Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Ways to find efficiency

My goal is to do the most with the least – get the maximum output with the minimum input. 
Jarod Kintz, This Book Has No Title

Being organized is about being efficient, controlling the chaos of life by maintaining what you have with the least amount of effort. Think about one area of your life that is disorganized (and we ALL have at least a few areas). 

Maybe it’s  morning time where there is perpetual frustration, last-minute searching and panic or the dreaded tax-season scramble to find receipts and invoices.  It could be the constant mess that is our closet, garage, office, or bedroom.  Instead of remaining in a state of inefficiency, perhaps it’s time to pull off that bandage…

Most times, it boils down to making things simpler, such as taking a hard look at possessions and processes, making sure everything adds value and eliminating non-essentials.  Sometimes it is a lack of specific goals or objectives; other times, it’s a desire to be in control of everything and refusing to delegate.  And yes, laziness and procrastination are often the main culprits of disorganization (although, they can be used to highlight ways of creating efficiency).

 Since there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ method, here are a few principles that I frequently use to find efficiency.  This list is by no means exhaustive, but it’s a good start:

·         Prioritize and Optimize.  Practice following the 80/20 rule – 20 percent of the things you do give you 80 percent of the overall result.  Identify what those things are and make sure you get those done.

·         Excess brings stress.  Plan for the future, remember the past, but LIVE in the now.  In general, the less STUFF you have, the easier it is to maintain.  Sometimes, this is a thin line to walk, especially if you are a very sentimental person.  Consider that a few very meaningful items can represent a memory or person better than a vast collection that is difficult for you to maintain or even display.  This principle also works well with scheduling by committing to things that are in alignment with your priorities first.  Don’t be afraid to say no.

·         Make friends with routines.  I know some folks don’t want to become boring, but a strategically crafted routine can help maximize your resources while minimizing effort.  For instance, preparing your lunch, outfit, and schedule the night before can help those of us who are not fully coherent in the morning.  Blocking off uninterrupted time at work can lead to increased productivity, allowing you to tackle the most critical aspects of your job (see Prioritize and Optimize).

·         Practice makes permanent.  Think of organizing as a skill, not just a way of being.  In order to become better at a skill, one must practice it.  Often, an innate tendency toward disorganization is really just a collection of bad habits formed over the years.  These bad habits can interfere with becoming organized, so taking the time to practice habits that make us more efficient can be worthwhile.

·         Do a litmus test.  Can you find what you need in 5 minutes or less?  Do you typically arrive on time to events?  Do mornings run smoothly for you and your family?  Try to find bottlenecks and come up with possible solutions to relieve the squeeze.  Ask questions like “what would make this easier?” or “what is making this so difficult?”  Once you’ve identified these key things, it’ll be easier for you to improve and maintain your organization.

·         Like with like” and “put it where you use it” are helpful mantras when setting up systems to be efficient.  Try to make systems a ‘no-brainer’.  Think about why soap is always next to the sink. The less you have to think about it to maintain it (i.e., EFFORT), the more efficient it is.  Simplification is key.

·         Give yourself ROOM.  Leaving ‘white space’ can make it easier to deal with the ebbs and flows of life without seriously disrupting your efficiency.  However, without designated empty space, the disorganization cycle easily starts again.  When it comes to scheduling, always incorporate “buffer time” to help give you some breathing room to travel from one place to another or prepare for the next thing.  Another mantra to think about adopting is “one in, one out” – this will maintain balance automatically. 

·         Do not have anything that is not useful or beautiful.  Get rid of stuff you don’t use, need, or find beautiful.  The goal is that everything has earned its value in your life and is worth the cost to store it. 

What ways are you trying to add more efficiency to your life?

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