A few years ago, I hired professional organizer and owner of Organize for Success Emily Parks to advise my team and I on ways to become more efficient. In the final installment of this six-part series that began in January, Emily will share her thoughts on how to become more productive by planning your work more efficiently so you can go about working your plan more successfully in three surprisingly simple steps.
Ed: Over the last four years, my professional obligations as an in-house manager have increased exponentially. I appreciate and enjoy all the new challenges I’ve been tasked with in my work life. But I also want to make sure there is enough space for my personal life to grow and flourish, too. Both have got to coexist, however, I do feel the pressure to not drop the ball in either court. Do you have any thoughts on how I can manage both more productively?
Emily: I’m so glad you asked about that, Ed. I believe success comes from being prepared before opportunity knocks on your door. The Vince Lombardi quote of “Plan your work and work your plan” is particularly applicable when addressing your personal or professional productivity goals. As many of us have a running list of “to-do” items, it becomes vital to funnel that list into a weekly game plan, which, subsequently, funnels into a daily task list. However, you might be asking how that’s possible, especially as obstacles pop-up throughout the week. These habits make it feasible:
1. Weekly Strategy Session
Whether it’s Friday afternoon or over the weekend, take time to wrap-up any loose ends from the week before, as well as create a game plan for the week ahead by completing these steps:
- Evaluate how many of the prior week’s tasks were completed, determining what’s left undone and must be carried into the new week
- Clarify any changes to your priorities so those people and activities most important to you get scheduled accordingly
- Review the upcoming week’s commitments to ensure you’re prepared for the related tasks and appointments
- Determine additional opportunities for growth — What will move you towards accomplishing more of your goals?
- Map out a game plan for the upcoming week’s activities, remembering that every “what” assigned a specific “when” is more likely to be done
2. Morning Jump-start
While we all believe we’re superheroes who can accomplish a never-ending list of tasks and appointments, each of us is only one person; therefore, it’s important to start the day on the right foot to accomplish all that is realistically possible.
- Enter each day of your life with 3-5 items that will be your “must do” list for the day, whether those are appointments or tasks, set realistic goals
- Follow the philosophy of “swallow the frog” such that you complete the most difficult task or item you’ve been avoiding before moving to others
3. Daily Wrap-up
I like to think of the last 15 or so minutes of each workday as my “check-up from the neck up,” where I accomplish these activities:
- Review day’s tasks, preparing the next day’s to-do list based off what was left undone from today as well as what must be done tomorrow
- Evaluate your schedule for the next day and verify that you are prepared for everything coming up
- Get end-of-day updates from team members
- Tidy up your workspace, filing newly arrived items while putting the day’s work back into each item’s assigned home
- Reflect on greatest successes and make note of that for which you’re most grateful
Which of these three steps will you incorporate into your professional or personal workflow? Let us know if these steps have helped you become more productive.
About Emily Parks
Emily Parks, owner of Organize for Success, is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers & the Institute for Challenging Disorganization as well as a graduate of the Institute for Professional Organizers. With a background in automotive marketing and college sports operations, Emily provides confidential, one-on-one consulting (in-person or via Skype) and team training, helping you increase efficiency, boost productivity, accomplish more in less time, quickly locate what you need when you need it and maximize your physical space for optimal output.
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