Organization: does it help or hinder your productivity?
Getting organized is paramount to get work done but what happens when you're spending more time "getting organized" and "catching up" than you are actually working on the important tasks at hand?
I've discussed ways to get into your productivity groove, shown you 4 helpful apps to do it all from your desktop, and Andrea's shared the importance of a physical inbox. Seems easy, right? Do these things, use these apps, and boom! You're working like a machine.
Except now the machine requires more steps, often the extra steps are nothing to highlight until one day you're settling in to accomplish a huge project but the first two hours is spent "setting up" when you're project only requires one tool: Your computer.
By nature, I'm not someone who pays too much attention to detail. By nurture, I've trained myself to discover the rhythm of organization. It's a high to get everything lined up! Color coded! Checked off! Put away! Until I can't find what I'm looking for, I've lost the file that I saved "on purpose in this one place ... errr????" and, inevitably, my keys? They honestly have legs.
Like everything, there needs to be a balance in how we structure our work space and our time. The unicorn of self-propelled working, right? Balance. However, letting yourself off the hook once in awhile when the mail isn't sorted, the emails go unanswered, or the 17 tabs you have open on your desktop all have a different purpose for a different task - can mean your productivity is through the roof.
Offices like the one below give me anxiety. They're beautiful - but they're unattainable, when I put things "away" that means I stop thinking about them. I NEED a few important things infront of me in order to remember them, take care of them, maintain them and accomplish them. Having everything neatly tucked away in a box is a nightmare for me for a few reasons; One, I'd spend way too much time just setting it up. A huge deficit in my time (that I usually don't have) to make things look organized and a deficit in my budget on the supplies needed. Two, it's a detour in my productivity because I just implemented a system I know I can't maintain.
Not to say that being organized is something to put off. However, knowing what works best for you and being ok with it is paramount to keeping your productivity in line and growing. I'd say if you're getting your work done and are happy with the results, if your clients are beaming because you delivered on time and they got what they were after - then a few miscellaneous processes can go to the wayside.
via shino on Flickr.
However, we don't need to let things get this far. I admit there are days I look up and see something similar on my desk, minus multiple screens. Cords, cups, papers, books. Piles to be filed, papers that require action or response ... the list always goes on. Especially after a recent move - you find yourself in the midst of setting up and getting back on track with work when all of a sudden a year has passed and you've neglected a few key organizational steps and tools.
To keep the balance in check and your productivity up; relax a bit on the label maker yet still keep a these tips in mind while setting up your office.
Designate a day a week to clear the clutter. Keep on top of the filing system that works best for you by simple maintenance; not a once a year over-haul. Every Wednesday morning for 20 minutes, perhaps?
Prioritize your paper trail. Mail comes in, RFP's, employee signage, payroll papers, requests and on and on and on ... Working digitally still requires paperwork but don't over do it. Designate the appropriate point people to manage the paper trail and give each request a deadline so it's not a free for all inner-office correspondence. Need a reimbursement form? Awesome! You have 30 days or until your next pay period to submit to Payroll. (Keeps processes moving smoothly when you implement steadfast quality control - helps the office environment look less like your college dorm room and more like that place you do amazing things for. Also, you're awesome and that shirt looks great on you today!)
Centralize the libraries. You bet, the background music and pandora stations (An Apple TV as your music hub or the speaker set up for the overhead music)? The books you recommend reading or have on hand for inspiration sessions and creative break-through's? The magazines you subscribe to as an office? They all belong in the same place. One central location for your multi-media needs. You'll keep the distractions to a minimum and the productivity high when these things are out of instant reach but accessible.
Am I alone? Do you start to sweat at the thought of letting a few organization tools go? How do you manage your time between streamlining a process and actually working on a product? What's worked for you?