Few workers have great systems to deal with the speed and variety of the information they handle daily. Some people use to-do lists. But a to-do list doesn’t help if you have dozens of things listed on it. Other people multitask. But studies have shown that you can actually lose time working that way.
Here, then, are a few ideas that can help you finish work:
1. Beat clutter with the “D” system. Don't confuse "neat" with "organized." Research shows you can spend too much time sorting and filing. Rather, "everything in its place" may mean one of a few piles around your office, as long as you know which pile to attach when you need something.
Every document and e-mail you receive should be discarded, deleted, done, dated (as in, when you’ll do it), drawered (filed) or deterred (forwarded to someone else). The goal? Handle each piece of paper or e-mail once.
2. Figure out where your time is going. Productivity consultant Julie Morgenstern believes that time estimating is the No. 1 gateway to time management. For one week, record what you do. Then create a time budget for yourself by mapping out what tasks you do daily, weekly and monthly, and how long they take to complete.
This 24-page guide contains screen captures to help even the least-experienced computer users uncover new ways to stay organized and increase productivity...3. Manage interruptions. You can’t stop people from dropping by or calling. But you can determine how you’ll react to their requests. Here’s a great habit to get into: Decide within the first minute or two whether to deal with the issue on the spot or whether you need to schedule time for a longer conversation.
Finally, end each day by planning your tasks for the next day.
4. Make a daily plan. Block out time for what you want to accomplish in a day. Schedule high-focus tasks for the time of day when you’re most alert.
Final tip: Make technology your slave, not the other way around.
High-tech calendar systems — like the one in your Outlook — should save you time, not increase your frustration.
Make Outlook work harder, so you don't have to. Learn how to:
- Organize files using colors, categories, alerts, e-mails and flags
- Reduce typing with drag-and-drop techniques
- Create notes so your workflow won’t be interrupted
- Transfer those notes among contacts, e-mails and your calendar
- Sort your mail within Outlook
- Get the most out of your calendars
- Set up the Tickler System, Project Tracking System and Work Distribution System to help keep you on track
- And much more!
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