I have to admit, I'm the most organised person I know (hahaha..) I wake up in the morning and my brain is already planning the day in much detail up to how to respond to that important e-mail that came in overnight. All this planning in my head whilst preparing breakfast, on the toilet, in the shower..whatever.
How you start the first hour of your day determines how much you accomplish by the last. So, spend that initial hour mapping out your objectives. Not only will these things increase your focus, but they’ll also provide the boost of energy you need to get more done in less time.
Over time, I realised that my most productive time of day is in the mornings. For this reason, I'm an hour or two earlier in the office most mornings. I do this on purpose to have time in the quiet to organise my thoughts and put them down on my list of things to do and prioritize them in accordance with their purpose. By 9 am, I've normally already cleared all my emails. Being in international sales, emails are my top form of communication therefore, every enquiry that comes in overnight needs an immediate response. Once the e-mails are done, I go on to tackle heavier stuff like proposals etc based on my purpose-driven to-do list.
The following are some tips that you could possibly use to help you have a more organised and productive workday. Hope it helps.
Write it ALL Down
Think about how many tasks and meetings you have each day and it's easy to waste brainpower trying to remember all of them so why not write them down. I own numerous writing pads and notebooks for this purpose. For immediate and urgent tasks, I write it down on post-its and stick in on my table - colour-coded to compartmentalise them in accordance with the different departments I work in.
The thing is, the less your brain has to worry about storing and pulling up information, the more focused and productive you can be on the task at hand.
If you're not old school like me with my notebooks and writing pads, there are many apps available that can help you stay organized.
Organising Your Time
Time is precious, especially during your most productive hours. I myself am guilty of being extremely anti-social in the mornings when I'm most productive - and I apologise to my colleagues but I really need to make the most of that time so I can come across as moody, angry and so on but I'm just trying to get as much done before all the noise of the day.
Once the initial focus wears off, take breaks, 10 - 15 mins should be enough to refresh you to continue tackling your tasks. I highly suggest you take breaks especially when you're working on a task that's mentally draining - having to deal with people can be mentally draining - sorry but it's just a fact!
The Art of Multi-Tasking
I know there are many articles out there that say you should not multi-task as it slows down productivity with an end result that is below par etc etc. By hey, working in a small company, I'm in a role where I have to wear several hats and after 20 years of wearing these hats, I think I've come up with a solution - and it's the ability to FOCUS on each task! Each hat I wear is equally important and so are the tasks that comes along with it. Because I have to multi-task, I make sure I'm super organised.
Organising your Workspace
The saying goes, a cluttered desk reflects a cluttered mind and one smart ass coined the saying, an empty desk reflects an empty mind. But seriously though, for me, someone's desk gives me an insight into how they are at home but that's just me and I might be wrong. Items that you are not working on but is still sitting on your desk, put away - files, papers, proposals. That's why offices have filing cabinets and those table trays everyone seems to have but doesn't use.
Get Digitally Organised
The search function is an amazing feature but it will never match the ease of being able to go directly to a folder or file.
Just like your physical filing cabinets and drawers, make sure your e-mails are equally organised. Since currently everything is going digital and we're using less and less paper, I make sure that my inbox serves as my filing cabinet - easy to find and pull out whenever I need to refer to. Create folders and subfolders.
Your Digital Documents
I know some of us have had that embarrassing moment where a client calls and you can't seem to be able to find the document that we are supposed to be referring - I know I have on a couple of occasions. Organising your digital documents makes it easier for us to find what we're looking for.
File all documents in folders and give them plain, logical and specific names and include dates in file names if possible. These are the drawers of your computer’s filing cabinet, so to speak. Just like your e-mails, create folders and subfolders.
My filing system for e-mails and digital documents is almost identical and that's how I prefer it to be as it's easier for me. Just in case, I'm not in the office, any one of my colleagues can retrieve information from my computer with ease as well.
Go through all your documents and delete any that you no longer need.
Ending Your Workday on a High Note
Here are some tips that you can incorporate into your own end-of-the-workday routine:
Tidy your desk and put documents and files not needed all in their place
Save everything you’re working on, and close all your tabs and windows.
File all the e-mails you've received and sent for the day in their respective folders and clear your junk folder as well.
Review and tick off your completed tasks at the end of each day.
Plan tomorrow’s to-do list.
If you have unfinished work, leave open just one tab so that this becomes a priority for the next day.
Making the most of each workday takes a conscious effort from the moment you wake up. But working more purposefully is about sticking to targets that you've set for yourself and tackling your goals head-on. See each task to completion and give it all you got.
This does take some practice but be committed and stick to it - I promise you that before you know it, you'll be getting more done in less time.
If you are an organisation fiend, please do share your tips with me - I'd love to hear them!