So many of us work so hard to get the important things done so that we can spend time doing the activities we love. Unfortunately, we tend to have so many distractions that we don’t always get as much done as we intend. Let’s be honest, how many emails are in your inbox? How many files are on your computer desktop? It is amazing how much clutter we put up with on a daily basis. No wonder we don’t always get to focus on what’s important.
Let’s look at some of the culprits and get our distractions as close to zero as possible.
Phone Apps: Which phone apps do you really use? I know I am guilty of downloading some great apps that I find out about and then six months later, it is still on my phone and I don’t even remember what it was supposed to do for me. It takes so much longer to scroll through the screens to get to the apps that I actually do use. Delete all of your apps that you haven’t been using. Then organize them so that they are easy to find. Also, move them around and consolidate them to cut down the number of screens you have to scroll through. Finally, turn off notifications. Not only are notifications distracting, but they also burn up your battery.
Email: File your emails appropriately so that you don’t have 1,000 emails in your inbox. I have literally gotten and stayed at zero emails for about 5 months now. That doesn’t mean that I might have 40 in my inbox on any given day. But, at the end of my day, I am back at zero.
Here’s how I did it:
Tickler Folder (one for each month): I have a tickler file system in my email files. I have one folder for each month. That’s where I file all travel, conference, and meeting information that have specific dates. Then at the beginning of each month, I look in that month’s folder to see what I have to act on or refer to for that month.
@Immediate Action Folder: Next, I have an Immediate Action folder where I file any emails that I need to address but might take more than a minute to respond to or act on. If it is only going to take a minute to respond to an email, then I respond and delete.
@Content Folder: Then, I have a Content folder where I keep information that pertains to Life Coaching that I want to keep, but not sure how I am going to use.
@To Sort: This folder is where I put everything that I am not sure what to do with right now.
I also have folders for business receipts, client information, and other folders so that I can organize and quickly find emails when needed. Lastly, since I use Evernote, I can easily send emails to my Evernote account and file them in the appropriate personal and business folders for future action or reference.
I use Gmail, so adding the @ in front of the folder ensures that those folders stay on top of my folder list. If you use another system, sometimes a 1 will work for you.
Now that your inbox is at ZERO, you want to make sure it doesn’t get cluttered again. So, look at your newsletters and other emails that you might get on a daily basis and unsubscribe if you don’t need them. (If you feel like you want to unsubscribe from mine, don’t feel bad. I will understand.) Next, schedule some time at the end of each day to file, act or delete your emails. Just keep repeating until you hit ZERO. It really doesn’t take that long once you get it under control.
Desktop ZERO: Back when I worked for a corporation, I drove our computer team nuts with the number of files that I would have scattered on my desktop. That was really a lot of visual clutter! Not only was it distracting, but it was hard to find what I needed. Now, I keep that clutter to a minimum. I file all of my files on my cloud accounts or hard drive in the appropriate folder. But, I also keep a folder on my desktop called File where I dump all of my files that I download or create during the day. Then, at the end of the day, I file them. This folder prevents my desktop from looking like a mess and being a distraction.
I hope you are able to use at least some of these clutter-killers to help you get more focused. Let me know which ones worked for you. Also, if you have a technique that already works for you, tell me about it.