Get Organized for the New Year from a Process Powerhouse


By Jenn Ash, VP of Operations 

Is 2017 the year to be less busy? Less throwaway mail in the mailbox, less spam in the inbox, less junk in the garage? Most new year’s resolutions start with the concept of more, but less is the new black. Turn down the volume on what others’ need from you and turn up the volume on what you need from work and life. Read on for how to get back 2 minutes, 2 hours, 2 days, and 2 months.

Save 2 minutes

Unsubscribe. This one little word is the key to more time for your future self. That email newsletter you quickly delete again will be back in another 30 days, so this time saver multiplies the sooner you do it. Do yourself a favor and take the time to unsubscribe. Gmail has a great feature called “mute.” If you receive a lot of group emails or are frequently “cc-ed” on emails you don’t really need to read, use the mute feature to stop getting notified of all the replies. For example, someone sends out a mass email asking for everyone’s availability for a meeting. Once you reply, hit mute and let the organizer handle the coordinating. Time saved: 2 minutes

Save 2 hours

How many times have you reread an email? We check email an average of 15 times per day, stealing valuable time as we have to switch focus from other tasks. This switching cost can be eliminated by simply batching your work. Last year, the Advantage Book Club read David Allen’s famous Getting Things Done. My favorite concept from the book was separating the sorting of the email inbox from the reading, replying, and project planning. Specifically, I dedicate certain times per day to sort my inboxes—listen to voicemails, read new emails, check instant messages, etc. The goal isn’t to do everything, but rather to move items to a “Next Action,” “To Read,” or “Project” list for when I have more time to think strategically or read a lot of articles at once. Think of it like coming home from the grocery store: I don’t cook everything once I get home. I put it into the pantry, fridge, or freezer for when I have time to prepare a meal. Apply this thinking to your inbox as you “unpack” it three times per day. Time saved: 2 hours

Save 2 days

Fifty five percent of Americans don’t take all of their paid vacation days. A common complaint is they feel like they have to be “on” while away from the office. In reality, this translates to poorly defined processes as work. At Advantage, we make sure every person has identified their out of the office “backup” for each of their central processes. While documenting process sounds about as fun as watching paint dry, it will pay off when you are able to sip pina coladas on the beach without reaching for your email. Last quarter, we created a company-wide contest around documenting processes. We booked times on everyone’s calendar, reserving specifics rooms for them to work with their teams on this specific initiative.  Every Team Member documented the five key processes they own, the steps they take to complete it, and any documents needed to get it done. They posted their responsibilities to our intranet and tagged the person who would cover their role when they are out on vacation. Time saved: 2 days

Save 2 months

Sixty eight days. That’s how many full days you will save if you scratch live TV. According the the New York Times, the average American watches four and half hours of live television every single day. What would you do with over two months of free time? Travel the world, see your family, or finally write your book? Visualize what you would do with a two-month vacation every time you scan for something to watch to keep you “busy.” I’ve recently adopted a workout habit that has been long overdue. I got the gym membership and started going to yoga.  I never thought there was margin in my life to workout over an hour per day. Turns out the screen time is the first thing to go when you have a higher priority. So don’t let time pass by default. Skip the TV by looking for something more interesting to do with the evening hours. Time saved: 2 months

If you intend to do something twice, think about how to do it only once. That’s process in a nutshell. Eliminate the things that steal your time like task switching or unnecessary emails. Kick bad habits like watching TV by default and plan ahead for times you need to disconnect. You are what you routinely do, according to Aristotle, so why not make it something great?

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