If you are a busy person, exerting a great effort to manage and grow a business, increase sales, and develop your client base, then you know that without excellent organization, productivity slips, and things get left undone. So, how do you get organized, stay productive, and get everything done? How do you get organized and build a great business?
I’m happy to share some of the practices that I’ve implemented. They work right now. But, if I’ve learned anything about organization tools and techniques its is this:
- The organization tool or technique that works for me may not work for you.
- The organization tool or technique that works for me today may not work for me tomorrow.
I often tell my coaching clients, “it’s a tool; use it as long as it’s useful and then get rid of it. Don’t let the tool become your master; master the tool.”
Three Organization Tools and Techniques that help me get organized
Three criteria drive my adoption of organization tools and techniques. They must:
- simplify the way I do things
- help me get my work done
- stay out of the way when I’m not using it
I’ve attempted to adopt several tools and found that none of them stick because they fail to satisfy these criteria. The biggest mistake is choosing a new tool to do something that one you already use could do just as well. I have two tools that I use every day and coupled together, they’ve become my task management system. Here’s the bundle:
Using Outlook to make you more efficient
The beauty of using Outlook as my task management tool is that I use the software every day, and it helps me manage my inbox more efficiently. It also keeps my calendar and tasks in one place. They are easy to find and interconnected. Here is how I achieve this.
- Make a decision about every email (answer it, delete it, or set it aside to act on later)
- For the “act on it later” category, I turn those into tasks
To turn an email into a task, I’ve created a “quick step.” When I click this “quickstep,” Outlook attaches the email to a task and opens it, allowing me to give it a meaningful title and set the start and end date, as well as a reminder. Then I delete the email because it is attached to the task. Now the task is out of my way until I want to address it.
I organize my tasks by the due date so that I don’t have to think about it until it’s time. One point here to note: the due date is just the next date that I want to think about this task. It may have multiple steps, so after I take the first date, I will change the due date, add a date stamped note to the body of the task, and save it for follow-up later.
Adding Evernote and Zapier to the system
Note-taking is a critical part of any task management system, and I’ve been using Evernote for years as my primary note-taking tool. During a meeting or while thinking things out in a personal note, I often think of things that I need to do. What I don’t want to do is record that task and lose it in Evernote. I want that task in my Outlook task list.
To get a task into Outlook, I add a checklist box beside the task in Evernote and add the tag #todochecklist to the note. I’ve configured a Zap in Zapier that takes any note in Evernote with that tag and sends it to me via email. Once I receive that email, I push the “Create a Task” quick step just like I do with other emails that I want to act on later.
In your effort to get organized, you may have questions or need more info on these steps, or you may have your own tools and techniques. Feel free to share them in the comments below or schedule a coaching meeting with me. I will write more on these tools and how I use them in future posts.