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How to Choose a Productivity App for Your Business

Because of the time and learning required to implement any new software, I tend to be a software minimalist. I do not want to spend time implementing and learning new software unless the benefits of doing so outweigh the investment of time and expertise I’ll need to put in. If what I have works well enough, I leave it alone.

This minimalism extends to my relationship with apps.

There is no such thing as the perfect app. App-savvy consumers may spend time on research, set up, and debugging, only to find that the new app is not all that much better than the old app was. Apps, like anything else, are only beneficial when they move us closer to our goals. And as with anything else, less is definitely more when it comes to apps.

I engage two processes when deciding whether to move forward with any type of upgrade, the ‘Questions’ process and the ‘Line in the Sand’ process.

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Learn How You Can Do More with The Resources You Already Have

Poor time management leads to accomplishing less with the same resources. Declining to set aside specific times to work on projects may result in unmet goals. Under these conditions, it is easy to spend the entire day responding to urgent items and be unable to find the time to complete more important items.

Solution: Identify & Pinpoint time expenditure.

  • Use a calendar to schedule deep-dive project time.
  • When possible, schedule other, less important tasks around brain-intensive project time.
  • ‘Chunk’ similar activities like processing email and returning phone calls.
  • Keep detailed records so you don’t have to search for important items after the fact.

The custom half-day schedule management tool below includes time frames for regular daily activities as well as planned deep-dive project time. Extra time is built in for unexpected occurrences – a meeting runs late, heavy traffic, or a task takes longer than expected.

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The Best Time of Day to Work on Urgent Projects

It’s happened to all of us: you sit down to address a high-priority project at the end of the day and find you don’t have the necessary brain power. The best time to address head-to-the-grindstone deep brain work is when you are at your best. This might be earlier in the day if you’re a morning person; later in the day if you’re not. To take advantage of your best times, schedule other commitments around them as much as possible.

To determine when you’re at your best, ask yourself these questions:

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Top Time Wasters: Meetings

If you’re like most people, you’ve spent time in at least one meeting that went on and on with no apparent purpose, without an agenda, with minimal or no follow through, and without resolution. You might even have wondered why you were there at all. Certainly, there were far better uses of your time.

Meetings can be a huge time waster if not done correctly. Good meeting preparation is essential for productive meetings.

Effective meetings consist of the following:

A Tight Agenda: Ensure you have an agenda, with time limits attached to each agenda item.

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Top Time Wasters: Looking for Lost Items

Searching for lost items is one of the easiest time wasters to address. Not being able to locate what you need when you need it can result in purchasing duplicate items, having multiples of the same type of item in different locations, and spending time and resources locating your items. It can also result in purchasing things that you already have, but cannot find.

In order to ensure that you can find what you need, when you need it, consider these tips.

Organize like with like.

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Top Time Wasters: Saying Yes When You Should Say No

Recently, we wrote a series of posts covering file management, including paper reduction, file organization, e-file setup and maintenance. The goal in having a finely tuned file system is to be able to easily find what you need, when you need it. That is efficiency.

Our next series of posts will discuss some of the most common time-wasting habits.

Wasting time means “to allow time to elapse in an unproductive manner.” But how do we tell whether something will be a waste of time?

I ask 3 questions when determining how to spend my time:

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How High Hourly Rates Can Lead to Low Project Costs: A True Story

Potential clients sometimes ask me about my rates. With hundreds of class hours and thousands of client hours, I am more experienced than 80% of professional organizers. Most clients are willing to pay more for organizers who are educated, experienced and trained. I charge a bit more per hour but have saved my clients thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of time. Read on to discover how.

A new client calls needing a file system for her small business. She wants an experienced organizer who is familiar with file management and confidentiality. After we speak, she is ready to move forward and books an appointment.

A few days before the appointment, client calls to tell me that she’s found someone ‘exactly like’ me, but at a quarter the cost. If I can meet that rate, client will hire me. I decline the job.

Several years pass. In that time, I have attained my CPO and my rates have nearly doubled. 

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Maintaining Your E-Files

Last month, we discussed organizing your e-files, including creating a system for easy information retrieval.

To help simplify retrieval and minimize time waste, invest the time to set up systems and protocol for file maintenance and back-up. Creating a standard system for all members of your team will save time in the long run. In order to maintain your e-files, you will need a few tools.

Search Tools: A search tool is software which is used to locate a specific parameter: a word, phrase or filename. Search tools are generally included in the operating system.

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Organizing Your E-Files

In many ways, organizing e-files will be similar to organizing paper files. There are also some very important differences in organizing your e-files that don’t apply to paper files.

As with paper, first establish broad categories, and then determine specific details.

To facilitate retrieval of information in the future, create a consistent naming scheme.

Start by taking a good look at your current file system. Determine if there exists a consistent method to store information. Are things easy to find, are there unnecessary duplicates, or are items stored in more than one place? How much time is spent searching for things? If more than a couple of minutes it’s time to re-organize.

Below is a sample system to get started. Businesses may need more or fewer than what is provided here. A well-functioning file system needs to be customized to individual business needs.

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Locating Files Stored Off-Site

In a recent blog post, we discussed where to store your paper files, including archive files. In some industries, records retention requirements – and the resulting high paper volume – necessitate off-site storage. When storing files offsite, it’s critical to know which files are where so they can be located as needed with a minimum of fuss. This blog post discusses how to determine what to store offsite as well as how to retrieve easily.

1. Decide how you want to group your files. This could be alphabetically, numerically by client number, or chronologically by service date. Your choice will be informed by industry guidelines, your onsite record-keeping system, and how frequently you purge the archives.

2. To make location of archived files easier, create file indices for your archives. Include the following on the file indices:

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