Lack of organisation.
It really does seem that organisation is the key to, well, everything – be it your paperwork, your desk, your inbox and ultimately, your success.
As a Virtual Office, organisation is key to the way we operate – both for ourselves and for our clients! Take a look below at the some of the key ways we keep things in order.
The To-Do List
There are, believe it or not, many symptoms of not having a proper to-do list. These include missing deadlines, forgetting things, people chasing you for something you haven’t remembered to do, and often, feeling totally overwhelmed.
It’s amazing what a to-do list can do for your organisation (if you keep up with it regularly). If your days are busy and you often don’t know where to start, then a to-do list can often help you to prioritise tasks and get a better sense of what’s urgent and what’s not, and how much work you have on – versus you simply panicking about what you think you might have to do.
Simply write down all your tasks (yes, all of them) and then mark them in terms of date and priority. Whether you use a simple note pad, or branch out into an app or software (we LOVE Asana), finding a system that works for you will really boost your productivity and sense of organisation.
And ultimately, there’s nothing more satisfying than putting a big tick next to a completed task.
Emails – a hugely important part of working life. They can come in thick and fast on an hourly (or sometimes it feels like seconds!) basis and, if you aren’t on top of your inbox, emails can really mount up. When messages keep pinging in, it’s easy to get snagged by your email so often that you neglect the rest of your duties.
Equally, if you don’t stay on top of them or have a system in place for dealing with them – you can miss important messages, duplicate responses and generally be living in a world of chaos. Plus, there’s nothing worse than searching for an email from within the depths of your inbox and being unable to find it.
Organising your inbox into folders is a great way to start. Be that files for ‘work’ and ‘personal’ or separate folders for each client you have, make sure you file emails into a dedicated folder so that everything is easily located.
Instead of bouncing back and forth between email and other duties all day, schedule designated timeslots to check your inbox. You could use a calendar alert to go off two or three times a day to remind you to stop what you’re doing and focus on sending and responding to emails.
At KM Office, we use the David Allan ‘Getting Things Done’ Method, and email management is often top of the list for our busy clients.
Even with so much happening electronically now, many of us can still find ourselves swimming in a sea of paperwork, with an overflowing in-tray and a post pile that never seems to go down in size.
How much time do you lose looking for that invoice, those meeting notes you made, or an important sticky note with something useful you jotted down on it?
Instead of wasting valuable time conducting a search-and-rescue mission for your documents, at KM we very much recommend developing a solid and reliable filing system (something we do a lot of for our clients!) Whether it’s separate folders for invoicing, typing up your meeting notes immediately (or allocating time to do so before you forget), dedicating a box file to ‘useful information’ or having a very strict policy with your in-tray – taking the time to get a handle on your paperwork will never be time wasted.
You can even make use of a scanner to digitise documents and create a simple online filing system to minimise the amount of paper you must keep hanging around.
‘File, label and categorise’ is key to our day to day work at KM Virtual Office, whether you’re using a paper file or an online system. Nothing beats being able to find something quickly and so if you’re struggling with your filing systems, or need one put in place, we’re only a phone call away.
Diary & Schedule
Staying on top of your diary and schedule is really important for your organisation, not just to ensure you know what you’re doing and when, but also so that you don’t miss appointments or double book yourself.
We recommend using a calendar – be it outlook, on your phone, or a hand-held diary, to log all your appointments and any changes that happen. That way, you’ll get a better idea of how your week is shaping up and what you can and can’t fit in around your meetings.
Use colour coding to separate your work events from your personal ones so you can quickly glance at your calendar to see what’s on the agenda for the day too.
Equally important though – and something people tend to do a lot less – is to schedule yourself. As well as meetings, you can put all your deadlines, tasks and activities into your calendar so you get notifications and don’t miss anything.
You can also schedule your time throughout the day to focus on different tasks. Give yourself slots of time to focus on specific work tasks, so you have a chunk of time to focus solely on one thing —uninterrupted.