Everyone is inundated with mail, bills, paperwork, and projects. The following time management strategy will help you concentrate, unclutter your desk, and be become organized for success.
The Fifty-Minute Hour to Sort and Organize
Set a timer for fifty minutes. During this time, focus on clearing clutter and organizing one area only. Whether this is the top of your desk, your inbox, or just one file cabinet drawer. Take a moment now to decide what area you would like to focus on for fifty minutes. Now ask yourself “What doesn’t belong here?” Scan the area. Is there food or cups on your desk? Are there papers or a project that you can pass on to someone else? Can some of those files in your drawer be relocated to long-term storage? Before you set something down, ask yourself, “Is this where this belongs?” If not, take and extra minute or two to put it in its proper place.
During this fifty-minute hour, sort the items in this area into four categories: Trash, Delegate/Donate, Recycle/Shred, or Keep. An important time and stress management tip is the one-minute task rule: if it takes less than one minute, do it now. That means that you can probably make a decision about each piece of paper on you desk in less than one minute, so decide if the paper you are holding in your hand is Trash, Delegate/Donate, Recycle/Shred, or Keep.
Trash is definitely anything broken, chipped, cracked, or any items that no longer work. If you don’t love it, need it, or use it, get rid of it. On my instructional CD, I teach you the Seven Clutter Clearing Questions as strategies for how you can eliminate clutter in your life.
Keep a Delegate/Donate bin, box, or bag in a common place in your home or office (i.e., front hall closet, laundry room, or garage) so that everyone in your house can add to it whatever they have outgrown or no longer want something. Donations are an act of generosity for others who may not be able to afford to purchase new items. “One person’s trash is another person’s treasure.”
Recycling/Shred: it is very important that every home and office has a shredder to prevent identity theft. Have you heard about identity theft? The statistics are staggering: one in five people will have their identity stolen! If you become a victim of identity theft, your entire financial life will be disrupted for months to a year. Identity theft is preventable.
For $20 to $80, you can buy a shredder that will also cut credit cards. This is an important and necessary business expense for you, your family, and your business. I encourage you to buy the best shredder you can afford, as these important pieces of equipment have a relatively short lifespan. Please shred anything with your name and address on it, especially credit card and mortgage offers. Someone looking to steal your identity can take those credit card offers with your name and address on it and fill it out with their “recently moved” address and their signature! Then the new credit card is being mailed to their address, with their signature, and you may not find out about it until they have charged $1000s on this credit card you didn’t even know existed.
Now its time to give everything you want to keep a home, putting like items together. At the end of the year, pull out and store all of the old files in another location so that your desk has room for the files of the new year. Also remove anything completed projects or previous client files so that you have space in your file cabinets for expansion.
Try adopting this one simple strategy to help save you time and money while reducing stress. Make time for a focused, concentrated fifty-minute hour during which you do not answer the phone, check email, or other wise get distracted. I guarantee that you will become more organized incorporating this principle into your daily life.