CREDIT: This article first appeared on Forbes and was written by Kevin Kruse
What are some simple ways to get and stay organised?
You’ve done checklists, to-do lists, countless scheduling apps, and the latest in memory tricks. Yet, it can still sometimes feel as though your desk is cluttered, your inbox full, and your calendar is a mess. Are there any tips to getting (and staying) organised that are easy to implement and maintain?
Beth Beutler is the owner of H.O.P.E. Unlimited, providing collaborative virtual assistants and business soft skill education for overwhelmed professionals so they can excel. She’s also the author of 52 Ways To Be More Organised. I recently interviewed Beth on the LEADx podcast to learn a few of her go-to moves to staying on target.
The following is what she had to say on organisation:
Kevin Kruse: What are some of your favourite tips for people who are super crazy busy?
Beth Beutler: Well, let me give you a couple of practical ones. One tool I have found helpful is to keep a small dry erase board at my desk. So often, we take sticky notes and pieces of scrap paper and jot things down real quick and all that, and they end up staying on our desk and cluttering up the visual field of our desk. And they may be old and we don’t need them anymore, but we’re just used to them being there. With a dry erase board you can quickly jot down that number and then erase it when you’re done or transfer it to something on your computer. So that’s a real practical one.
Record reminders to yourself on the fly. Almost all of us carry smartphones now and have either have OK Google or Siri or some kind of assistant like that, that you can just say, “Hey, remind me…” You know, you think of things sometimes in an impractical place and so if you can pull your phone out and say, “Hey, remind me of this particular person I need to call or task that I need to remember.” Now, I wouldn’t do that for a recurring task, you need to manage those probably with a task management system, but we all need those occasional things that say, “Oh, it’s my friend’s birthday, send her a text later.” Things like that that you can record or message.
And I also would suggest that people really try to reserve the last half hour of their workday to try and get their inbox as close to inbox-zero as possible. I’m a big believer in that. I know some people are probably out there like “Oh yeah, sure, I can’t get there.” But you really can if you can keep up with it every day, and also just kind of know what’s coming the next day, and clean up your desk up a little bit. And if you have to do things like time sheets, record your time day by day. I remember working somewhere where people would have to try to recreate timesheets later, and it’s just such a headache to try to remember to keep up with it. So reserve that last half hour for those clean up tasks.
Kruse: You can keep up your inbox at zero if you turn a lot of those tasks into calendar entries, right?
Beutler: Right. Calendar or at a task management list. That’s exactly right. People use their inbox as their task list, which is kind of a major mistake. You don’t leave your snail mail out in your mailbox. Almost all of us go and check our mail every day when we get home, right? We don’t leave it piling up for days, and days, and days. Well, maybe some do, but a lot of people don’t. And yet our inbox, our electronic mail, somehow becomes our task list, and we don’t mind that piling up. It’s just visual clutter and there’s just so much that gets buried sometimes. And there are some times that people don’t respond very well, and then that goes down a whole other route where if you’re not responsive, then your level of professionalism goes down a little bit in the eyes of others. So, it’s really just a smart thing to try and stay on top of that.
And if you can’t get it to zero, at least get it to only one screen worth. You know, where you’re not having to scroll down for hours to get to the bottom of it.
Kruse: So what about any specific advice for road warriors? I’m probably on an airplane once a week. What kind of tips would you have for us?
Beutler: Well, I would suggest that you carry a few things with you that kind of helps you create a makeshift office so that anywhere you go — the desk in your hotel room, or the coffee shop — that you have a few familiar items that you can set up something that feels comfortable to you with your laptop. You might even bring a small photo of your family that you can just set up next to your laptop–‘Hop Desk’, they call it, you’re moving around from desk to desk. It’s sometimes nice to have something that just reminds you of home, or reminds you of some stability. So always carry that. Obviously carry good earphones, because wherever you are at you can drown out the ambient noise and focus more with playlists that motivate you, so have good earphones.
Some people benefit from carrying something like an essential oil mix that helps them stay focused or kind of freshens the room they’re staying in. If that works for you, then get something and have it with you. And ideally, if you’re travelling, you don’t want to have to repack everything from scratch. And I’m sure you’re probably much more seasoned than I am as a traveller, but there are probably some things that you kind of always keep in your suitcase all the time. And then you just have to kind of shift things, put new clothes in, take the other ones out. So I would recommend people having travel packs, separate from the things that they use every day in their office. You have a second mouse, for example. I don’t like touch pads, so I tend to have a couple of mice and it’s best to keep one all the time in your laptop bag separately from the one you may use.
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