Helpful Tips for Staying Organized
Anybody who knows anything about the role of a project manager, knows that we are all over the place – but in a good way. We start and stop projects, have client meetings and get phone calls throughout the day, and then there is definitely the “squirrel” aspect to our job … e-mail. We handle a variety of client accounts, multiple projects per client and jump in and out of meetings on most days, so it can be hard to be organized. I’m sure you can relate. It always seems like you are busy, but nothing gets crossed off the “to-do” list. Here are some helpful tips and tools to keep you feeling organized, even if the amount of work just keeps growing.
Tip #1: The To-Do List
I’m a list person. Having a “to-do” list helps me prioritize and stay on track. Keeping everything you have to do stored in your head usually creates a sense of feeling overwhelmed and a fear of forgetting something. Writing it down will ensure you don’t forget and will give you that satisfaction of actually crossing a few things off, leaving you feeling accomplished. Regular pen and paper works just fine, but there are some handy dandy free electronic lists that will keep you on track and save paper.
Tip #2: Clear the Clutter
Keeping your desk clear will give you better piece of mind. Try not to have things stack up. Usually the only folders on my desk are for those projects I’m working on that day and all the others are filed in a different spot. This helps me with staying organized with what needs to get done on that day and prevents me from getting sidetracked. If new papers or folders stack up, try to deal with them right away. If it is quick – take care of it, otherwise, add it to that “today” pile or file it away until it needs to be addressed.
It also helps to clear off your desk of sodas cans, coffee cups and any evidence of today’s lunch. If it is garbage, that is where it belongs. This will help reduce the clutter and the possibility of spilling something on your keyboard.
Tip #3: Schedule Efficiently
Whether you schedule your own day or have the help of someone else, be efficient about how you schedule your meetings. We’ve all been there, where you have one meeting at 10 am another at 2 pm and it is hard to get tasks done before, in-between and after. If you know you are going to end up with multiple meetings in one day, try to schedule them all in the morning or all in the afternoon. This will leave you with larger chunks of time to get other tasks accomplished. If your meeting is offsite, try to schedule it on your way into the office or on your way home, so you don’t waste so much time going back and forth.
Tip #4: Learn to Label
I’m always taking notes, but to make sure I keep all my information organized, I label everything with the client name and the date. I also don’t combine notes for two different things. Even if I’m only taking down a few different tidbits of information and need to move on to the next thing, I start the next thought on a clean piece of paper.
When starting new projects or file folders, think about how you will need to reference them in the future. Make sure the name is clearly identified and make sure to include the month and year. This will help you when looking back on projects or help those who might need to work on them for the next go-around.
Tip #5: Create Shortcuts
We all have those documents or folders on the server that we use over and over. Create shortcuts to get instant access to these folders without having to go through an entire process each time. Keep a folder of “helpful documents” on your desktop. This can include your electronic letterhead, expense report and other templates and sizes of things you always need – ad specs, online platform sizes, etc. This will save you a lot of time and also comes in handy if you ever have to onboard a new employee.
Hopefully becoming a more organized person and at work will provide some much needed stress relief in a stress-filled world. Remember to control the things you can control.