How To Choose The Right Organizer or Productivity Consultant: Part 1 – Client Goals

You’ve made the decision to move forward with a professional organizer and productivity consultant. Below are my top three tips to ensure that the odds of success are as high as possible when working with a productivity professional.

1. Determine your Level of Involvement

Decide how involved you, as the client, would like to be. Client involvement spans the spectrum from involved at every step of the way to only participating as needed. The level of involvement depends on the client’s wishes, and organizers who know what they’re doing can work with clients at all levels of participation.

As an organizer, I work with a full spectrum of clients – those who are involved at every step of the way, to clients who only want to provide minimal input on the organizing process. A good organizing & productivity consultant will know how to work in either of these circumstances, and in every permutation (different word, please) in between.

2. Set your Goals

Be specific, clear, and detailed about what your goals for your space and time are. Do you want a picture-perfect space, a space that functions well and looks lived in, or something else? Does your calendar need to be full every day, or do you want some down time? Knowing what you want for your space and time clarifies the process for the organizer so she and her staff focus on what matters to you and spend minimal time and resources on things that provide less value to you.

3. Commit to Change

Although you may start out with clear goals for what you want in your space, time, and files, things may change as you work through the organizing process. Organizing increases clarity and enables you to see things that may previously have been hidden. Understand that this is all part of the organizing process. A good professional organizer and productivity consultant will be able to adapt to and implement changes in the project as time goes on.

Lisa Mark, C.P.O. is a productivity expert and Certified Professional Organizer. Contact Lisa if you would like to find out if she is a good fit for your organizing or productivity needs.

17 Apps for Tracking Time

When bringing tech into my business, I try to select tools that will enhance my productivity. Below are tips for choosing a time tracking app, along with options for time tracking apps that should lead to increased productivity.

When choosing a new app:

Use the KISS method. Kiss stands for ‘Keep It Simple, Sweetie.’ Ease of use is paramount with any new software. If I can’t determine how to use something within, say, the first 5 minutes, I’m not going to use it at all. So, bring in tech that is transparent, fun, easy to use, and keeps things simple for you and your team.

It’s not a bug…It’s a Feature! The more bells and whistles the software offers, the more difficult it can be to use. When possible, choose fewer, stronger features, rather than a whole host of ‘hey, that looks fun!’ Apps with fewer features enable ease of use, better streamlining, and a shorter (and flatter) learning curve. Definitely get what you need, but consider limiting extras.

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Easy Ways to Save Time

Home office organized by Lisa Mark, C.P.O.

Time Blocking

Identifying time-wasters is the first step to maximizing productivity. When thinking of daily tasks, ask if there is a way to clump, or group together, tasks that are similar. This strategy for doing similar things at one time is called time blocking.

From ToDoist.com: Time Blocking is a time management method that has you divide your day into blocks of time. Each block is dedicated to accomplishing a specific task, or group of similar tasks. Similar tasks may include:

  • Processing email
  • Scheduling client appointments
  • Attending meetings
  • Returning phone calls

Try using time blocking and see if it works for you.

Searching for Supplies

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The Best Productivity Apps

Last month, we discussed How to Choose a Productivity App and how apps, like anything else, are only beneficial when they move us closer to our goals. Below are some of my favorites.

I’m an app minimalist. I limit apps and use only what I need to work effectively. For email, tasks, and calendar management, I like the G-suite apps. They are global (can be reached from anywhere), are easy to integrate, and the updates are (usually) seamless. I set up G-mail to integrate with Outlook so emails appear in both. I can better see the individual emails on Outlook, but I also enjoy the Google thread function for organizing and retrieval. Although I have multiple email addresses, all emails are set up to go into the same inbox. This means I only need to check one place to find everything.

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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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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: 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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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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