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In an article recently published in 'Ethic' by Luis Meyer, he points out how today the old proverb 'time is money' is more accurate than ever. The immense amount of stimuli that try to hijack our attention, at work or at home, from our electronic devices, are usually the 'culprits' that our time has become such a scarce commodity and disputed by different actors, such as companies, social movements, institutions ...

An example: in the office, an increasingly full inbox of received emails becomes a permanent time stealer (and attention stealer), which also makes us constantly divert attention from other tasks, almost always much more relevant than most of the emails we receive. If we add to that a messy table, the absence of a system that puts our tasks and dates in order, routines and a work system that hierarchize and separate what is important and what is urgent ... we find CHAOS.

If you recognize yourself in the above, the book by digital analyst Déborah F. Muñoz 'The efficient office. Manage your time without stress' (ed. Oberon) comes to your rescue. In just 160 pages, the expert proposes a method, step by step, so that you get the most out of your time and do not lose anything along the way (neither minutes nor opportunities nor relevant information).

The importance of order in your work environment

We are not going to gut the entire book (because, in addition, if we did, Déborah F. Muñoz would come and get us a good fight, at least), but we are going to focus on what for the author are the first essential steps, and that are related to imposing order in your workspace (the physical, but also the mental). For her, "order helps more than you might think. Finding things quickly and having them well classified makes us save time. I'm not just talking about physical order (your desk papers...), but also digital order (your computer desktop, your inbox...)."

The order to which the expert refers is not an apparent order (that is, having everything hidden, out of sight, but not necessarily organized) but real, "when you know exactly where everything is." Order, not pile up, because, explains the author "the important thing is that you know where everything is and for you it is almost automatic to reach it as soon as you need it".

The computer desk, that jungle...

On the desktop of the computer, more of the same: "What you have to do is create several folders, each with a different theme, and with subfolders if you need them, and put everything in its place, so that you do not go crazy looking for a file". It also recommends organizing email by folders. Finally, he suggests doing periodic cleaning "of both physical papers and virtual documents."

Mental order. Create an enabling environment, without distractions

Eliminating distractions "is crucial," says Deborah F. Muñoz, as most office tasks "involve a minimum of concentration." "By distractions I mean anything with the potential to make you lose concentration or part of it: from a hynotic lava lamp to the clips you pair to make bracelets. Of course, the mobile should be kept away from you, unless it is essential. "

Other great distractors, adds the author, are co-workers, and with those you can not do the same as with the mobile, keep them in a drawer, so ... how to proceed? "It can help you to use a noise-cancelling headphone to try to isolate yourself... or place your things in a way that isolates you a little, but you have to assume that, unless you are a lucky person and you have an office whose door you can close when you need to concentrate, you will have noise around you and people moving or interrupting you. "

Essential tools to organize your day to day

Déborah F. Muñoz considers the following tools absolutely essential to organize ourselves optimally on a day-to-day basis:

  • EXCEL. "A very visual tool with which it is easy to create color codes, add or remove tasks quickly, move cells from here to there ... A tool that not only helps you do mathematical operations, but also to organize yourself visually."
  • A CALENDAR APP. Like Gmail or Outlook. With them, explains the expert, you can create "activities with precise times, move them if necessary, add notes and details such as with whom, where, for what ...". In addition, they synchronize with the mobile.
  • POSTS. "These are not so necessary, in fact, they are entirely dispensable, but I recommend that you use them as a complement to notifications and to-do lists. A notification is easier to ignore than a postone."
  • A WATCH OR STOPWATCH "Just for the first few times," says the expert. "As an anticipation I will say that the first step to managing your time better is to know yourself and your activities better, including how long it takes you to do them. So, if you don't already know, time them!
  • TRELLO OR SIMILAR (IF YOU WORK IN A TEAM). These are applications that work as joint task lists, "they allow you to see everything that needs to be done, to know at what stage each one is ...".

From here, the author of 'The efficient office' develops a whole action plan to get the most out of your office time without investing a second more in tasks that do not deserve it. Among its recommendations, create routines, take care of yourself, schedule breaks, reject multitasking, do not procrastinate, have clear objectives and deadlines, establish the level of urgency of each activity ..., all of them, tasks that become a real investment in yourself. And not only to increase your productivity (maybe that's not what you're looking for) but to live with less stress, less overwhelm and fewer shocks. In short, without losing the papers: neither one nor the other.

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