Would you like to become a task ninja and start working in an efficient way? The simplest recipe for that is getting rid of the unnecessary stuff around you and becoming the office minimalist.
Can you imagine having so few material possessions that packing all your stuff and moving to another apartment would take less than 30 minutes? Some people set it as their life goal and strive to achieve such a state of living. They call themselves minimalists. But in what way having only 2 pairs of jeans, one book, and a favorite T-shirt may be similar to your current job and productivity level?
Are you a minimalist?
Minimalism (also called essentialism) is a lifestyle assuming living as simple as possible. That’s just a simple (almost minimalistic ;)) definition of this wide movement, which is gaining more and more popularity. Minimalist desire to live with less material possessions – they claim that having too many things around is distractive and does not allow one to concentrate on what is most important in life.
Minimalism in the wardrobe? Quite hard (especially for women), though still possible. Minimalism in the bathroom? Well, to be honest I don’t need another face cram – so why not. What about minimalism in the office?
According to minimalists, giving up unnecessary possessions brings peace of mind, freedom, and harmony of body and soul. And this last phrase is a key word
– a clean mind and surrounding helps concentrating on the goal. Still not convinced? Here are some helpful tips to organize your everyday duties in a minimalistic way, which will boost up your productivity.
I bet that 90% of you, at least once in your lifetime, had such a mess on your desktop that you thought creating a file called “Desktop” (to put every single file in there) was the greatest idea of the year. And another one. And then another.
New month- new desktop folder. As a result, at some point it turns into a kind of desktopception.
But your computer, no matter how good and how hi-tech it is, still has a limited amount of memory to serve. So, if you’ve ever practiced such a method, you know it does not solve the problem. Compare it to shoving all your unnecessary possessions under the bed – at some point that pile of dirty socks gets so high that it is impossible to find anything clean and useful in there.
A well organized environment will motivate you to work more efficiently. You don’t need a messy toolkit that doesn’t you allow you to find anything, do you? First thing you need to do is to backup, clean, and reorganize your computer’s disc. Look into every single folder, check each file and then reorganize your virtual workspace. Create new folders for documents and photos. Think of using a sub-foldering system, for example: for the “photos” folder create a list of smaller folders and categorize them by a year or a month- Januray 2016, February 2015 etc. You can also rely on your own tags (e.g. “Marketing statistics”, “Database 2016”). Don’t forget to uninstall all the applications you do not use – additional icons create a visual mess.
Minimalists believe that small things really matter. So clear your browser history, clear those folders, delete some old emails – having gigabytes of useless files will slow down your computer. If you don’t have enough space, try Disc Inventory X app – this application presents in a clear, visual way, which folders and types of documents take too much space. It can be a good start for your digital cleaning plan.
Did you hear about virtual clouds? They will help you to save a lot of space. Do you have a lot of last year’s reports or documents, which may be helpful in the future but you aren’t needed right now? Upload them to a cloud or an external hard disc. Such a solution will save you when your computer breaks down, which – as we all know – happens in the most unwanted and unlikely moments.
I won’t lie to you – digital cleaning and disc organization is a really wide topic and takes a lot of time and energy. But it is totally worth it. In this article you will find another helpful tips on how to do this properly.
Slack it or leave it
Important report to be finished by noon? Well, no doubt you should do your best. But what would you do if you suddenly saw such a message from your teammate?
Well, it can be something important – maybe a crucial issue connected with your report. Or perhaps she just wants to get that morning coffee with you? At this very moment you’ll want to reply – but don’t get distracted!
Slack is a great communication tool, however, it can be as disruptive as Facebook or YouTube. It can take too much of your precious time and split your attention. Being online at work may imperceptibly drag you away from your duties. If you want to work more efficiently, try to do only one thing at the same time (according to some, multitasking is a myth!)
Tell your mates that you are working on something really important and if they have an urgent issue to discuss with you, ask them kindly to wait for 30 minutes or visit you by your desk. In such a situation, a one to one chat will bring you more good than long slack conversation. Sometimes when you don’t write back right away, your colleagues get the hint. But what if the don’t? Just snooze/turn off notifications, change your status, or use the “set yourself away”option:
Hey, you can even use the “Do not disturb” option. If email notifications on your iPhone are tempting you, turn on the flight mode. Don’t forget to turn it off after finishing your task
Become a tomato
Have you heard about the Pomodoro Technique (of course you have, we cite it often on this blog!)? It is a time management method, which cuts your work time into 25 minute intervals (they are called pomodoros, which means tomatoes in Italian). During this time you should concentrate only on your task. Use only the tools you need, work hard for 25 minutes (that’s not so long, isn’t it?) and take a 5 minute break. Then start the next interval. After four such “pomodoros” have passed, you should take longer (10-25 minutes) break.
How can this method optimize your productivity levels? Frequent breaks let your mind stay fresh, cool, and sparkling with creativity. On the other hand, these breaks are not long enough to make you feel lazy. Finally, controlling the time of your activities, keeps you more concentrated on the tasks at hand and decreases the possibility of procrastination.
However, the Pomodoro Technique doesn’t suit everybody. It probably won’t work if acting under pressure doesn’t motivate you. Some of us prefer using their own, personal time management. But if you like having your to-do list organized and never tried Pomodoro, you should give it a shot!
Minimalistic and mobile
Are you fed up with analog solutions? Sticky notes and colorful highlighters don’t meet your needs? Mobile applications may be the best solution for you. The Appstore offers are a lot of productivity apps – but to keep your Smartphone functional, try and choose one or two to use regularly.
RescueTime is a really handy app that will help you organize your workday. If you don’t feel motivated enough to spend money on your new productivity plan, try the Lite version (it’s free). RescueTime tracks the amount of time you spend on different websites or applications. What’s more, it sends you weekly reports on your productivity levels. When you take a closer look at the collected data, you can estimate your most productive hours during the day. And if you do not have enough will power, it can block all the distractive pages (bye bye, Facebook!) from your day. The photo below presents some dashboard data you get from RescueTime:
Another useful application that will optimize your time management is CoSchedule. In general, it is a kind of an online calendar, which you can share with your colleagues. Assign different tasks and see watch the work getting done. It makes planning and workflows easier and saves you time. For instance, schedule social media posts a week ahead…. and go for a deserved walk or another relaxing activity.
Whatever suits you best?
If you want to improve your productivity levels, both the organization of your workspace and a positive approach towards your job are crucial. Try to think of yourself as a 100% minimalist, who concentrates only on the goal that needs to be approached. Your work will get more fluent if you keep your working environment clean and as empty as possible. Don’t ask yourself – “why do I have to finish this project” but rather “why I want it to be done?”. What tools would you need? What are your reasons for preparing this impressive project? Make good use of your organizational skills and remember that more often than not – less means more.
What are your methods to be more productive? Do you use any helpful apps? Share your experience with us in the comments below!