Staying organized in life, let alone at work is a constant struggle for most of us. With each day feeling increasingly busier than the one before it, how do you manage to stay organized and control the flow of email, deadlines and projects? As a custom media company, deadlines, whether for editorial, production, or marketing projects are an integral and necessary part of our daily routines at Hammock. So how do we keep everything organized and on track?
When I asked other people at Hammock for the secret to their organizational approaches, here is what I heard:
1. Create Lists (and Check Them Twice)
One of the first steps to getting organized is to write everything down. Once the item is on paper or saved in a document online the information is in a queue, ready to join a to-do list.
Julia Boklage is a big fan of lists and she describes her organizational style as old school. “I have small spiral notebooks, which date back to 1999 when I started work here, where I keep all notes and lists. They also contain names and phone numbers. When I’ve completed all the things on a page or transferred them to a new page. I draw a single diagonal line through the page. That way, I can still read it but I know I don’t have to look at it again. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve referred to old books (which are dated, by the way) and I think they are priceless.”
2. Power-use Your Software
Today there are so many free software options at our disposal to help us stay organized. Our favorites are the products from 37signals, especially the Ta-da list. Jamie Roberts and Lena Anthony are devotees of Ta-da and while we use iCal for our company Hammock calendar, many of us also take advantage of the software’s To-Do list functionality.
One of those people is Barbara Mathieson, who uses iCal daily to create her lists. “I check off what I’ve done and save it to PDF each day. I also add notes to the to-do items. Previously I kept a handwritten log book, but as we all know, I try to use as little paper now as possible in working. Ironic, since I’m a print buyer.”
3. Create a System to Organize and File your Email
Today if you even leave your office to grab a quick bite at lunch, does you heart begin to race when you return to see inbox full of messages? You are not alone. These days of email overload necessitate a filing system for email. Without it, how can you stay afloat or find archived emails with ease? Create your system and stick with it.
Hammock editor Bill Hudgins successfully manages to keep his inbox clear and organized. How does he do it? “I file emails by publication and date of issue. Sometimes by section, such as the Roll-Call section of Semper Fi, where we always have more than we can use. Lately, I have been keeping a running Roll Call In Design document that has images and cutlines, so we can look at the lot and decide what to use quickly.”
4. Hang out at the FranklinCovey Store
Laura Creekmore and Summer Huggins won’t be seen in a meeting without the latest products from FranklinCovey. The company sells an array of items such as day planners and calendars that can fit in purses and briefcases. Equipped with one of these, one can’t help but stay organized. According to Summer, “I am an old-fashioned, paper-and-pen girl. I have my FranklinCovey binder that I reference on a daily and weekly basis. I also keep a legal pad where I make myself notes on a daily basis: phone calls received, URLs created, ideas about random things like potential articles that I fear I’ll forget but want to go ahead and get down somewhere for later recall.”
5. Leave Ready for Tomorrow
Before shutting down your computer each day, make a quick list of projects you need to accomplish the following day. By doing this you can leave the office with a clear sense of what your focus should be the next day so you don’t arrive the next morning without a set list of items to concentrate on. I’m a huge believer in this process and my favorite part about it is that when I leave the office each night I don’t have to worry about what’s on deck tomorrow morning.
6. Get Things Done
At least two Hammock people are devotees of the Getting Things Done approach to organization. “It can be adapted to a computer, iPhone or 3×5 cards so I don’t have to hang out at the FranklinCovey Store,” jokes Rex. “Although my version of hanging-out there is visiting Merlin Mann’s website, 43folders.com.