1. Have a to-do list
Yes, a good old fashioned to-do list. Whether it’s on a smartphone, a computer, or like me, just using pen and paper, write everything down that you need to do that day. If you have a list, you can physically see what tasks you need to get done and that can help keep things clear in your mind. From your list, prioritise what you need to do first and work through the rest. When you get to the end of your working day, create a new list ready for the next day. Add any new priorities and any tasks that you didn’t quite get to from today’s list so nothing gets missed.
2. Organise your workspace & declutter regularly
You need your workspace to be clear so you can well, work! Use lever-arch files, box files, paper trays, magazine files, whatever you like. Use them for filing everything from receipts & invoices to current project papers or useful reading material. Label files so you can clearly access what you need, when you need it.
Don’t be tempted to let papers pile up on your workspace, have separate piles for your papers that you can add to throughout the day such as, ‘to do’, ‘to read’, or ‘to shred’- take 10 minutes at the end of each day to file away and shred as necessary. This should prevent you disappearing behind a massive pile of papers on your desk which then becomes a real chore to deal with later on (and will likely end up in the shredder whether it needs to or not!)
3. Keep your stationery cupboard stocked
As dull as this may be, ensure your stationery cupboard is stocked with everything you need – especially spare ink cartridges, staples, pens, plenty of printer paper, and envelopes of all sizes. There’s nothing more irritating that needing something urgently only to find that you don’t have it!
4. Keep folders for each client
Ideally keep things paper free and create folders for each client on your laptop, or in the cloud using a cloud storage solution such as OneDrive, DropBox or Google Drive. Of course, this only works if you make sure you save everything that relates to that client in their client folder, including emails. You could also create folders for each client within your email inbox but I’ve learnt from past experience this can lead to your inbox getting rather full rather quickly. So, I would say it’s best to save emails that you may want to refer to again in the client folder on your laptop/in the cloud. Just ensure to label the saved email in a way that you know what the email is regarding. This way, if you suddenly need to access a document or email sent to you by Mr. J. Bloggs, you know exactly where to find it. Rather than searching through your inbox for hours on end.
5. Create a schedule
If you regularly write a blog, or send out a newsletter to your mailing list, use excel to create a schedule. Add ideas for topics and the dates for publishing on a weekly/monthly basis so you can refer to it and keep to a regular schedule. Then as I’m about to discuss below, add a reminder in your diary to remind you when you need to start writing your blog/newsletter to ensure its published when you want it to be.
6. Add reminders to your diary
This is a very simple one but not something everyone utilises. Add reminders in your diary to make sure that you don’t forget to do something! If there’s a conference coming up that you’d like to attend, add a reminder a week before so that you can look to book tickets. Or if you need to make sure a contract or invoice is sent out by a certain date (if you don’t have a Finance Team to do this for you!), add a reminder in for that. Anything that you need to remember that you think you might forget – use your diary to remind you. Or you could use an app such as EverNote or Wunderlist.
7. Add documentation within the calendar appointment
If you have an important meeting coming up that’s in your diary and there are documents relating to that meeting that you will need to refer to on the day, save them within the calendar appointment. That way you can easily find them and print them to take with you on the day or refer to them on your laptop during the meeting. It makes sense and makes life a lot easier if everything you need for that meeting is saved all in one place and easy for you to access.
8. Don’t procrastinate!
As Benjamin Franklin’s saying goes, “don’t put off until tomorrow, what you can do today”. If you want your life to be a bit less stressful then organise what you can, as soon as you can. Putting in the effort to get things done asap, will be less stressful in the long run. So if there’s something that you really need to do, get it done and smugly cross it off your to do list, now!!
If you need help being more organised and are looking for a virtual assistant, please email Miss VirtualEA here for more info.