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Productivity / Office administration

Improving performance by clearing clutter

Your mental and physical clutter has a surprising impact on those around you, including clients, suppliers and family. Here's how to stop it getting the better of you.

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Improving relationships by clearing clutter

You may not realise it but your level of organisation, or lack thereof, has a profound impact on relationships.

It is common for soloists to be exceptionally busy, which can allow clutter to creep in. Here are the hot spots:

Cluttered time

So you can live with terminal tardiness, but can your customers, suppliers, family? Will your business survive a constant cluttered schedule? Whether you dial in late for a Skype business call or keep your family waiting (“Just need to send this email darling…”) your actions are having negative flow on effects.

Consistently keeping others waiting says to them “You do not value me or my time”. Loved ones may even perceive “You are rejecting/neglecting me”. Heavy stuff!! But there is an antidote:

"Get organised! Use one diary only and do not overfill it."

  • Get organised! Use one diary only and do not overfill it.
  • Schedule in buffer zones for moving between appointments and shifting head spaces.
  • Block out time for tasks and stick to it.
  • Create clear time boundaries around your working hours for clients and family. And stick to them! The last thing your family wants is for you to be taking business calls at the dinner table.

Want more articles like this? Check out the office administration section.

Cluttered mind

Cluttered minds breed procrastination, stress and inefficiency.

Who said we can recall only seven significant things at any given time? If you’re anything like me that will sound pretty optimistic. I operate on about three. What to do with the rest?

  • Write them down. Use a journal or ideas book that goes with you everywhere. If you don’t like the idea of carrying a book, use your PDA, mobile phone or digital recorder. Fabulous for recording volumes rapidly.
  • Make decisions quickly. This is a learnt skill. Schedule in time to gather the information you need to make the decision. Give yourself a deadline to make the decision. Decide. Don’t second guess yourself. Often your first thought is the mind’s way of giving you the answer.

Cluttered desk

How many late charges did you receive last year? How many documents did you lose, ahem, I mean ‘misplace’?

Apart from the impact on lost time, money and sanity(!) due to poor workflow, who else is being affected?

Your bookkeeper, accountant, financial advisor or other professional when they have to reschedule around you.

What about that client who wants a copy of their last invoice to pay you? Can you put you produce a copy within sixty seconds? If not, why not?

Efficient and effective workflow is vital for soloists. Establish a good solid, relevant system from the outset and maintain it regularly. Start with these quick tips:

  • Dedicate an ‘entry’ point in your office. Put a bin there and open all mail over said bin!
  • Decide then and there where every document needs to go ‘To Act’, ‘To Read’, ‘To distribute’
  • Ensure your hardcopy and electronic systems have identical names, folders and files. Just because they are different formats doesn’t mean they need different systems.
  • Keep contact numbers in one area. Do you use an electronic or paper address book? I’d be interested to know what works best for you and why.

If you’ve cleared headspace by clearing clutter, or have any further tips, share them below.

Roz Howland

, the Productivity Professional runs programmes that will increase productivity in any business. Roz is based in Brisbane, and travels regularly to share her passion and expertise with businesses all over Australia.

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