Check It Off

Productivity suffers when your staff’s organization skills are weak. I’ve been studying this because it’s rampant in the workplace and an issue that many clients face. People are overwhelmed by the volume of tasks that cross their desks, their lack of knowledge of how to become better organized, and how to handle the technology that invariably creeps into the equation.

A checklist, for example, is an old tool whose form has morphed from analog to digital to apps. Any version will work, and as I’ve said repeatedly, the best system is the one that you actually use and helps you to stay organized.

Checklists can’t be stagnant tools. One person told me that he reviews his checklist first thing when he arrives at work. But he also revealed that often this review is derailed because other things require attention immediately.

One easy solution is to review the checklist in the evening before you leave the office. This may seem obvious, but I’d bet money that this person was taught learned to keep a to do list and review it first thing when he gets into the office. He had never thought of preparing at the end of the previous business day.

The other thing this person didn’t have a handle on was prioritizing. Checklists change daily based on priorities. He wasn’t taking time to think consider levels of importance and urgency, and he wasn’t tending to key items first.

Lack of common sense? Maybe. But people don’t learn organization skills in school and often they don’t have guidelines for how to be productive in their jobs. When you start with bad habits, those habits just get worse over the years.

Leaders need to be on top of this issue. Every company has unique productivity issues and when necessary (more often than you think) you need to help your people stay on top of their work. They are unlikely to ask for help – in part because they are unaware of the extent of the problem – so you need to be proactive in providing solutions.

I’m interested in how you handle this in your firm, so please feel free to share your insights with me.

Have a great week!

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