|Ask Miss Smartypants - May 17, 2010||| Print ||
|Written by Miss Smartypants|
|Monday, 17 May 2010 00:00|
Dear Miss Smartypants,
My work is very cyclical in terms of busy periods and less busy ones. The less busy ones I can handle, but the busy ones can get really out of control. Even though they asked me a question about this in my interview, my answer was total bullshit. I have no idea how to be organized or prioritize. No one's noticed yet, but I think they will soon. Any ideas on how to get more organized, so I can keep my head above water during the next busy period?
If It Helps, My Job Is More Task Oriented
I hope you like making lists because that's the best thing for it. Carve out an hour, come in early or stay late if you have to, but carve out an hour to make a big list. Go through your emails and meeting notes, maybe ask the people you work with, and make a list of absolutely every task you have on your plate. Either using different colours while you write or with different colour highlighters after you are done, group your tasks either by project or by who you are responsible to for completion. Next, rewrite your lists on their own sheets of paper so that all the green or things due to Steve are together on the same page. After your lists are complete, go through them with three ideas in mind: when is it due, who gets it, and how long will it take? If you have clear deadlines, note them both with the task and on your calendar. Obviously, you should start with the stuff that's due soonest. Prioritize those tasks by who it goes to and how important it is to them (e.g. are they waiting on your piece of the puzzle to go forward with something or are they just looking for background information?). Now that you've got your priorities in place, start with the highest ranking one. Tack up you lists and get to ticking things off (with a check mark if you are me, striking things out if you are some, and obliterating with a thick permanent mark if you are one of my co-workers). If you are the type to feel discouraged by the mounting lists, pick a handful of the shorter tasks (those little five minute things that you put off in favour of bigger things) and do them right away just for the satisfaction of seeing your list grow shorter. When your list starts to get all marked up with things checked off, things added, and notes about things in progress, recopy the list on a clean sheet. Always keep these lists where you can see them. Don't forget to give yourself rewards for checking off every five, ten tasks, and even bigger rewards for finishing everything on a list. When you are through with them, what you do is up to you. Maybe you'd find it satisfying to shred the list (take that, tasks!). Maybe you want to hit an all new level of organized: file the lists for the same projects that come up every year, so you can refer back to it when it all starts up again.
Also, you can do this through Outlook or whatever, but I prefer the old school pen to paper method.