Let’s face it, not everyone is organized. Some of us are just a bit more challenged than others in this category and we end up spending more time than we need to looking for that _______________ (fill in the blank). If this is you, or you’d just like a few tips on getting organized, read on!
Filing: I cringe a little at the word myself, but having a filing system that makes sense for you is going to make your life easier. BUT! No matter how great your system is, it will fail everyday if you don’t use it! If you don’t need to print it out, don’t. If you do need a hard copy, when you’re finished with it, file it away. Make a commitment to have every piece of paper filed away at the end of the day.
Virtual filing cabinets: Just because you don’t print it out, doesn’t mean you can find it! Your PC has a built in filing cabinet just for you. An IT guy once told me, when you save everything on your desk top, it takes longer for your computer to start up. It has to retrieve and load all of those icons scattered across your screen. Create file folders inside your My Documents folder to easily file away the things you are working on.
This is my Achilles heel – I have to really work at keeping my inbox clean. The best way to manage your email is to address each email right away. Set specific times each day to check your email. Go through your inbox and take care of each item. File, delete, or respond as the email requires. You DON’T have to look at your email every 5 minutes. This just takes you away from tasks you need to be working on.
Make lists. Use them faithfully. To Do lists are great for helping you stay on task. It’s also very satisfying to be able to cross something off that list. Yes, sometimes I even write a task I’ve completed on the list just so I can cross it off! Anything left at the end of the day, move to your To Do list for the next day. Make sure you prioritize so you don’t get stuck working on things that can wait while something that is time sensitive goes undone.
Whether you use a paper calendar, an electronic calendar, or both it only works if you use it. Schedule reminders in your electronic calendar when you make an appointment. Block out time to complete a project. Make sure that your paper calendar matches your electronic calendar if you use both. Personally, I like my electronic calendar for appointments and meetings, and a monthly paper calendar for an overall view of tasks and projects. I always log deadlines in both calendars.
Taking a bit of time to sort out your office and create some systems to manage the mess can add hours of time to your day. If you’re not spending time looking for that ___________ (fill in the blank), you’ll be able to use that time to get the REAL work done and network to expand your circle of influence.