Get Your Life in Order for ’09

Productivity expert Peggy Duncan talks streamlining, forward thinking

don’t even realize there is a better way.

What is the best way people can learn to balance both what they feel is a necessity and what they feel is needed but is not a top priority – ie., maximizing work time versus making moves to stay healthy (visiting the gym or taking time out for a doctor’s visit)?

You have to have a vision for your life. In your wildest wishes, what would you like to see yourself doing or being? You’ll set short- and long-term goals to attain that vision. Your objectives outline what you need to reach your goals. And you have to put an action plan in place to reach the objectives. At this point, you’ll understand how you should spend your time based on your vision and your values. If you learn how to work smarter, you’ll have time to do everything you want–within reason.

What are some elements to stay away from when trying to become more productive?

Turn off the TV and get off the telephone. Spend your time doing things that will help you reach the goals you’ve set for yourself.

With so many companies cutting budgets, how can managers and top executives increase productivity while not at the expense of their workers?

There is so much wastage. People are spending too much time doing busy work and putting out fires instead of having time to focus on work that adds value. If you organize everything so you can think more clearly, you’ll plan and prioritize better. If you streamline all of your processes and procedures, you’ll make better decisions. If you incorporate technology the right way and with more training, you’ll finish everything quicker and with fewer errors.

To get a head start on organizing your life, use our checklists:

Home Maintenance Checklist

Home Insurance Checklist

Financial Fitness Checklist

Health & Wellness Checklist

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  • Peggy,

    Outstanding! As usual, you together with your very broad expertise is so immaculately shared.

    Best regards for continually being upward bound!!

  • Well said. A great article with some depth. Thanks for not reiterating the obvious.

  • Peggy, Great article! I tend to be very organized and use many of the tips you’ve shared. However, as an entrepreneur I find that many of the customers and colleagues I work with have chaotic schedules, disorganized work lives and a healthy supply of stone tablets and chisels! (The computer as a glorified typewriter syndrome!) Have any suggestions for dealing with other people who bring chaos?

    PEACE. Rick S.

  • @Rick Sherrell, Hello Rick, Thanks!

    It’s amazing to me how people work like this…much by choice because they won’t stop long enough to figure out a better way. I like breezing through life and naturally look for ways to make work easy. My business mantra is to make a bunch of money for the least amount of work. Being organized, having better processes, and being a technonut make this possible.

    I’m in control of my time and I refuse to be an enabler of other people’s bad habits. So if you call me at the last minute to help you with something that I know you procrastinated about, sorry but I’m not the one. But if you call me with a plan that I know has been well thought-out, I’m there.

    Find the pain. Discover what their chaos is preventing them from doing and offer solutions. For instance, if Joe says he hates that he can’t take his son to more ballgames, show him how getting organized could give him back hours a day. Or suggest that spending a few hours learning his software will give him back days, weeks, or more (I’m serious…it can). Bottom line here: refuse to be an enabler of the chaos and find their pain and offer solutions.

    Hope this helps.


  • @Elian, Oooh, thanks Elian. That’s exactly what I was trying to do.

  • David Motkoski

    Great article Peggy, I tried this voting thing and I think I did it wrong. This article is a 5 out of 5. What I finally did to help me get organized is that I imagined looking at my self from above and on paper I decribed in words what I saw. What I did through the day, how that looked, what I did with paper and how that looked and after discribing myself to me and then reading it a few times, it became easier for me to correct my mistakes and get organized. I helped my wife do the same and she had great results as well. Peggy you have been a great help to me in getting organized, thank you.
    On a side note I have been trying to reach you, I need one more blue desk file sorter, do you still sell these? Thanks for all you do.

  • @David Motkoski, Hi David, that’s interesting. If your eyes always see a mess, your mind will become one so it sounds like you’re thinking more clearly now. Congratulations!

    On the tickler file, I’ll send you a direct email about that. Don’t want BE to kick us off the site.

  • Peggy,

    I enjoyed your article and will put your tips to use. You suggested that readers should consider a computer class. Do you think online classes are good for individuals who use their computers like a typewriter?


  • Hi Paula, thanks for writing. It depends on their learning style, their previous experience (they know some things by trial and error but are missing out on a lot of the power), how complicated the program is that they’re trying to learn (e.g., PhotoShop), and what type of online training you’re talking about.

    The ultimate for any training is being in a traditional classroom with an instructor who can see when you’re lost or confused. If it’s online with an instructor (Webinar), that’s almost as good as being live (but not for a novice). If the training is computer-based, meaning you follow the instructions screen by screen, it’s easy to get bored and not finish because that doesn’t fit your learning style. This type of training works best when it’s delivered in small chunks (e.g., the lesson is only on mail merge). Then you have weird people like me who can sit for hours with computer-based training or reading a computer book or a Webinar. So I guess the bottom line is it depends. I hope this makes sense.

  • Judith

    “Guilty as charged” for not knowing how best to use my computer software. I’ve learned alot in the last 5 years, but am beginning to realize that there is much more to learn. Thanks for the nudge: I’ll look for a class!
    Good article!

  • Hey Peggy,

    Your organizational tips are awesome. Any chance of us seeing your tips on video? I am a visual person and would love to see your tips in action.

    All the best


  • Peggy this was a great informative article. Thanks so much for sharing your tips for organization and productivity. I am a firm believer that organization in life and business is a must, and we should embrace constant change too.
    It was a pleasure meeting you at the SCORE 08′ Conference, and I wish you continued success.
    Thanks again,
    Africa Riviera

  • @Africa Riviera, Thank you, Africa. I remember meeting you at the conference. Disorganization is at the root of so many other problems. Help me spread the word.

  • Excellent tips, Peggy. What is that on the quick macro link?

  • Hi Al, I don’t know that software. That’s a BE link. You can record a macro directly in your software for free (I use the Office suite).

  • You’ve given your fans the “WoW” factor once again!
    This is the type of positive energy we all need in this world of chaotic change. Keep giving it!

    My question is how can I finally begin to write my book on small/large business networking and netweaving in a corporate/government environment.
    Of course each entrepreneur author has that unique niche expertise to be able to tell a story. You’ve obviously found yours, how do I tell mine?
    Your biggest fan!

  • Peggy Parks

    This is a great article!!!
    I always learn good stuff from you.
    Thank you!

  • @Maurice L. Threatt, Thank you Maurice! Sounds like you have a little procrastination thing going on. Don’t think of a whole book…that’s too overwhelming. Break it up into small projects by writing articles. Before long, you’ll have enough to develop into a book.

    The hardest thing to do is get started. So write a paragraph today, one tomorrow, and so on until you hit a groove and want to keep writing. Get to it!

  • Announcement: I just confirmed that I’ll present a time management seminar at Black Enterprise’s Women of Power Summit in Orlando. I’m on the agenda the afternoon of Friday, Feb 13th. My info should be added to the site soon. Hope to see you there!

  • Another GREAT article!! Thanks for continuing to share your resource bank of knowledge (smile).

  • Great article Peggy!

    You offer excellent time saving tips as always.
    Congratulations on securing a presentation slot for the women’s summit.

  • Hi Peggy,

    Excellent article. You’re always on point. I especially appreciate the points on making better use of the computer to increase productivity.

  • BE fan

    Janell, this is a great article. The questions you posed to Ms. Duncan were spot on. Your article is fantastic. I enjoy reading your articles.

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  • Making the decision to get your closet organized is a step in the right direction. The task can see too much in the beginning, but with some helpful tips you will get the job done.

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