Keep It Simple: How to Organize Just Enough

Joanie Wang —  August 5, 2014 — Leave a comment
ToDoList

You don’t need a functional tattoo to stay organized

With so many tools and apps that claim to increase organization or productivity, how do we find out which tools will actually help and not hinder our workflow? At Expensify, our approach is to keep it simple; forget the apps and stick to what’s tried and true. Here are a few core principles that help us stay productive; try them out and let us know what you think! 

1) Avoid Complicated Tools.  

Nothing wastes time like “saving time” by adopting complex project management tools. Tools aren’t the problem: people are. Just create a shared to-do list that you re-prioritize continuously, and focus everybody on starting at the top and working their way down. Nobody will ever get to the bottom, but that’s just life.

What you need: Google Docs, whiteboard, IdeaPaint, something that can help you visualize, flexibly.

2) Prioritize, Don’t Schedule.  

Schedules assume stable priorities and accurate estimates, neither of which are ever true. Accordingly, the only way to reliably meet hard commitments is to wildly pad the schedule, which is wasteful and frustrating for everyone. Instead, just accept things will get done when they get done.

Helpful to your success: A company culture that minimizes commitments and focuses on raw productivity on ever-shifting priorities.

3) Trust You’ll Remember the Important Things

all you need to stay organized is a pen and paper

Say hi to your new best friend

Continuing from the last point, nothing is more stress inducing that an enormous list of incomplete tasks that will likely never be finished. Rather, start every day with a blank sheet of paper and write down the most important things you need to get done — only look back at previous days if you run out of ideas (which rarely happens).

What you need: pen and paper, or a marker if you’re feeling fancy.

4) The Productivity Myth

Companies everywhere have somehow bought into the idea that more hours means higher productivity when studies actually show the opposite. Instead, build time in your day, week, life to rest and relax. Decide how much of your life you want to devote to work, work that much, and then stop. Nothing makes your time off more enjoyable than confidence that you’ve done right by your entrepreneurial ambitions and truly earned the rest. This is also a fantastic way to set work/life expectations with your spouse, but even better for resisting the urge to work yourself to death.

What to do: Record how many hours you work a day in a spreadsheet, then add it up on a weekly basis to make sure you’re basically hitting your target.

Tried these out, or have productivity tips of your own? We’d love to hear from you!

Joanie Wang

Posts

Joanie Wang is the marketing lead at Expensify. When she isn't helping rid the world of expense reports that suck, she is doing yoga, diving into SF's culinary scene, or playing with her adorable puppy Arya.

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