In my last post Organization Leads To Sanity, I wrote about how I personally get organized at work. In this post, I am going to give some pointers that I have and that I plan to begin implementing that will allow anyone to get and stay organized much more easily. These tips apply both to the physical workspace as well as the digital workspace. I am going to spend the next few weeks implementing them in my home as well in an effort to bring me a greater sense of purpose in everything I do.
I touched on this one recently, and I seem to touch on it frequently, because it is vital. Eliminating clutter will completely eradicate most of the stress from your life and cause you to be happier. Basically the next two steps will really help you to accomplish this.
Before you get started, it is important to determine what is necessary and what is not. The less necessary things, the better. Less necessities will mean less clutter. Your priorities will help you to be able to begin throwing things away or selling things.
- Befriend the trash
Anything that is not necessary should be expunged. Basically, look at selling it, giving it away, recycling it, or throwing it away. When in doubt, throw it out. When I get home from my vacation, I will continue discarding a whole lot of things from the house. I personally have too many dishes, books, DVDs, CDs, and other unimportant things. It’s time to kick them to the curb. Before any organization can be done, stuff must be thrown away. No sense spending time organizing stuff you’ll just throw away in a few weeks or months. Toss it now!
- Practice selective ignorance
This is one of the most influential things that Tim Ferriss’ book, The 4-Hour Workweek has taught me. I don’t need to check my email all the time. I am going to reduce it to once per day. I am not answering the phone during work hours. I am not processing the Inbox throughout the day. I am not replying to every email that is sent to me. Basically, if it does not make things run smoother, there’s not a real reason for me to be doing it. This simply adds stress to my life. So how do I do it?
One of the most influential phrases that I have ever heard is planned neglect. Greg Laurie puts it this way in his sermon How to know the will of God:
Someone once asked a concert violinist in New York’s Carnegie hall how she became so skilled. She said that it was by “PLANNED NEGLECT” She planned to neglect everything that was not related to her goal.
She planned to neglect everything that was not related to her goal. How much more successful could we be in everything that we put our minds to if we followed that simple path. It’s not easy, but it sure is simple. It’s difficult, but it’s not complicated.
Purpose in your heart right now to simply plan to neglect those things that don’t lead to a better working environment. If it doesn’t achieve that goal, it is something that should probably be eliminated.
So yes, I have to process the Inbox, but I do it on my time frame. Secretaries will begin to figure it out. Tim Ferriss suggests sending an autoresponse out that explains your email schedule (he checks his Monday afternoons). That way people understand. I plan to implement that very soon. If I only checked it once a week, I would have irate secretaries calling me all the time. When they realized I never answered my phone or checked voice mails during the day, they’d come chase me down or slash my tires or something.
Voice mails go to my email Inbox. So I will check emails each day after I eat lunch. No email before noon. What a beautiful thought! When the lunch period ends, any unread emails stay in the Inbox until such time as I have a chance to further process. Before I leave work on Monday, I will be sure to process the entire Inbox. Parent phone calls and emails will be returned as necessary. I will print them out or write a note about them and put them in my Inbox.
The physical Inbox will be processed in the mornings before school starts. I will process it from top down, meaning the oldest stuff will remain buried if I don’t finish processing before class begins. Again, that will be processed before I leave work on Wednesday.
I will spend my conference period returning phone calls, planning for my classes and reading and relaxing. Maybe I’ll use that time to work on writing a book!