Productivity is all about organization — staying organized will allow you to accomplish more in a given amount of time, and with much less unnecessary stress or effort. However, getting organized is a lot harder than it sounds. After all, you have so much to do, and there just aren’t enough hours in the workday.
So where should you start?
Obviously you’re not going to become perfectly organized overnight, but here are 6 helpful organizational tips to make your workdays more productive.
Plan your workdays the night before
You waste a lot of time when you show up to the office and spend the first 30 minutes of your day trying to decide what to do first. You also waste a whole lot of time deciding what to do next after completing a task. You should really be spending less time thinking about what you should do, and more time actually doing it.
Before you go to bed each night, spend 10-30 minutes thinking about what you need to accomplish the next day. Grab a pen and paper and make a list of things that need to be done, numbering them in order of highest priority. When you arrive at the office the next day, you’ll already have a game plan laid out for you!
Delegate tasks to employees and coworkers
After making that list I suggested you make in the previous section, you’ll probably realize that you have tons of stuff that needs to get done. There’s no way you can get all of that stuff done in one day! If you try to do everything on your own, you risk everything crashing down and you having to pick up the pieces.
Part of being a good leader means being able to delegate tasks out to others, and not being afraid to ask for help. Find some employees and coworkers you really trust and who aren’t too busy already, and assign some of your work to them. Learn to delegate tasks properly, and you free up time that would otherwise be spent controlling the chaos.
Create an email-checking schedule and stick to it
Not checking your email can lead to a backed up inbox full of emails. All of these emails take a long time to get through; time that you could have otherwise spent doing work. However, constantly refreshing your email is an unnecessary waste of time.
In order to ensure that no communication is lost and that no time is wasted, you should create a consistent email-checking schedule. I suggest checking your email 4 times per workday:
- Once at the beginning of the workday, to respond to any unanswered emails from the day before,
- Before lunch, to take care of the morning emails,
- Once in the mid-late afternoon, to answer any emails you received since lunch, and
- One last time before leaving the office for the day.
I find that this email-checking schedule works best, and balances good communication with uninterrupted work.
Work from home when it makes sense
Sometimes it just makes more sense to work from home. If you need to compose a document, or conduct research on a specific topic, you don’t really need to go into the office. Actually, working from home may eliminate some office distractions that would otherwise slow you down, like casual conversations with your employees and coworkers.
In fact, more and more businesses are recognizing the advantages of allowing their employees to work from home. Working remotely cuts out commute time, and leads to shorter lunches and fewer sick days. Just make sure you don’t have the TV on while you’re working…
Take advantage of free organizational tools
There are tons of great apps and software out there to help you and your team get organized and effectively manage tasks, and many of them are free!
Take Asana, for example. Asana is an online teamwork/organizational software, and it’s free for groups of up to 15 people. Asana allows you to create projects within your team, and assign tasks to team members within each project (you can also assign tasks to yourself). Team members can add comments, notes, attachments, and tags. Asana even includes email and calendar features, eliminating the need for other platforms.
Use Asana to keep your team organized, or simply use it as your own personal task manager.
Keep everything in one place!
A lot of people feel the need to have multiple calendars for everything. If you’re one of these people, you’ve probably got a calendar on your phone, an Outlook calendar, and a Google calendar. It’s understandable that you’d want to keep your work and personal lives completely separate, but more calendars means you have more to keep track of, which can make it very easy for you to miss a meeting or some other important event.
Do not let this happen to you. If you can, try to have just one calendar for everything, including personal engagements, work meetings, and family reunions. If you must have multiple calendars, then you should consider syncing all of your other calendars, including your Google and Outlook calendars, to your smartphone, so that all events scheduled on your other calendars appear on your mobile device as well.
What are you waiting for? Get organized!
Organization is the first step to productivity, and these are just some of the many actions you can take to get organized and increase your productivity. Let’s do a quick recap to make sure you got everything:
- Plan your workdays the night before
- Delegate tasks to employees and coworkers
- Create an email-checking schedule and stick to it
- Work from home when it makes sense
- Take advantage of free organizational tools
- Keep everything in one place
Follow these simple tips and you’ll be well on your way to more productive days!
This guest post is courtesy of Jeffrey Mortensen, Content Manager for DataXoom. DataXoom is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) which provides mobile data services exclusively to businesses in the United States.