When Are You Most Productive?

Written by Laurie Palau. Posted in BLOG: A Life More Organized, Getting Organized, Organized Home, Tip of the Week

How To Maximize Your Peak Productivity Time

Have you ever looked at someone and wondered “How do they do it?”  Whether it’s a busy working professional who makes every task look effortless, or a stay-at-home parent who never seems to have a sink full of dishes or piles of laundry to fold and put away (admit it, you secretly despise those people!).

In my previous life as an executive recruiter I spent a great deal of time working with successful salespeople. Heck, I was one!  Most salespeople love to talk and be in front of clients, but when it comes to prospecting for new business, administrative follow ups, and other “housekeeping” tasks, many professionals struggle to keep up.

This should come as no surprise. There is nothing fun and glamorous about cold calling or data entry. Similar to doing the laundry, it may not be exciting, but it’s a necessary part of the job;  you can only ignore it for so long before it starts getting in the way of your productivity.

Motivating someone to tackle any task that is perceived as a chore is not easy, but it is do-able. The first thing you need to do is ask yourself these simple questions:

  1. What time of day am I at my best?  Are you a morning person? A night owl? or do you get a burst of energy mid-day?
  2. When am I at my worst?  Are you the type that doesn’t want to be spoken to before you’ve had half a pot of coffee? Or are you the type that is asleep on the couch by 9pm from exhaustion?
  3. What daily tasks do I enjoy?  Which do I procrastinate doing?

Once you’ve answered the first 2 questions you now know what I refer to as your Peak Productivity Time.

My Peak Productivity Time is first thing in the morning. Does this mean that I can only be productive during that time? No. What it means is that I structure my day accordingly, leaving tasks that require less brainpower and energy for when I am at my weakest.

You will often find me answering emails, doing research on new products, or reading articles in the evenings because that is when I am least productive. Those tasks are part of my job and cannot be neglected, but I don’t want to waste valuable time during the day when I could be out seeing clients, writing an article or developing a program like my upcoming Clutter Clinic.

So you’ve determined that you’re a morning person, now what?  Take the answers to number 3 to figure out where in your day it makes sense to complete each task?  If something requires a lot of time and energy I advise tackling it when you are at your best.  Save the boring and mundane tasks for when you are winding down or on the weekends.  The important thing is to dedicate some time to getting them done.

You’ll quickly find that you are able to chip away at things you have been putting off, leaving you with a newly found sense of accomplishment and motivation.  Before you know it, you’ll be the person others look at and wonder “How do they manage to get it all done?”

Happy Organizing!

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30 Day Organizing Challenge

Written by Laurie Palau. Posted in BLOG: A Life More Organized, Getting Organized, Quick Tips, Simplify, Tip of the Week

If the new year has motivated you to de-clutter and get organized what better way than to do something each day?  Below are 30 organizing tips to help jumpstart your new Organized Life!

  1. SORT THE MAIL EVERY DAY.  Letting mail pile up only increases the amount of time you need to spend sorting down the road. If you get in the habit of sorting and purging the mail each day you will save valuable time in the long run. Not to mention that it is much easier for important papers or bills to accidentally get lost in the shuffle if they are randomly placed amongst junk mail instead of in their proper place.
  2. MAKE SURE EVERYTHING HAS A HOME. How do you think the “junk drawer” got its name?  It’s the place where everything goes when it doesn’t have a designated place.  Avoid junk drawers or piles by have assigned places for your belongings to go, regardless of how large or small.
  3. HAVE YOUR KIDS PUT AWAY THEIR LAUNDRY. As early as pre-school age kids can begin to help pitch in around the house. Start small by showing them where everything belongs (establishing a “home” for items).  Eventually they will know where everything belongs and be able to do it on their own.
  4. FIND A DISTRACTION THAT MAKES UNPLEASANT CHORES GO QUICKER. Whether it is listening to music or talking on the phone, find some distraction to help you get through the task at hand. Before you know it, you’ll be done.
  5. MAKE SURE YOU CARVE OUT “YOU TIME”.  Whether it’s a quiet cup of coffee in the morning, a quick workout at the gym or reading a book at night, make sure that you allow yourself some “down time” to regroup and gather your thoughts. You’ll be amazed at how much more productive you’ll become.
  6. INVEST IN A LABEL MAKER. I don’t know what I’d do without mine. Label makers are an inexpensive investment in organization that even the kids can use. Great for crafts, seasonal items, and food storage just to name a few.
  7. FILE PAPERS AT LEAST ONCE A MONTH. I despise filing, but it is a necessary evil. So get a good system that works for you-either by month or by category, suck it up and get those papers sorted!
  8. ZONE! Keep “like” items together whether its sports equipment, clothing, food, or toys.  It is much easier to find what you are looking for saving you valuable time and unnecessary frustration.
  9. DON’T LEAVE DIRTY DISHES IN THE SINK. In my house, I run the dishwasher every night and empty it every morning when I get up. That way everything I use throughout the day gets rinsed and immediately placed in the dishwasher-avoiding an unsightly pile up in my sink.
  10. SET REALISTIC GOALS.  Your clutter didn’t accumulate over night so expecting it to vanish in the blink of an eye is only setting yourself up for disappointment. Carve out a little time each day to get you closer to your goal.
  11. MAKE YOUR BED. I’ve said it before and I will say it again: One of the easiest ways to feel organized is to come home to a made bed. It should take less than 5 minutes and sets a tone in your house. Encourage your kids to make theirs too-even if it’s not perfect, getting them in the habit is what’s important
  12. DON’T OVER BUY. Think about storage before you stock up. Refrain from buying in bulk if storage is an issue.
  13. CLEAN YOUR CLOSET AT LEAST TWICE A YEAR. There is something to be said for “spring cleaning”.  Every 3-6 months go through your closet and purge items that you no longer wear (whether they are no longer in style or no longer fit).  This is also a good way for you to assess what new items you will need for the season
  14. KNOW YOUR STRENGTHS. No one is good at everything. Delegate, Outsource and ask for help when you need to.
  15. PAY YOUR BILLS ONLINE.  I don’t know about you, but I pay the bills in our house. I used to sit for hours on a Sunday morning balancing my checkbook and reconciling bank statements. Ever since online banking came on the scene I have not looked back. If you are reluctant to make the transition, DO IT! Trust me, it will revolutionize your life!
  16. MAKE LISTS. Stop relying on your memory.  We are responsible for so many tasks each day it’s unrealistic to think you’ll remember everything on your to-do list. My personal favorite app is Wunderlist.
  17. AVOID IMPULSE BUYS.  Stick to what’s on your list, chances are if you never saw it, you won’t miss having it
  18. KEEP YOUR CAR CLEAN.  I know as busy moms we often times feel like we live out of our cars.  Running from activity to activity, our car can act as homework central, changing room and dinner table.  Of course none of this is ideal, but let’s face it, its reality. The best advice I can offer is to make a point of cleaning your car as often as possible. Just like at home, if the kids get in the habit of cleaning up for themselves in the car, there is less mess and less clean-up that falls in your lap.  Keep essentials like handwipes, napkins and possibly even bagged snacks in the car neatly for emergencies.  If the kids keep their electronic devices in the car, make sure they are neatly tucked away, not lying on the seat. And the same holds true for you….keep your phone charger, spare changes and whatever else you use in a designated place so it’s easy to locate.
  19. KEEP YOUR GARAGE ORGANIZED. Garages are natural dumping grounds for clutter. Treat your garage like another room in your house. Assign designated zones for items like gardening, sports, tools, cleaning supplies, etc.  Make sure that items are labeled clearly for identification and most importantly: make use of vertical space by installing shelving units for infrequently used items such as seasonal decorations.
  20. PACK SMART. Use tissue paper between each layer of clothes and it prevents your clothes from wrinkling.
  21. HOME IMPROVEMENT TIP. If you are planning any home improvement project such as painting or remodeling take that time to de-clutter. As you take down your items in preparation of your project, donate or recycle unused or unwanted items so when your project is done your house will be more organized and simplified.
  22. ONE IN-ONE OUT.  Every time you purchase something new you need to purge something old. This is a great lesson to teach your kids. It works great with stuffed animals, legos, board games and barbies.
  23. SPACE SAVER.  Condense food items by taking them out of their original packages and store in clear storage containers which also preserves freshness.
  24. PACK A POWER STRIP.  When traveling make sure you have a spare power strip to plug in phone chargers, laptops, and IPODs.-
  25. MEAL PLAN. Save time and money by planning your weekly meals in advance. If you know what you are going to prepare, you know exactly what to buy and it takes the guesswork of having to think of something to make at the last minute
  26. BACK UP YOUR PHONE.  With the majority of people having smartphones, don’t overlook the importance of syncing and backing up your contacts.  One wrong keystroke and all your contacts are gone!
  27. DO 1 LOAD OF LAUNDRY EVERY DAY. If you get in the habit of throwing a load in first thing in the morning, then putting it in the dryer when you get home from work you can fold it after dinner.  What if your night is crazy? Not to stress, just keep it in the dryer until you know you will have time to fold it. Put it on a fluff cycle for 10 minutes to get out the wrinkles and VOILA, freshly dried clothes!
  28. DON’T PUT IT DOWN, PUT IT AWAY.  It only takes a second to hang up your coat, or put your keys by the front door, but the tendency is to just drop everything at the closest possible surface.  Taking the few extra minutes on the front end wind up saving you hours on the back end. No more running around frantically going “where are my keys!”
  29. CLOSET TIP: Keep empty hangers at the front of your closet.  Whenever you take an article of clothing off the hanger, instead of keeping the empty hanger in its spot, move it to the front of the closet.  This way when you hang up your laundry all of your hangers are in one spot.  It also gives the appearance that your closet is more organized then having to root through empty hangers to get to your outfits.
  30. PRIORITIZE. Prioritize your top 3 tasks as opposed to trying to get everything done. Tomorrow is another day.

Happy Organizing!

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