How to stay organized in a rapidly changing environment
Once upon a time. (don’t you love stories that start that way?) staying organized seemed so simple -you broke out a pencil or pen, grabbed a piece of paper, and just made a list! It affectionately became known as the “To Do” list, and it covered everything that had to be done, big or small, and you checked items off as you completed them.
Eventually that To Do list started needing more detail, became accompanied by sticky notes, and eventually evolved into the variety of online task list managers and apps we have today, both stand-alone and in email. There are an ever increasing number of ways to stay organized. But the question remains: how to organize the many means of organization?
Picking The Best Organizational Strategy For You
When coaching professionals at all levels, whether interns working their first job or executives wanting to invest in their own professional development, the conversation inevitably lands on a fundamental question: with so much to do, how do you keep track of your tasks and deadlines? This blog compares and contrasts some of our staff’s favorite ways of keeping themselves organized. While many of these ideas apply to tracking tasks that need visibility by others, this article focuses on how to keep yourself organized. It may not answer the question about how to manage all your to-do trackers, but it is designed to help you test and select those that work best for you.
The key message is this: there is no one single “best” method - it completely depends on how you work, what motivates you to get work done, and how you look at the “big picture” of life. At the end of the day, in an informal poll of professionals working in large scale project management roles, it turns out most folks use a combination of many of these methods.
Let’s get started:
To keep this discussion organized, we’ll use a standard Pros/Cons approach using a table.
Developing Your Personal Communication Plan
There are many more tools available to ensure work gets done. One of the most important steps in using any organizing solution, or a combination of multiple solutions, is to have a plan and a process that ensures you are consistently using the same tools for the same thing. If you don’t, it’s easy to get caught up in the confusion of, “where did I write that down?” or “what am I supposed to do next?” The easiest way to optimize and organize is to use one tool, such as One Note, for everything, in spite of the challenges any single tool might offer. However, how many of you really use only one tool? Our experience suggests that business owners typically have evolved to use many different types of organization tools thus we’ve recommended the development not only of a company communication strategy or plan but also a personal communication plan. A personal communication plan identifies what tool to use based on what type of communication input is received, defines how that communication is tracked or captured to ensure it becomes a “task”, and then defines how that task is resolved. Depending on which tools are used to identify tasks, priorities can easily be assigned (such as using Red to indicate a high priority item). For example, a personal communication plan might look like this:
This is just one example of how a personal communication plan can help you keep everything organized. When you plan how you want to track tasks, when you are looking for the status of your tasks, or later, when you want to follow up on something you thought might have been resolved, the personal communication plan provides a structure for finding that information.
In these crazy days, with so much going on and seemingly so much on the line, it’s important to find tools that work for you. While we certainly didn’t cover all tools, we hope you’ll take a few minutes to review the tools you are using and create your own personal communication plan.
Give it a shot! And, if you have any questions about how to get started, or perhaps are interested in evaluating other tools you may not be using currently, please let us know. Archimedes C&C is here to help you stay organized so your business gets things done.