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15 Quick Tips to be More Productive

Quick Tips to Be Productive: Part of the Be More Productive Series


I'm always on the hunt for productivity tips to share with my readers, and every time I hear a new one, or think of one in the shower, I add it to this list.  Also see my companion piece, Tips to be Organized for tips to help you be more organized at home and a at work.

1. Make a really good to do list

How tos to be more productive
Photo / Pottery Barn

Everyday people agonize over their To Do list.  In this guide, How to Organize Your To Do List, we go through the best methods of managing and organizing your tasks. 

2. Organize project bins

Organize the items you use for certain projects into a clear plastic containers. This way everything you need to compete that task or project (gift wrap, crafts, cleaning the bathroom) is together so you save time by not searching for anything. Continue reading How to Organize Project Bins.

3. Create go-to outfits.

Anderson Ross / Getty Images
Create the following go-to outfits:
  • Go-to interview/important work meeting outfit, including shoes, handbag (or briefcase), undies, socks or tights, and accessories. I mean really try on the entire outfit--you never know!
  • Go-to romantic night out outfit. This goes for guys, too.
  • Go-to cocktail party outfit, in case you get invited at the last minute.
  • Go-to funeral or somber occasion outfit. This one seems depressing, but do you really want to be running through the mall before a funeral?

4. Get rid of clutter quickly.

Ikea office storage
Ikea office storage

The solution to your clutter (mine, ours) clutter ails? You've got to think like an editor and take a more businesslike approach to your home and your stuff.

Establish your own manifesto for:

Once you've decided to tackle this problem and have established some ground rules, clutter will because less of a challenge and more of a simple housekeeping issue, not an overwhelming project.

5. Create a household message center.

Ladley Wall Mount Entry Way Chalkboard
Photo / Pottry Barn
Establish a household message center. Oftentimes I read other organizing blogs and magazines calling this a “family message center,” but I think that really limits its use. A household message center can be used by roommates, dorm mates and even in vacation houses where people share week or weekends on and off. Make sure you’ve got an easy-to-use calendar and a board or notepad for messages.

6. Start keeping a To Do list.

Self Inking Stamps from Z Gallerie
Photo / Z Gallerie
If you already keep a To Do list: good for you. Now combine it with a productivity tool like Evernote.

7. Recognize the signs it's time to declutter your handbag.

handbag organization Longchamp
Photo / Longchamp
When to Organize your handbag:
  1. You can't find your wallet within 5 seconds of opening your bag.
  2. You've just scheduled an appointment with a chiropractor who thinks you handbag is too heavy.
  3. You keep losing everyday items like your cell phone, keys, and coupons.
  4. You don't have a plan to transfer important items from one bag to another, so you never have the right things with you in your bag.
How to Organize a Handbag

8. Know your favorites.

Page Denim from Piperlime
Photo / Piperlime
Always, always, put your favorite T-Shirt, sweater, pair of jeans and shoes back in the same spot in your bureau or closet. Here are even more Clothes Organizing Tips.

9. Keep quarters in your car.

Dimitri Vervitsiotis / Getty Images
Keep two rolls of quarters in your car for those times you need to fill a meter.

10. Plan backwards from the time you need to arrive.

Here's a great tip from professional organizer Wendy Salmon: "I take the time I need to be inside the waiting room at my doctor's office or on the front porch of my client's home and subtract time for parking and walking to my destination."

For example, if I have an 8:00 a.m. doctor's appointment at Strong Hospital. By the time I find a spot to park in the parking garage, walk into the hospital, take the elevator to the correct floor and then walk to his office, another 15-20 minutes can elapse.

Therefore I need to be there no later than 7:40 a.m and if it takes 30 minutes for travel (plus add 10 minutes for slowdowns) I need to leave the house no later than 7:00 a.m."

I wrote more about this in Help Me Organize My Time.

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