Wednesday, October 7, 2009

GREEN LIVING: Greensizing for Productivity - Green Strategies for Business Productivity

by Laura Stack

We all want to do our part to help the environment. But if you can give the Earth a break and increase your productivity at the same time, that's a real no-brainer! Luckily, a lot of the things you can do to help sustain the planet can help sustain your productivity as well. Read on for tips on how to green-size your life and get more done at the same time.

Use less paper. About 80 percent of papers that are filed are never referenced again. What a waste! A good solution? File less. An even better solution? Produce less paper to begin with. That doesn't mean you have to constantly inconvenience yourself or feel guilty about every sheet that comes off the printer. It just means you should think twice before you hit "print." Do you really need a paper copy of that e-mail message or status report?

Why you'll get more done: The less paper you allow into your day, the less time you'll spend managing it. I'm talking about filing things, shuffling them around, and tearing through the heaps to find what you need. Keeping less paper means you'll have an easier time finding the things that really matter and also eliminate some of the stress that inevitably comes from stacks of paper clutter.

Give your PC (and yourself) a rest. When was the last time you gave your PC a break? Letting it sit with the screensaver on doesn't count. I mean actually shutting it down, all the way. The next time you finish working for the day, turn your computer off (black screen, no blinking lights). You'll save energy and let the machine cool down for the night.

Why you'll get more done: Shutting down your PC at the end of the day not only saves electricity, but it can also work wonders for your personal energy level. It's easy enough to leave a computer untouched at the office, but I'll bet your home computer is buzzing away whenever someone is nearby.

This leads to technological burnout. You're constantly checking e-mail. Mindlessly surfing the web. Compulsively scanning social networking sites. The next thing you know it's deep into the night and you never really took time to unwind. Shutting the computer down means you'll be less likely to plop down in front of it for "just a minute" and more likely to accomplish things around the house, spend time relaxing with family, or go get some exercise.

Drive smart. Does it ever feel like you're losing time every day running errands or zipping around from appointment to appointment? If you think ahead, you might be able to consolidate all those quick trips into one or two longer outings, especially if you can batch them together based on where in town you need to go. Also consider making your regular commute outside of rush hour. You'll travel the same distance in a shorter time and pollute less along the way.

Why you'll get more done: Driving smarter isn't just going to save gas, money, and harmful emissions, but it's also going to save you time. Planning ahead and spending less time running around or stuck in traffic will do nothing but add precious productive minutes (or hours!) to your day.

Recycle and declutter. Don't you always feel better after getting rid of stuff? It doesn't matter if you're at home or the office, getting rid of clutter is always a liberating experience. Tackle problem areas one at a time by identifying clutter and dividing it into "storage," "trash," and "recycling" piles. Recycling can mean sending junk to a traditional recycling facility or simply passing items along to those who can make better use of them than you can. Sites like can help you find a good home for your unused stuff and local schools and libraries often have a need for any extra office supplies you may have lying around.

Why you'll get more done: Getting rid of clutter is just plain good for your state of mind, which is good for overall productivity. On top of that, getting rid of clutter will have the same effect as getting rid of paper - less junk to sort through, fewer storage hassles, and more space to live and work.

Travel less. Lots of companies learned this lesson from the recession, but there's an environmental impact as well. Is all of your business travel necessary? Think about the trips you take, whether they're across town or across the county. Would it be possible to get the work done remotely? Technology allows us to accomplish an awful lot from afar, from conference calls to complete virtual presentations. If you can manage to stay in town in a few instances where you'd usually pack up the car or hop on an airplane, you'll be doing Mother Nature and yourself a favor.

Why you'll get more done: Business trips can eat a lot of time. Sometimes you'll literally need to spend days on the road for the sake of engaging in a few hours of productive activity once you're there. Sure you can get work done on the go, but it isn't the same as being close to home base. Skipping an out-of-town trip or two can free you up to make a serious dent in your workload.

When you get down to it, greensizing is just a matter of paying a little more attention to the habits that you wouldn't usually give a second thought. Often, productivity is the same way. I hope you'll join me in thinking twice and finding simple ways to conserve not only precious resources but valuable time as well. The planet will thank you and you'll get more done. That's what I call a win-win.

Laura Stack is a personal productivity expert, bestselling author, and professional speaker who helps busy workers Leave the Office Earlier(R) with Maximum Results in Minimum Time(TM). The website link MUST be clickable to receive permission to reprint the article.

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