In the middle of May, professional organizers from all over the country gathered for the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) annual conference in Atlanta, GA. As you can imagine, it was a pretty smooth, well-oiled event!
I loved being with other industry professionals, sharing tips, asking questions, and learning new techniques. Some of the content was geared specifically towards organizers, but much of what was shared was applicable to anyone who wants to be more organized and productive. Here are a few headlines:
FIRST, A FEW FACTS…
- The average American watches online video for 1 hour and 55 minutes per day. No wonder so many seem to be having a tough time getting things done!
- The room people most struggle to keep organized is the home office or den. If you have a room full of paper, cords, and old electronics, you are clearly not alone. (NAPO 2016 Public Survey)
- The top five factors that prevent people from effectively addressing clutter are:
- A general feeling of “overwhelm”
- Difficulty in deciding what to keep and what to discard
- Lack of time
- Inability to stay focused when de-cluttering/ distractibility
- Continuous inflow of new items
(NAPO 2016 Public Survey)
Can you relate to any of these reasons?
- Paperwork is the top source of disorganization in the workplace. In spite of the move to paperless environments, we still have excess paper to process. (NAPO 2016 Public Survey)
- 68% of American adults own a smartphone, which is up from 35% in 2011. In many ways, these “handheld computers” make us more productive, but they can also be distracting and interruptive. (Pew Research Center)
NOW, A FEW IDEAS FOR GETTING & STAYING ORGANIZED…
- Before you begin to sort and de-clutter, establish criteria for what you will keep and what you will shed. For example,
– I will keep anything that belonged to my mother.
– I will let go of any paperback books
– I will not keep any furniture that I’m not currently using
– I will delete all emails from retailers
– I will donate clothing that I haven’t worn in 3 years.
Deciding in advance makes the process go more quickly by easing the decision-making pressure.
- After giving instructions say, “Would you please repeat back what you just heard me say?” This ensures that you have been heard and understood.
- Whenever you hold a meeting, end with a recap of who will be doing what by when. This becomes the jumping off point for the next meeting.
- Keep the items you use every day in the most convenient spaces…
- drawers you can reach from your desk chair
- desktop on your computer screen
- eye-level shelves
- low bins for children
- Relocate anything that you access only periodically to more remote storage…
- difficult to reach cabinets
- boxes at the bottom of a stack
- folders in your computer
- top shelves in the closet
- upper hanging for children
This may sound obvious, but open a convenient drawer and you are likely to find a few belongings that would be better off moved elsewhere.
- When naming digital documents, use a consistent file convention. An easy template to use is:
- When you download a digital file, immediately give it an appropriate name and move it to the right folder. Don’t allow documents to pile up in your “Downloads” folder.
- Setting up a workspace in the home? Face your desk away from the wall. Most people have trouble thinking when they can’t look up and into the distance.
- If you want to organize a space, ask someone to hold you accountable. People who add accountability to a project achieve their goal 95% of the time.
LAST, A FEW THOUGHTS FOR MOTIVATION…
- Each day we are both living and dying. Which one will be our focus?
- Our mindset impacts our quality of life more than our circumstances.
- A small change – executed consistently – is likely to have a large result.
- When asked “how to succeed,” a panel of billionaires answered:
- If you feel passionately about something, be willing to work for the cause even if it doesn’t offer the top salary.
- Be yourself. Don’t try to act or look like someone you are not.
- Define your values and live by them.
- Rather than separate work and life, seek to integrate them.
- Be ready for rejection.
- Embrace the Japanese concept of Kaizen. This literally translates into “change” and “good,” but practically means “continuous improvement.” We are never too old to learn and grow.
- “Don’t spend your life proving yourself, spend your life improving yourself.” ~ Scott Greenberg
- “Action sparks confidence.” ~Mindy Rodenburg
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Attending the national conference is one way that I invest in being “ever better.”
How do you invest in lifelong learning? Do any of these headlines stand out to you?