. I have found quality computer ink, shipping supplies, and other items at cheaper prices than my local stores, many times with a better selection. And I don't have to go anywhere!

- Use small snatches of time to do quick tasks. Save large blocks of time for big projects. If you have projects that require lengthy attention, create "no interruption" times during your day. Schedule times when you are available to field questions, phone calls, etc. Record this information on your answering machine.

By increasing your efficiency, your day will be more productive. And you may be able to find some extra time in the day for yourself!

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More on time management:

The "Do It Now" Mindset
Increasing Your Effectiveness at Work
Six Ways to Save Money on Food by Planning Ahead

To Discover your passions, priorities, and gifts, see any of the time management books in the 1-2-3 ... Get Organized series.