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Office Productivity by Barbara Boone

I will be giving tips and information on how to be more productive in the work environment. My target audience is small business owners.

Latest Posts:

Why is it so Hard to Decide to Hire a Professional Organizer?

There are a lot of myths about the organizing industry. It is still a relatively new industry even though it has been around for twenty-five years. I even bought into some of the myths when I started my business. It wasn't until I had worked with several clients that I began to change my thoughts about professional organizing.

 In today's economy, one of the first reasons people find it hard to hire a professional is money. Most people think that they must charge a lot for their services. That is usually the first obstacle I encounter when I speak to people. Of course, like other professionals, organizers vary in their fees. They probably range between $40 an hour up to over $100 an hour. The higher fees are usually...


posted on: 10/3/2010 1:30:00 PM  by Barbara Boone
category: Business

Is Your In-Box Your To-Do List?

When you sit down at your desk and open your computer to check your email, do you start your day with tasks that evolve from your email messages? I have to admit that I have done that a lot. By the end of the day I wonder why I didn't accomplish other projects that were more important. Sound familiar? I have had to work really hard to break this habit. When I begin to check the email messages, my intention is to look at them quickly to see if there are any messages that I can answer quickly. Of course what happens is that I soon am answering more than one message and five minutes turns into an hour. I have heard it said not to check your email first thing in the morning and I agree with than suggestion, but curiosity gets the better of me and I interrupt one of my most productive times of the day. Here is my anecdote for this problem and when I follow it myself, I am much more productive. The key is to PLAN your day ahead of time. I have a great planner that I love to use because all of my information is in one place. At the top of the pages for one week I write the categories of my responsibilities such as Writing, Advertising, Calls, Meetings, etc. On the next set of lines I write the to-dos for each of those categories. In the bottom third of the pages I write the times of my appointments. I try to make this master list of planning on Sunday night or at the latest on Monday morning. It gives me a great sense of peace and fosters less anxiety when I know what is ahead of me each week. Of course there is the occasional interruption that throws off the list, but what I don't accomplish one week gets put into the list for the next week. Another benefit of using this system to create your to-do list is that you will have a written record of everything. I often look back over the previous week and review projects to see if I missed anything. I also use the list to add the mileage to a pre-made chart for income tax purposes. If you are interested in purchasing this wonderful planner, you can only get it at www.plannerpad.com. I get no commission for telling you this, but this is one of the best planners I have ever used. Try this suggestion for a week and see how productive you are compared to using your in-box as the to-do list. If it works, use it forever. ...


posted on: 8/8/2010 1:30:00 PM  by Barbara Boone
category: Business

Organize Your Email In-Box so that it Always Stays Empty After Checking Messages

Is your email in-box as cluttered as your desktop in-box? I find that many clients have an email in-box that has unread or old messages from days past in it. If this is true for you, read the information below to find out how to avoid email clutter. Keeping your in-box empty is part of creating a productive work environment.

Letˇ¦s pretend that you just opened your email messages. Follow these steps and see if when you finish, it is empty and you have taken care of everything in it.

  • Create a system that you can follow every time you open your email. I usually start at the top of my messages and deal with each one before I move on to the next. Exceptions would be when you are waiting to hear from someone regarding an important message that will affect your tasks for the day. If you have another place to start and it works for you, keep using it.
  • Read the message. Decide what to do with it. Use the File-Act-Toss System„§ to manage the message. If it is something you need to keep, file it in a folder clearly labeled under the in-box folder on your computer. (I am talking about using Microsoft Outlook) Your folders might have titles like these:...


posted on: 8/1/2010 1:30:00 PM  by Barbara Boone
category: Business

The Best Behaviors that Lead to Office Productivity

Most of my time as a productivity specialist is spent showing clients systems that will help them become more productive. It didn't take me long to realize that even the best systems in the world won't help someone become more productive unless they employ certain behaviors. This article will identify some of these behaviors.

  • Create a weekly/daily to-do list and stick to it. If you don't complete something on the list, revaluate the task and either reassign it or eliminate it.
  • Be consistent in establishing productive behaviors. Daily and weekly planning will help with this. Try to establish new behaviors that you can easily repeat.
  • Follow through on all tasks which include responding to...


posted on: 7/25/2010 1:30:00 PM  by Barbara Boone
category: Business

How to Return to an Organized Office Stress Free After Vacation

It is finally here, the vacation you have waited for all year! Your urge is to run out of the office as soon as the minute hand reaches its destination to signal, "It's vacation time!"

But hold back as much as you can and plan for leaving and returning.

Here is a checklist of things to take care of before you leave.

  • Have you notified everyone that you will be out of the office? That might mean leaving a voice mail message on your phone or a special message on your email.
  • Have you tied up any loose ends on projects that were in progress?
  • Is your in-box empty?
  • Is your filing up-to-date?
  • Have you answered all emails?
  • Have you...


posted on: 5/30/2010 1:30:00 PM  by Barbara Boone
category: Business

Three Tips for Spring Cleaning the Office

  Spring is a time of renewal. Flowers start to bloom, the grass grows again, and we shed our winter clothes for lighter, softer garments. It is a tradition in many homes to also take care of cleaning the windows, drapes, bedspreads, rugs, etc. Apply the same renewal to your office.

With only a couple of months into the New Year, it should be easy to clean up....


posted on: 5/2/2010 1:30:00 PM  by Barbara Boone
category: Business

Spring Clean-Up, or Taking a Break From Productivity

Sometimes the best thing we can do to increase productivity is to do something different. Instead of being productive in your office, get outside and take a deep breath of the new, fresh spring air. Take a look at the new plant growth that is taking place. Enjoy the smell of the hyacinths. Never mind all of the wreckage left after this winter's historical snowfall. See what is new and enjoy it.

Spring is my favorite time of the entire year. I guess it is because what proceeds it is sometimes very dark and gloomy like this past winter. I get re-energized at the thought of new life sprouting in my perennial garden. Yes, the work I have to tackle in the garden is daunting and labor-intensive, but the rewards are so great.

Spring is the time to take stock of what new tools and supplies are needed outside. So my productivity tip this month relates to the outdoors. Here are some useful tips.

  • Create a vision of what you want the yard or garden to look like....


posted on: 4/4/2010 1:30:00 PM  by Barbara Boone
category: Business

Six Essentials of a Productive Office

On a scale from one to ten, one being the least productive and ten being the most productive, how would you rate yourself on productivity during an average work day? We all know that life happens and unusual circumstances change our daily routine, but for the most part, you need to consider what your average day looks like.

Do you have the tools you need to work at your optimum level of efficiency? Here are six essentials for a productive work environment. None of them require a degree in rocket science, and most offices have them, but may not be using them in an effective manner.

Desktop Tools -These include things like your computer, telephone, writing supplies, stapler, scissors, and tape. Most...


posted on: 2/28/2010 1:30:00 PM  by Barbara Boone
category: Business

Help Making Decisions about Paper Retention

Using the File-Act-Toss System™ to Help Make Decisions about Paper Retention

Have you ever struggled with trying to decide what to do with a piece of paper that comes into your office? Most people have at one time or another. That is why we say, "Clutter is postponed decisions." That is why we accumulate so many piles of paper. We either don't have a home for them or we aren't sure whether we need to keep them.

The File-Act-Toss System™ makes it easy to decide what to do with the papers. First, decide if the paper is something that you need to keep. If it has an impact on taxes, is something needed for legal, insurance or warranty purposes, then keep it.

There are two types of files to manage if you are keeping a piece of paper, active or archive files.  Active files need to be kept near your working area so that you can access them easily. Archive files don't need to be kept nearby, but can be stored in another part of the office or even off site.

The second part of the system is Act. This step refers to papers that demand an action of some kind. These types of files are usually kept on the desktop or at least nearby so that you can easily access them daily. Some examples of titles for these files would be: Call, Email, Waiting for a Response, Consider This, Read, File. Each person can decide the names of the files according to their own preferences.

The third step in the system is Toss. Here again, many people procrastinate about throwing papers away because they aren't sure if they are going to need them in the future. If you decide that the paper can be tossed, first decide if it needs to be shredded. Any paperwork with personal ID, account numbers, or other vital information needs to be shredded. If you don't need to shred it, recycle it or just toss in the trash can.

Now that you know the three things that you can do with any piece of paper that comes into your office, you should be able to easily manage those piles before they get to the disaster stage. To help you remember the File-Act-Toss System, write them on a sheet of paper to make a label for them and attach them to something on your desk...


posted on: 1/31/2010 1:30:00 PM  by Barbara Boone
category: Business

Easy Ways to



posted on: 1/17/2010 1:30:00 PM  by Barbara Boone
category: Business

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About Barbara:

Barbara Boone is the owner of Productivity Solutions located in Cockeysville, MD. She provides office organizing for small businesses and helps them to create and implement a productive environment so that they can be successful. Her focus is paper management and file set up to help clients reduce stress and increase productivity. She has been organizing in the fields of education and business for over 36 years. Barbara is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers and Director of Professional Development for the Baltimore chapter of the National Association.

Barbara's Website:


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