1) Make a color-coded filing system
One day last year I did something that felt so empowering and mind-clearing. I made a color-coded filing system for all the junk in my office. For other people this is an obvious thing to do, but for me, it’s taken years to be able to process the idea and actually carry it out.
I am a “pile papers and spread them out where you can see them” kind of person. And the problem is that the pile gets bigger without me checking back, and I eventually forget what’s under there that I left out to get completed in the first place. So that’s gotten better with the filing system.
2) Track my activities with iDoneThis
After a full day of work and home stuff, I often focus on what didn’t get done and forget to celebrate accomplishments. Now, every day at 4 p.m., an email comes in from iDoneThis. All I have to do is reply with what I got done for the day.
You type a task, go to the next line and type the next task and so on. I can use hashtags to make categories if I want. All the info goes straight into my iDoneThis account with no fuss. Later, I can produce a spreadsheet of how I’ve spent my days, weeks and months. In fact, I just used it to reflect on what got done in 2013. Until I looked at this list, I had very little recollection of the high points of the year. For me, the ease of use and the ability to reflect is worth the $5/month.
3) Fill up my Outlook calendar
This calendar used to be blank except for scheduled meetings. Now, I fill it up with the tasks I plan to get done for the day. The challenge is that I rarely budget enough time to get things done. But the good things is I can go back and edit the calendar to show what really got done that day. This might be a little redundant with iDoneThis also tracking my activities, but Outlook helps me plan out the week, hour by hour. I’ve also synced my work Outlook and personal Gmail on my phone, so no task gets lost between the calendars.
4) Filter through filed away papers in my home office
For years, old professional development documents, portfolio items and magazines have been shoved into areas of my desk at home. I finally flipped through everything, threw out useless or outdated stuff, and put the rest into 2 or 3 banker boxes that can be stored out of the way until needed. I probably threw out a garbage bag full of stuff. It felt good!
I still have a lot to learn about getting organized, but these are the baby steps to get my stress levels down and productivity up!