When things get hectic from trips, being sick, missed work days, special projects that take excessive work time; one of the first things to go is our routines, habits and the organization of our space and mind. Quickly we become overwhelmed or stuck as we try to make headway, feeling like we cannot move fast enough. At this point it is easy to get into the urgent and reactionary mode. Operating in urgent is usually the less effective way to manage our time and get things done as you are working hard all day, but just seem to answer phone calls, plow through e-mail and respond to things, but the to-do list stays the same or gets longer!
Here are 5 strategies to EMPOWER your productivity through Organization. This is organization of the mind.
1. Brain dump. What is on your mind? What needs to be done and how much time will it take? What can be delegated and what do you have to do?
2. Mind map. Push yourself to think beyond your brain dump, what else is there? You can write several columns with these headings or make circles with these in the middle and then list or make “lines” off your circles with what else might need to be considered: Look at work (marketing, business development, clients, staff, administration, finance, etc.), family, home/car, volunteer activities, meetings/events, friends/fun, money, health, and any others that have significant action items.
3. Park it. Use the concept of a “parking lot” to put things that are concepts or ideas, not urgent or important, and can be done later. Keep this as a post-it, task list or sheet of paper, as new things pop into your mind, you can jot them down to manage later. (These are non-task items)
4. Plan & Schedule. Mark the items that are very important or urgent and then plot out the next day or two of when you will do what and leave the rest of the list. Specify when you will do what so you can work through your list in a disciplined fashion. Plan blocks of time to manage phone calls, interruptions and other things that might get you off your schedule.
5. Book mark. Use a future to do list or a planning tool like Outlook to assign the other tasks that will be handled in a few days, next week, or in the future. This way you can get them out of your brain and know that you will not forget them. Our minds are like computers. The more windows and things open, the slower it runs. Likewise, the more things you try and hold in your mind, the slower you run.
Get everything out. Put it in the proper place (parking lot idea list, on a day schedule or bookmarked in a task list) and get going on the task at hand. Stay focused and do not divert. You will be amazed at how you make progress and how good you feel!