As 2013 comes to a close, we often think about how we can change, or improve ourselves over the course of the New Year. When it comes to our career and personal life, we often say, “If only I had more hours in a day!” Well, we know that isn’t possible, but this recent article, –written by Sharon Florentine, certainly gives us some pointers on how to better manage the time we have !
1. Purge Your Workspace
Go through those stacks of papers and get rid of duplicates. Clean out your desk drawers and filing cabinets and throw out (or recycle) anything you haven't used in six months.
When you're left with only necessary items and have removed excess clutter, you can more easily organize what's left.
2. Rearrange Your Office
Next, evaluate the furniture layout in your newly purged space based on how you work. If you have to get up every time you need to throw something away or replace a file, your desktop and your floor can easily become your trash can/file storage. Arrange furniture, files, and trash receptacles so that they're easy and quick to access.
3. Organize Your Desktop
Keep only supplies and gadgets you need on a daily basis on your desktop, and keep them within easy reach. In today's digital world, you probably don't need to keep an overflowing cup of pens and pencils or bottles of white-out, but your computer, phone, a few pens, a notepad and a stapler should be within arm's reach, create a paper workflow system for any incoming documents. An inbox is for items that haven't yet been reviewed, an in-process box is for items you're working on, and your filing system.
4. Develop a Filing System
There's no right or wrong when it comes to developing a filing system, as long as it matches the way you work and can be easily maintained, Depending on your personal preference, you can file alphabetically, by project, by client, or some other method that works for you.
A master list (index) of file names can help avoid creating duplicates when you're adding new files and to help maintain organization for new files, clients, and projects. And it's a great tool for others to use in your absence,
Keep the most recent documents at the front of the file for ready access, and make sure to check your company's records-retention policy to ensure you're not throwing out vital records. Archive older records in bank boxes, or invest in a digital scanner to store documents electronically.
5. Time Management
Whether you're still using a notebook and pen, PC software or an app on your smartphone, keeping a running to-do list can make sure that you're on schedule and that appointments and deadlines don't fall through the cracks.
Clear at least an hour each work day to focus on projects and action items.
Breaking up large projects into smaller steps and scheduling time in the day to work through each can make short work of large assignments. But you have to schedule, she says.
Schedule time on your to-do list each day to deal with emails and return phone calls. Once in the morning and once each afternoon for greater efficiency.
"Set a timer for 10 or 15 minute increments and do little sprints to get things done. We all know that the most effective time is 15 minutes before you have to walk out the door for a meeting or appointment," Kreamer says. "That's called a deadline -- a bunch of 10-15 minute deadlines back-to-back can yield amazing results."
Write an agenda for each phone call so you don't forget important points, and, if you have to leave a message, outline exactly the response you need so others can get you exactly the information or action you need to complete your task.
7. Organize Digitally
Being electronically organized is just as important as being physically organized. Create different folders and subfolders in your email inbox for each client and project, so when new emails arrive, you can quickly act on and file communications. That way, when a new email comes in you can act on it, and then file it in its appropriate e-folder.
Digital document storage should be set up to mirror your physical filing system, with folders and subfolders to store records and documents. For archived materials, a cloud-based storage provider can be a great way to store completed projects or files you don't need every day.
8. Ritualize Your Work Day
Organization isn't a one-and-done proposition; you must keep up with the influx of documents, files, projects and communications. When you're done working for the day, devote about 15 minutes to update your to-do list, file completed projects and replace in-progress items in their proper place. That makes for a clean, fresh, organized start when you arrive at work the next morning.