One of the oldest organizing adages is often attributed to Ben Franklin, “A place for everything and everything in its place.” Whether Ben was the first to say it is debatable, the truth of the saying is not. The single-most important step you can take when organizing is ensuring you have a place to put everything.
Containers organize things by type: pens and pencils, cosmetics, groceries, tools, etc. They keep food fresh. They are effective for document storage and retrieval. They make clean-up easier. From the office to the home, from the boardroom to the bathroom, containers make organizing easy.
Before you run out and stock up on containers, you need a plan. You need to know the types of things you’re going to store, along with size and shape. You can then determine the type of storage option to use:
- Drawers and dividers
- Magazine racks
- File cabinets or drawers
It’s also helpful to consider the material the container(s) is made of in relation to its use. Wooden file boxes might be impractical for lifting in and out of archive space, while cardboard file boxes might not be sturdy enough for daily use.
Start with a plan
Analysis how you spend your time in the office. List of the tasks you perform there and the functional zones in your office. For example: paperwork, computer work, telephone use and reading. Ideally, these zones should not overlap.
Determine the equipment and material you need for each zone. For example computer work requires a computer and monitor; perhaps a printer or scanner. For paperwork, you will need pen, notebook, etc.
Now, work out how best to assign your office layout to each of the zones. The computer work and paper work could quite easily be side by side or even overlap. Figure out the best arrangement of your office to suit your needs.
You can start organizing your office by keeping the essential items on your desk: your computer, scanner, telephone and in box. First, you need to clean the desk. Clean out each drawer of your desk to increase space for other office supplies. Organize supplies like pens and paper clips in different containers to make them accessible for you whenever you need them.Use trays for organizing papers and storage boxes for your dated files. You may also use a separate drawer for your personal items. For the magazines and catalogs, keep them in magazine boxes.
Sort the Clutter
Go through all the material in your office; or at least, sort through the piles of unorganized material. Ideally, you go through everything. Practically, you may need to get organized in stages. Place boxes on the floor and start sticking items into the boxes. Sort items in a way that makes sense. For example, put filing together, shredding in another box and so on.
Get rid of the old items you no longer need or use: old bills, receipts or other paperwork, outdated software manuals, equipment you’re no longer using or books that you will never read. Recycle those items that can and dispose of those you can’t recycle. Shred confidential papers that don’t need archiving.
Give Every Object a Home
Set up appropriate containers for items. Look at the list above, determine what you need and go to your local office-supply store to stock up.If your space is limited, look up. Many storage options can be mounted on walls or stacked vertically. Also look at space below. Containers can be put available space under furniture or equipment.
Put It Away
Once you’ve gone through you clutter and sorted things into the right containers, assign convenient locations for everything and put everything away. This should be easy if you’ve made the right decisions in advance. Don’t cut corners, you’ll pay a price for that later.
Disorganized people make life difficult by having to always make a decision on where each item should go. Organized people have systems so the correct place for each item is obvious, requiring little thought in processing.
Firefighters talk about “containing” a fire. In the same way, containers can help you control your organization fires.
There was a time when I would say yes to everything. Not because I thought I had the ability to do it all, but because I felt I looked lazy if I wasn’t doing something all the time. I had to learn to say no.
There was also an issue of how to handle things I didn’t want to do; a sense of obligation to every social invitation or event taking place. Perhaps it was a sense of wanting to please people. I didn’t have a “reason” for not wanting to go, so felt obligated. I had to learn to say no.
I’d be lying if I said I never struggle with it today. However, I’ve learned how important it is to preserve time, my most valuable resource. I had to learn to say no.
Top tips for saying “no”
Keep it simple: don’t try and complicate things. Don’t concocted elaborate reasons or excuses. A simple, “thanks for asking, but I’m not able to…” is enough. You don’t need the asker’s permission to say no.
Focus on your goals and priorities: If you have a plan for managing your work and time, it is easier to say no to new activities that don’t fit into your agenda. There’s a saying that goes, “A person who does not have goals is used by someone who does.”
Be assertive and courteous: Try saying something like, “I’m sorry I’m not able to right now, but will let you know when and if I can.” This approach is polite, and puts you in a position of power by taking charge of the exchange, telling people you’ll let them know.
Look for compromises: Perhaps you feel the request is good, but you can’t meet the requirement right now. Look for ways to move the request forward that works for both parties. Be careful that compromising is not just another way to avoid saying “no”.
Leave it open-ended: Sometimes you’re in a position where you can’t say no for sure. A year ago, I was asked to consider becoming president of our Rotary Club for this year. At the time I was asked, I couldn’t say yes due to some unknowns coming in the new year. I said “no” at that moment but told them to ask again early in year. They came back in February and I was able to say yes, as the unknowns had been defined.
IT’S NOT ABOUT SAYING “NO” TO EVERYTHING
Sometimes you need to say “yes” to further your personal goals and priorities. Perhaps you have a goal of becoming a subject-matter expert in a particular topic or area. Getting your name out there might involve extra speaking engagements, or some side-hustle work beyond your regular responsibilities. Then, as you become more aware of what is and isn’t right for you, you can say “no” to those invitations that don’t move your goals forward.
The hidden lesson to all this? As you effectively learn to say “no”, your “yes” becomes far more powerful.
A while ago, I got a new desk for my office. I figured that making room for new furniture was a good opportunity, to not only clean out my desk, but to go through everything in my office.
It seems I am more of a pack rat than I realized. I found documents going back 8+ years. The office was passed overdue for a cleaning.
Are you a pack rat; either at work or at home? Here’s some tips to help break the hoarding habit.
1) Take Inventory
Take a tour of the space you are organizing and take inventory all of your stuff. Look in cabinets, closets, bookshelves, storage containers, the garage, etc. Do you have things you haven’t used in a year or more? Ask yourself, will I use that item again? If the answer is maybe, get rid of it. Call The Salvation Army, recycle it or pass it on to someone who can use it.
2) Share your information
I save books and magazines long after I’ve read them. I find one article I’d like to reference in the future and I hang onto the whole magazine.
If you’re like that, tear out the article, recipe, instructions, etc. and file it in an organized system. I’m going one step further by scanning any such material and storing it electronically, which eliminates the paper altogether.
Recycle those that you don’t plan on reading or using again. Donate them to a local charity, a school, hospital or retirement home, where others can enjoy and learn from your books.
3) Don’t become the Pickle-Jar Guy
Do you know someone who has a garage filled with empty jars because they are going to use them someday? Empty containers make great storage, but how many do you need? If you have more than five or six empty containers stuck in a cabinet or closet collecting dust, add it to the recycling.
4) Ask the key question
‘Is my life going to change if I get rid of this thing?’ Almost always, the answer is, ‘No’. Marie Kondo has created this idea, if an object no longer “sparks joy” for us, it should be discarded. While I have a problem with the idea that our possessions should spark joy, the basic principle is a good one. Why do we hang on to things? Is it nostalgia, fear of offending family or friends, or some other reason. If you’re not using it, and it’s taking up space, get rid of it.
5) Look for the best was to rearrange the space
After all your clutter and junk is out the door and you have a better idea of what will be left in your space, look around and rethink your layout. Maybe there’s a better way to configure the room, especially if you make good use of wall space. One good rule of thumb is, the more you use something, the closer it should be to you. Lastly, consider how you want to come off to others in the room. For example, a more open layout can give the impression of having earned more space and, therefore, power; or positioning a desk so it’s not between you and clients can seem more inviting.
6) Review weekly
You’ve got your space cleared and reorganized, it needs to be maintained. When you declutter every week, you ensure your space does not fall back to its previous state. Not only is this good for the space but it is great for your mind as well. Having a weekly declutter process will develop a sense of achievement as you maintain a clean and efficient workspace.
A few years ago, I compiled a list of links to Christmas carols and song lyrics with guitar chords. Since that time, these lists have proven to be popular posts during the holiday season. I know it’s off-topic for a productivity/personal development blog, but because of it’s popularity, I like to refresh the list each year to keep it active.
If you stop and think about it, carol singing with a guitar is an inexpensive and easy way to enjoy the holiday season. Theguitar is probably one of the most popular musical instruments around and in any group of people, there will be someone who can play.
If you’re looking for a simple way to spread Christmas cheer, grab some guitar-playing friends and:
- Have a carol sing in someone’s home
- Go caroling in the neighbourhood
- Visit care homes and have a carol sing with the residents
- Get the kids away from the Wii and sing some carols
If you’re planning a holiday sing-along, here’s a good collection of Christmas carols and songs to get you going:
- A Baby Just Like You
- All I Want For Christmas is my Two Front Teeth
- All I Want for Christmas is You
- Angels, From the Realms of Glory
- Angels We Have Heard on High
- As Lately We Watched
- As With Gladness Men of Old
- Away in a Manger
- Blue Christmas
- Bring a Torch
- Christians, awake, salute the happy morn (txt)
- Christmas in Killarney
- Coventry Carol
- Ding Dong! Merrily on High (Download)
- Feliz Navidad
- Friendly Beasts
- Frosty the Snowman
- Go Tell it on the Mountain
- God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
- Good Christian Men, Rejoice
- Good King Wenceslas
- Hark, the Herald Angels Sing
- How Great Our Joy
- Have a Holly Jolly Christmas
- Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
- Here Comes Santa Claus
- Here We Come A Wassailing
- Huron Carol – ‘Twas in the moon of wintertime (txt)
- I’ll Be Home For Christmas
- It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
- I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
- I Saw Three Ships
- Joy to the World!
- Jingle Bell Rock
- Jingle Bells
- Jolly Old Saint Nick
- Let It Snow
- The Little Drummer Boy
- Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming (txt)
- Mr. Grinch Theme
- Nuttin’ for Christmas
- O Christmas Tree
- O Come, Little Children (txt)
- O Sanctissima (txt)
- O Holy Night
- Once in Royal David’s City
- O Come, All Ye Faithful
- O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
- O Little Town of Bethlehem
- Patapan – Willie, Take Your Little Drum (txt)
- Rocking Around the Christmas Tree
- Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
- Silent Night
- Silver Bells
- Sleigh Ride
- The Christmas Song
- The First Noel
- The Friendly Beasts (txt)
- The Twelve Days of Christmas
- (There’s No Place Like) Home for the Holidays
- Up on the Housetop
- We Three Kings
- What Child Is This?
- While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks
- Walking in a Winter Wonderland
- We Wish You A Merry Christmas
- White Christmas
Communication (Photo credit: P Shanks)
Communication between people is a process in which everyone receives, sends, interprets, and infers all at the same time; there is no beginning or end. Taking into account your own internal states, how can you ensure effective communication of your ideas and feeling?
- Use “I” statements. Using personal pronouns when speaking creates influential statements. They contribute to direct communication. Simply state what you think or feel about something. “I feel frustrated when people are late to meetings” versus “Some people may think that people who come late to meetings are passive aggressive“.
- Describe behaviours without using subjective statements. “You interrupted me several times during our staff meeting” versus “you are an attention-seeker and don’t care for others“.
- Acknowledge and describe your feelings. We tend to suppress the emotional part of our message even though the emotion colouring the message. State it so that others can understand the basis of your message. For example, “I felt angry when you cut me off during our staff meeting.”
- Match your verbal and non-verbal messages. Saying, “I enjoyed your presentation to the board….” while rolling your eyes, will confuse the person and most likely decrease trust and limit communication. Your body language accounts for a large part of your message. Matching your body language to what you are saying will build trust and clarify your intent.
- Get feedback on your communication skills. For most people it takes practice to become an effective communicator. Ask for feedback around the clarity, delivery, and timing of your message. It might feel risky but each small risk will build your confidence and increase trust in those you communicate with.
- Effective Communication (contemporarymanagement.wordpress.com)
- Few Cues to Improve Communication Skills (bodylanguagecards.wordpress.com)