Have you ever been on a nice, long walk and suddenly there’s pebble in your shoe? That happened to me the other day.
I didn’t want to take the time to get rid of that pebble. I just wanted to keep walking.
But the further I walked with that pebble in my shoe, the more it took away my attention from all the things I wanted to notice and enjoy on my walk.
Funny how little things like that can make such a big difference to our emotional and mental focus.
You may not have thought about it, but the way you organize your office and your work day can impact your success as a trader.
Your desktop, your storage system, and your time management system can be the pebbles in your shoe, siphoning off your energy and focus, and decreasing your performance.
You probably haven’t noticed the effect of the mild chaos you’ve been living with because it’s so subtle. But once you start cleaning up your act, you’ll start to feel refreshed, reinvigorated, and re-focused on success.
Here are 22 things you can do to reclaim all that mental and emotional energy you’ve been wasting.
PHASE 1 – Simplify what’s in your field of vision
1. Visual chaos leads to mental chaos, so simplify your visual working space. (This is primarily your desktop).
2. Try to keep at least 50% of your desktop clear at all times.
3. Get rid of everything in your immediate workspace that’s unnecessary. If you don’t find yourself reaching for it at least once a day, put it in a drawer, on a shelf, or in a cabinet.
4. The only papers lying on your desktop should be those you’re working on.
5. Most traders aren’t processing a lot of paper. But if you are, get a stack of sorting bins to keep them organized but still within easy reach.
6. Keep cables organized. Messy cables just add more visual clutter.
7. Get your hardware and cables off the floor where they won’t be as quick to collect dust and dirt.
PHASE 2 – Organize for fast access to what you need
8. To minimize mental disruptions, the more often you need something, the closer it should be to your desk chair. This includes equipment, supplies, files, and trash cans.
9. Designate an area for incoming papers, such as a sorting bin.
10. Take the time to set up a good filing system. This will pay dividends later in minimizing the time it takes to find exactly the right file.
11. Consider setting up a combined filing and productivity system such as David Allen’s Getting Things Done methodology.
12. Clean out drawers. You don’t need all those pens. And do you even use paperclips anymore?
13. Label every container or file to find things fast.
14. Keep a list of tech support numbers handy, if not on speed dial.
PHASE 3 – Organize your time for maximum productivity
15. Make appointments with yourself to take advantage of the natural ebb and flow of energy. For example, batch trivial tasks after lunch when your energy is likely to be low. Set a calendar reminder.
16. Do the hardest and most important task of the day in the early morning when energy is high, and before interruptions have a chance to find you.
17. Anchor your day with rituals, such as planning time and email time. This keeps you from having to reinvent the wheel each day. You’ll be more creative once your mind is freed of trying to remember too many details.
18. Schedule breaks to walk around, get your blood flowing, hydrate, and let your eyes relax. Keep small, healthy snacks handy so you won’t be tempted to grab for candy.
PHASE 4 – Maintain your new system
19. Commit to having a clutter-free desktop every day. Put things away when you’re done with them.
20. At the end of every day, clear your desktop of everything except what you’ll need for your first task the next morning.
21. Wipe away dust and dirt from your desktop and keyboard at least weekly. We all work better when our environment is clean and fresh.
22. Periodically, go through the filing cabinet closest to your desk. Pull out completed projects and files you aren’t likely to need again for another 9- to 12- months. Put them in a more remote cabinet to free up room for current projects.
We hope today’s Quick Tip helped you. If you found this helpful, you’ll want to check out the other computer How-To’s I’ve created on this page. You can always call us if you have questions: 800-387-5250