Sharpen your Saw aka Maximize Your Routine

Ellen Delap, a professional organizer and productivity consultant, launched Professional-Organizer.com in 2000. She is an award-winning Certified Professional Organizer recognized for her contributions to the industry and community. She has extensive experience in working with ADHD individuals and holds certificates of study in ADD and Chronic Disorganization and is a member of the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD). She works with families as a Family Manager Coach. She is currently the President of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals™ (NAPO).

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Sharpen your Saw aka Maximize Your Routine:

Have you heard Abraham Lincoln’s tale of the woodcutter and his ax? It’s the story of how important keeping your skills, tools, and technology current. It’s a good reminder for us all that to do our best work and be productive, we need to keep ourselves sharp. What’s best to keep sharp?

Organize your desktop and minimize clutter:

The slide into a cluttered space happens every day as we work. Paper piles up on our desk. An uncluttered space helps you stay on track and manage your time effectively. When you are organized, you can find what you need quickly and save time. You are undistracted and more focused on your work. Solutions to create a more organized space include having only specific items out on your desk that you use daily, minimizing desktop clutter. You can set up a file drawer that contains “drop slots” for big picture weekly priority actions such as finances, clients, and vendors at work or bills, family, and receipts for home. It’s most important to use a planner that capture your goals, projects, and tasks written in yearly, quarterly, weekly and daily. Set up a little time daily, just 15 minutes, to keep your desk clear and ready to use.

Learn new technology:

Technology changes all the time. There are new tools to use and our time-tested tools upgrade. It takes time to learn new technology and it can be a struggle for some of us. There’s value in researching new technology that can improve your efficiency and effectiveness. Look for tech gurus who help you learn what you need and how to use it. It’s best to learn the tool before you need it in order to save time at a crucial project point.

Jump start your routines:

Routines are smooth running processes that help us be productive. When put in place, all the nitty gritty gets completed. Each week, host your own one-hour productivity meeting. It’s you, your calendar, your lists, and a beverage. During your one-hour productivity meeting, you review your lists, review your goals, assign tasks, break down projects into manageable tasks, and calendar all your activities. In one well-timed hour, you are in control of your plans. What about distractions and other interruptions? Leave time in your plan for these with some flexibility. Overscheduling can lead to discouraging results. Each day, write down your 3 Most Important Tasks (MITs). First off, know what is most important with ongoing effort, not just an approaching deadline. Stretch out your efforts over several days to achieve results you are proud to own. As you practice with MIT’s and your productivity meeting, your weeks will run more smoothly.

Faithfully check, add to and review your planner:

Everyone needs a plannerYou wrote it all down in your planner or on your digital calendar, and then hat happened? It’s not magic to think you will remember it all. Set your planner so you can see it daily and add audio reminders if needed. Your productivity roadmap is only as good as your use of it. Take a minute when you think of a task or project to record it right away.

BONUS: Sharpening your saw depends on your self-care.

How we approach our efforts depends in part on how we take care of ourselves. The best first step to sharpening your saw is a night’s rest, nutrition and exercise. Your brain requires sleep, protein, and exercise. Ensuring that you are getting sleep, eating properly and taking a walk are the best ways to be sure you are using all your tools, tips and tricks. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that healthy adults get a minimum of seven hours of sleep each night, with an overall range of between seven to eight hours. Protein is a main factor in your brain. Exercise increases productivity too. If you can start with just one of these, start with getting 7 hours of sleep a night. Your brain and body will be refreshed and ready to work.