Ten Steps Toward Being Better Organized

It’s true, “Haste makes waste.” When we work too fast, critical steps can be easily missed, leading to poor outcomes. Yet we’re often pressed to do as much as possible in a short amount of time. Believe it or not, an investment in time to get better organized is the best strategy for optimizing productivity during this New Year’s busy season.

Here are 10 tips that can help you more efficiently manage your workload:

  1. When you create contacts, enter all their information right then. Have you ever added a contact, but something kept you from completing the task and later all you have is a name? To avoid losing time when you have no time to lose, ensure contact information is accurate, complete and recorded as soon as possible.
  2. Manage your emails for maximum efficiency. Don’t let emails distract you from whatever task is at hand. Have a dedicated period to go through your inbox, deleting and responding as each communication merits. Then don’t look at emails again until the next scheduled interval.
  3. Create templated communications. It’s likely that you send very similar emails or letters to a lot of different people. Templates will allow you to change just a few words in each document. Do proofread carefully before sending them out, however. You don’t want to send a message to the wrong person.
  4. Plan your day and stick to the schedule. Before you get to the daily nitty-gritty, write out your to-do list with a focus on prioritization.
  5. Confirm your appointments. When you’re busy, the last thing you want is to show up for a meeting or to place a call only to find the other party is a no show. Send an email or a text a day or two in advance to make sure everyone will be present as expected.
  6. Take advantage of technology. From Zoom videoconferences to smartphone calendars, a lot of great tools are available to help you stay on track. Often the biggest obstacle to enjoying technology’s benefit is merely getting in the habit of using it. You’ll soon wonder how you ever managed before these aids came along.
  7. Plan your routes. Because of COVID-19, you probably aren’t holding as many face-to-face meetings as in the past. In case you do need to physically visit several places in a day, you can use Google Maps or MapQuest to find the quickest way from Point A to Point B to Point C … and so on.
  8. Enter new action items in your calendar as soon as practical. Imagine you’re finishing up a call and someone provides you with a potential new project. Don’t rely on memory. Add following up to your calendar before going on to something else. And if you can take care of an issue immediately—like relaying a question to someone with the answer—go ahead and do so.
  9. Make time for administrative tasks and tying up loose ends. Little things that you don’t get around to doing tend to blow up in your face eventually. Block off an hour or so to complete administrative tasks and resolve outstanding issues. Treat this time as sacrosanct and resist allowing other businesses to intrude.
  10. Review your day. When you’ve had a rough outing, take a few moments at the end of the day to figure out why things went wrong. Some problems are going to be unavoidable, but in other instances, you might be able to set up contingencies or take proactive steps to prevent repeat mishaps.

It’s ironic that slowing down at key junctures to think and plan, along with adding a few steps to your routine, will help you accomplish more every day. With practice, using good organizational skills becomes second nature, and you’ll reap the rewards of working smarter.

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