How many times have you thought that you need more hours in your day or an extra pair of hands? You know the feeling, looking at your desk, your calendar, your Smartphone, your inbox…. Ugh, it is overflowing with things that need your attention. You can’t torch it. You can’t ignore it, but you can implement a few systems and processes to help you better manage the overwhelm and chaos, moving you to increase your productivity.
For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned. - Anonymous
The Notorious To Do list
The first step toward success is to be cognizant of the level of disturbances which you allow into your day. It could revolve around the daily notifications you receive regarding text messages, emails, news alerts, phone calls or any other immediate interruption that diverts your focus from the task at hand.
- Are you able to turn off or lower the volume of the notifications?
- Can you schedule 3-4 times throughout the day to review/respond to emails?
- Do you need to respond immediately to each byte of data that crosses your desk or your Smartphone?
- Prioritize and set deadlines.
- Know which projects require the most time and your undivided attention.
- Create your boundaries for working hours and “publicize” them.
- Tune out distractions.
- Stay on task.
Is Your Inbox Abundant with Clutter?
In 2011, it is estimated that there were 3.146 billion email accounts and 2.8 million emails sent and received every day. Wow!
Email has become the most predominant mode of office communications whether it is a quick hello or dissemination of corporate materials, contracts, projects and data. It is a necessity that we cannot live without.
Some inboxes can look like a nightmare of messages and To Dos if not properly maintained or left unchecked for an extended period of time. We are all busy working and managing the flow of information and business operations that it can just become an inconvenience to take the time to delete, file, schedule or otherwise take some form of action with each email. If you continually shy away from inbox management, it not only becomes unruly like a bad hair day, but it fosters a lack of productivity and organization. Who can afford that?
Have you ever spent wasted minutes or hours feverishly searching for an email that contains an important document? It becomes a frustrating unproductive endeavor that is a gross misuse of your valuable time AND time is money.
PING!! A new email is awaiting your attention.
- Schedule time to check your email at various intervals
- Make sure you have appropriate folders and filters for filing.
- Is it urgent?
- Can it be completed in 2-3 mins?
- Can you flag it to read later?
- Have you set up rules/alerts
- Delete it if it isn’t necessary and won’t add any value.
- If there is an attachment, download it and save it in the appropriate document folder
- Forward it with instructions to your virtual assistant
- If it is an appointment, drag it to your calendar
- Have separate email addresses for personal and business use
You are inundated with digital paper that requires action and filing. Creating folders is a simple task to ensure your documents are organized and easily found. It can prove very time consuming if you have to scroll through one larger receptacle looking for a needed document. Sure, you can do a broad search but when proper file management is established, you can save a great deal of time and aggravation. Let your digital filing system mirror a physical filing system.
- Create folders and sub-folders
- Use short names
- Be diligent about filing
- Separate current and completed works
- Archive older, unneeded documents – store in a separate folder, USB or cloud storage
- Create shortcuts or links to documents you use more consistently. Maintaining a single copy ensures you are always using the most current version.
- Delete unnecessary files
- Create shortcuts of your most used documents and save them on your desktop.
- If you routinely share documents with a group, consider using Google Docs, Teambox, Dropbox or another online sharing tool for collaborating.
- Save your data and make sure you always back up your computer
Taking the time to organize and streamline your office operations, even if it is just your email and documents, will help to increase your efficiency and productivity – which saves you time and money. The less time you must spend rummaging through folders and emails, the more time you have to devote to the your vital business operations and daily procedures.
Have a time and place for everything, and do everything in its time and place, and you will not only accomplish more, but have far more leisure than those who are always hurrying. - Tryon Edwards
Make organization a habit, not a one hit wonder. Get into a rhythm everyday and stick with it, just like you would with any lifestyle habit.