10 Ways to Get (and Stay) Organized This Year

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A new year is like a fresh, clean slate. Or is it?

Some of us are still carrying over the clutter and chaos of the previous year (or decade). While it’s true that some people do work best in the mess, it’s not just untidiness we’re talking about here. Even if you work primarily in a creative role, you still need to have some structure and organization to keep all the loose ends together and make sure nothing falls through the cracks. After all, if you want that creativity to pay off, you need more than just great ideas.

So if you’re ready to finally get organized and keep it that way—or if you’re just looking for some new tips and tricks to keep it interesting—try some of these ideas to help you start the year off clear-eyed and focused.

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Why You Need a Not-to-Do List (And How to Create One)

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If you’re trying to get more productive, organizing your to-do list might be number one on, well, your to-do list, especially if you’ve got this endless checklist that you keep adding to. But here’s a thought: Maybe the best productivity hacks are more about subtraction than addition.

With our work and personal lives overlapping, today’s world creates a lot of cognitive load. We’re checking e-mails in the evening and on weekends, and making phone calls to resolve personal issues during the day.

How often do you wake up already feeling overwhelmed? We complain about the complexity of our lives, but we also forget how much of the chaos in our lives is self-imposed. Yes, your calendar is probably overcrowded and maybe your desk is a mess. You need to plan your holiday menu and finish up your gift shopping. Your news apps and social media alerts are going off constantly, while that co-worker who’s been emailing you all day is now texting you, too. You click through, thinking, “Now what?”

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Innovative Productivity Hacks from the World’s Top-Performing Teams

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More and more organizations are recognizing that a team approach can be a key driver of business performance. But just having teams isn’t the answer, of course. Those teams have to be productive and able to work together to deliver more value as a whole than they would as individuals.

The stakes are high: If the team breaks down or can’t get it together, the business suffers. So we decided to take a look at what some of the world’s best-performing teams are doing to see what we can learn from their productivity and performance secrets.

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Whole Brain® Thinking in Action: Software Development Walk-Around

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Here at Herrmann International one of our key fundamentals is that we try to "eat our own cooking" and use Whole Brain® Thinking in our own work. This post is part of a series where some of our team members talk about some ways they use Whole Brain® Thinking for their day-do-day work.

This post is by our Lead Software Engineer, Andrew Swerlick.

At first glance, software development might not seem like a job that involves a lot of day-to-day Whole Brain® Thinking. After all, a lot of what our team does seems like it's firmly situated in the technical, analytical A quadrant. Sure, we do have to collaborate with other internal teams on product design, requirements gathering, etc., but when it get to the point where our developers put their fingers to the keyboard and start writing code, all the other quadrants go away, right?

When I first started at Herrmann a couple of years ago, I probably would have said yes. But recently, our development team has adopted some practices that are showing me the value of writing Whole Brain® code.

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What Motivates People? Look for Clues in How They Think (VIDEO)

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In today’s business world, where the large majority of the work is knowledge work, each day can be different and challenging in its own way. Constant change means that most employees are dealing with simultaneous projects, shifting priorities, complex problems, lots of demands, and a never-ending stream of disruptions and distractions.

It’s not just a challenge to stay focused in this environment; it’s hard to stay motivated and engaged. In fact, recent research by Bersin by Deloitte attributes low employee engagement levels to the overwhelmed employee.

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10 Quotes to Open the Lines of Cross-Functional Communications

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More project-focused work, flatter organizations, increasing complexity, the rise of holacracies, evolving management structures…they all add up to more cross-functional teaming in the workplace. But based on the results of a study conducted last year, we may be a little too optimistic when we include the word "functional" in that description.  
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Improving Employee Productivity: 4 Spring Cleaning Tips for the Brain

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Control Z. If you’ve never had the experience of wrangling with correction tape and Liquid Paper, you might not fully realize just how magical that simple keyboard shortcut is. In an instant, you can seamlessly erase your last steps and get a do-over.

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3 Tips for Overcoming the Frustrations of Collaboration

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"The whole is greater than the sum of its parts." – Aristotle

I played the flute earlier in life and remember the thrill of my first solo performance, particularly exciting since I had written the music. But as lovely as that was, a solo flute with no accompaniment has a singular sound. It comes alive when other instruments join in.

Playing in the school band transformed my solo voice into a full blown and complete tapestry of performance—one that a solo instrument really couldn’t match. It was more challenging, but the effort was clearly worth it.

I thought about this recently as I was collaborating on a presentation for a conference with a client. I’m used to working alone on many of my keynotes, and I quickly discovered that this type of collaboration takes a lot more time and back and forth.

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10 Quick Tips to Boost Productivity During Brain Awareness Week

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When it comes to productivity, your brain is your best ally—but are you ignoring the most important signals it’s sending?

Considering this week is Brain Awareness Week, now’s a good time to start paying attention to your mental energy and learning how to manage it to boost your productivity.

After all, it’s hard to be productive when your mental reserves are tapped, and today’s energy-draining environment is fighting you at every step. The typical response to declining energy and productivity levels is to try time management techniques so that you can catch up and stay on top of your workload. But most of those techniques are destined to fail when your energy level falls through the floor.

Increase productivity for Brain Awareness Week in less than 38 hours a day

Instead of thinking of productivity as a time management challenge, try viewing it as an energy management issue. Because while you can’t recover time—those wasted hours are gone forever—you can recover energy.

And here’s where your brain comes into the equation.

We often let this phenomenon of energy gain and drain happen by accident, but your own mental processes play a huge role in your energy throughout the day—at work, at home and with every person you meet. In fact, your energy levels have a lot more to do with what happens inside your head than what happens outside. Becoming conscious and intentional about this aspect of your life can unlock new levels of productivity. The key is to manage your mental filters, not your time.

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3 Strategies for Increasing Mindfulness and Productivity

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In our always-on/always-connected environment, between work and family, texts and emails, new demands and ongoing change, most of us are feeling like our brains are full. And yet the constant stream keeps coming. It may seem unrealistic to hit the off switch, but we’re hoping to at least find a pause button.

This is one reason for the growing interest among business, HR and talent leaders in mindfulness and deep thinking, practices that just a few years ago would have seemed completely at odds with what it takes to be successful in business.

But whether you’re responsible for helping others develop and grow, managing people and projects, or just managing yourself, it’s easy to see how the distractions of the modern world are taking a toll, not just on performance, productivity and morale but also on people’s health and well being.

How can our businesses continue to thrive if we aren’t able to put our best thinking to work?

In fact, mindfulness is being aware of what's going on in your brain. This is far different than being "mind-full"—letting your brain get so full that you feel overwhelmed by information.

Here are three strategies anyone can apply to increase mindfulness and become more productive as a result.

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