Unless you’re fortunate enough to have a secretary or personal assistant you need to learn to organise your work. Getting organised is not difficult. All you need is a little discipline and a system that works for you.
Setting priorities is straightforward. But first you need to capture every task and idea. Use your inbox and calendar to develop your efficiency and organisational skills.
Don’t Let Your Inbox Rule Your Day
1 Try to check your mail first thing in the morning and again later in the day (only looking for important messages occasionally.) When checking mail first scan the inbox for items that can be dealt with immediately. For instance, appointments, unsolicited mail, information requests, CC and so on.
Don’t be afraid of using the delete key before opening a message. And when you do open a message read it, delete it, delegate it or reply immediately. If a more detailed response is needed or you have decided to take on an action move the message to a tasks list (see #2.) Soon your inbox will be manageable and you will be in control.
Create a Task List
One worthwhile task carried to a successful conclusion is worth half-a-hundred half-finished tasks. – Malcolm Forbes
2 Move all emails that need action to a task list or mail folder. Use message flags and labels (virtual folders) to easily find message priority (see #3.) Capture ideas and actions from meetings in the same way―send a message to yourself. In other words, when you think it ink it!
Prioritise, Prioritise, Prioritise
The key is not to prioritise what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities. – Stephen Covey
3 Choose a technique for prioritising your work and stick with it. Think about pay off, importance and deadline. Flag messages according to their priority: high, medium, and low. Simple! But priorities do change so make sure you regularly check your list (see #4.)
Review Your List
4 Review your list every day. Learn what needs doing and by when. Add notes to the tasks and take great pleasure in setting the completed flag when your work is done. Also, take time out at the end of the week to check your progress and to prepare for the next (see #5.)
Selectively Choose What to Do
5 Selectively choose what to do to build a high-impact week. Schedule time for the high priority high pay-off tasks in your calendar. Do this at the end of the working week and create a plan for the next. Try to schedule your top priorities during the part of the day when you have most energy. And remember a calendar isn’t just for meetings.
The changes are small and easy to do. But they make a big difference. Getting organised couldn’t be easier!
Have Your Say
How do you avoid email overload? Can you share any tips on getting organised? Please join the discussion.
Creative Commons image courtesy Phillie Casablanca.