Every one of us has a number of tools whch make us most productive. I don’t like complex productivity solutions, and that’s why my productivity tools are really simple. In this short post, I will tell you about the first three tools which I use every day.
You have no idea how invaluable my trash bin (it’s a Greenstar Recycled Paper Box actually) proves to be every single day!
Being a UNIX Systems Administrator, I don’t have this much paperwork to do, but there’s still something to get rid of almost every hour.
Quickly reviewing each piece of information has been one of the best habits I’ve worked out over the past few years – it takes only a few seconds to decide whether something should be filed or trashed right away.
I used to keep plenty of papers around just because I thought I might have some use for them at a later time. For instance, I would keep a leaflet from some shop I would find in a morning newspaper. I would keep a print-out of a 50-page research document just because I needed to read an important 2-page section of it. I would keep drafts of minutes from all the meeting I attended in the past few months. I would keep a magazine because there could be something interesting in it, although nothing was obviously useful. All such things would be done just in case.
Be ruthless to paper clutter. These days, I always question a particular piece of information for its immediate usefulness. If I don’t have a need for it, I won’t even print it out. If I have it printed out, and know exactly when and I how I’ll use it, I will file it. If I don’t know neither when nor how it will be used, I simply take note of the original (electronic) location of the document, and bin the paper copy.
All newspapers and magazines are scanned in 10-15 minutes first thing in the morning, and unless a particular article attracts me (there’s usually one or two), the printed edition goes straight to the trash.
At first, I had typical fears that I might have thrown something really important out, but nothing like this happened in more than 2 years, so I guess this makes such an approach rather safe.
Lever Arch File
A second most useful thing I have on my desk to make my day most productive is a standard A4 arch file I use for immediate filing.
Any reference which I may need in the coming few weeks is stored there.
Like in the case with trash box, every piece of paper goes through a confirmation of its purpose. If I can’t think of a reason why something needs to be kept around, it either gets filed in a longer term storage (filing system in one of the drawers of my table), or gets thrown away.
Most of items get properly filed, but I also use the top section of this folder as a temporary storage. If I’m working on something and it’s time to go home, I usually don’t file it, but simply put the sheets of paper on top of the filed content in the folder. This way, it’s easily accessible in the morning, and it doesn’t have to lay around and clutter my desk until I get a chance to process it.
I absolutely love the whiteboard in my corner. It’s clean and shiny most of the time, because I don’t like using it for long term project and task management.
But I use it every time I have to plan a solution to a problem or simply organize any other thinking process of mine.
It always helps being able to draw a simple mind map quickly and leave it on for a day or two, looking at it and making changes every now and then. Once I’m happy enough with the solution, I will take notes of it and will turn ideas into actionable items in my tasks tracking application. If there’s nothing else I plan to gain from having something on my whiteboard, I wipe all the drawings off it.
That’s it – like I said, my tools are really simple, but they help me get through the day in the most effective manner. I like these tools so much that I have the same setup arranged at home – filing, trash bin and a whiteboard. It also helps to keep similar environments – makes me feel comfortable while working.