Five ways to get organized for work

August 14, 2014, 11:33 AM UTC
Illustration By: Karsten Petrat

1 Ditch the open-door policy

You’ll never tackle the mission-critical work of growing your company if you invite employees to plop down on your office sofa at any time. Set aside one hour a day to meet with your team—and shut your door for the rest. You’ll be shocked by how much more you get done. Better yet, your employees will learn to put out fires and resolve conflicts on their own.

2 Avoid digital distractions

Automate the small computerized tasks that break your concentration. Use a service like IFTTT or Zapier to, for instance, send invoices or create and post tweets for your blog, suggests Ari Meisel, author of Less Doing, More Living. Avoid digging for lost emails by using It lets you resend important messages to yourself when you have the bandwidth to handle them. “It’s my No. 1 productivity tool,” Meisel says.

3 Limit mental friction

Batch similar activities and tackle them at the same time every week or month. One of our clients’ account-management teams kept getting derailed from projects by customers’ frequent questions. We suggested that the group proactively schedule a monthly call with each client to plow through any concerns. Doing that kept everyone on task—and trained customers to share all their concerns in one call. The best part? Customers saw it as extra TLC.

4 Streamline scheduling


It can easily cost you or your assistant seven emails (not to mention a lot of time and annoyance) to set up a meeting or even a simple phone call. Avoid the hassle by switching to ScheduleOnce. The service lets you share a public calendar with your contacts so they can select a time that works on the first go-round. “It lets you set office hours and put people on your schedule,” says Meisel.

5 Protect your sleep

Reading on digital devices at night can disrupt your sleep because of the blue light they emit. This may sound ridiculous, but when you read on your tablet or phone before bed, consider wearing “blue blocker” sunglasses that filter out those rays. It may prompt some ribbing from your family, but it beats starting the next day feeling groggy and unfocused. Why bother using productivity-enhancing tools if you’re too tired to think straight?

This story is from the September 1, 2014 issue of Fortune.