6 PM Project and I wanted to tell you about the first few steps that I am taking.
Firstly, I am aiming not merely for a Clean Desk, but for an Almost Bare Desk. No piece of paper shall be on my desk, unless it actually requires me to take some specific action on it. Once the action is taken, the document must be thrown away or filed away.
Next, I am tidying up my hard disk. I am setting some new rules to create a more rational system for organising all my soft-copy reference materials. This will save me time whenever I need to search for something.
One new idea is not to just save one copy of a document, but to make multiple copies, and cross-file; them in all relevant folders. For example, if I have a document concerning commodity derivatives in Thailand, I would not file it just under my "Commodity Derivatives" folder, nor just under my "Thailand" folder, but in both folders. So in future, the document should be easier to locate.
As for relevant information available from public online sources, I will continue to use my blog, The Asian Banking Lawyer, to hyperlink to them. I will also be making greater use of Google's Email Alert service, to track industry developments relevant to my work.
You might be impressed to know that I usually have less than 10 emails in my office email inbox. I have a system for processing my emails quickly. They are rapidly filed away in a system of moveable folders and subfolders in Lotus Notes. These folders and subfolders themselves become my to-do list. Low-priority matters are pushed to the lowest parts of the list, while important matters go to the top.
I am setting an alarm in my iPhone to go off at 5:30 pm, from Mondays to Fridays. The alarm is to remind me to start wrapping up my work, in preparation for leaving the office at 6 pm.
I will be getting an alarm clock and placing it on my desk. If I need to focus on an important piece of work, I will hang up my phone and set myself a definite time (eg 45 minutes) to tackle the piece of work. I won't be taking any calls during those 45 minutes.
I have printed out a monthly calendar. This one gets to stay on my desk. I will tick the days on which I do succeed in leaving at 6 pm sharp. For the days on which I fail, I will jot down the reason why. After a few weeks or maybe a month, I think that I will have some useful data to to identify any recurring obstacles for my 6 pm project.
That's it for now. I expect to roll out more ideas in the near future, for greater efficiency and effectiveness.