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Steppenpig

Being Organised

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Just wondering if anyone has actually had any success with self help books or systems aimed at improving one's self/time/office/desk management skills. I actually haven't been working for a few years - voluntarily, although Im beginning to worry that I may be starting to look unemployable - and in this time, Ive come to realise that I probably suffer to some degree from attention deficit disorder. It didn't really occur to me before, as I mostly did pretty well academically , and I didn't even realise adults could still have it. But looking back at my school years, I was always forgetting to my homework, going to the wrong classes, forgetting to bring the right books, forgetting my p.e. kit etc. Luckily or unluckily, I could get away with it because I did well in exams. And I was polite and well behaved.

Anyway, I probably should speak to my GP about that when I get the chance (maybe I'll get lucky and have an accident in the near future) but in the meantime, in preparation for starting to think about possibly getting a job in the near to medium or possibly longer term, I think I should really try to get a bit more organised. There are some books out there which try and sell attention deficit as a wonderful advantage in life, being "creatively chaotic" etc., which are quite nice for soothing the anxieties a little, but not that practical when you're aiming for a job as an accountant, and I don't think I really wan't to live under a pile of mess anymore anyway. I realise now that maybe "accountant" wasn't the most sensible career choice, but I am quite good at sums, computer stuff, excel, and problem solving and analytic and lateral thinking.

Things I'm crap at: planning, scheduling, prioritising, estimatimg timescales;, doing things quickly and efficiently; filing, finding stuff, putting stuff away that I don't need, just in case I need it in the next couple of days, or maybe in the next year, and anyway, I haven't decided where it should go; deciding what colour the files should be this year, and; lots of other things, but they don't fall under the "being organised" category.

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Getting Things Done is quite a good system that is worth taking a look at. It's quite practical although also a bit geeky. I only bought the book - not the other stuff.

For most other things, it comes down to being focussed. With mobiles, email, social media etc - there's the constant possibility of distraction. Removing as much of this as possible from your attention is best (eg 25 minutes without - but "reward" yourself with 5 minutes break at the end, or moving to only checking email a couple of times a day rather than having it always on).

Time estimation is just something you get better at. Make a note at the end of a task (perhaps a spreadsheet!) of how long it actually took - and use that for next time. Also with estimates - allow some kind of buffer and depending on company policy include loo breaks etc, especially if the task is new. For example, if it's a completely new piece of digital development - I will sometimes double or treble my team's estimates. If you finish early, they look like heroes - if not, no harm done.

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The only book you need is a notebook.

Get a pen too.

Write things down. Start the day by making a list of everything you need to do that day. Ideally you have long term lists too and can pick things off that.

Do something horrid off the list early on and reward yourself for it.

I had a lovely deskcalendar thing from muji that was just days of the week with big boxes to write in. I used to use that loads for planning work.

I should probably have another.

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I do lists but have always been fairly organised / tidy.

I did read this book many years ago out of interest and found it a good read which I'm sure reinforced / improved my existing fairly organised behaviour:

stephen-covey-7-habits-of-highly-effective-people.jpg

Unfortunately I then lent it to a less-organised friend who managed to lose it!

Good luck with getting the job, I've had several career breaks and always got back into work fairly readily. IME an employer who looks askance at time off is not one I would want to work for anyway, plus (though this may just be me) I disagree that it's easier to get a job if you already have one; I find I have no enthusiasm at interviews when I'm working and this comes across.

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Personally, I use a Filofax - you can get them reasonably priced secondhand. A5 is a useful size. I have a top range one with Italian Leather. New it would be £120. But of course get a budget one, just to make sure you are happy with it.

And then there is no reason why you can't get a cheap diary and hole punch it to fit into the Filofax.

Prioritising, generally you'll get a feel for it.

Don't bother with a Ipad or anything electronic. You just don't do any work, and plus if the battery is dead, it is useless.

Maybe use a blog (blogspot.com or wordpress.com) to organise anything like websites, resources etc. Nothing of value or personal of course should be put on there.

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There are always people who can't put things in the right order, and don't prioritise things correctly! At my place, these are known as "Project Managers"! They are beyond the help of a book! A book will only reinforce what you already know! :huh:

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Thanks everyone. it sounds as if lists, in various guises, are in, which is a bit unfortunate for me, as I will presumably lose them all under all the junk on my desk. I do kind of suspect that these systems are really most suitable for making people who are already middlingly to reasonably well organised even more efficient, rather than helping those of us who are completely hopeless.

I also found "7 Habits" quite inspiring, but I think I skipped the chapter on getting organised. (I don't think I'd actually have liked him as my dad, though).

"Getting Things Done" does sound as if it might be quite interesting. It sounds as if it is less rigid, but requiring more planning than the normal lists. I haven't quite worked out how it deals with priorities and long term planning though, as you just need to decide the "Next Action" on a daily basis plus review the long term goals once a week. I think it might work quite nicely with old fashioned index cards. I shall give it a try anyway.

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Divide all actions into piles....urgent action required, not so important, can wait.....deal with one action at a time and finish it then move onto the next task......if in doubt, to be chucked it out, chances are nobody will ever ask for it, you won't ever need to refer to it again. ;)

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Thanks everyone. it sounds as if lists, in various guises, are in, which is a bit unfortunate for me, as I will presumably lose them all under all the junk on my desk.

Thats why the muji planner worked for me. It was big enough to float above the desk crap.

can't see one like it now.

Any big chunky notebook will do.

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Fellow suspected ADD suffer here (though I've never went to a doctor about it).

One of he things that I've found in the line of work that I'm in (software development) is the sheer amount of crap that we're expected to 'remember' - people are expected to have rain-man-esque memories nowadays and I found it rather overwhelming and stressful.

The solution? I use Evernote (www.evernote.com) as my 'second brain' of sorts. Download the windows client (or whatever OS you use), and just start using it - basically every thing on your to do list, every little tidbit of information, just get it fired into Evernote - it is saved in 'the cloud' so you can access it anywhere. There's no 'right' way to use it and you'll find what works best for you over time.

Within a month or two you'll wonder how you lived without it - you'll be less stressed about having to remember stuff as well, as you'll know that you've got Evernote acting as an infallible memory for you.

Another thing I'd recommend is to turn off the email alert in outlook - most emails aren't urgent, and seeing each email pop up as it comes in will just distract/stress you out.

And if the silence of an office makes your mind wander, try some background noise: http://coffitivity.com/

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Guest eight

This thread has inspired me to permanently remove the Windows games from my PC.

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Some people are just better at being organised than others.

Sure you can do things to help out - but i think there is only so much that can be 'taught'

Even if you use some tool to help you out - you still have to remember to keep it up to date etc

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Can vouch for Evernote - lovely piece of software, works on most devices, renders nicely on a tablet - really good electronic scrapbook/diary.

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Can vouch for Evernote - lovely piece of software, works on most devices, renders nicely on a tablet - really good electronic scrapbook/diary.

Agreed. Really excellent service and set of tools. The related notes function is starting to come into its own now after several years of using it.

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  • 243 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%



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