In any job, it is important to stay organized. In a rapidly growing company, things are constantly changing. New opportunities arise and priorities shift causing employees to pivot on a regular basis. In a constantly changing environment where your target is constantly moving, getting and staying organized – as an employee, as a department, as a company – can be even more challenging. Organization is crucial to setting priorities and keeping track. In my role, I have found a few key tools that are crucial to staying organized and moving goals forward. They are simple and fail-proof. If you do not already use these tools, whether you are in a growing and changing company/role or not, I encourage you to practice them so they become part of your routine. They will become the staples in your organization arsenal.
Manage Your Calendar
As last week’s post mentioned, time blocking is crucial. At fthe beginning of every week, I take time on Sunday evening or Monday morning before the work day starts to review my schedule for the upcoming week. I take a look at any deadlines I may have or reports that are due and make sure to include prep time for them on my calendar. I also see what meetings I have scheduled and I gauge whether or not they need to be shifted around. Is a coworker who I regularly meet with going to be out of town? Do my non-company meetings conflict with a team meeting or a 411? Thinking about these things and planning ahead for the week helps set me up for a healthy start to the week.
Of course, things come up each and every day that require you to shift your schedule. It may be a last-minute meeting with my supervisor, or perhaps a team members need some assistance and support in handling a particular situation. Someone may get sick or a client may need to shift a meeting to a different time. And so it’s important to move time blocks around every day so as to address these ever-changing priorities. At the start and end of each day, allow for some time to adjust your calendar so you can be prepped and ready for the rest of the week
Create Tasks using Technology.
When new tasks come up, consider the tools that technology provides in task management. The following three methods have become part of my everyday organization strategy: 1) Google Calendar; 2) Slack; 3) Zoho Sprints
Google Calendar is most useful for tasks that I need to accomplish. To create tasks in Google Calendar, click on CREATE, then TASK, and then input the information relating to the task. Tasks can be scheduled for specific times or you can choose ALL DAY so tasks all are listed at the top of your calendar each day. As priorities change, tasks can be moved from one day to the next. And, of course, it always feels good to check off a task on the list when it has been completed.
Slack is useful for updating team members or other coworkers on items that need to be accomplished. There are task apps that can be linked to Slack that help draw your eye to certain things or group items in a more visually appealing way. However, a basic (and free!) way to set up tasks via Slack is to use PINS. Type a task into the designated channel and/or tag the designated individual responsible for completing the task and post it. Then, click on More Actions and chose Pin to this conversation. Pinned items are much easier to see and they can be separated out so pinned tasks can be grouped and viewed together. items groups together. This can very much help with staying organized.
ZohoSprints is something that we use as a company to keep track of tasks. We divide tasks into Months and then they are prioritized further into August A and August B Sprints. Each Sprint is to be completed in a two-week time period. This helps ensure that each department is moving forward and making progress on important tasks. Sprint tasks can be assigned to different team members so at weekly Department or Team meetings, priorities can be discussed and tasks can be updated.
Develop (and USE!) Systems and Checklists
Systems are critical to keeping organized. For example, for meetings, having an Agenda prepped and ready to go helps keep things on track. I have a standard Agenda template I use for certain meetings. I open them up and revise them prior to each meeting.
For every client call, I follow a process that has been documented and saved so it can be used time and again by me or by anyone else. Prior to each client call, I open the process document, review it, and update it. I make notes on any additional information I may need to provide to this client. And then I take notes during the call. I store the agenda and notes in my Client File and it becomes easily accessible for me and for my team members as they begin to work with new clients.
When anxiety strikes, it can be so helpful, even therapeutic, to brain dump everything into a speadsheet. I have a Google Spreadsheet set up with the following columns:
- Date of Input
- Task Name
- Category (that each relates to from my 20% or 80%)
- Due Date
Inevitably there are times when my head simply cannot hold all the information (and it should not have to) so I go to my Brain Dump Spreadsheet and unload everything from the disorganized mess in my mind and into the document. I create a filter for all columns so I can sort the tasks based on the date the task is due, category, and input date. And when I complete a task, I simply remove the item from the list. I review and update this spreadsheet every day so I can prioritize and stay organized. It is a lifesaver.
I hope these tips have been helpful. As I mentioned earlier, they are simple and straightforward. They are easy enough to implement into your everyday routine. Like anything else, to get the most out of these tools, it takes practice. Add one of these strategies to your routine every week for the next four weeks and see how much more organized you feel!