How Do You Stay Focused & Organized?

by Joe Fier 44 replies
Hey Warriors,

Naturally, I'm a notoriously unorganized mess, but I'm very focused. Lately I've been trying my hardest to get an organization method down that I could use for my office to stay clutter-free and keep my workday streamlined.

As we all have our own methods that work, I'd like to hear the ones that help you the most!

Not only will this thread help my organizational habits, I hope it could help others who have the same problem.

I look forward to hearing what you have to say!
#mind warriors #focused #organized #stay
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  • Profile picture of the author achivement84
    Hey,

    To organize your day you may try to do a time sheet .I used to do one weekly , it include all tasks i have to finish and the standard time that should be taken for standard out come , and after finishing each task i fill on it the taken time and number of finished tasks.It takes few minuts daily but it let you know where you stand and what you have achived for every task.



    Regards...
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    • Profile picture of the author Joe Fier
      Thanks for the suggestion!

      That's a great idea, as it almost brings back a structured feel of a day job or the like. I especially like the idea of budgeting how much time you feel it should take you before you even start the task.

      It seems like after you have finished a task, it could work as a great metric to make sure you are staying productive.

      Thanks again!
      Joe
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      • Profile picture of the author Simon Royal
        Since I spend a lot of time at my desk I don't want it to be cluttered with papers, when I get a receipt instead of printing it I save it on my pc and back it up on a dvd rw. This way if I need it later I can pull it up but I don't have unneeded print outs everywhere.

        As far as staying on task, I make a daily outline of what I need to get done and as I get them completed I cross it off. This list doesn't always get finished or done in order but most of the time it helps me stay focused.

        Hope it may help ya a bit.

        Talk to ya later.
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        • Profile picture of the author JohnB23
          Organizational systems have never really worked for me. I'm not the "to do list" or "post it note" type. Post its on my computer of what to do.

          -My tip on productivity is to write everything down. One of the ten best tips I've read (either in self development, or in business/marketing/IM) is that your mind may produce an idea, and it'll last 30-60 seconds, but then it's gone!! Forever. How many times have you thought of something, or gotten some insight, but then forgotten it.

          Getting in the habit of writing things down can be powerful. Esp when you feel in the mood/inspired.

          -Also, I think a lot of organizational/productivity tips are too one sized fits all. They dont work for everyone. Its productive to find what works for you

          Also, new things pop up, new opportunities. Technological changes, etc. Staying in a fixed daily organizational habit is hard in an ever changing business.
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          • Profile picture of the author jennifermL
            Take down note every important things you are about to do for the day, and make sure that you budget your time for those task so Watches are needed for this hmmm try it...
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  • Profile picture of the author kimvalerio05
    I think to be more focused and organized to what you are doing just you must manage your time well in short Time Management.
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  • Profile picture of the author Andrew O
    I've also experimented heavily with organization and time management, here's a few random ideas that may help:

    Time is always our limiting factor (we can always make more money, find more workers, etc. - but we can't make more time).

    Because of this, it's important to use our time wisely. Most people don't know where their time actually goes. Spend 1 week recording every single thing that you do with your day, every minute. And then look over this, you'll be shocked!

    Next, consolidate your time. 15 minute dribbles of time here and there are useless. Instead, consolidate it into chunks of at least 90 minutes per task. This way if you have to write some articles, you don't do it here and there, you do it all at once and shut everything else down. Need to handle orders? Preset 2.5 hours to do this and get it all done.

    These steps are straight from Peter Drucker. They are easy to write down and hard to preform. But if you can stick with this system, it's magic.

    Two more tips: Another thing that's helpful is keeping your computer organized. Organize into files and folders, and use your web bookmarks to help keep you on track and to keep the important sites right in front of you.

    Finally, get a document or piece of paper (I use OmniOutliner which comes with every Mac) and set weekly goals that are achievable, then below that, another set of tasks that you need to accomplish this day in order to achieve your weekly goals.

    They might not be easy, but these ideas have really helped me preform better and achieve more!
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  • Profile picture of the author napalmus
    Hi Joe, What has worked for me is to make a simple text document just called My Plan or similar and list all the things I know of that need to be done to get things rolling, not in any specific order just anything I can think of just list them there. Then in the same file but lower down I put my action plan, which is the things I need to do IN THE ORDER they need to be done. Then make a goal to do however many (six,ten or whatever) in that day. The idea is to plan on two hours or so to finish each task but often find it takes twice as long, so just run with it. If it takes a full four hours then just do it. But if you get to that four hours then stop - take a break and move onto the next task. If you can't get something done in four hours then it probably should have been broken into a couple of smaller tasks. Of course the top guys will get things done a lot faster due to being highly experienced but us newbies *cough* need to give ourselves a chance to get things done well.
    Use a small notebook (yes an actual paper one) to jot down your I'D's and passwords and loose a4 printer paper for any big handwritten lists. I don't care how fast some people are on computers - sometimes having a sheet of paper for writing notes on is BETTER than creating a new text file. Good luck Joe.
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  • Profile picture of the author Joe Fier
    These are awesome tips, everyone!

    I'm going to shape what I've learned here into a method that will work best for me. It's obvious that there are so many techniques and strategies to manage your work time and stay focused.

    I'd love to hear more if anyone else has something different!

    Thanks again.
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  • Profile picture of the author kevinpotts
    There's s program... badl I don't remember the name of it, but it's like a clock for your tasks so it programs all you have to do and it tells you when you should be stoping one and step to another, it helps you get organized and focus so you can see how much time you're using for a task.

    Kevin
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  • Profile picture of the author Matt Wolfe
    I am in the old school habit of making a list every night before I go to bed of what I need to accomplish the next day. I also jot down an amount of time I expect each task to take. I try not to schedule myself for more than 6 hours of tasks per day.

    I usually don't finish my entire list because things do change and things pop up that I think are more worthy of my time. It does give me a basic guideline though and it keeps me focused from the minute that I wake up.

    Matt
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    • Profile picture of the author JohnB23
      A few more tips,

      -Copy and save everything you see online. A trap you can fall into is thinking, "it'll be there next time". But then eventually you don't remember where it was. Or web pages changes, links change, etc. If you see sales letters, copy, interviews etc that grab your interest, make sure to save it.

      I have tons of stuff that I couldnt find any more online. Also archive.org is a pretty good tool to find old stuff.

      Also even ebay copy. People sell products (like rare copywriting or marketing courses), and they may have information on the course that you can't find anywhere else.

      -Also, set small goals that are achievable at least weekly. NOT "make money this week". And not "I'm going to be an IM guru". Break it down into 10 or 20 or however many steps. You have to break goals down into something that's achievable to you.
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    • Profile picture of the author matthewferry
      Originally Posted by Matt Wolfe View Post

      I usually don't finish my entire list because things do change and things pop up that I think are more worthy of my time. It does give me a basic guideline though and it keeps me focused from the minute that I wake up.

      Matt

      I agree with Matt. Yes it is true, lists are of great help to keep the mind in a direction, but there are some things that might happen that require much more attention.

      Life is evolving, life is changing, focus on what you want to accomplish for the day and do it, but keep the mind open for new opportunities and re-negotiate it with yourself, if needed.
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      • Profile picture of the author frankgotgame818
        I decided to set an alarm in my phone to go off every 40 minutes during the hours of the day that I have to work on IM.

        The alarm asks the question what am I doing to accomplish the priority task I have set for myself for the day, week etc.

        The alarm is much less annoying when I am doing what needs to be done.

        Frank C
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  • Profile picture of the author madison_avenue
    I have word document which I open in the morning and keep open all day. Whenever I have a new idea or issue I write it down in this document. This file is now over 50,000 words and is the source of many ideas and also a record of my thinking and development. I am always surprised how much my approach change's over time.
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  • Profile picture of the author 12holger34
    I am always using Google docs. It doesn't matter where you are, which computer you are using in the moment, as long as you have internet access.
    I put my documentation in there and I can share my list with other, if I want it.

    Hope this idea will help you to be better organized.
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  • Profile picture of the author Lpdesigner
    At first I was writing everything down in notebooks. And then I got a whiteboard One of the best investments I've ever made.
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  • Profile picture of the author JoelAnnesley
    I've been really bad at recording ideas.... So now I'm trying everything! Whiteboard, voice recorder, notebooks, word docs (but then I end up with too many docs open). I've heard that mindmapping is great for getting ideas out on paper - so I'm looking into that at the moment!
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  • Profile picture of the author highprofitdi
    There is a free software called clocking it at clockingit.com that will help you to organize your task daily monthly and so forth give it a try.
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    • Profile picture of the author RhondaGiarraffa
      I write articles on this subject and am working on a book to publish this year.

      I hope my articles will help you bust through it all.

      There is one particular article I wrote that got some really cool reviews.

      Title:
      Are You Getting In Your Own Way? ( link to the article)

      Stay Well and Productive!

      Rhonda Giarraffa
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  • Profile picture of the author frankgotgame818
    In a previous job I had to plan projects including a backup plan for each step of the process. When things went wrong (as they usually do) you already had the alternative step to take in front of you.

    No time is wasted trying to figure what to do.

    Hope that helps,

    Frank C
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  • Profile picture of the author jlars
    Organization and focus can be difficult to achieve on a long term basis but you can overcome your obstacles if you plan.

    1. first find a 'program' to follow (something the makes sense to you)
    2. remove clutter (all that stuff piled up everywhere that you can see)
    3. remove distractions (cell, tele, email, twitter, fbook, whatever)
    4. follow the program everyday until it is a habit and a daily part of your life.
    5. read additional material to support your objective of organization, focus, and productivity

    Leo Babauta runs zenhabits dot net and it has worked great for me. It is a 'program' that makes sense (to me) and is easy to incorporate into your life.

    Leo also wrote a book - 'the power of less' which deals with productivity, organization, focus, etc. It's very short and right to the point with some great simple ideas to use right away. you can pick it up on Amazon for less than $10 or use a Borders rewards discount for even greater savings.

    Here is a great link to get you started and see if it works for you: zenhabits dot net/2008/07/the-beginners-guide-to-zen-habits-a-guided-tour/

    I don't mean to push Leo, it just worked for me.

    Hope that helps - j
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  • Profile picture of the author Chris Faraday
    Jlars Said it well.

    1st - Have a program.

    2nd - Use Evernote. PEROIOD. Just use it.
    Break everything into folders screen-shots ideas etc.

    3rd - Break time into 2-3 hour blocks. Traffic, content, Offers, Promotions, ListBuilding / emails & social networking whatever fits.

    Get up Early enough to - Stretch & Meditate at least for 5-10 minutes .
    Take breaks, walks, fun etc.

    Images, symbols & words that inspire you to keep to it.

    You said in you question: Focused and Organized. add in Leveraged & Aligned & Centered and you will make progress. Yeah Right in an ideal world : )

    So much busy work but there are certain things that are high return but often many things that are low return & urgent.

    It really takes a team - working on that one. Copy /design / technical / media etc.
    But start with a simple core

    What is it I am really trying to do who am I trying to reach etc

    Hop this helps

    But Get Evernote - Else Zotero if you can figure it out.
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  • Profile picture of the author diro
    Hey Joe,

    Thanks for asking this question!

    The staying focused seems to come relatively easily when it's something I'm interested in (imagine that!).

    The organized part used to really come and go, until I made up my mind that was unacceptable.

    Here's what I've done;

    For snail mail, I bought 2 expandable folders, 1 is a 31 day folder, the other is a 12 month folder. As things come in that need to be dealt with by a certain day, I put it in that folder, under that day (or earlier if need be). Last thing at night, I check the next day to see if something has to dealt with and if so, it goes on my list for that day.

    If it's something for next month or later it goes in the appropriate month. On the 25th of every month, the next month is pulled out of its spot, and sorted by date.

    This works great for me for snail mail items...they are never in the way, nor are they ever forgotten.

    As far as daily lists and tasks, I use a product from Dennis Becker called the Action Enforcer. I believe this might be what Kevin referenced earlier in this thread. You can find it at Get Things Done! - The 5 Bucks a Day Action Enforcer (no, it's not an affiliate link). It comes with some great suggestions and a book on speed reading. Using this, in combination with mind mapping, has really helped me organize my day and dramatically increase my productivity.

    Hope this post helps someone out there! Just my 2 cents worth.

    Rog
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  • Profile picture of the author YellowBird
    There is a book I read called "First Things First" by Stephen R Covey and Roger and Rebecca Merrill. What I liked about it is that it helps focus on the things that are important, not just your "to do " list. It divides your activities list into 4 quadrants.

    Quadrant I Quadrant II
    Important and Urgent Important and Not Urgent
    Crises, Preparation
    pressing problems Prevention
    Deadline driven projects, Values Clarification
    meetings Planning
    prep Relationship Building


    Quadrant III Quadrant IV
    Not Important/Urgent Not Important/Not Urgent
    Interruptions Trivia, busywork
    Some mail, some repports Junk Mail
    Some meetings Time wasters
    Many popular activities "Escape" activities

    This partial list was taken from pg. 37 of their book.. I've always had problems with time management and this book really helped me figure out what is important vs. urgent. It helps with ways to lead your life rather than just manage your time. It's more about becoming more sensitive to your inner compass rather than any clock. By discerning our deep values, it helps guide one to a fuller life and experience. I find that I'm better able to find balance and not suffer as much burnout with little to show for it.

    Planning on scheduling things more in Quadrant II has really reduced my Quadrant I (Important and Urgent) panic driven life quite a bit.

    The book gives lots of tips to incorporate this new way of planning into anyone's life.
    Hope it helps.
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    • Profile picture of the author YellowBird
      Woops.. Tried to put these side by side, but they didn't stay put.

      Quadrant I
      Important and Urgent
      Crises
      pressing problems
      Deadline driven projects

      Quadrant II
      Important and Not Urgent
      Preparation
      Prevention
      Values Clarification
      Planning


      Quadrant III
      Important/Not Urgent
      Interruptions
      Some mail, some repports
      Some meetings

      Quadrant IV
      Not Important/Not Urgent
      Trivia, busy work
      Junk Mail
      Time Wasters
      "Escape" activities
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  • Profile picture of the author babellou1010
    I stay organized by keeping all of my events and big decisions on my online calendar. The site that I use to keep track is babellou.com and I also keep everything written down in one folder and I mark off the task as I complete them.
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  • Profile picture of the author ivcan
    Personally, for me, the best is not quite complex the organization of tasks and also make difficult programs. The most simple, effective, is a to-do-list that you should continue gradually, and give yourself incentives, motives, so you can concentrate and be able to do things right. Take your time, and go get used to a discipline of your choice based on specific goals weekly, monthly and yearly. And of course, takes into account the opinion of others that offer very good strategies. Disciplining, and motivate with the end result you will enjoy.
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  • Profile picture of the author jdjenkins
    Simpleology.com is also a good site for motivation and prioritising,

    cheers,

    JJ.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jose
    The method that has best worked for me is the good old agenda, preferably of a size that will fit in your shirt pocket. The simpler the format of the pages, the better. Then you do have to jot down and prioritize the things to do AND do them. That's when discipline comes in... ugh!
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  • Profile picture of the author tracelemental
    all thse suggestions are fantastic and really just reminders! I've not been structuring my time or setting desired outcomes - when I do it works wonders, when I dont, I get unfocussed, feel ****ty and lose motivation. Its getting the balance right and having a few really core tips in place that you maintain day in day out till they are part of your synaptic system.

    bless ya's all
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  • Profile picture of the author Terryq1111
    Hey,

    I Make sure to create alist of everything IO have to do "tomorrow" before I go to bed. That way when i get up I have laser like focus to each project.

    To keep track of everything for each project I use mind tools that can create simple graphs around each project. Then I have an excel sheet that one month at a time that displays exactly what is to be done when.

    Then I mark down how long its taken me and at the end of the month try to figure out how I can save time and be more efficient.
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  • Profile picture of the author Vincelog
    Adopt the minimalist approach. It does helps in organization. If you have less to organize, the tidier you will be.

    Cheers,
    Vincent
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  • Profile picture of the author Sandycmy
    Planning for tomorrow by the end of the day -- greatly helps. Just be cautious to plan just one main thing -- and visually think how it looks and how you feel when you complete it !
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  • Profile picture of the author seomark09
    There is always the best thing to do, atleast for me, it is called "Freelance". Whenever I get overbooked or whelmed at internet marketing or have bunch of projects going on, I usually have a team help keep me organized and assign them tasks to do. This saves me hours, gets the work that is needed done, and gives them a job to do. Usually I pay around $4/Hour to have a assistant.
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  • Profile picture of the author dgoldie
    Here are some things that have helped me stay more organized:

    1. Keep a To-Do list on a good calendar and contact management program. There are some great programs on the market.

    2. Get a scanner and go paperless by scanning everything to your computer. You can use a desktop search program (I like X1) to search your files quickly.

    3. Clean your work area at the end of each day and make there is an organized place for everything. You can use labels if that helps.

    4. Make complete notes on all of your work items so that you can refer to them later. This will help avoid forgetting something or missing an important detail.

    Good luck!
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  • Profile picture of the author sanjid112
    making note and To-Do-List would be a great idea for you to be organized.
    Also try to make your desk clean and tidy, that will help too, at least for me.
    try to make categorization in what you do. I used to categorize my activities to 4 section:

    1. Important and Urgent
    2. Important but not Urgent
    3. Not Important but Urgent
    4. Not Important and Not Urgent
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  • Profile picture of the author ddistco
    WOW! There's a lot of great ideas in this thread. What works for me is to shut down my email application and close twitter & facebook. Create a physical list of tasks for the projects at hand. Prioritize them start with the most important task and work down the list to a goal.

    Take a break and check email and then close the email application and finish the tasks.

    I find that if I don't close my email I get distracted and most importantly, if I don't create a physical list of tasks to complete I wander aimlessly from whatever my brain thinks it needs and have wasted sooo much time thinking of what I want accomplished only to work in circles and not finish what I need to finish so that I can move on to teh next segment of my project.
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  • Profile picture of the author Albus25
    Yeah , there are so many good advices in this thread, really helpful for me.
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  • Profile picture of the author don21stc
    Hi,
    I like to be organized and to know what I'll be doing during the day but I hate others trying to impose their agenda on me. So I allocate times when the phones are turned off etc and I get on with what I've got in my mind - I used to have a list but what I now do is write things down after I've done them. If I'm satisfied with what I've written down, I carry on, if not I evaluate where I'm going 'wrong', why I'm not achieving.
    It works for me better than a pre-planned day because when I said I hated others trying to impose their agenda on me I was including myself in the 'others'.
    I believe in following your instincts where possible especially if your aim is to be creative and lists are too restictive for me.
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  • Profile picture of the author vc2008
    Thanks for the nice ideas. I liked closing all other applications and having a list of tasks in google document.
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  • Profile picture of the author Ann Writes
    Having immediate, measurable and frequently occurring goals or targets is how I get things done.

    I break large projects or tasks down to easily do-able ones. The satisfaction of completing these tasks is a natural incentive to do the next and the next.

    But I am careful not to do more than I have 'budgeted' for in a day as I can easily overdo it and then be loathe to finishing the job or maintaining a more consistent pace so that my tasks are always done.

    It's a bit like binge eating. The 'all or nothing' phenomenon, which, unfortunately, tends to stay at the 'nothing' end of the spectrum.

    And, yes, I always have one word doc open to list all the things that need to be done. I start this when I first get to my desk and keep adding more as they come to me. But I make sure that the total number doesn't exceed say, 8, because it then gets overwhelming.

    I also like crossing them out or ticking them off as they are completed. It always feels good to do that.

    And I give myself little treats (which I decide on before I start my tasks) so that there is something to look forward to. Time on my guitar, for instance, or with my dog etc.

    In case you're interested, I wrote a blog post about something related:
    http://www.lucylopez.net/planethappi...our-happiness/
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  • Profile picture of the author JoshClosson
    For me, staying focused on what I have to do is a matter of actually writing down the tasks I would like to accomplish and then giving myself a time frame for doing so. Just acknowledging different tasks that I need to accomplish in my head does not work for me and usually results in me putting the task off entirely. Having a list of things to do and knowing exactly what I need to do really does wonders for my productivity.
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