It’s Not Working…

Evie's DeskI’m wondering what you think my desk looks like.

Do you think it’s completely clear? Clutter has been ruthlessly eliminated and only a sparkling desktop remains?

If you’ve ever lived with me (Hi Mom!), you probably have visions of piles of paper, stacked precariously.

Like many things, the truth is somewhere in the middle.

While I aspire to have the sparkling and clear desktop, I rarely do. That picture above is what my desk currently looks like. Most of it is a result of not taking the time to put things away at the end of my day.

I remember something my previous mentor said about the state of her desk. She said something to the effect of: It only says something about me if I decide it does. Meaning she wasn’t judging herself based on the state of her desk – clean or messy.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I prefer a clean desk to a messy one. I can find things on a clean desk. The stacks of paper generally happen when I don’t have somewhere to put them that’s convenient to my desk.

So, generally anytime I find myself with a really messy desk with stacks of paper, I know it’s time to look at how my desk is organized and adjust.

The process looks something like this:

  1. Notice somethings not working for you.
  2. Review the possible reasons why it’s not working.
  3. Brainstorm possible solutions.
  4. Determine the simplest workable solution from the brainstorm session.
  5. Create a plan.
  6. Execute the plan.

What does this look like in action?

  1. I have a piles of notebooks and paper on my desk (which I noticed when I couldn’t find a specific notebook or piece of paper).
  2. I don’t have a good place to keep my notebooks. I tried the stackable desk trays, but it was just as bad there and I never wanted to put anything back because finding it again was a pain. And I don’t have a good system for the paper.
  3. Well, I could file the notebooks vertically. They still need to be on my desk though. And the papers could be grouped by like topic and kept in labeled file folders.
  4. I tried setting them up between book ends, but it didn’t do a good job of keeping them together. Hmm, I think I have some crates in the basement that I bet they’d fit in. And the file folders could sit in there too.
  5. I’ll go get the crates tomorrow, clean them up and then clean up my desk.
  6. Do work in step 5.

And what does this mean for you?

Well, the thing that’s not working for you might be the state of your desk or something else entirely. The process is still the same.

Don’t judge yourself because something isn’t working quite right. It’s not good or bad, it’s just the way it is right now. And when you’ve identify what’s not working, you can take the steps to change it.

Sometimes having another person to go through this process with is extremely helpful. Their not emotionally involved in the situation and processing things out loud with someone can help you answer the questions quickly.

I’d love to know how you’ll apply this to your business or life. Share in the comments below!

Find More Time in Your Already Busy Week

Procrastination isn’t a problem for you. The problem you have is fitting everything in to your schedule. You’re currently doing okay, but you want to do a step better. You have an idea or two about what you can do to get there, but you simply don’t have any more time in your week to do it. Yes, you could give up some time on the weekend, but that is precious family and personal time that you’re just not willing to give up.

So, what to do? Stay where you are? Give up some of your weekend time?

Both options are frustrating and leave you feeling a bit boxed in and probably tired (and maybe annoyed).

Is there a third option? Some how can you find more time in your already busy week? But how? You know that hiring someone would take something’s off your plate, but financially that just doesn’t feel possible – so how and where can you find time?

One way to find that time is to know where your current time is going and then adjust or eliminate as many unnecessary items as possible. There are a couple different ways to do this:

  1. Grab a blank sheet of paper and log your time.
    When I do this I write the start time in the left margin, a brief description in the middle and at the end of the day I write the time spent in the right column. That alone can be eye opening!
    If you want to go one step further you can add similar tasks together for a total time spent on various tasks during the day.
    Spending 10 minutes checking Facebook might not seem like a big deal, but if you do it five times a day, you’ve spent 50 minutes!
    One possible side effect of this is you spend less time doing time wasting tasks because you don’t want to write them down. Good while you’re doing the exercise, but you might find yourself going down old paths again when you stop logging your time.
    Want a form for this? Try David Seah’s Emergent Task Planner. It allows you to track in 15 minute increments.

  2. Write down the common tasks or categories that you spend time on and for every 15 minutes you spend on one of these tasks/categories you give yourself a mark. At the end of the day you add the marks up to determine where you spent your time that day.
    Want a form for this one? Try David Seah’s Emergent Task Timer.

  3. If you spend a majority of your time on the computer, you can let your computer log your time for you by installing a program like RescueTime.  It takes a few minutes to install and setup, but then you don’t have to think about writing down how you’ve spent your time. It automatically logs it for you and then tells you where you’ve spent your time.
    I tend to use this whenever I notice my time seems to be getting away from me or I’m not making progress on my to-do list or goals.

Which time audit method works best for you? I invite you to share your insights in the comments!

PS. Looking for more resources like David Seah’s planners or RescueTime? They’re on the Goodie Page! Sign up for the newsletter below for access!