Maintain Your Systems to Stay Productive

Getting organized and boosting productivity isn't a one-time activity. Certainly, you can focus some concerted time and effort on specific projects (a spring cleaning of your desk, for instance), but to really stay on top, you'll need to devote a few minutes on a regular basis to maintaining any systems you've set up. No matter how advanced or complex your systems may be, in order to continue to meet your needs they will need tweaking and adjustment to ensure that they're serving you best. Here are a few specific systems to review on an ongoing basis:

Space – It's usually pretty easy to tell when you need to do some maintenance of your space, as it's easy to see when it's starting to get out of your control – clutter gathers in corners and on the floor, your desk piles up with papers, and your closet door no longer closes. You know it when it happens! The trick is doing something about it. If you notice that clutter seems to crop up regularly in your office or home, try scheduling an “put away” appointment every week or two to get things back in their proper homes – and if they don't have homes, use that opportunity to create them. It's also smart for you to make the rounds in your space and do a quick pass to make sure that everything that you're keeping is actually something that you want or need – if not, time to donate, recycle, or toss.

Paper – This is an ongoing challenge area for most of us, because it's virtually impossible to stop the influx of paper. Even with paper reduction strategies, there will likely always still be SOME paper, so it's essential that your paper management systems are continually tweaked to meet your needs. If you haven't done so in awhile, review the categories in your file system – do they still make sense for you, or do you need some new ones to deal with new projects or clients? Is your file drawer too full? It might be time set aside an hour for a complete weeding of your documents to create space for new ones. Are you tired of searching your paper files for documents, when in reality you spend most of your time at the computer? Check out one of the many great scanning services to get your documents digitized.

Time – It's your most precious resource, and a fleeting one at that, so it's worth it to take some time to tweak your scheduling and task management. Most of us spend our a small portion of our time getting a few key things completed and then a bulk of our time on busywork. Take this opportunity to refocus your efforts so you can actually get closer to your goals, whatever they may be. Spend a few minutes listing your current priorities, and carve out time on your calendar for the ones you decide are important for you. The others you could look at scheduling at a later date, or possibly even delegating to someone else. You want to make sure that you are spending your time doing what's important to you – rather than just doing what's in front of you.

Technology – If you have a drawer or box full of gizmos you don't use anymore or mystery cables, you're not alone. Spend a few minutes weeding through the tech detritus – old mp3 players, outdated cell phones, cables for devices long gone, and recycle them at your local electronics disposal company. Don't forget to get rid of old user manuals and installation CDs for things you no longer need.

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