A perennial topic with my clients is staying organized. It seems like people are consumed by this subject, largely because staying organized is an ongoing key challenge in this information-flooded environment that we live and work in.
What makes this even more challenging is that so many different systems, software and apps seem to shout “try me!” Technology is great, but it’s so easy to get bogged down into things that aren’t relevant for what you actually do in your work.
It truly doesn’t matter what system you use as long as you have one and use it consistently. I know people who still collect business cards in shoe boxes and others who have the discipline to scan them on the day they receive them. What works for you is what matters.
Having a system will help you develop the competency of planning and organizing, defined as using logical, systematic and orderly procedures to meet objectives. It will also help you with self-management, which is your ability to manage time and priorities. Having a functional system, then, can work towards the enhancement of two important competencies.
I’ve tried so many systems over the years that ultimately my solution was to pick the “best of” from various products and create a process that works best for me. I replicate this method with my system-less clients so that they can create and use what’s best for them.
Here are some of the key areas (by no means all of them) that your organization system ought to capture:
- A calendar system that you can access quickly and effectively so that you don’t commit to do too much in too little time.
- A way to manage your contacts, so you can find their information when you need it.
- What you need to follow up on, in what priority, with deadlines attached. This used to be called a “to do” list, but given today’s complexities, to do lists are somewhat obsolete.
- A way to track what you’ve delegated, to whom, with deadlines attached.
- A method for managing projects. These are different than your regular follow up items, especially if you are working with a team. The bottom line, though, is that you still need to know when, where and how your share of the projects fits in.
- A list of “A” priorities (for example, related to your clients, your manager, your family) that you “must do” regardless of your other priorities.
Attaching dates to these different categories is a subtle, yet keenly important way to stay on top of what you need to do. Using dates creates discipline. You can always change a date, but when you don’t have one, you tend to forget about the task. Those items tend to drift off into the great unknown until you can’t remember why they were on the list in the first place.
I don’t recommend starting from scratch and changing what you do all at once. Change a few things at a time and try them on for size to see how they work for you. Once you have integrated them, then go ahead and make other changes. And, try to enjoy the journey, because the ride is likely to be a long one!
© 2016 Lisa M. Aldisert