Is your personal productivity in the tank from the daily deluge of email and requests? Want a few personal productive ideas that work like magic?
Then, you’re like savvy Amy who sent me this email question:
“My email inbox has grown beyond my comfort and I want to implement some good strategies to be organized and to go full speed ahead. Any advice, like going to my local office supply store to see if they have some type of magical notebook?”
Here are 3 ideas I shared with Amy for her to create her own magic (including a magic notebook!). Not very glam, but they work.
Use them to create your own personal productivity magic, too!
#1 – Get comfortable with not being so tidy
Amy said her “email inbox has grown beyond my comfort.” When do something new in your business or career, being uncomfortable is part of the process.
What does Amy need to learn? That we live in a work world of too much, too fast. As someone who prefers to get everything done and on time, this is tough. NO, it’s impossible!
Accept that reality and start looking for ways to loosen up your own expectations of yourself. Often that means you getting more comfortable with things being not so tidy. Don’t worry, you can go all in with The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up a la Marie Kondo when what’s new is your new normal. But, for now, don’t worry about the mess.
#2 – Ask the WINning question “What’s important now?”
When you have never-ending emails, texts, social media pings and more, ask the WINning question “What’s Important Now?” You can ask that question to yourself, to your boss, or to a client.
A good example is how I quickly I responded to Amy’s email asking for advice. For the love of an empty email box, I wish I answered within 24 hours. But, for the love of my sanity and well-being, I put my clients and even more important activities with deadlines first.
Amy’s request was still important, but could also wait. She didn’t seem to mind. I was still able to respond in a useful time frame and that’s what matters.
#3 – Use an organizing system that works for YOU
Systems are your best friend because they answer the question “How do I organize all this stuff so I can find it later and don’t forget it?” That’s why at minimum you need an email and paper system to organize by either category and/or priority.
There are a ton of ideas on how to do this. What matters is finding one that works for YOU. I tend to go simple and old-school.
For example, for email I check it throughout the day and respond immediately to the quick or urgent OR file it in an email folder with related items OR keep it in my inbox to be dealt with in 48 hours, or delete it (my favorite!).
For paper, I use a 31-day file system. You first create 31 folders and number them for each day of the month. Then you take another 12 folders and label one for each month of the year. As paper-based items comes in (even ones you print out), you immediately decide when you need to take action. If it’s this month, then you put it in the file of the exact day you need to deal with it. If it’s a month in the future, you file it there.
My personal favorite “magic notebook” is the Full Focus Planner by Michael Hyatt. In addition to keep track of my daily to-do list, it helps me make sure that my daily and weekly activities are the very ones moving me towards my bigger goals.