6 Tips to De-Clutter Your Project

6 Tips & Techniques to Declutter Your Project

Guest Blogger, Barbara Clifford shares her expertise on how to de-clutter your project and stop wasting time/energy on unimportant things.

Barbara Clifford is a Time Tamer and she can be found at www.timetamer.com.au

Are you really clear about your Productivity?

How can you be sure when you are productive or unproductive? Sometimes we need to stop and take stock, a moment to be mindful, objective and without pre-judgement.  Take the opportunity to be clear about what your key performance indicators are.  Are they in line with you global vision?  And what would be indicators of decreased productivity?  Where are money, time and resources slipping through the gaps?

It’s easy to identify when you are personally productive.  It feels good.  Things run smoothly, you are responsive, motivated, pumped.  You have brain power, a clear mind and you know exactly what to do and when to do it.  However, indicators that you are lacking in productivity are not always obvious.  Stress is the most common but it can also be things like absent-mindedness, procrastination or distractions.  Email will no doubt dominate your time; you’ll often be behind schedule or have increased conflicts.

A productive team have little conflict, are motivated and work cohesively to a common goal.  Round pegs are definitely in round holes with the team working very much to their strengths while solving the weaknesses.  Most importantly a team will have simple and clear systems of operation.  Additionally they are lead not managed which means they are more autonomous rather than foot soldiers.  Where, by contrast, an unproductive team will have dominant personalities that rule or dictate.  Conflicts are common, communications are weak and resource is constantly wasted.

Without a focus on productivity, your team will become stressed; you will have a high turnover of staff and most importantly a waste of resource.  Resource can be things such stationary, product (redoing an incorrect order), postage and most importantly time.

Find a way to kill your procrastination.

Think for a moment about procrastination and what it is?  What does it mean for you?  When I ask people about this, they tend to say “Social Media”.  The thing to remember about procrastination is that it is the act of placing priority on things that give us greatest pleasure; greatest reward, over the things we do not value.  Typically, we do not value things that are unclear, difficult or there is no clear path.  If you have a project on your list without clear action steps or goals, you can be sure you’ll keep putting it off.  When we enjoy something, we are good at it that tends to be why we enjoy it.  It gives us pleasure to do it and to complete it.  We will always do these types of things first. For example, this can even be something like socialising or connecting.  You could be the person who is great at connecting, motivating and communicating with a team but spend a little too long at the water cooler.  THIS can be your strength but also your distraction and weakness.  Be clear about what you “value” the most.

What is your Time Management Style?

Have you ever done any personality profile testing?  Have you done Myer Briggs, DISC or other profiling tools?  (You can find a great DISC profiling test on Tony Robbins website.)  The benefit in doing this is that you can identify strengths and weaknesses that would otherwise be hidden to you.  What you are good at can also be a distraction, but what you’re good at, is what you will power through easily.  Understanding different personality types also empowers you team productivity.  If you have a feel for the different personality types within your team you will be in better position to put round pegs in round holes, or to be able to identify where some members may struggle and need more guidance and support.  You will become a more effective communicator and thereby become more efficient.  The other payoff is that you will reduce conflicts too.  This may not just be within your team but may also be with vendors, suppliers, clients or spouses!

How to Easily Get Things Organised

When a process is simple, you and others around you are more likely to adopt it.  As mentioned previously with procrastination, when something is complex we put it off.  Implementing simple organisational strategies or organisational technologies will enable you to easily adopt methods without hesitation.  The focus needs to be on separations.  Keeping low priority task or projects separate.  For example reference materials, manuals or things you wish to keep should not live on your desk, in your in-tray, in your in box or in your brain!  A separate, yet easily accessible list, should sit away from your important, high priority actionable items.  A separate list, folder or process should exist for things that you have delegated or are awaiting a response.  You can’t action something that is in the hands of others, but you CAN have a reminder in your diary or calendar to review the list of things you are waiting on from others.  By separating non actionable items, you are better able to focus on the work at hand.  Learn how to automate processes, such as the Rules function in Outlook, or the labels function in gmail.  Set aside times for the low priority items, so you can take them off your mind, rather than using brain power to try and remember them.

Conquer Your Email

For many years we have followed a very traditional methodology of paper for project management including memos, faxes strip boards etc.   Now, we typically use email as a primary form of project management, action delivery, industry communications etc., yet training curriculums do not teach us how to manage the plethora of information that reaches us through email.  Nor does it teach us a methodology of organising and prioritisation.  The average person spends up to 2 hours per day sorting, reading and sifting through emails.  That’s approximately 40 hours a month or 1 working week wasted in this arena.  Adopting systems of automation to separate the cat videos from the high priority action items is a key to keeping on top of things.  Additionally using categories and flagging options gives you the opportunity to prioritise by due date OR by project type depending upon the importance on any given day.


Equipped with Tools

Productivity is always evolutionary.  From horse and cart to cars, from stencil copiers to photocopiers (and these days from photocopiers to scanners).  Look at the impact that mobile phone and its technologies has had on efficiency.  Yet basic paper tools need not be thrown out with the bath water.  Try research methodology around note taking or Ease & Impact Mapping.  How do you map out your project?  Post it notes on the wall or digital technology.  These days, people are using popular tools such as Evernote or Quip to manage their think tank and keep multitude of plates spinning.  Follow Lifehack websites and blogs.   Utilise the industry learnings in your field via LinkedIn. Or for low budget Project Management use online tools such as Trello or Wunderlist.  Track your time using tools such as Toggl.


About the Author:

Barbara Clifford is a Productivity & Time Management Expert based in Brisbane, Australia.  She has spent over 20 years working in time precious industries such as film, hospitality and marketing.  She has always had a burning passion to create order out of chaos. Seeking knowledge around systems, processes, gadgets, apps and stationary for whatever will organise the working world.   Barbara is sought after like a beacon in a sea of chaos to provide professional clarity in the business environment and to simply GET THINGS ORGANISED! From gay Bars in Melbourne to remote Aboriginal communities in Central Australia, from Not-for-Profits to alternatives in aged care, Barbara has a diverse career with rich and dynamic experiences.

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