Poor organization is one of the biggest productivity killers. When you can’t find a tool you need or have to sort through a pile of outdated papers to find the one you are looking for, it slows you down and eats up valuable minutes that could be spent on something more important.
In this post, we are going to look at some simple things you can do to help make your life more productive by organizing specific areas. Most of these are things where 15 minutes of focused effort will go a long way toward saving you hours in the future.
1. Clean out your closet
You’ve probably heard the saying, “You can’t see the forest for all of the trees.” A similar, but less popular quotation is “You can’t find a shirt for all of the clothes.” It is easy to accumulate a very large number of clothing items. Subconsciously we think that having more options is better, but in reality, it is much more efficient to choose from a few good choices than trying to decide among twenty shirts.
You probably have a number of pieces of clothing that you can get rid of right now. Clear those out and get rid of them. However, there are probably a number of items where the idea of wearing them is more appealing than actually wearing them, so it is hard to let go. One simple tip I’ve heard about is to put all your hangers in backwards. When you use an item, switch the hanger around to the proper direction when you replace it. At the end of a year, take a good long look at all the clothes on the backwards hangers. If you haven’t used them in the last year, is there any reason you will in the next?
2. De-clutter your computer desktop
Many people use their computer desktop as a virtual work space. It is pretty handy to be able to drag a document to the desktop when you just need it temporarily. Unfortunately it is easy to leave this workspace a mess and the value of your desktop diminishes as things become harder to find. Taking a few minutes to clean out all the old files that you don’t need and putting the ones that are important in their proper place can help you keep your computer workspace efficient and easy to use.
I’ve seen people drag all of their desktop items to a folder called “desktop stuff.” Usually this happens when there is too much to easily sort through and you don’t think you’ll ever need it again, but you aren’t sure. Obviously this isn’t ideal, but if you are going to stick everything in a folder, label it in way that gives you permission to delete it at some point in the future. For example, you might label it with the intention to delete it in three months. Something like ‚ÄúDelete in February 2012.‚Äù If you haven’t used any of these temporary files in three months, it is probably safe to delete them.
3. Clean out your glove compartment
How much stuff is in the glove compartment of your vehicle? It is easy to let several years’ worth of vehicle registration and insurance cards accumulate in this cubby hole. Unfortunately, the worst time to sort through everything is when you actually need it. Be proactive and spend a few minutes clearing out all the junk that is expired and don’t forget to make sure you have the current versions of all of your important information there where you can find it.
4. Set up a folder for this year’s taxes
No matter what time of year it is, tax season is no more than 12 months away. You can make the process of filing your taxes go much easier by having everything ready to go when the time comes instead of procrastinating until the last minute.
There you have four simple areas where a little time spent in organization can give you a very good return on your investment. Do you have any other suggestions? What other areas are a good place to invest 15 minutes of organization?