How do you keep it all organized???

by Stacy DeMarse in Tips on Tuesday at August 9, 2016


stacy cartoon resizeOne of the most popular questions we get from our clients is “How do you keep everything organized when you have so many events?”  There is a BIG list that highlights how we keep our professional life organized.  Most of these are skill sets that are also extremely useful in our personal lives as well.

  1. DO IT NOW!  Since we move at such a fast pace, procrastination is not an option.  Having a daily to do list (and getting past #1), uninterrupted work time or doing 1 thing at a time in this business does not work.  We have to multi-task and work on 6 – 10 projects simultaneously.  So when a situation arises, we deal with it immediately.
  2. Simplify! Simplify! Simplify! If you have not already, stop and take a look at current processes that bog you down.  Each time I encounter a project, process or procedure that seems to complicate my life, I make a note in my handy notebook page under “Simplify!”  I bring these issues up during staff meeting so we can talk about how to better streamline our process to Simplify our life!
  3. Delegate. Learn to trust people with critical tasks in all areas of your life. When you learn to effectively delegate tasks you actually find that it is easier to keep the stuff you cannot delegate better organized.
  4. Workable to do list.  This is different from our real “got to get it done” or list of everything we want to accomplish in the day.  This is a list of the 3 – 4 key items that have to get accomplished today.  I begin my day trying to accomplish these items first thing.  If your job is like mine, after 10am projects start to snowball and by 5pm your work day is over and you have no idea where your time went.  
  5. Taking Electronic Notes During Each Conversation With A Client. – when we communicate via e-mail, we have a written trail of the communication to refer back to for clarification.  But what if you were on a conference call or a 3-way call with clients.  Would you remember in 2 weeks what decisions were made during that call?  If you are like me, you will remember key decisions but some of the smaller “not so relevant at this time” decisions you many need a refresher on.  I start a notepad for each project and type notes during all conversations with the client.  If you keep your notes consistent with the dates, name of the person, and content of the call or meeting at the top, it is easy to find info when you need it.  Take it from one who was the queen of writing on sticky notes or in 3 ring binders.  After a while you get tired of flipping through pages or scribble to find some reference to a comment a client made on a conference call 2 weeks ago.
  6. Always having a capture device handy! It might not be the same device for every occasion but just being able to write stuff down when you think about it is key for me.  I have a white board in my office, a sticky pad in my kitchen, a small notepad by my bed and when out and about I have my cell phone.  Whenever an idea, inspiration or “OMG I totally forgot to do this” pops into my head I write it down. As long as it gets written down somewhere, I know it will make it onto my to do list.
  7. Make use of the word no.  I have struggled with this one myself.  Saying yes to volunteer positions when I really don’t have the time to manage the project correctly.  Or saying yes to clients on items that are outside my scope of service.  At one point I was working full-time, homeroom mom for my child’s class, Volunteer Coordinator for the PTA, Social Director AND Board Member for my neighborhood organization and trying to volunteer with MPI.  What ends up happening when you take too much is it all eventually gets done but not done well!  The key is learning to say “YES” to the right things and understanding that it is OK to say no to the rest.
  8. A place for everything. I make sure all my important things have a place.  E-mails and documents are all labeled and filed under the appropriate projects and I save everything.  Paper does not exist in my office unless I need to print it to work on a current project.  Once the project is complete, I save or scan the page and throw the paper away.
  9. Put it away now. The single, simplest thing I do to stay personally organized is to put whatever tool, item, clothing, bag, hairbrush etc., away immediately after using it. I always know where everything and anything is so I never waste time looking for something. Very efficient. I could tell a stranger where to find anything in my home.
  10. Risk Management. It is inevitable that when you have a large project due your internet goes out!  Or better yet, your computer crashes!  I have 2 computers both linked to my network.  All files are saved to our network not to a specific computer so our data is not at risk.  If one computer goes down, I have another I can immediate access.  When you experience internet issues (and we all do!) have a back-up.  I have a 4G hotspot through Verizon that provides immediate internet access when my Verizon Fios goes down. Having a good back-up system like Carbonite will also help to ensure any personal info on your computer is never lost.  My work files are important, but do not compare to value of my family photos!