Monthly Archives: Mar 2015

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Everything has its place

Inspired by David Allen’s book, “Getting Things Done,” for the last couple of months I’ve been trying to put everything back in its place. And to be honest, I am shocked that this has had such a positive result. Suddenly it is easier to find everything; I know where to look for whatever I’m looking for. I feel better with cleaner space that isn’t cluttered with stuff, both at work and at home.

The rule is as simple as this: put what you have in your hands in the place where it belongs. If I follow this rule strictly, it pays off immediately. Below you can find a few examples:

  • Instead of just putting documents on my desk or in a drawer, I put them where they belong. That means I either put them in a folder (financial documents to the folder titled “Financial,” contracts to the folder called “Contracts,” etc.), or I give them to the right person (invoices to the finance department, receipts to reception, etc.). Recently, I’ve been scanning and filing the documents that I don’t need in paper form into the right folder on the computer, and then I just throw away the paper copy.
  • I try to put all clothes that I take from the drier or that I take off after coming back home in the right cabinet, on the right shelf, etc. The feeling of order on my shelf and in my apartment is priceless! Not to mention that I know where to look for my stuff.
  • I put all sorts of keys in a designated box, whether for the car, or for home, or anything else. I don’t have those stressful moments of searching for the keys just before leaving home anymore – I just know where they are! Because they’re always in the same place.
  • Computer files are moved to the correct folder. I move miscellaneous allowance from business travel to the folder with all other files of that type, and project-related files to the “Projects” folder. It is so much easier to find them when they are in the correct and predictable location.
  • Notes in OneNote are stored in the correct Notebooks and Sections. If notes from meetings with my boss are in the Notebook called “Notes/Meeting with my manager,” I can find them in seconds.
  • I put all of my spices in small jars and put those jars on one shelf. When I cook, I now know where to reach for them and I put them back in their place just after I use them. Next time I need them, they’re there.
  • I file all pictures I take in a well-defined structure. For the few last years, I’ve organized photos according to this template: year/month/date+title of the event. Thanks to this, I’m able to locate pictures from our holidays that we had in June 2014 in a blast. I just know where they are.

I could give you many more examples, but I think you get an idea. As with many things I write about in this blog, this requires a habit to be formed. If you try this approach for a week, or maybe a month, you will see how dramatically it changes your life. It is so much easier when everything has its place and is always where you expect it to be!

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Productivity

The longer the better

I have to admit that I didn’t know who Jerry Seinfeld was for a long time. I didn’t know that he is one of the most well-known and successful comics in the USA and the star of the the popular TV show called “Seinfield.” And the first time I heard about him was when I learned about Seinfield’s method. What is it? This is a method, described by and popularized by Seinfield,  that helps you reach your goals by forming habits with building chains.

Seinfield’s method is about doing small things that bring you closer to your goal every day. Seinfield advises putting a calendar in a visible place and every time you do something toward reaching your goal, marking it on the calendar. That way, you’ll form a chain of the days you did something to reach your goal. After some time, that chain will be so long that it’ll be hard to break. You’ll think “I’ve worked so many days in a row, it would be a pity to break it now.” Not breaking the chain will become your only task. Even when you have very little time, you’ll do whatever it takes to add another part to the chain. Doing so, you form a new habit which brings you closer and closer toward your goal.

The key to success with this method is visualization of the chain. It can be done in many ways, for example by using Don’t Break the Chain service. When you’ve managed to work on your goal, mark a day there. However, for me personally, a much better option is to put the chain somewhere in a visible place. Somewhere where I can see it very often. That is why I hang it on a wall. It can be also a hand drawn calendar. Do whatever works for you and is visible in your space.

Marking a day when you have done something toward your goal is a very pleasant feeling. And when it is the 10th, 30th, or 100th day in a row, then doing whatever it takes to put the next link on the chain is quite easy. You don’t want to break the chain!

I’ve used this method to form a few habits. On the pictures below, you can see my calendars. One of them is drawn on a piece of paper and the other one is drawn on a wall covered with chalkboard paint. It’s just a pleasure to see the progress.

Seinfield’s method is really simple to implement. The only rule is to do something that brings you closer to your goal every day and mark it on your calendar. Then do the same the next day. And the next one. Take small steps toward your goal. Just don’t break the chain!

Good luck with building a long chain and reaching your goals!

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Productivity

Tame your recurring meetings

We all have them – recurring meetings. They are in your calendar. Someone invited you to these meetings a long time ago and they just repeat every day, week, or month. Very often they do not have any meaning, yet they are in your calendar so you attend them. And you usually waste your time. What can you do about it? You can tame such meetings! How? Start by reading this post.

There are a few things you can do to make the most of of such meetings. And it does not matter if you are the organizer of a meeting or an attendee. Stop wasting your time in meetings that have no added value for you. How can you do this? You can find a few tips below:

  • Challenge the agenda of the meeting – A day or two before the next recurrence of the meeting, check if there is an agenda defined for it. Send a short e-mail to the organizer with the question “What will the topic of the meeting be?” If you don’t receive an answer or the answer is “There is no agenda,” politely but firmly say that you won’t attend it. You can do the same as an organizer. Contact all invited people and ask if they have anything for a meeting. Unless you have an agenda prepared, tell them that if you don’t receive an answer by the given time you will cancel the meeting.
  • Challenge the frequency of the meeting – Do you have a meeting that recurs every week, but there are rarely enough topics to talk about, so you keep canceling the meeting? Change the frequency of the meeting. For example, do a biweekly one. Suggest this to the person that created that meeting.
  • Suggest a main topic for each meeting and a person responsible for preparing it – If the meeting ends up with just talking about random things and the group still insists on meeting regularly, you can propose to have a main focus for each gathering. That way, there will be at least one subject to talk about and your time won’t be wasted. Always ask to nominate one person to prepare the main topic. Then everyone will be engaged from time to time.
  • Challenge the length of a meeting – What you do usually takes as much time as you plan for it. That means that even if you have a defined agenda that could be done in 30 minutes and the meeting is scheduled for 60 minutes, you’ll fill the whole 60 minutes.. If your observation is that the meetings are planned for a longer time than you really need, ask to make them shorter. You will manage to finish everything you need to, and you won’t waste any extra time.

I did the above things and changed a few of the recurring meetings I usually organize. Now we spend less time stuck in meetings, and these meetings are more to the point. We know why we meet and what we want to discuss. And now I try to ask the same of organizers of other meetings.

Can you share how you deal with recurring meetings? Do you attend them?

 

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