Brought To You By Emily Parks
Productivity Consultant at Organize For Success, LLC...
Helping You Make Every Minute Matter!



Friday, August 8, 2014

Celebrate National Simplify Your Life Week

 As we're in national "Simplify Your Life Week", what do you think it means to SIMPLIFY? Think you'll need to give up all your worldly possessions to become a hermit and live in a cave somewhere?!? Not quite... Per Dictionary.com, simplify means “to make less complex or complicated; make plainer or easier"... Cutting back on physical clutter can be part of the picture, but the emphasis is on slowing down and focusing on your true priorities. For some, this may mean working fewer hours and taking a cut in pay to have more time with friends and family. For others, this may mean buying a smaller home that is closer to work so as to lessen the daily commute while cleaning out unused items throughout the home. Meanwhile, others may take this as the opportunity to simply say "no" to more of each day's endless requests from others, saying "yes" to only those requests that fulfill personal & professional goals.

Here are some actions you can take today, over the weekend or sometime soon to simplify your life:

1. Remember that less is more when it comes to email… Less email sent means fewer replies received. Less retention folders make it easier to find what you need when you need it. Less email lists to which you subscribe lead to you getting only what information you really want.

2. Outsource, delegate, ask for help… However you word it, utilize others to double your output. Great resources can be found at Fiverr and Task Rabbit so take some time to check out which options might be best for your needs.

3. Automate bill pay… While many folks pay each bill manually when the reminder arrives via snail mail or email, how much easier would it be to have payments sent automatically from your banking account each month? Such settings can be programmed online fairly quickly.

4. Automate many of the domino effects in your daily processes… There are plenty of cause and effect relationships you can set and forget, running without ongoing efforts on your part. Investigate options via IFTTTZapier and PodBox for the solution to best support your processes.

5. Plan to have the tools you need nearby when needed… Do you utilize a smartphone, tablet, laptop and / or desktop computer? If you depend on tech tools, you are well aware of all the accessories needed for each, including charging cords, flash drives, headphones or earbuds and the like. Rather than depending on whether you remember to bring all the necessary accessories whenever you are working on the go, keep multiple sets of those accessories (one for office, one for bag, one for vehicle), pulling each set of accessories together with a GRID-IT.

6. Be strategic about how you organize items… Make sure what you need is conveniently located close to where you will need to use it and by grouping like with like to have those items used together stored together. Further, so you can quickly retrieve what’s needed, make sure to assign everything a specific home and return each item to its home each time you finish using that item.

7. Don’t retain the printed manual that came with any item you’ve purchased… Printed manuals are difficult to efficiently store and take up valuable space. Instead, download the corresponding PDF from the ManualsOnline.com website and store electronically.

8. Save time with forms, templates, checklists and the like… If you regularly send the same email response, create a template for that reply, tweak it a bit for each time you send it, and avoid starting from scratch each time you need to send that response. Create a packing checklist so you don’t forget anything that’s needed on each trip, customizing it for personal versus business travel, whether traveling by plane, train or automobile and for how long you’ll be gone. Design a template for grocery lists with all items you normally use, listed in order of the aisles at your regular store.

9. Convert what files you can to a searchable, digital system… Since it’s easier to find documents in an electronic form than paper, transition what you can via a fast, portable scanner, like one of the options from DoxieNeat or Fujitsu. Then, make those documents easy to access from anywhere as well as simple to share with others by storing them in an online file repository; options for your online file repository include BoxDropbox, iCloudOneDriveSpiderOak, Google Drive and SugarSync. Finally, if you choose to utilize the free options on more than one of these online file repositories, avoid fragmentation by keeping all your “clouds” together via Citrix ShareFile Quick Edit for iOS devices or CloudCube for Android devices.

10. Cut back on distractions by having fewer pings and dings… When you are distracted, on average, it takes about 16 minutes to refocus upon returning to the task at hand. Therefore, turn off your notifications for emails, social media updates and new text or voice mail messages whenever possible, choosing to schedule set times for checking each instead.

11. Consolidate social media platforms into one management tool... While many enjoy the benefits of the various different social media options, it can be overwhelming to stay on top of everything for LinkedInGoogle+InstagramFacebookPinterestTwitter and more. Instead of logging into each platform individually, group as many as possible together with one login to HootsuitePostlingSocialOomph, Buffer or Sprout Social.

12. Practice “the power of one”… While many claim that one is a lonely number, I find it to be extremely powerful in boosting productivity. So that you can quickly find what you need, easily remember all that needs to be done, avoid duplication or things falling through the cracks and keep it all together better, it’s important to have one calendar, one running data dump of all tasks to be done, one daily  to-do list, one source for others’ contact info, one system by which all your files are structured (whether paper or electronic and with as few categories as possible) and one place for all the information you must reference and remember, such as my all-time favorite tool of Evernote, a secure suite of apps that allow users to capture typed text, video and audio files, checklists, web clippings as well as photos, including photos of handwritten notes, in a database of content created by the user or culled in from other sources which is easy to sort, edit, search and share.

Did you celebrate this "Simplify Your Life Week" by making a change to simplify your life? If not, where do you see excess and complexity? What will you change soon based off the aforementioned suggestions or your own analysis?
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