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7 Productivity And Organizational Secrets You’ve Likely Missed
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We all know the saying, “time is money.” In this challenging Covid-19 environment, so much has changed, and it’s easy to lose sight of the things that are in our control, like time. Julie Morgenstern is an organizational & productivity consultant and a New York Times bestselling author. I caught up with her so you can learn seven strategies that will help you be more productive and organized in your life and career.
1. Understand the big four
Rachel Montañez: What are some of the common causes of disorganization?
Julie Morgenstern: People don’t take the time to organize themselves. Secondly, people are often stuck being responsive to every request and their workload gets overwhelming. Thirdly, not taking the time to design or maintain their systems, especially when there’s a sudden shift or change in your workload and things get really hectic.
There’s also the skill aspect. Do you know where to start? Do you know how to do it? When you don’t know where to start, when you feel disorganized, you just get paralyzed, and you do nothing. There is a strategy and sequence to staying organized, and you have to break things down.
2. Identify a key behavior and ask the number one-time management question
Rachel Montañez: What’s the number one-time management question and also tell us one main behavioral indicator of someone struggling with disorganization?
Julie Morgenstern: “How long will it take?” Naturally, after that, another question would be, “what’s the return on investment for that time?” In terms of a behavioral indicator, over promising and under delivering on deadlines.
3. Move away from the day-to-day: buckets and a closet
Rachel Montañez: Being overworked can lead to burnout. How does one manage this when they struggle with time?
Julie Morgenstern: Get out of the day-to-day and look at the big picture. What are you trying to balance your time between, and by that, I do not mean emails and phone calls and meetings, which are simply means of communication. You don’t want to spend all your time on reactive and no time on proactive; spend all your time in meetings and no time thinking.
What are the big buckets of things you need to juggle your time between within your job, self and community? Once you know that, then you’re in a position to create a schedule that allows you to achieve that balance.
I always compare organizing time to organizing a closet; they’re almost exactly the same. A limited amount of space is crammed into way more things than you can possibly fit in and you’re shoving items into any available proper space in no particular order. The same is true of a disorganized schedule. It’s really a limited amount of time that’s crammed with way more tasks than you can possibly fit and you’re shoving them into any available pocket of time in no particular order. A haphazard, fragmented approach to your day will mean you can’t keep track and find harmony between the various buckets of your job and life.
4. Rethink your office and what’s in it
Rachel Montañez: How can one organize their working space?
Julie Morgenstern: We’ve been hearing this a lot, but you must designate a space for working. You may need to modify that advice a little bit, and if you do need to work in a multipurpose area, then use a portable desk or something that you can pick up and put away.
I think another thing is having printouts and not relying on your screen. A physical calendar and planner are very helpful in this environment, and there’s also some science that the strategy part of the brain is more responsive to paper and pencil. Using a whiteboard can also be helpful if you’re managing projects or people and you want to keep things on your radar.
5. Focus on energy management
Rachel Montañez: There’s been a lot of talk around energy management being the key to productivity, what’s your take on that?
Julie Morgenstern: I actually define time management as the process of managing your energy and brainpower for peak performance. What you put in your day and the order in which you do things makes a huge difference on whether you are fueling your energy or depleting it.
6. Be mindful of perfectionism
Rachel Montañez: What’s one common problem you see with perfectionists?
Julie Morgenstern: The problem with perfectionists is that they typically only see two levels of performance. Extraordinary genius work or they’re a disaster. Most perfectionists are often procrastinators because they might say, “I don’t have time to do this perfectly so I’m not going to get started,” or their operating at the last minute. But this is problematic because when you leave things to the last minute, you can never delegate because you’re starting something midnight before it’s due.
7. Manage delegation
Rachel Montañez: What are some of your favorite ways to manage delegation?
Julie Morgenstern: You actually have to have a delegation strategy time built into your schedule to delegate effectively. You need time to think through the assignments, how you’re going to explain them to somebody and the criteria for success. That’s a big blind spot for most people. You don’t delegate on the fly. Remember, as a manager, you need to be a time leader. You set the time culture for your employees.