How to organize your work day
A list is a worker's best friend
If you are like me, you get to the end of your work day and ask yourself, “What did I actually do today?” First of all, you may have completed more tasks than you think. Although you may not actually sit down and organize your work day, you may be working in an organized manner. To feel more productive at the end of the day, and to figure out just what you have accomplished, try out some of these suggestions.
Make a list
People who work from home, especially if they work around their family and their schedules, know the value of making lists. Jotting down your To Do List some makes the tasks you need to accomplish more manageable. In fact, the mere act of writing down what you need to do helps you weed out the things that should not even be on your list and also puts the most important or time-sensitive tasks at the forefront. In short: by seeing it on the list, you are more apt to get it done. You can even go one step further and put the most important tasks at the top so you can try to accomplish them first.
A great place to write your lists is in a calendar planner of some sort. Planners and calendar planner refills such as the popular Day Runners and At A Glance Daily Planners make it easy to see all of your tasks and appointments together in one central area. Let’s face it. If you cannot find your list, what good is it? Keeping your To Do List in this centralized location where you can find it at a moment’s notice makes your work day run much more smoothly.
Check it off
Now that you have your list, go through each task. Do this each time you organize your work day. Beginning with the most important, go through each task and work on it until it is completed, if at all possible. Sometimes it is necessary to wait for someone else’s input on a project, or for some necessary piece of information to be finalized, but if you can, finish the task completely before going on to the next task on your list. You will be amazed at the sense of accomplishment you will feel when even one or two of your tasks are crossed off your list!
If you prefer using a simple notebook or even keeping a digital form of your list, go ahead and do what works best for you. This is an essential part of how to organize your work day. The point is to work off your list so you can see the check marks or the lines through your completed tasks.
Develop your system
A filing system is essential to staying organized on the job. Some people prefer to keep everything on their computer so they have a digital record, and some people prefer the tried and true method of paper files. While I advocate the Green practices of keeping everything digital, I find a combination of both works best for me. That way, if I lose something and a client calls, I can lay my hands on the pieces of information I will most likely need if my computer is off or, perish the thought, crashes all together. Develop a good filing system and use it faithfully to organize your work day.
Filing cabinets are a great way to keep everything sorted and organized without having it sitting out in the open looking like a mess. It is easy to access and keeps everything neatly tucked away until you are ready to use it. Keep things even better organized with classroom storage tall baskets with handles from a teacher supply store. Small items such as pens or boxes of extra paperclips can be stored and easily accessed in them. Having extras of things you use regularly is an excellent way to organize your work day.
If you do not have to leave your office to get supplies, you make more time to work on that To Do List.
Set a time limit
Many of us who work from home especially are in love with our timers. There are a number of timers available for free online. In fact, I am using Online Stopwatch right now. You can also use a simple kitchen timer. Simply figure out how much time you need to complete a project or a portion of your project, set the timer and do not stop until you hear it ring or buzz. It is a simple idea, but brilliant.
By making yourself work until the timer goes off, you can complete a good chunk of your project. Just make sure you do not get distracted by the phone or an unnecessary visitor. You can set your timer in small increments of fifteen or twenty minutes at a time. It doesn’t matter how long, just stick to the time.
And finally, be realistic. You cannot finish everything all in one day. There will always be something to put off until tomorrow and that is fine. If you follow these steps on how to organize your work day, you will find there are lines through many of your tasks on the list. When you get to work the next day, re-write your list and remove those items that are complete. Feel free to add new tasks, but know that they will eventually be moved off your list for good.
It is an art to figure out how to organize your work day. If you follow a plan, you will feel as if you have accomplished more than your thought possible.
Speaking as someone who has lived with lists for years, it’s a beautiful thing!