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We all know how it feels to fumble our way through a vague jumble of to-do’s and get distracted, get some little things done, and at the end of the day wonder what we actually accomplished.

In contrast to that, how good it feels to be crystal clear on your priorities, have all tasks organized and listed, and to blaze through the list with efficiency.
Since time is a very precious resource, can we afford to be disorganized and ineffective?

SOME POINTS about EFFICIENCY

* PRIORITIZATION IS KEY for acting efficiently. Take the time to assess your list and determine an order of priority. Use Color coding, Stars, or a special box on your To Do List page to indicate which items are to be acted upon first. Tackle the most important and/or most difficult tasks first thing in the morning when you are sharpest, and it will set a great tone for the rest of the day.

*Have a MAP or MASTER PLAN. In visual or written form this big picture document can be a reference point to return to when we get distracted and veer off track. I have a vision board in my home office that I can look at, as well as my mission statement and a Master Plan word document on my computer.

* Your ability to GET STUFF DONE is strengthened by working your  ACTION and DISCIPLINE MUSCLES. To support this, I highly suggest developing and maintaining a daily practice (could by physical like running or yoga, spiritual like mediation or creative like writing). Even 15 minutes a day of any practice can help us greatly to get used to taking action weather or not we are ‘in the mood’. This is also a way to balance out our do do do work orientation with a non mental practice, and the byproduct is that we are practicing discipline which will spill over into the mental sphere too.

* STREAMLINE OPERATIONS by clearing space and getting rid of unessential objects, projects, and clutter. Clear and organize files on your computer every couple months.

* Being a sleek effective person who knows what they want and gets stuff done not only leads to more Success, but hey… its SEXY!

THINGS THAT ENHANCE EFFICIENCY:

* Good Systems

* Good Time Management

* Clarity and Planning

* Delegating & Teamwork

* Focus w/out distractions

TOOLS and SOFTWARE RESOURCES
that have been helping me streamline and up my time/task management game.

RESEARCH– R&D is a big part of the initial phase of almost any project. We need to research when exploring career options, getting a new apartment, writing an article or book, or looking for places online to promote our work.

Microsoft Word Notebook Documents-
This template is in all MS Word from 2004 on. To find it go to Project Gallery under File and then click on ‘Word Notebook’. You will get a blank document with multiple tabs on the right side. This way you can gather a lot of varied information related to your topic into one document. For EXAMPLE, I am writing this blog post in my Blog Topics notebook, and there are tabs for “Topics & Ideas”, “In Progress”, “Already Posted”, and “Radar Screen”. It’s easy to add, delete, and rename tabs as you go along. Using notebooks for any topic that is more multi-dimensional than flat leads to more streamlined virtual filing systems and less overwhelm.

Evernote- http://www.evernote.com
I absolutely love this tool and have been using it a lot lately. (It was tool #9 in my inspired productivity tools series.) Once you download it for free, its small icon lives at the top right of your screen and you can use it to get screenshots of sites relevant to your research. You can also add tags to keep it organized, and put the source url so you can easily return to that site (easier than bookmarking). For EXAMPLE, I am developing an educational branch to Catalyst Arts and exploring local organizations to partner with to bring the program to low-income youth. So here is a screenshot of my evernote notebook with c.a. education program tags.

Evernote_EducationProgram

What Else?? What helps you to act efficiently?

I have a tendency to look for the bright side of apparently bad things. The “economic crisis” is weighing heavy on a lot of us, and much of the news tends to be gloomy bad news. So I want to point out one of the best things that I see resulting from this crisis.

From businesses to family’s, people are taking stock and pulling their energy out of the excessive and extraneous, and, streamlining.

The dictionary definition I liked best for streamlining is: “to alter in order to make more efficient or simple.”

Weather this altering is pointed at our business offerings or our expenditures or our to-do lists, it is good to move towards less clutter and more simplicity. In a culture which seems to almost celebrate excess, we could really use this good excuse to cut away the fat and get down to what is essential.

So in the spirit of this, I offer these INQUIRIES to think about & Act on:

1.    What area of your life do you feel most overwhelmed by? List ways (from the small to the drastic) that you could simplify in that area.
2.    How many pots are on your front burner? If any of these projects aren’t bringing profit and fulfillment, can you put them on the back burner or take them off the stove?
3.    What in your life is weighing you down and would make you slow to respond to changes? Examples of these weights range from outdated mental baggage to a cluttered garage that needs going through, or a living situation that is comfortable but nestles you into a rut. What activity could you undertake that would lift some of that weight off you?

Some Suggested Streamlining Actions:

•    Go through your closet and take out everything you don’t love or don’t wear. Give it to charity or organize a fun clothing swap.
•    Go through your closets, drawers and garage and repeat the above exercise.
•    Go through your email inbox and delete as much of it as you can and file the rest.
•    Look over the projects that you started and haven’t completed and see which ones you can complete and which ones you can toss or give away.
•    Organize your computer files and clean up your desktop. Get rid of any technology that you aren’t using, and backup your important info on a CD and an external drive.

OVERALL– Look over everything in your life from your belongings to projects to relationships and be willing to release anything that does not bring you money, fulfillment, or joy.