by Jessie Denos
Your alarm goes off – it’s 6 am on Monday morning – you get ready, run out the door, speed to work – mind racing with your eventful week ahead – you get to your desk, the phone rings, your co-worker asks you a question, you get pulled into a meeting, take 5 quick minutes to glance at your monstrous task list, open your email, respond to every message because let’s admit it – you’re a little OCD about your inbox being empty, get pulled into another meeting, get caught up in another conversation with a co-worker, look up at the clock and… it’s 5:00 pm.
Does this sound familiar?
If it doesn’t, you’re a superhuman. And if it does, I’m here to tell you that you’re not alone.
I don’t think there is a single person who is estranged to the feelings of discouragement and confusion that come with being tossed around by the events of the day without a single thing being checked off that massive task list.
So, it’s time to make a plan. It’s time to stop being at the mercy of every email that enters your inbox and every task that comes across your desk. It’s time to stop reacting and start acting.
It’s time to take control of your schedule.
Here are my favorite tips and lessons learned on getting organized and regaining control:
Find what works for YOU
We’ve all heard it said before but the tried and true saying of “what works for you might not work for me” could not be more relevant in the process of getting yourself organized.If you are a highly visual person then a standard, hand-written task list might not be the best choice for you. However, maybe the thought of blocking your calendar with color coded categories sounds like pure chaos.We are all different and unique in the way that we take in and process information throughout the day, so don’t forget to take that into serious consideration when choosing your organizational tool of choice. Sounds simple, but from my own personal experience, I think this one can often be easily overlooked.
Pro Tip: For all of you highly visual folks out there, check out SCRUM. Shout out to the fabulous Laurel Bernstein for showing me the ins and outs of this organizational tool that has transformed the productivity of my week.
Do your research
In this information age, there is certainly no shortage of information out there on different techniques to finding an organization style that works for you. So, if the way you are organizing your time and tasks is not working (maybe you’re still overwhelmed, feeling like you don’t have a handle on what needs to get done when?) then it’s time to do some digging and thinking outside of the box.
Do some Googling and ask some trusted peers and mentors what has worked for them. But again with that, don’t forget – what works for them, might not work for you. Use their feedback and advice to help you think outside of the box.
Pro Tip: To save you some research, here are some of our favorite tools for task and time management:
Asana (great for teams and project management)
SCRUM (again, my personal favorite)
Microsoft Outlook Calendar (we looove calendar blocking)
Zoho CRM (for keeping track of our sales tasks and follow-up)
If it’s not working, move on
This one is short and sweet: You may have the best of intentions with using that beautiful, brand new color-coded planner to get organized and stay on-top of your week, but if your tool for staying organized is making you feel more overwhelmed than it is helping you to get productive, chances are, it’s probably not the right fit.Give yourself permission to move on and try something new!
Stop trying to take on the world in one day – prioritize!
Oh come on, we’ve all done it. You take one glance at your ginormous task list, feel overwhelmed and try to tackle ten tasks in one day – only to the leave the office feeling discouraged and unaccomplished when you realize you only crossed two items off your list. The reality is, you’re just one person, confined to an 8-hour work day filled with meetings, unexpected phone calls, conversations and distractions. So, it’s time to adjust our expectations just a bit.In our office, we find that golden number of tasks/day to be between two and four. We know it doesn’t sound like much but give it a try and let us know what you think. We hope it allows you to leave the office with a greater sense of accomplishment knowing you achieved what you set out to get done that day.
Block time for blocking time
With all these new ideas to implement on getting organized and taking back your schedule, it’s obvious that it will take some time for you to identify your ideal tool for organizing your week and then once you find it, it will take time to maintain the process.
Creating space to plan out and organize your week before it starts is the best way to prevent yourself from being at the mercy of your crazy schedule. If you know there are three urgent tasks you need to get done this week, but also realize you have three networking events, a doctor’s appointment, and meetings to attend in between, then you better make sure you block definite time for those tasks to get on your top priority list before those Monday morning emails start flowing in.
When this skill is honed and you’ve found your groove with an organizational process, blocking time before your week starts provides a great platform for you to know when you need to just say “no” to taking on that new project, or asking if that meeting with your colleague can wait until next week. No one likes to feel overloaded and it’s OK to push back. By blocking your time, the hope is that you will have a better sense of knowing when you have to do just that.
Pro Tip: We find the best time for this weekly planning to happen is Friday before you leave the office, Sunday night, or Monday morning before you begin any other tasks. Just like everything else, you’ve got to find what time works for you and then stick to it!
We know this “getting organized” stuff takes time, effort, and discipline and we often say here at C3Workplace that success cannot happen in isolation.
We’d love to help you get started! Book your free, 30-minute consult with Donna Miller today to get her feedback on what changes you might need to make to take back your schedule.