Sometimes just the right tip, trick or tool can shift us into a
whole new paradigm of organizational bliss. I remember back in 1998
when I was introduced to my first PDA (personal digital assistant).
In those days, it didn’t even include a cell phone or camera but it
still changed my productivity and feeling of control over my work
fairly radically. 

A great tip, trick or tool doesn’t have to be high tech. For
example, using a simple egg timer at your desk can really be an
eye-opener as to how much time you really spend on phone calls,
e-mails and office chit chat. Here are some other easy but
effective tips to help you pack as much productivity into this
short month as possible.

• For one week, keep a record of every little thing you do as
part of your morning routine and time each item. Brushing your
teeth, washing your face, even weighing in on the scale only take
minutes apiece but with the myriad of other little tasks we need to
do to get out the door each morning, it adds up. Once you know how
long it really takes to get ready, you can set your alarm

• Keep a clock in the bathroom and anywhere else you get ready
to pace yourself.

In addition to an egg timer, a regular timer is a fabulous tool
for the office. Set it to learn to limit your phone calls and
meetings (if appropriate). When the buzzer sounds, wrap up the
conversation or task so that you can stay on schedule.

• When you are on a phone call, turn away from your door and
also turn off or turn away from your computer screen so that you
can give the call your full attention. There are truly no phone
calls that won’t be more effective if you give them full

• If you’re put on hold, have any unsorted business cards handy
and do a mini-purge, or go through your Rolodex or contacts list
and toss or delete any that are no longer relevant.

• Before you dial, give some thought to what you want to
accomplish with the phone call. A little planning and a clear idea
of how much time you want to spend on the call will keep the length
manageable and render a lot more value.

• Remember, if an e-mail conversation has gone on too long
without yielding results, pick up the phone and have a
conversation. It will allow you to move the project or situation

• Clean as you go. Whether chopping vegetables, putting on
make-up or working on an art piece, if we tidy up after each task
it prevents the overwhelm at the end of the day that often causes
us to abandon the effort to stay organized altogether.

Top up regularly. I heard a story over Christmas about a woman
who was lost at sea for 22 days before being rescued. Since then
she will not board any plane or do anything without having a meal
first or bringing snacks along, since she knows what it’s like to
be without food for such a long time. Though most of us will not
experience such drastic circumstances, it’s a great lesson to
prevent the nagging hunger, thirst, empty gas tank, uncharged phone
and other organizational irritants. When your car’s gas tank reads
less than half full, stop and fill ‘er up at the next opportunity.
Fill up your water bottle. Keep your electronic devices charged up.
Buy stamps before you’re completely out.

Keep your “to read” stack with you. I’ve said it before and I’ll
say it again: The time we spend waiting around before appointments
or while waiting for our car at the maintenance shop can be used to
stay on top of the copious amount of reading we all seem to have.
Getting through a week’s worth of articles pertinent to your life
will feel so much better than catching up on the lives of