Before I went back to work after having my children, I knew that I needed to get my house organised or I would be in meltdown.
Then, having gone back to work, I realised (duh!) that I needed to be really organised there as well as I just could not spend the extra hours that I used to pre-children. Also working part-time as a lot of Mums do, I find that unless I make sure I have recorded all my upcoming actions somewhere, my day off can mean something is forgotten as I go back to family world for 24 hours!
So, here are my top tips for being organised at work (aka the working Mums’ guide to sanity):
1. Schedule tasks in your Calendar
Use your Outlook (or other) calendar to schedule upcoming tasks that have deadlines attached and make sure you use the reminder feature; use this for anything from working on an important presentation to remembering to call someone. Once an action is in your calendar, you don’t have to keep it in your head – which really helps.
2. Use the Tasks facility
For tasks on a rolling to do list with no specific deadlines, use the Tasks feature in Outlook to list them – and remember to check them everyday.
3. Next day tasks – how to remember them
Before you go home, make sure you know your priority tasks for the next time you are in. I usually create a ‘to do’ appointment for, say, 9am for my next work day and then add a list of all the things I know I need to do that particular day. You can add to the list as you go during the day which is really useful. And if you don’t want anyone else to see your ‘to do’ list, mark the ‘appointment’ as Private – which always looks interestingly mysterious!
4. One Notebook per project
Have different notebooks for each main area or project you are working on (within reason of course!). It means you will always know where to look for meeting notes etc, rather than leafing madly through a general notebook.
5. Do quick tasks NOW
Try and do any quick tasks (1-2 mins) immediately – like scheduling a meeting or emailing. Now is as good a time as any and they will never have to go on a ‘to do’ list if you just do them.
6. Declutter paper as you go…
Declutter files as you go along or for just 5 minutes each day – it really helps you to feel more organised when you don’t have paperwork overflowing.
7. Tidy or declutter your desk
Tidy your desk at the end of each day. Better still, clear your desk at the end of each day, even if you just put the paper piles in a locker or drawer. If you hot desk, it is a good discipline to leave an uncluttered desk for the next person to use it. A clear desk is a much nicer start to a day and at least you will have somewhere to put that Pret coffee.
I used to have a tottering in-tray and piles of paper on my desk when I first went back to work but now have a clear desk at the end of each day – it can be done!
8. Home, sweet home
Unless you really, really have to, resist the temptation to look at your work emails at home I used to check my work email on my day off to see whether any issues had come up that I would have to deal with the next day – until I realised that it would be much better to look at work emails at work when I would be able to act on them, rather than using up my precious family time at home.
Let me know if you have any great work organising tips and we can feature them in a future blog.