Continuing our series of interviews with professional organizers, today we have productivity coach Casey Moore!
Please tell us about yourself and your business.
I’m a Productivity Coach, helping busy professionals spend their time on what matters to them. Over the past 17 years, I’ve developed and applied a comprehensive model for working effectively. It’s called the Productivity Chain. It’s an assessment tool and also a useful perspective through which to view how we function at work (or life, really). This framework has proven successful with clients. My book about it (Stop Organizing, Start Producing) is available at www.CaseyMooreInc.com.
I began as a Professional Organizer, helping people organize their spaces. Then I became a productivity trainer, ensuring my clients knew how to manage their time and tasks more effectively. In 2009, I began years of intensive training to become a certified coach. Now I train my clients in time management/productivity-related skills and then coach them to turn those skills into lifelong habits. My clients are all over the country. We meet by phone and screen share or in person at their offices. They come to me to improve productivity or to have more time for life outside work. They end up with much more. They inspire me and I love what I do.
What are your clients’ biggest challenges?
So much to do, so little time. Being bombarded with fast-moving, but not always important, emails, texts and calls that can distract attention from what matters more. They deal with hundreds of loose ends that dangle and clamor for attention. Beneath it all is the mistaken belief that “I can do it all.” You can’t. No one can. What makes a positive difference is deciding what not to do, rather than letting things (sometimes the wrong things) slip through the cracks.
In your experience, how does a person’s physical space affect their ability to manage their time effectively?
Physical space affects productivity in a number of ways. I’ll use my Productivity Chain model to give some examples. Physical space falls into the Organization of Objects/Data link. That link affects every other link in the chain.
For just a few examples: If your space is chaotic,
- you may find it difficult to concentrate on the task at hand (Drive link).
- you may feel embarrassed and “one down” in relation to your colleagues (Communication/Relationships link).
- you may be reluctant to hold your team accountable because you fear you look like you’re not on top of things (Delegation link).
- you may take longer to complete tasks because you have to search for digital or paper documents (Planning link)
When you see how many links physical space affects directly, you get an idea of how important it is to adjust your space as best you can to suit your needs.
Aspects of your physical surroundings beyond your control can affect you greatly. If your desk is exposed or centrally located (or right near a printer), you are more prone to interruptions from others. If you’re surrounded by noise and need to do work that requires intense focus, you might have to move to a quieter location. If the lighting is poor, your chair uncomfortable or you work with drawers that stick, you deal with low-levels of stress that may affect your stamina and focus.
What are your top scheduling tips for busy people?
1. Match the type of work with the times when your brain is sharpest. If you’re a morning person, don’t waste that precious time on routine emails. Engage with work that requires your full attention and thoughtfulness.
2. Balance your energy needs throughout the day. If you are an extrovert, for example, be sure that you don’t block off three hours to work on a solo project. Maybe work on it for an hour then have a meeting or take a break with someone else so that you re-fill your energy tank. Conversely, if you’re an introvert, try to avoid back-to-back meetings. Be sure you have alone time to refresh yourself.
3. Make sufficient sleep a top priority. Chronic sleep deficits (which many American workers have) lead to poorer decision-making, less physical energy (making tasks take longer), decreased motivation and drive, increased errors and less harmony in relations with others, just to name a few known effects. You can see how links in the Productivity Chain affect sleep directly.
What are some ways people can minimize distractions to help improve their productivity?
1. Turn off your alerts—not forever but for an hour at a time. An hour of concentrated time each day boosts your productivity enormously. Use “out of office” email messages during that hour if you need to.
2. Speak up when people bust your boundaries – politely but firmly. If people burst into your space when you’ve got the door closed, for example, explain that the door was closed for a reason. You may have to teach fellow adults what an emergency is.
What are your top 3 recommendations for how people can be more effective with their time?
1. Practice mindfulness. Being able to non-judgmentally notice your thoughts without letting them take you for a ride enables you to make better decisions about how to spend your time. It helps you get along better with others, which saves so much time in the long run. In fact, mindfulness strengthens every link in your Productivity Chain.
2. Clarify your top priorities. Have no more than 3 of them at a time. Focus 80% of your time and energy there. When you do, everything else will fall in place. I’ve worked with a number of sales people over the years in a wide range of fields, from medical supplies to banking and beyond. Those who exceed their sales goals usually find that their companies don’t mind so much when they don’t always have all their administrative tasks done to perfection. Leeway is often granted to those who achieve the big priorities.
3. Take care of your physical body. Get sufficient sleep. Eat well. Exercise regularly. Consciously relax your body throughout the day. Your performance at work will improve when your physical plant is strong.
You help people with their to-do lists. What works best—paper or digital apps?
What works best is the mode that works best for you. It’s highly individual. And it has nothing to do with being tech savvy or not. There are plenty of programmers who operate off paper lists. Writing helps lock in thoughts better than typing does. It all comes down the effects: If a beautiful notebook and a sturdy pen inspire you to thought and action, use paper!!