This post is sponsored by BabbleBoxx.com on behalf of the Paper + Packaging Board
When I was a little girl I used to be obsessed with fresh sheets of paper. My grandfather, a lawyer, used to have boxes of legal pads in his office and I would regularly raid them. Armed with stacks of lined paper and handfuls of inky felt-tipped and ball point pens, I would march around the house until I found something suitable to record. Earlier on it was unintelligible circles and squiggles, later it was grocery lists, and eventually poems (future blogger at work, isn’t it funny how life unfolds?). And while I’ve since ditched poetry (I haven’t the talent), writing lists is still one of my favorite ways to organize myself. I’ve found that among the million reminder and notepad apps I’ve used, getting something down on paper is one of the best ways to communicate, remember, and record. And in the spirit of the lovely warm spring weather we are finally getting, I thought I would share which paper products I use to boost productivity in addition to 5 of my favorite ways to spring clean your workspace!
Put It On A Calendar
Things pile up. Quickly. Keep on top of your To Do list by putting everything on a calendar, even the little things. I even have cleaning off my desk on my calendar, it’s something I do every third Friday of the month. If your space is anything like mine, you simply can’t tackle everything in one go. Separate things by subject and prioritize, then put them on a calendar. Procrastinator? Me too. Place anything with hard dates a week or a month ahead, trick yourself into getting everything in on time.
I like to categorize the things I do at work by color via my Post-Its. Blue for certain activities, hot pink for marketing, bright green for priority items, etc. I only jot down the things I need to keep present and on my mind, the color coding helps when I’m looking for something quickly – I’ll snatch up my pink Post-Its and find it!
Keep What You Need, Toss What You Don’t
I have been jokingly called a hoarder by my friends and family. I love keeping items that have sentimental value. I have countless birthday and holiday cards stored away at home. Even at work I like to give cards. If a co-worker goes out of their way to do something for you, taking the time to write a card (and adding a gift card) is a thoughtful way of thanking them for their time. You may know Erin Condren for her insanely popular agendas that busy folks everywhere swear by, but the coveted brand also carries simple and attractive note cards.
But even cards can pile up, filing away what you want to keep and throwing away what you don’t sounds like a simple enough task. I like using the same technique that I use when cleaning out my closet – if you haven’t used it in a year, chances are you won’t use it ever. Documentation can be a little more tricky, official documents should be scanned and saved digitally. Contracts should be filed away, I use these Carson Dellosa File Folders to brighten up my filing cabinet. But everything else? Old delivery menus, print outs of information that I already have a digital copy of? Shred and toss. Physical clutter can make some people (me!) feel overwhelmed, tossing the trash can be extremely cathartic.
In my freshman year of high school, my school handed out free planners. By that age I already loved the idea of planners and of being so busy that my planner looked packed. The one they handed out to us had this cheesy well-known quote on the cover: “By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail”. That quote gave 14 year old me so much anxiety. I literally wrote every single thing in that planner for months until it was destroyed in the rain. That was the start of my love-hate relationship with planners. I buy them every year with good intentions, but a couple months in they start to be more of a hindrance than a help. Enter the Panda Planner.
The Panda Planner (undated) is broken out into months, weeks, and days. It’s structured in the best way – to help you focus on long term and short term goals and accomplishments. I feel like a regular planner feels a lot like a never ending to do list, and my Panda Planner feels more like a self-management tool. And that’s the thing, while your cleaning out your workspace to optimize productivity it’s important to have your short term and long term goals in mind – as well as the points in time when you want to reflect and evaluate your own performance and career goals. It sounds like every other recommendation out there, but really helps if you can turn back and say “I’ve been doing this daily for six months and it has yielded no results, I need to stop/do it differently/ask for more resources/etc.” Part of knowing where you stand is keeping track of where you’ve been.
I also recommend, whatever planner you use, to write in it in pencil. These ones from the General Pencil Company are made-in-America, are presharpened and write like butter. I have sketched with these, they’re that smooth.
Have A System
No one system of organization works for everyone. Sometimes you take notes on your laptop, and other times you’ll take notes on Post-It’s. Maybe you keep a notebook on hand for client meetings, or use your phone to jot down some pending action items. Finding a system that works for you is key to boosting productivity. Spring clean your system of organization by dedicating yourself to it. Writing anything anywhere when convenient will only lead to chaos. If you have a system of recording meeting notes on a notepad – like this cute (but organized) Knock, Knock Goals Notepad – and adding items to your calendar afterwards, then stick to it. That way if you miss something, you know you can always find it.
Consistency is like moderation, everyone says you should practice it but it’s excruciatingly hard to. Recently, I’ve dedicated myself to reading Rework, which was written to offer great insights on productivity and time management to professionals. Every day I have committed to reading 15 pages. It’s been hard, and I may have slipped up. I have been in the worst book slump but this exercise has actually really helped pull me out of it in addition to helping me understand more about my own work flow.
Interested in reading along? Join the Paper & Packaging – How Life Unfolds® #15PagesADay campaign and commit to tackling the book by reading at least 15 pages! Learn more at howlifeunfolds.com/15Pages
Whether you’ve committed to a monthly meeting, cleaning off your desk, tossing what doesn’t matter and prioritizing what does. Being consistent with your resolutions is what forms habits, and eventually some activities more like second nature.
Are you a notorious Post-It note-taker? Do you plan to perfection? What are your tips for workplace productivity?