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!
When you work virtually, it can be hard to get to know the people on your team. At Your Realty Leverage, our staff members live all over the United States and the Philippines. We have “offices” in a variety of cities and states such as St. Petersburg, FL, Clarksville, TN, Durham, NC, and Baltimore, MD. And in the Philippines, our staff works all across the country from Cebu City to Negros to Manila. As the company grows, more people from more states and more cities join the team. Yet when there is no water cooler to gather around and no common area to relax in for break time, it can be challenging to get to know each other and to create meaningful shared experiences.
As we continue to both serve our clients and build our team, we recognize the importance of intentionality in creating opportunities for coworkers to connect in ways beyond department meetings and 411s. There are several things we do at YRL that I personally have enjoyed being a part of and have found value in in terms of getting to know my coworkers in a deeper way. I have made a list of these activities and am sharing them here in the hopes that your virtual team can benefit from them. Remember: being intentional is the key!
- Daily Stand Ups: Each morning, the entire company gathers on Zoom at the same time for a daily check-in meeting. This is a time and space we have intentionally created so that staff members have the opportunity to 1) share what they are thankful for/give gratitude for something in any aspect of their life, 2) offer shout outs to team members who have been helpful in a certain way, have a birthday or noteworthy occasion, 3) make general announcements, and 4) share an activity or information on a designated topic depending on the day of the week. We have created routine around bringing everyone together and starting the day with a common, unified experience. It makes me smile to see all the talking heads pop up on my screen as my coworkers join the Zoom room for our call.
Some Daily Stand Up experiences are simpler than others. We move through the agenda for the day and then continue with our workday. However, there are very special moments that come out of these meetings which help us connect in different ways. We learn about each other’s lifestyles, families, friends, challenging situations, personal growth and development, new ideas, travel experiences, and so much more. It can provide a new perspective on a coworker or situation that resonates with you personally. And it helps create stronger bonds and a greater understanding of everyone on our team.
- One-On-One Meetings: It is common for our team members to schedule a variety of one-on-one meetings each week, typically with the focus on moving a specific project forward or gaining the skills and information needed to complete a given task. While those meetings focus on work, there is an opportunity to get to know each other by interacting in these moments. I encourage everyone to take some time in one-on-one meetings to pick up on verbal and nonverbal cues, to ask questions and build rapport with each other. We are so regularly focused on getting the job done that we can forget sometimes the human experience involved in getting us to reach a goal. Take time to learn about and from each other as you interact through your work
- Ice Breakers: At one of our recent Daily Stand Ups, a coworker led the team through an activity that really got us talking and laughing. It was a simple activity requiring that everyone comment on different categories and align ourselves with one side/option or another. Are you a dog person or a cat person? Do you prefer vacationing at the beach or in the mountains? Do you prefer sleeping in or getting up early? We were encouraged to respond via Zoom chat and, as we did, we commented on and went deeper with our answers. It created conversation and laughter, people joked with each other, others asked questions. We all got to be a part of the fun and we really enjoyed it. Incorporating ice breakers into your weekly routine can help contribute to breaking down barriers and aligning people in different ways.
- Happy Hour: On a Friday afternoon after a week of focus and hard work, it can be relaxing and enjoyable to gather with coworkers to debrief and transition into the weekend. Bring your own snack and a refreshing drink. Take off your blazer. Kick off your shoes and put your feet up. Let your hair down. Think about the challenges and the successes from the week. Recognize the accomplishments. Talk about plans for the weekend. And enjoy the company of your coworkers. Simply providing a chance for people to unwind and enjoy each other’s company can help build rapport.
- Culture Committee: Recently, we formed a Culture Committee to establish intention and structure around our company culture. We have not yet reaped the benefits of creating such a group. As time goes on, we will have different activities and there will be more opportunities for people to get to know each other. As the committee develops, I hope to write about how our culture has shifted and strengthened as a result of their work. Stay tuned for further blog posts with updates on being intentional with your team around getting together.