Internal and External Chaos: I find this to be an epidemic in the work-spaces and workplaces of today’s businesspersons. All to often we are so overwhelmed with multiple, simultaneous transactions spinning out of control around us. The cell phone is ringing. The desk phone is ringing. Your colleague just popped his head in with something that requires you to drop everything and act immediately. You still have 296 unaddressed emails in your inbox from this morning and it is now 1:10 PM.
Push away from the desk. Take about eight steps backwards. Now, turn toward the door and make your way thru it and down to the nearest coffee pot/hot tea station. After you have poured your favorite hot beverage (stimulates your senses and soothes tension), walk back into your office, however don’t sit down right away. Look at your workspace. How does it look? How does it make you feel?
Sometimes we get so bogged down that we don’t even realize the piles that have grown around us. (It’s the frog in the pot syndrome). We have been taken captive and have no awareness of it. The chaos that we have allowed due to insane multitasking and unrealistic time frames has officially become our master. You will no longer be productive, because when your workspace is chaotic, your mind is as well. Practically all of us struggle with focus on a daily basis because of the highway speed stimuli you receive thru all of this activity that surrounds you. However, having a unproductive work environment facilitates this 100-fold.
What can you do? I cease and desist my normal routine on a regular basis and do what I prefer to call “blowtorch my desk”. It simply means everything has a place and it needs to find just that….immediately. If I’m not dealing with it in the next hour, it goes away and gets put on my IPad in my Awesome Note HD app (love it!) and I schedule it with reminders. I do the same thing with my Outlook. Those 329 messages….here are some tips.
- Create rules to ditch the unwanted emails automatically so you don’t even see them
- Create rules to color-code or create pop-ups for the 911 stuff
- Only pull in RSS feeds you are actually going to read
- Create an alias account for your retail junk-mail and those friends who continuously hit you with forwards you do NOT have time for
- Create a folder-tree that makes sense and is user-friendly for you – move items into it as soon as you read them.
- Archive old transaction email folders and get them out of your folder tree
You don’t have to answer the phone just because it rings. I know it is an instinctive response, but don’t do it. If you are in the midst and you cannot afford the interruption, allow them to leave a message. You can deal with it later…really. You are not going to miss out on an opportunity just because you didn’t answer right away. You can afford to lose the deal on your desk either, and you know how quickly and easily things can unravel on your way to the table, my #cre friend. Stay focused. Use an app that assists you in setting your priorities to schedule your workweek to sail as smoothly as possible. Schedule out your tasks as much as possible. (i.e. – Social Media – schedule out your posts during the first 20 minutes of your day). Take “brain breaks” as I call them. If it is just 10 minutes of “free association hour” over coffee with a few colleagues, it’s a good thing. Your brain and your straining eyes will thank you. Get the piles off your desk. No, it doesn’t need to look like Martha Stewart’s prodigy, however it does need to be simplified and organized to allow you to be productive and efficient, in your doing and your thinking.